The city of Agra is world famous for the
Taj Mahal, built by the Mughal emperor Shahjahan
in memory of his beloved wife. However,
it is also famous for the Agra Fort, which
is a veritable treasure trove of the Mughal
architectural tradition. The various buildings
within this sprawling
fort complex represent the assimilation
of different cultures, which was the mark
of the Mughal period. Jahangiri Mahal (Jahangir's
Most of the buildings within the Agra Fort
are a mixture of different architectural
styles. The assimilation of these different
styles has given the buildings within the
fort a distinctive look. For instance, the
Jahangiri Palace built by Akbar is a good
blend of Islamic (Persian) and different
local Hindu styles. Other buildings either
have a mixed style or conform predominantly
to the Islamic style.
Akbar was the third Mughal emperor and undoubtedly
the greatest. He was crowned the Mughal
ruler in 1556 at the tender age of 14, when
his father Humayun died suddenly. After
Akbar consolidated his rule, he began constructing
the Agra Fort, which coincided with the
building of Humayun's tomb in Delhi. Akbar
began the construction of this massive fort
made of red sandstone on the banks of the
Yamuna in 1565. The fort was ready by 1571,
though additions were made up until the
rule of Shahjahan, who was Akbar's grandson.
During the time of Akbar, the fort mainly
served military purpose, while by the time
of Shahjahan it also served as a palace
The fort's colossal double walls rise 20
m in height and measure 2.5 km in circumference.
The fort is surrounded by a moat. The lofty
battlements of the Agra fort cast its protective
shadow over the far stretching mansions
of nobles and princes built along the riverfront.
The magnificent towers, bastions and ramparts
and majestic gateways symbolized the confidence
and power of the third Mughal emperor. The
fort contains splendid palaces both in red
sandstone and white marble built by two
generations of prolific builders, Akbar
and later on by Jahangir and Shahjahan.
Of the nearly 500 Akbari buildings built
in the Bengal and Gujarati traditions, only
a few have survived, arrayed in a band on
It was the principal zenana palace (palace
for women belonging to the royal household),
used mainly by the Rajput wives of Akbar.
A splendid gateway leads to an interior
courtyard surrounded by grand halls covered
with profuse carvings on stone, heavily
fashioned brackets, piers, and crossbeams.
Jahangiri Mahal is the most important building
of the Akbari period in the Agra Fort.
In the Khas Mahal enclosure (built by Shahjahan),
later Mughal architecture comes of age.
The Khas Mahal is an airy edifice, overlooking
the specially laid Angoori Bagh (grape garden;
a simple formal Mughal garden). Windows
closed with jali (intricately perforated
decorative stone screens) present fabulous
view of the riverfront. The two copper-roofed
pavilions built in the Bengali traditions
were meant for prominent ladies of the harem.
On three sides of this garden are residential
quarters of women. Sheesh Mahal (mirror
palace) or the royal hammam (bath) is decorated
with myriad glass pieces and a central fountain.
The arches are covered with white lime polished
to a smooth finish. The triple arched royal
canopy has lavish pietra dura ornamentation.
Here was kept the famous Peacock Throne
ordered by Shahjahan. He met officials and
commoners and listened to the petitioners
in the Diwan-I-Aam. Further north stands
the Moti Masjid (pearl mosque), its three
domes in white marble raising their heads
over the red sandstone wall. Moti Masjid
is known for its sheer grandeur and perfect
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Summers are very hot and winters chilling
cold. The temperature difference between
the summers and winters is very high. The
monsoon although provides some respite from
the heat but the rains leaves the city very
dirty. It is better to plan your Agra trip
between the months of March and October.
- Air Agra airport is
7 km from the city center and 3 km from
Idgah bus stand. Indian airlines operate
daily tourist shuttle flights to Agra,
Khajuraho, Varanasi and back. It only
takes 40 minutes from Delhi to Agra.
- Road Idgah bus stand
is the main bus stand of Agra, from where
one can catch buses for Delhi, Jaipur,
Mathura, Fatehpur-Sikri, etc. Buses for
Mathura also leave from Agra Fort bus
- Rail Agra is well connected
by railroad. The main railway station
is the Agra Cantonment station. Agra is
well connected by rail to Delhi, Varanasi
and cities of Rajasthan. Trains like Palace
on Wheel, Shatabdi, Rajdhani, and Taj
Express are the best choices if you want
to reach Agra from Delhi.
- Local Transport in Agra
You can travel to different parts of the
city using different modes of transport
like Taxi, tempo, auto-rickshaw and cycle
rickshaw from Taj area. Prepaid taxis
and autos from the railway station are
available. Prepaid transport is also available
for excursions in and around the city
limits. Bicycles can be hired on hourly
basis from different parts of the city.
It is to be remembered that no diesel
or petrol vehicle are allowed to ply in
the Taj area. There are Battery-Operated
buses, horse-driven tongas, rickshaws,
and other polution- free vehicles are
allowed to conserve the beauty of this