Agra Fort Information
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Agra Fort
Agra Fort is the most important fort of India. The great Mughals : Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb lived here, and country was governed from here. It contained the largest state treasury and mint. It was visitied by foreign ambassadors, travellers and the highest dignitaries who participated in the making of medieval history of India. No other fort of India had this honour.
Agra Fort stands on an ancient site just by the River Jamuna. It was a brick fort and Chauhan Rajputs held it. It is mentioned for the first time in 1080 A.D. when a Ghaznavide Force captured it. Sikandar Lodi (1487-1517) was the first sultan of Delhi who shifted to Agra and lived in the fort. He governed the country from here and Agra assumed the prominence of a second capital. He died in the fort in 1517 and his son Ibrahim Lodi held it for 9 years until he was defeated and killed at Panipat in 1526. Several palaces, wells and a mosque were built in the fort during the Lodi period.
After Panipat, Mughals captured Agra Fort and a vast treasure - which included the diamond later named 'Koh-I-Noor' - was seized. Babur stayed in the fort in the palace of Ibrahim. He built a baoli (step-well) in it. Humayun was coronated here in 1530, after his defeat at Chausa in 1539, he returned to Agra. Nizam Water-Carrier (Saqqa), who had saved Humayun from drowning, was crowned here for half-a-day and he issued a menial currency. Humayun was defeated at Bilgram in 1540, Sher Shah held it for 5 years. The Mughals defeated the Afghans finally at Panipat in 1556.
Realizing the importance of its central situation, Akbar (1556-1605) decided to make Agra his capital. He arrived here in 1558. His historian Abul Fazl recorded that this was a brick fort, known as 'Badalgarh'. It was in ruined condition and Akbar ordered it to be rebuilt with red sandstone. Foundations were laid by expert architects and it was massively built with bricks in inner core and stone on external surfaces. Some 4000 builders daily worked on it and it was completed in 8 years (1565-1573).
The fort has a semi-circular plan, its chord lying parallel to the river. Its walls are 70 feet high. Double ramparts have massive circular bastions at regular intervals, battlements, embrasures, machicolations and string-courses. Four gates were provided on its four sides, one "Khizri-Gate" opening on the river, where series of ghat (quays) was also built.
Abul Fazl recorded that 500 buildings in the beautiful designs of Bengal and Gujarat were built in it. Some of these were demolished by Shah Jahan to make room for his white marble palaces. But they were mostly destroyed by the British between 1803 and 1862, for raising barracks. Hardly 30 Mughal buildings have survived on the south-eastern side. Facing the river, of these, the Delhi-Gate and Akbar-Gate and one palace: 'Bengali-Mahal', are representative Akbari Buildings. The Delhi-Gate faces the city. A draw-bridge and crooked entrance made it impregnable. Two life-size stone elephants, with their riders were placed on its inner gate which was called "Hathi-Pol". The Delhi-Gate was monumentally built as the King's formal gate. 'Akbar Gate' was renamed 'Amar Singh Gate' by the British. This gate is similar to the Delhi-Gate. Both are built of red stone. The Bengali-Mahal is also built of red stone and is now split into 'Akbari-Mahal' and 'Jahangiri-Mahal'.
Akbar died and Jahangir was coronated in the fort in 1605. The latter mostly resided at Lahore and Kashmir, though he visited Agra regularly and lived in the fort. Agra continued to be the capital of the Mughal Empire. Shah Jahan was also crowned in the fort in 1628. He was a great builder and its white marble palaces belong to him. He built three white marble mosques in it: Moti-Masjid, Nagina-Masjid and Mina-Masjid.
After the battle of Samogarh in 1658, Aurangzeb besieged the fort and stopped its water supply from the river. Shah Jahan could not drink the well water and surrendered. Aurangzeb imprisoned him, his own father, in the fort where he lived as a prisoner for 8 years. He died in 1666 and was buried in the Taj Mahal. The barbicans around the two gates and on the river-side were built by Aurangzeb to strengthen its defences.
Though Shah Jahan had transferred his capital to Delhi, formally in 1638, he continued to live here. But after his death, Agra lost its grandeur, Aurangzeb remained busy in the Deccan Conflict. Yet, time and again, he lived here and held the Durbar. Shivaji came to Agra in 1666 and met Aurangzeb in Diwan-I-Khas. He was betrayed and imprisoned, though the wily Maratha ultimately escaped. Aurangzeb's death in 1707 threw the affairs of the Mughal empire to chaos. The 18th century history of Agra Fort is a saga of sieges and plunder. It was held by Jats and Marathas. The British captured it from the Marathas in 1803. They garrisoned it and converted it into an arsenal.
The Mughal palaces have remained in a small, suth-eastern portion of the fort and only this area is protected and conserved by the Archaeological Survey of India. Agra Fort is a UNESCO World heritage Site. #4314

Akbar's Tomb, Sikandara (1605-12 A.D.)
This is the tomb of Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, son of Humayun and grandson of Babur who was the greatest king of the Mughal Dynasty. He ruled from 1556 to 1605. He founded a vast empire which extended from Kabul to Assam, and from Kashmir to Ahmednager. His state functioned on the sound principles of peaceful co-existence with his non-Belening subjects and was based on such secular institutions as the Mansabdari. He united the country under a uniform cultural political and administrative system. He planted his kingship in the Indian soil and made it an indigenous thing. Thus earning the honorific epithet "Chakravartin" He made a nation out of a mob which is why he is styled 'Akbar the Great'.
He was also a great builder and raised a series of forts throughout the empire. He founded Fatehpur Sikri, and built its beautiful palaces in the composite style. He rebuilt Agra Fort and raised numerous palatial mansions in it. He also planned his own tomb and selected a site for it near the Jamuna River, at Sikandara which was renamed 'Bihishtabad' (The Heavenly Abode). He died in 1605 when its construction had just begun. It was completed by his son Jehangir in 1617 on the original design of Akbar.
The tomb is planned in the center of a vast garden enclosed by high walls on all sides, with monumental building in the middle of each one; that on the south side being the gateway. The garden is divided into four equal quarters, on the Char-Bagh Plan. Each quarter separated by a high terrace or causeway of stone masonry of 75 feet width with a small water channel running in its centre and raised walkways on the sides. They are distinctly raised from the garden, from which they are approached by staircases with cascades and lily ponds. There are no cypress avenues or flower beds rising above the channels on the causeways. Thus through the tomb structure has been presented in a beautiful garden setting, it has a character full of dignity, sobriety, thoughtfulness and quietitude, rather than of delicacy gaiety or splendour, in accordance with the personality of Akbar. It has been designed to be an elegy, rather than a lyric.
The gateway on the south side is two-storeyed. It has an iwan portal 61 feet in height, each on its north and south sides, flanked by double alcoves. The whole exterior has been gorgeously finished in mosaic and inlay of colour stones in various designs. The most important feature of this gateway is the set of four circular, tapering minars of white marble which rise from the corners of its roof, where normally chhatris would have been placed. Each minar is in three storeys separated by balconies and is crowned by a chhatri. This novel feature seems to have been inspired by the minarets of the Char Minar of Hyderbad, built by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah c. 1591. The gate has Persian inscriptions, carved in relief on the south and north iwans and inside the hall. The south one is a long ranegyric in praise of Jehangir. It mentions 'Abdul Haq Shirazi. The calligrapher and the date 1021 A.H. (1612 A.D. ) of its completion. Twelve Persian couplets are inscribed in ornamental cartouches inside the hall. They eulogise Akbar. The inscription on the northern iwan is also eulogical and praises Akbar and his tomb. It also reflects his philosophical views. Two couplets inscribed above the northern entrance doorway introduce the tomb as a whole. This gateway is full monument and can stand independently anywhere else.
The main tomb has a unique design. It is square in plan and is the five receding storeys. The ground floor has spacious dalans with an iwan portal in the middle on each side. Each portal is surmounted by an oblong _ pillared chhaparkhat of white marble. The south portal has a vestibule leading into the grave chamber. It has Quranic verses in stucco and painting. An octagonal tower superimposed by an eight pillared chhatri is attached to each corner of this storey which is technically just a plinth of the tomb which rests on it in four receding storeys. The lower three are composed of arched dalans supported on pillars and chhatris attached to them. The topmost storey built entirely of white marble has an open square court 70 feet side, surrounded by 9 feet wide arched dalans on the four sides. A cenotaph is placed on the platform in the court. All external arches are closed by ___ panels. A beautiful panegyric in 36 Persian couplets, in praise of Akbar is carved on the arches spacing the court. They boldly inscribe Akbar's philosophical views. There is no dome or barahdari and the superstructure is vacant. In fact, it marks the beginning of a distince class of domeless tombs of the Mughal period. Though it is built of red sandstone, Mhancir has used white marble on the gate minarets, iwan-chhaparkhats and the topmost story.
One of the finest masterpieces of the great Mughals, this tomb is a befitting monument to the memory of a great king of the status of Akbar. It was severely damaged in 16th century and The Archaeological Survey of India restored it between 1902 and 1911. #4452

Jharokha Darshan morning viewing.
Dubar (Persian darbar) is an Iranian term meaning the Shah's noble court. It was later used India and Nepal for a ruler's court or feudal levee as the latter came to be ruled and later administered by Persians and Perso-Turcomen rulers. A durbar may be either a feudal state council for administering the affairs of a princely state, or a purely ceremonial gathering, as in the time of the British Empire in India. history of rulers

The Muthamman Burj (Shah-Burj and Jharokha (1632-40 A-D)
This beautiful palace surmounts the largest bastion of Agra Fort on the River side, facing the east. It was originally built of red stone by Akbar who used it for Jharokha Darshan, ( )
as well as for sun worship, every day at sun rise. Jehangir also used it as Jharokha, as is faithfully shown in his painting made in 1620. He also institued his 'Adl-I-Zanjir' (The Chain of Justice) on its south side. Owing to its octagonal plan, it was called 'Muthamman-burj'. It has also been mentioned as Shah Burj (the imperial or kings's tower b Persian historians and foreign travellers and it is a misnomer to call it Jasmine Tower or 'Samman Burj' as recorded by contemporary historian Lahauri. It was rebuilt with white marble by Shah Jehan around 1632-40. He also used it for Jharokha Darshan which was as indispensable a Mughal institution as was 'Durbar'
It is an octagonal building, five external sides of which, making a dalan overlook the river. Each side has pillars and brackets openings. The easter-most side projects forward and accommodates a Jharokha majestically. On the western side of this palace is a spacious dalan with Shah-Nashin (alcoves). A shallow water-basin (kunda) is sunk in its pavement. It is decorously inlaid. This dalan opens on a court which has a Chabutara projected by a Jali screen, on its northern side; series of rooms leading to Shish Mahal on its western side; and a colonnaded dalan with a room attahced to it on the sourthern side. It is thus a large complex entirely bilt of white marble. It has deep niches on the walls, to break the monotony. Dados have repetitive stylized inlaid creepers on borders and carved natural plants in the centre. Pillars, brackets and lintels also bear exquisitely inlaid designs and it is one of the most profusely ornamented buildings of Shah Jehan. This palace was directly connected to the Diwan-I-Khas, Shish-Mahal, Khas-Mahal and other palaces, and it was from here that the Mughal Emperor governed the whole country. The Taj Mahal is in full view from this tower and Shah Jehan spent eight years of his imprisonment (1658-66) in this complex, and he died here. His body was taken by boat to the Taj Mahal and buried. #4388

The Shish - Mahal (The glass-Palace) (1631-40 A.D.)
This was built by the Mughal King Shah Iahan as a summer palace. It has two tanks with fountains, interconnected by a canal, and a water-fall (abshar). These water-devices were provided to keep it cool and comfortable in the scorching heat of Agra. The distinctive feature of this palace is the glass-mosaic work which ahs been done, on a wide variety of stucco designs, on all its walls and ceilings. Glass-pieces have high mirror quality. As the building is made up of thick walls with only a few openings, the semi dark interior required artificial light, which glittered and twinkled in thousand ways through this glass-work. It created an etheral atmosphere. It was not a 'hammam'.
This glass was imported from Haleb (Aleppo in Syria) which is why Shah Jahan's historian Lahauri has referred to it as "Shishaye Halebi". Glass mosaic was originally a Byzantine art. Shah Jahan built glass-palaces also at Lahore and Delhi but his is his finest Shish-Mahal #4441




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