State : Uttar Pradesh
This great monument of red sandstone dominating a bend in the river
Yamuna, 2km northwest
Taj Mahal was constructed by the Mughals during 1565-1571. It was
Emperor Akbar who laid the foundation of this majestic citadel in
1565. The fort was ready by 1571 period of Shahjahan, Akbar's grandson.
The fort is crescent shaped, flattened on the east with a long,
nearly straight wall facing the river. Fort's colossal double walls
rise 69 ft in height and measure 2.5 km in circumference encircled
by a moat and contain a maze of buildings which form a small city
within a city. The fort contains splendid mosques and palaces in
red sandstone and white marble built by two generations of creative
builders during the time of Akbar and later Jehangir and Shahjahan.
The wall has 2 gates, the Delhi Gate and the Amar Singh Gate.
The original and grandest entrance was through the Delhi Gate,
which leads to the inner portal called the Hathi Pol or Elephant
Gate. But now the entrance to the fort is only through the Amar
Singh Gate. Public access is limited to the southern part of the
fort which includes nearly all the buildings of tourist interest.
Buildings Inside The Fort
This is the first notable building as one enters through the Amar
Singh Gate and emerges out of the passage. Situated north of the
gate at the end of a spacious lawn, the Jehangir's palace was built
by Akbar as a residence for his son Jehangir. The largest private
residence in the fort, it is a blend of Hindu and Central Asian
architectural styles. The Mahal is reached through an impressive
gateway and its inner courtyard consists of a two storey facade
of beautiful halls, profuse carvings on stone, heavy brackets exquisitely
carved with animal and floral motifs, piers and cross beams with
remnants of the rich gilded decorations which once covered much
of the structure. There is a verandah with slender pillars on the
eastern front facing the river front. This is the most important
building remaining from Akbars period as his successors demolished
several of Akbar's red sand structures replacing them with marble
one's. To the right of Jahangiri Mahal is a simple palace of Akbar's
favourite queen Jodha Bai.
Built entirely of marble by Shah Jahan in 1637, the Khas Mahal or
the Private Palace demonstrates distinctive Islamic-Persian features.
The enclosure has three pavilions overlooking the Yamuna, with a
fountain opposite the central pavilion. The central pavilion an
airy edifice, used by the emperor as a sleeping chamber has three
arches on each side, five in front, and two turrets rising out of
the roof. It overlooks the Angoori Bagh (grape garden). The Mahal
is flanked by two golden (copper) pavilions, one with white marble
and was supposedly decorated with gold leaf, while the other is
made with red stone, which were meant for the prominent ladies of
the harem. The Khaas Mahal provides the most successful example
of painting on a white marble surface. On the three sides of the
Grape garden are residential quarters of women.
On the left of the Khas Mahal is the Musamman Burj,
an octagonal tower with an open pavilion build by Shahjahan for
his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is made of delicate marble lattices
with ornamental niches for the ladies of the court to gaze out,
unseen. The chamber with a marble dome on top, is surrounded by
a verandah with a beautiful carved fountain in the center. The tower
looks out over the River Yamuna and is traditionally considered
to have one of the most poignant views of the Taj. This is where
Shah Jahan spent his last few years as a captive of his son Aurangazeb
and where he lay on his death bed, gazing at the Taj.
Diwan-I-Khas (hall of private audience) built by Shahjahan in 1636–37
was used to receive kings, dignitaries and ambassadors. It is a
three sided pavilion with a terrace of fine proportions. Outside
the structure is the marble throne terrace, where a pair of thrones
were kept. The black throne belonged to Jehangir. Presently, entry
is not allowed inside Diwan-i-Khas.
Diwan-I-Am (Hall of Public audience)was again a building constructed
by Shahjahan who replaced an earlier wooden structure. The arches
are covered with white lime polished to a smooth finish. The triple
arched royal canopy has lavish pietra dura ornamentation.Here was
kept the famous Peacock Throne ordered by Shahjahan. He met officials
and commoners and listened to the petitioners in the Diwan-I-Am.
Opposite to the Mussaman Burj and just below the Diwan-i-Khas hall,
at the northeastern end of the Khas Mahal courtyard is the Sheesh
Mahal or the Glass Palace. It is believed to have been the royal
dressing room and its walls are inlaid with tiny mirrors, one of
the best specimens of glass-mosaic decoration in India. The Sheesh
Mahal is composed of two large halls of equal size, each measuring
11.15m x 6.40 m. Both are connected in the centre by a broad arched
opening and on the sides by two narrow passages.
Opposite to the Diwan-i-Khas is the Macchhi Bhawan, a grand enclosure
meant for harem functions. The emperor sat on the white marble platform
of the Diwani-i-Khas facing this courtyard. It once contained pools
and marble fountains which were carried off by Jat Raja Surajmal
to his palace at Deeg. On another side stands a small mosque built
for Shahjahan by his son Aurangzeb.
How to Reach
Agra's Kheria airport is situated 6km from the city centre.
It is well connected with Delhi (204km-30 minutes flight) and major
places in India. Flights are on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and
Agra is a major railway Junction and has several railway
stations and connects the city to major places in the north as well
as the south. Agra Cantonment Railway station is the main terminal,
located southwest of the city. Two of the main services are the
Taj Express and the Shatabdi which connects Agra to Delhi, Gwalior,
Jhansi and Bhopal. Other services are the Karnataka Express (New
Delhi-Bangalore), the Jhelum Express (Jammu Tawi-Pune) and the Toofan
Express (New Delhi—Calcutta).
Agra is well linked by bus services to other places
in the State as well as outside the state and national highways
2,3 and 11 pass through the city. The state transports have deluxe
as well as ordinary buses to Delhi (every hour), Jaipur (every half
an hour), Lucknow, Gwalior, Jhansi etc from Idgah bus station. For
local travel, taxis, tempos, auto-rickshaws and cycle rickshaws
are available. Bicycles can also be hired on hourly basis