FORT - INDIAN MONUMENTS
high red sandstone ramparts of this great monument stretch
for almost 2.5 kilometres, dominating a bend in the
river Yamuna, northwest of the Taj Mahal. The foundation
of this majestic citadel was laid by the Emperor Akbar
and it developed as a stronghold of the Mughal Empire
under successive generations.
The curved bastions of the huge walls are interrupted
by impressive gates of which only the Amar Singh gate
is now open to the public. The original and grandest
entrance was through the Delhi Gate, which leads to
the inner portal called the Hathi Pol or Elephant Gate.
The graceful Diwan-i-Am or the Hall of Public Audiences,
made of red sandstone, was constructed by Shahjahan
in 1628. Three rows of white polished stucco pillars
topped by peacock arches support the flat roof. Today,
this Hall is bereft of brocade decorations, silk carpets
and satin canopies which would have enhanced the elegance
of the settings when the Emperor sat down with his subjects
to hear their complaints.
The Agra Fort houses the Royal Pavilions, which were
designed to catch the cool breeze wafting across the
river. Other attractions comprise the Macchi Bhawan
or the Fish Palace, the Hammam-i-Shahi or the Royal
Bath, the Nagina Masjid or the Gem Mosque, and the Zenana
Meena Bazaar, where the ladies of the court would browse
through goods like silk, jewellery and brocade.
Past the Chitor gate, installed in 1568, is the Diwan-i-Khas,
or the Hall of Private Audience. Here, the emperor would
receive kings, dignitaries and ambassadors. Tucked away
by the west wall of the hall is the Mina Masjid or the
Heavenly mosque, where Shahjahan prayed when he was
imprisoned in the Fort by his son Aurangzeb.
A doorway from the rear of the Diwan-i-Khas leads to
the Mussaman Burj, a two-storeyed pavilion, where Shahjahan
caught the last glimpse of the Taj Mahal before he died.
Surrounded by a verandah, the elegant chamber has a
lattice-screen balustrade with ornamental niches; exquisite
inlay covers almost every surface and a marble chhatri
(umbrella) on top adds the finishing touch.
The Khas Mahal or the Private Palace was used by the
emperor as a sleeping chamber and is designed for comfort,
with cavities in the room to insulate against the heat.
The Mahal is flanked by two golden pavilions. Other
ornate palaces within the Fort are the Sheesh Mahal
(Palace of Mirrors), the Shah Jahani Mahal (Shahjahan's
Palace), Jahangiri Mahal (Jahangir's Palace) and the
Akbari Mahal (Akbar's Mahal). These palaces are hybrid
in design and some are distinctly Mughal in style while
others like the Jahangiri Mahal are almost entirely
Hindu in their interior design.