Agra Fort

While most people visit Agra to see the Taj Mahal, Agra, once the capital of all of India, has more to offer. Less than 2 kilometers from the Taj Mahal, on the same river bank, you'll find the impressive Agra Fort. Near the gardens of the Taj Mahal stands the important 16th-century Mughal monument known as the Red Fort of Agra. This powerful fortress of red sandstone encompasses, within its 2.5-km-long enclosure walls, the imperial city of the Mughal rulers. It comprises many fairy-tale palaces, such as the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal, built by Shah Jahan; audience halls, such as the Diwan-i-Khas; and two very beautiful mosques.

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. Within the Fort complex is the perfectly proportioned Moti Masjid, or Pearl Mosque, built by Shahjahan between 1646 and 1653. A Persian inscription within the mosque likens it to a perfect pearl. A marble tank stands at the centre of its spacious courtyard. The Agra Fort houses the Royal Pavilions, which were designed to catch the cool breeze wafting across the river. Other attractions comprise of the Macchi Bhawan, or the Fish Palace, the Hammam-i-Shahi, or the Royal Bath, the Nagina Masjid, or the Gem Mosque, made entirely of marble and the Zenana Meena Bazaar, where the ladies of the court would browse through goods like silk, jewellery and brocade. Past the Chittor gate, installed in 1568, is the Diwan-i-Khas, or the Hall of Private Audience, built by Shahjahan in 1636 - 37. Here, the emperor would receive kings, important dignitaries and ambassadors. The famous Peacock Throne is said to have been kept here, before being shifted to Delhi by Aurangzeb. 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, or Octagonal Tower, a two-storeyed pavilion, where Shahjahan caught his last glimpse of the Taj Mahal before he died. Built for his beloved Mumtaz Mahal, this is another example of Shahjahan's immense creativity. 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), Jehangir Mahal (Jehangir's Palace) and the Akbari Mahal (Akbar's Mahal).

The Fort  
The fort is built alongside the Yamuna river and stretches almost 2.5 km. It consists of a wall built in red sandstone and several buildings inside. The wall has 2 gates, the Delhi Gate and the Amar Singh Gate. You can only enter the fort via the Amar Singh Gate.

Inside Agra Fort     
After going through the gate you walk over a ramp and enter the Great Courtyard. On the right hand sight, there's the many pillared Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience).It was built by Shah Janan in 1628. Further you find the Royal Pavilions. It contains beautiful mosques (Nagina Masjid & Mina Masjid), palaces (Macchi Bhavan, Khas Mahal, Shish Mahal, Shah Jahani Mahal) and the Zenana Mina Bazaar. Several of the buildings are made of pure marble with beautiful carvings. To cool off the rooms in the marble pavilions, the walls were hollow and filled with running water. From the balconies in the pavilions, you have a nice view on the Yamuna river and the Taj Mahal.