Situated around 2.5 kms to the north-west of the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort, located in Rakabganj, Uttar Pradesh, was the main residence for the ruling Mughal Dynasty till 1638, when the capital shifted to Delhi. Prior to being captured by the British, the Marathas were the last rulers to have ruled at this imposing fort. Famous for being described as a walled city, the Agra Fort became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
The fort covers a sprawling 94 acres. Rakabganj usually has plot values ranging from Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000 per sq ft. Taking into account the sheer grandeur of the structure, even if Rs 10,000 per sq ft is considered, the valuation stands at Rs 4,094 crores and 64 lakhs. Of course, it goes without saying that taking the cultural, historical and social significance of the structure and its surroundings into account, the actual value would be far higher.
Agra Fort interior (Shutterstock)
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Construction and architectural style of Agra Fort
Situated near the Taj Mahal’s gardens, the 16th century monument is a majestic red sandstone fortress, enclosed by 2.5-km-long walls and is an imperial city within itself. There are several impeccably-designed buildings inside, including the white marble mosque named Moti Masjid that was inspired by a perfectly shaped pearl and the Diwan-E-Am, Diwan-E-Khas and Musamman Burj where emperor Shah Jahan expired in 1666 AD. Other structures of importance include the Sheesh Mahal, Khaas Mahal and Jahangir’s Palace, among others.
Moti Masjid or Pearl Mosque in Agra Fort (Shutterstock)
A major portion of the Agra Fort was built by Shah Jahan who added the majority of marble-based creations to this fort, while some of the initial structures were constructed under emperor Akbar. The fort is shaped like a crescent, flatted with a straight and long wall to the east that faces the river. There are double-castellated red sandstone ramparts surrounding the fort, periodically flanked by bastions. There is also a 10-metre-deep and 9-metre-wide moat surrounding the outer wall of the Agra Fort, along with a huge 22-metre wall inside. The fort’s layout was shaped by the course of the river, which flowed alongside it earlier. The core of the fort runs parallel to the river and the walls move outwards, towards the city of Agra.
The moat surrounding the Agra Fort (Shutterstock)
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The fort originally had four gates, although two were walled-up later on. Visitors can now enter only through the Amar Singh Gate. The first building is the Jehangir Mahal, originally built as the women’s quarters by emperor Akbar. It is built from stone and is adorned impeccably on the exterior. Persian verses have been carved delicately on a massive stone bowl which could have housed rose water in the past. A palace was built for Akbar’s favorite queen Jodha Bai, right next to Jehangir Mahal.
Exterior of Jahangiri Mahal in Agra Fort (Shutterstock)
The Khaas Mahal showcases alluring Islamic-Persian architectural motifs and was built fully in marble by Shah Jahan. These are fused with striking Hindu design elements such as chhatris. This was the sleeping room or Aramgah for the emperor and to its left stands the Musamman Burj built by Shah Jahan. This is an octagonal tower with a pavilion and this is where the emperor passed away, gazing at the Taj Mahal. The Sheesh Mahal was previously the dressing room or harem with its walls inlaid with delightful mirrors, while the Diwan-I-Khaas was the hall for private audiences.
The Diwan-i-Khas or Hall of Private Audience, Agra Fort (Shutterstock)
Its marble pillars are elegantly adorned with semi-precious stones in appealing floral motifs. The Mamman-E-Shahi or Shah Burj was used as a retreat for the summers. The world famous Peacock Throne was kept in the Diwan-E-Am which was subsequently shifted to the Red Fort when Shah Jahan shifted the capital to Delhi. The Nagina Masjid was the private mosque for the Mughal ladies and Mina Masjid may have been built by Shah Jahan for his own use.
Nagina Mosque in Agra Fort (Shutterstock)
History of Agra Fort
Agra Fort was built on the remains of the Badalgarh ancient site. Sikandar Lodi was the first Delhi Sultan to shift the capital to Agra from Delhi. After his death in 1517, Ibrahim Lodi held the fort for nine long years until he was defeated in the historic battle of Panipat in 1526. Babur sent Humayun to capture this fort and he succeeded, capturing the Kohinoor diamond too. Babur initially built a step-well or Baoli here and Humayun’s coronation took place at this site in the year 1530. Sher Shah also occupied the Agra Fort after defeating Humayun in 1540.
Balcony in Agra Fort (Shutterstock)
When Akbar came here in 1558, he renovated the entire fort with red sandstone and the construction was finished in eight years. Abul Fazl, Akbar’s court historian, has recorded that almost 5,000 buildings were built here previously. Shah Jahan later revamped the inside of the fort with numerous marble monuments. Close to 30 Mughal-era buildings have survived including the Bengali-Mahal, Akbari-Gate and Delhi-Gate, which are reminiscent of the architectural styles during the reign of emperor Akbar.
Courtyard and garden in Agra Fort (Shutterstock)
The Agra Fort is inextricably linked with the lore of arguably India’s greatest love story and historical tale – that of the Taj Mahal. Aurangzeb imprisoned his father Shah Jahan here for eight years, till his death in 1666 and he was buried in his beloved Taj Mahal, which he used to gaze upon from his garrison in the Agra Fort. Aurangzeb lived here after his father’s death and held his durbar, even meeting Shivaji in the Diwan-i-Khas in 1666. He died in 1707. The history of the Agra Fort in the 18th century remains linked to several plunders and sieges. It was held by the Jats and then the Marathas before the British eventually captured it in 1803, demolishing multiple buildings to build garrisons.
Where is the Agra Fort located?
The Agra Fort is located at Rakab Ganj in Agra, Uttar Pradesh.
How much area does the Agra Fort cover?
The Agra Fort covers approximately 94 acres.
How far is the Agra Fort from the Taj Mahal?
The Agra Fort is located around 2.5 kms away from the Taj Mahal.
When did the Agra Fort become a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
The Agra Fort became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.