Agra Fort

Located on the right bank of the River Yamuna in the city of Agra in Uttar Pradesh is the Agra Fort; one of the most important strongholds of the Mughals as per Indian history. The fort was constructed by the third Mughal emperor Akbar on the remains of an ancient site known as Badalgarh.

Sikandar Lodi (1487-1517) was the first Sultan of Delhi to shift his capital from Delhi to Agra. The Mughal rulers took the fort from his son Ibrahim Lodi, who held the fort for nine years until he was defeated and killed in the battle of Panipat in 1526 by Humayun the second emperor of Mughal dynasty. Humayun captured the fort and seized vast amount of treasure including the Kohinoor diamond. His father Babur built a baoli (step wall) in Agra and Humayun was coronated here in 1530. After Humayun’s defeat at Bilgram in 1540, Sher Shah of the Sur dynasty occupied Agra fort and garrisoned it.

Akbar arrived in Agra in 1558. He ordered to renovate the fort with red sandstone. Some 4000 builders worked on a daily basis and it was completed in eight years (1565-1573).

The Fort, which is semi-circular in plan, spreads over 94 acres of land and is surrounded by a 21.4 m high fortification wall. There are four gates on its four sides, one of the gates was called khizri-gate (the water gate), which opens to the river front, where ghats (quays) were provided. The fort survived the onslaught of time, nature and men and at present there exists more than two dozens of monuments in the Fort.

Abul Fazl, a court historian of Akbar, records that 5000 buildings were built here beautifully in Bengali and Gujarati style. Most of these buildings have now disappeared. Shah Jehan himself demolished some of these in order to make room for his white marble palaces. Later, the British destroyed most of the buildings for raising barracks. Hardly 30 Mughal buildings have survived on the southeastern side. Of these, the Delhi-Gate, Akbari-Gate and Bengali-Mahal, are representatives of buildings raised during the reign of Akbar.

Shah Jehan raised several white marble palaces and fairy-tale palaces, such as the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal and built three marble mosques in them viz. Moti-Masjid, Nagina-Masjid and Mina-Masjid. Shah Jehan was imprisoned by his own son Aurangzeb in the fort for eight years. Aurangzeb further built the barbicans around the two gates and on the reverse side to strengthen it. Shivaji came to Agra in 1666 and met Aurangzeb in the Diwan-i-Khas. Aurangzeb died in 1707 and 18th century history of Agra Fort is a saga of sieges and plunder during which it was held by the Jats and the Marathas and finally by the British who captured it in 1803.