Agra fort dates back as early as the 11th century AD but the current structure was built by the Mughals. Agra fort is just 2.5 km from the most popular destination in India, Taj Mahal. It is often overshadowed by the most beloved monument. But a visit to Agra Fort startled me, more than my visit to Taj Mahal did. Maybe it was because I had not heard too much about Agra Fort and I wasn't expecting much. The experience of it was like travelling back in time.
Agra Fort was first mentioned in 1080 but it came to prominence only after Sikandar Lodi moved his capital to Agra towards the last part of the 15th century. Agra Fort finally came into the hands of the Mughals after the battle of Panipat. The diamond also known as the Kohinoor came into their possession.
The fort changed hands few times again before Akbar defeated king Hemu at the second Battle of Panipat in 1556, marking the dominant era of the Mughals. Agra Fort was an important seat for rulers who wanted to rule India, because of its central location. Akbar moved his capital to Agra in 1558. Akbar's historian wrote that the fort was in a ruins when they arrived. It took another 8 years of extensive work to complete the fort in 1573. Red sandstones were brought in from Rajasthan that gave its current look. Later Shah Jahan, who was a keen art lover made some changes to the fort by introducing white marble with beautiful inlays. The Fort was in its most glorious form when Shah Jahan was the ruler. He built his marble palace, overlooking the Taj Mahal and where he was later kept prisoner by his own son Aurangzeb. He spent the rest of his life in captivity before he died and was entered into Taj Mahal along with his wife.
Agra fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is still preserved in fine form. Agra Fort a beautiful and unique blend of Muslim and Hindu architecture. There are many remarkable designs and houses inside the fort. The Fort is a colossal semicircular form with Yamuna River flowing on the east. The course of the river has changed over the years and has drifted further from the fort. The walls are 70 ft high and are surrounded by moat which were again crossed only by drawbridge.
The famed peacock throne was once kept here at the Deewan-i-Am. The Fort has some interesting sites like Jahangir's Palace, Anguri Bagh garden, Diwan-e-Khas and the beautiful Musamman Burj built by Shah Jahan for his wife. The marble palace offers a great view of Taj Mahal. It was here that he spent the last part of his life under house arrest.
A visit to Agra Fort would be a great experience for art and history lovers. It offers a good visual treat of the bygone eras; a peek into another world we have heard only in tales from our history books.