Emperor Akbar the Great commissioned the Agra Fort that is also sometimes called Red Fort of Agra. During the reign of emperor Jahangir, the capital was briefly shifted to Lahore but Agra became the seat of Mughal capital one again in the reign of Akbar. Akbar became emperor in 1556 and when he consolidated himself sufficiently, he started the construction of Agra Fort in the year 1665. The fort was completed in the year 1671 but minor constructions and additions kept on happening till the reign of Shah Jahan, his grandson. It is interesting to note that during the reign of Akbar, the fort mainly served as a military garrison but by the time of Shah Jahan it also started serving as a palace and court.
The fort's colossal double walls rise 20 meters in height and measure
2.5 kilometers in circumference. Typical of forts of Mogul era, Agra
Fort is surrounded by a moat. The fort looks intimidating because of its
lofty battlements that overlook the far stretching mansions of nobles
and princes built along the riverfront. Another important and very
significant structure is the dominating gateway that is surrounded by
the magnificent towers, bastions and ramparts. The fort contains some of
the most magnificent and subtle palaces both in red sandstone and white
marble that has been built by two generations of prolific builders;
Akbar and later on by Jahangir and Shah Jahan.
Agra Fort is among the finest examples of the fusion architecture that
has dominated the Mogul period. The assimilation of these different
styles has given the buildings within the fort a distinctive look. To
name a few, for example, the Jahangir Palace built by Akbar is the most
magnificent blend of Persian and local style where as Divan-e-Aam mixes
subtleness of Turkish exteriors with the complex pattern of Persian
architecture. Other buildings within the premises of Agra Fort either
have a mixed style or conform predominantly to the Islamic style. Some
of the important buildings inside the Agra Fort include Jahangir Mahal,
Divan-e-Aam, Divan-e-Khash, Khas Mahal, Anguri Bagh, Musamman Burj, Moti
Masjid, Mina Masjid and Shish Mahal among others.
Jahangir Mahal is the first building that appears as one enters the
fort from the Amar Singh Gate. The palace falls on the right side as you
move towards the sanctum. A very spacious lush green Lawn precedes
Jahangir Mahal. Jahangir Mahal was built by Akbar to act as Zannana or
royal women's quarters. The place is simple in its outlook and is built
out of sandstone. This is among the few constructions left in the fort
that was originally commissioned by Akbar. t was built by Akbar as
women's quarters and is the only building that survives among his
original palace buildings. The most important feature of the edifice is
its ornamental stone brackets that support the beams. In fact these were
first used in this palace only and were later copied all over the India.
In fact, it is the only notable feature in this palace. In front of
Jahangir Mahal is a large stone bowl that was probably used to contain
fragrant rose water popularly called 'Gulab Jal' in India. Jahangir has
carved ornamental Persian verses along the outer rim that records among
others, its date of construction.
If you keep on moving towards the North, you will come across
Divan-e-Aam or 'The Hall of Public Audience'. This building is situated
in front of the Macchhi Bhawan. You can approach Divan-e-Aam by going
down an internal flight of staircases. The most spectacular design
element of this building is the cleverly positioned pillars that give
visitor, arriving through the gates in the right and left hand walls of
the courtyard, an uninterrupted view of the throne. Another remarkable
feature is the splendid 'Jaalis' on the back wall of the pavilion. This
was primarily done in order to let the female members witness the
proceedings of court without being seen. Nevertheless the most beautiful
part is the richly decorated white marble throne alcove that used to
house the legendary Peacock Throne known as 'Takht-e-Taus'. When Shah
Jahan moved his capital to Delhi, it was taken to the Red Fort.
Shish Mahal or Glass Palace is just opposite to the Musamman Burj and
just below the Divan-e-Khas. The place is one of the most magnificent in
India in terms of glass décor. This was probably a harem dressing
room and its walls are inlaid with tiny mirrors that are the best
specimens of the glass-mosaic decoration in India. The Shish Mahal is
actually a combination of two gigantic halls that are of similar
dimensions measuring 11.15 meters in length and 6.40 meters in breadth.
Both these glass halls are connected in the center by a broad arched
opening and on the sides by two narrow passages.
Diwan-e-Khas that in Persian means 'The hall of Private Audience' is
situated on the right side of the Shish Mahal. The hall was used for the
private meetings by emperors. The building has some good Naqqashi work
done in the interiors as well as façades. The marble pillars are
inlaid with semi-precious stones in delightful floral patterns.