Friday, March 18, 2011

Agra (Uttar Pradesh) – Part 2 The Red Fort

The Red Fort at Agra was built between 1567 and 1575 by Akbar alongside the Yamuna River that runs on past the Taj Mahal. This is one of the largest riverside forts in India with large sandstone ramparts and a moat running between the inner and outer walls.

Entry to the fort is across a bridge to the Amar Singh Gate which was an addition by Jahangir (Akbar’s son).

This leads through two further large sandstone gateways set at right angles to one another.

After passing through the third gate there is a long ramp up to the ground level of the main fort

The Palace complex lies to the right while straight ahead through another gate brings you to a large open courtyard and gardens in front of the Diwan I Am (Public Audience Hall).

Beyond the courtyard to the north is the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) built by Shah Jahan between 1643 and 1653. It is reputedly a particularly fine marble mosque and courtyard but the whole area north of the Diwan I Am courtyard was closed for repairs on my visit in 2004.

The Diwan I Am is large and the original sandstone construction of Akbar’s time is thought to have had its marble columns added by Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. The Diwan-I-Am is where the representative of King James first met with Akbar to discuss trade arrangements with GB.
In Shah Jahan’s time the emperor would sit in the finely decorated marble balcony on the Peacock Throne.

The Palace apartments complex starts with Jahangir’s Palace facade of intricately inlaid marble that was added to Akbar’s original Palace between 1605 and 1615.

Passing through the archway the rooms and courtyard beyond are in Hindu style, the courtyard has “square” arches and extravagantly carved roof support brackets that include some very un-Islamic parrots.

Beyond this primarily sandstone palace lie a series of magnificent marble pavilions added under Shah Jahan. The Khas Mahal was Shah Jahan’s private palace where he entertaineded painters, musicians and wives.

The two marble pavilions in the Anguri Bagh (Grape Garden) were built for Shah Jahan’s favourite daughters and have some magnificent inlay decoration.

The Harem buildings form three sides of the quadrangle around the formal harem gardens of the Anguri Bagh that sit before the Khas Mahal,

Tip for travelers, Agra’s Red Fort receives my worst toilet award for India, truly disgusting – I really daren’t go into details!

Agra Red Fort photo collection:
More on the Red Fort:

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