on October 4, 2007
Since I was in Agra to see the remains of the grandiose Mughal constructions, I could not skip the huge Agra Fort, 2 km from the Taj Mahal, on the same bank of the Yamuna river. Some parts of the fort are still used by the Indian Army and are out of bounds for visitors, but it is still possible to have an overall insight on the Mughal constructions from Akbar the Great to Shah Jahan (his grand-son). Entrance is included in the Taj Mahal ticket provided you visit it on the same day. At Amar Singh Gate (the only entrance to the Fort for visitors, named after a maharajah of Jodhpur), I was assaulted by herds of so-called guides and children selling postcards. It was really hard for me to get past the crowd of stalkers, but the entrance is well guarded and once I was in the Fort, it was much quieter. Beware of the monkeys in just after the entrance, in front of Jehangir’s Palace (the first monument that you will see). I approached them too closely and I was almost attacked by one of them. In the Great Courtyard, the beautiful Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience) is really picturesque with its white marble columns. After this, I entered the Royal Enclosure where I could admire several beautiful mosques (the Moti Mahal is probably the most beautiful one in India with its white marble), palaces (do not miss the Shish Mahal with its small mirrors and Jehangir’s Palace with various architectural influences). From most balconies in the pavilions, I could admire the Taj Mahal but had to avoid the aggressive monkeys once again. It was where Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb and could not do anything else than stare at the mausoleum erected for his beloved wife until his death in the Musamman Burj, a beautiful white marble tower. The main parts of the fort (the red sandstone walls and gates) were built during the reign of Akbar (1556-1605) but Shah Jahan built most of the buildings in the fortress afterwards (Diwani-e-Am in 1628 among others).The buildings in Agra Fort are interesting to visit because they sum up the evolution of Mughal architecture from red sandstone big walls to white marble monuments with fine floral and geometrical designs. It is easy to notice the various influences in the buildings (Hindu, Arabic and Central Asian styles mix together harmoniously).
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