About Agra Fort
The Agra Fort is one of India’s most impressive and important forts and palaces, close to the Taj Mahal.
History of Agra Fort
Primarily intended as a military structure, the Agra Fort is made up of 20 metre high walls with a circumference of 2.5 kilometres. However, the Agra Fort was later transformed into a city unto itself expanding into a labyrinth of red sandstone and marble buildings, including a palace, a mosque, homes, halls and monuments.
Original construction of the Agra Fort was commenced by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1565 with successive emperors of the Mughal Dynasty adding to it over time. One particular contributor was Emperor Akbar’s grandson and commissioner of the Taj Mahal, Emperor Shah Jahan, who added further white marble buildings, in effect creating a palace. The ear-shaped layout of the fort was to deter any invaders and make it harder for the city to be breached.
While the Agra Fort was intended to keep out enemies, it in fact transformed into an opulent prison in 1685, when Shah Jahan was imprisoned there for the final eight years of his life when his son, Aurangzeb, seized power.
The British later seized and destroyed much of the fort, using parts of it as a garrison, and today, the Indian military occupy much of the fort – these areas are unsurprisingly off limits to the public.
Some of the most impressive structures within the Agra Fort complex include the Diwan-i-Am or ‘Hall of Public Audiences’, from which Shah Jahan conducted state business, the 17th century Nagina Masjid or ‘Gem Mosque’ and the mirror encrusted Shish Mahal palace. The Anguri Bagh gardens are also very beautiful, having been extensively restored.
Agra Fort today
The fort opens just before sunrise, and closes at sunset: if you go early or late you’ll have a much better chance of taking good photos and not being hassled by local tourists or touts. The complex is large and sprawling – it takes several hours to wander round fully and there are plenty of nooks and crannies which lead to other parts of the palace to explore. Look out for the lovely views of Agra and spot the Taj Mahal in the distance on a clear day.
Getting to Agra Fort
Agra Fort is about a 30 minute walk from the Taj Mahal through the leafy Shah Jahan park. A tuk tuk or taxi should cost under ₹100 and doesn’t take long (although the terrible traffic means there’s not much in it compared to walking).
The mainline railway station, Agra Fort, is close by if you’re travelling to or from Delhi. You can walk to the fort from Taj Ganj via the leafy Shah Jahan Park, or take an autorickshaw for ₹80. Food is not allowed into the fort. The fort opens 30 minutes before sunrise; the ticket office opens 15 minutes before that. Last entry is 30 minutes before sunset.
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