The mighty, rust-red sandstone towers and battlements of Agra Fort loom over the city that shares their name, their imposing mass sheltering magnificent palaces, pavilions, halls and mosques, all set amid enchanting landscaped gardens.
One of India's most iconic sights, Agra Fort served as the main palace of the Mughal Emperors until the capital moved to Delhi in 1638. Mughal Emperor Akbar began construction on the great structure in 1565. Built on the foundations of an earlier fort, it was originally intended as a military fortress before being transformed into a palace by his successor, Shah Jahan. For the latter it also became a prison for eight years following a coup by his son Aurangzeb in 1658. While many of the buildings that once existed inside the imposing 70ft walls have been lost over the centuries (it is said that there were 500 at one point), Agra Fort tours still provide ample opportunity to gain a feel for the sense of grandeur and extravagant display of power and wealth that it once represented. While there are no longer elephants strolling through its huge gates or crocodiles lurking in its moat, there is still plenty of captivating architecture to explore here.
Take a guided tour of Agra’s famous fort to discover life as lived by the imperial family, their court and servants. Its fortified exterior and the opulent structures within tell the story of decades of imperial building projects, the interplay between Hindu and Islamic styles and cultures, and the varying tastes of different rulers. Inside this UNESCO World Heritage Site you'll find various palaces built by the emperors for their children and wives, as well as stunning gardens and water features. See the sturdy but ornate architecture of Jahangir's Palace, Akbar's most notable remaining structure, which has a vast stone bathtub in front of it. The all-marble Khas Mahal, once the living quarters of Shah Jahan, is another highlight on most Agra Fort tours, as is the Shah Jahani Mahal palace with its mix of marble and red stone (once all painted white). The splendid Diwan-I-Khas (Hall of Public Audience) sits at the eastern wall of the fort, and was where important visiting dignitaries were received. The Nagina Masjid and Mina Masjid, meanwhile, are two exquisitely-decorated mosques constructed from pure white marble.
The north section of Agra Fort is still used by the Indian Army - one of the main reasons its grandest gate, the Delhi Gate on the fort's west side, is not open to the public on Agra Fort tours. Entry is through the Amar Singh Gate on the fort's south side. The fort is open from 6am to 6pm each day, and entry for tourists is currently 550 rupees. Agra Fort tours can be combined with a visit to another spectacular landmark - the Taj Mahal is within walking distance, as is the Mehtab Bagh park, where perfectly symmetrical views of the iconic mausoleum can be captured.
A history enthusiast’s paradise and a remarkable building that fills every visitor with awe, Agra Fort is an unforgettable place to visit on your India tour.
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