We Chose The Agra Fort for Our Next Adventure
We spent a very early morning enjoying the Taj Mahal at sunrise. After a late breakfast at the hotel, we were ready for our next adventure in Agra. There were several optional tours or activities available. We had seen some amazing photos of the Agra Fort and it was top of our list. The people who chose to go shopping instead really missed a great treat at the Red Fort in Agra.
The bus again threaded its way through the busy downtown area. The Agra Fort is often referred to as the Red Fort due to the red sandstone colour used for much of the fort. We knew we were close when we saw the high red wall and moat come into sight. If you actually get close to the stone, you can see this is a local sandstone flecked with white.
We were dropped outside the Amar Singh Gate with several hours to explore with our tour guide. We pushed through the hawkers to move forward. There was a huge supply of trinkets and trash that we had no interest in. As the guide got our passes all sorted out, we watched the monkeys welcoming us from the moat.
Entering the The Red Fort of Agra
The Agra Fort is the place where early Mughal emperors lived. While it was hard to see from the outside, this beautiful structure houses a number of palaces. Much of the fort area is still a restricted military zone but there is much for tourists still to see.
The first view we had of the Amar Singh Gate excited us for what we would find inside. The red walls showed us the first of many artistic flairs we would find in the Red Fort in Agra.
From the gates, the path took us through several courtyard areas and under more arched gateways. We stopped many times to admire the artistry. Bright coloured tiles could still be seen on the red sandstone towers.
Emerging at a large open area, we found the Jahangiri Mahal. This palace used to be the principal residence for women belonging to the royal family. It is a good example of Mughal Architecture, featuring intricate Hindu and Islamic touches. Much of this palace remains intact. We did not have time to stop. There was still much to see!
The Arches of the Diwan-i-Am
We all stopped to stare as we came out upon the Diwan-i-Am. This is also known as the Hall of Public Audience, the place where Mughal emperors received members of the general public and heard their grievances.
In front we found the tomb of John Russell Colvin. Colvin was lieutenant-governor of the North-West Provinces of British India during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. He died during the rebellion of cholera . His body could not be carried out of the Agra Fort due to the fighting.
The assembly area contains rows of ornate sandstone columns and arches. It was not the red sandstone we expected to see at the Red Fort in Agra. Our tour guide explained that the building was constructed in red sandstone. It was then plastered with white shell plaster to resemble the white marble used in much of the palace construction.
The raised rectangular chamber in the centre of the back wall was the Throne Room. From here the emperor addressed the people. It remains in good shape. You can see the artistry and decoration in the marble design. The arched opening was inlaid with precious stones.
From the inside and through the arches, we could see the palace inside the Red Fort in Agra. This would be our next stop.
Our View of the Palace
Leaving the Diwan-iAm, we stopped in the large central courtyard to admire the first view of the palace building (the Khas-Mahal or King’s Palace). This was the gem of the Red Fort in Agra.
Today’s Agra Fort took its final form during the reign of Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal. While his predecessors built largely in red sandstone, Shah Jahan erected structures in white marble. The marble included inlaid semi-precious gems and gold carvings.
Before heading for a closer look, we stopped to look at the Angoori Bahg. The garden was a private area of relaxation within the Red Fort in Agra for the royal ladies. The garden was divided into various subdivisions with elaborate geometric patterns. A concrete platform with a fountain is in the middle.
Wandering Through the Halls of the Palace
The central area was open with arches and columns facing out.
We wandered from room to room. Everywhere we looked there were carvings, ceiling art and alcoves to explore. In one of the alcoves we discovered a section with translucent marble, glowing as the sun shown through.
There are two golden pavilions on either side of the Khas Mahal. From the open portals, we could look out over the river.
The Beauty of the Muthamman Burj
No visit to the Red Fort can be complete without standing in awe at the beauty of the Muthamman Burj. This octagonal tower is where the Mughal emperor would appear every morning before his subjects.
It was built entirely of marble with deep niches in the walls. The walls still show the inlaid jewels in many places. The designs depict stylish borders with carved plants in the centre, Chinese cloud forms and conventional floral patterns.
It was hard to believe that this beautiful palace served as a jail. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan spent eight years of his imprisonment here. Shah Jahan died here. On his death, he was taken by boat to the mausoleum he built for his wife, the Taj Mahal. From certain points in the palace, you can see the Taj Mahal off in the distance.
One Last Shimmering Treat
Before we headed out, we stopped at the Shish Mahal. This is also known as the Palace With Mirrors. Convex mirror pieces cover the walls making the rooms appear to twinkle.
Leaving the Red Fort in Agra
We had moved at a quite fast pace through the Red Fort in Agra. Everywhere we looked, there was yet another gem to discover. We found this extensive site to be far more beautiful than we would have believed. While people come to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, they should not miss spending time at the Red Fort.
Have you visited the Red Fort in Agra? Did you find it as stunning as we did?