Constructed entirely from white marble, this tiny mosque was reserved for the ladies of the Agra Fort. Its name, Nagina Masjid, means "Jewel Mosque". It consists of an open prayer hall with polyfoil arches and is crowned by three onion-shaped domes. Emperor Shah Jahan built this mosque in 1631.
This large hypostyle hall was the Diwan-i-Am, or the "Hall of Public Audience." It is where the Emperor received his ministers and administered the affairs of the Mughal Empire. The large rectangular structure was built in 1628 by Shah Jahan in red sandstone but it was plastered over and decorated in stucco to look like white marble. Its series of columns and polyfoil arches have a dazzling effect in the interior, which also contains the throne on which the Emperor sat. Diwan-i-Am lies on the eastern end of the large landscaped courtyard surrounded by arcaded red sandstone porticoes. The courtyard has two monumental entrances on the northern and southern sides. Originally, the public entered through the northern entrance which connected directly to the Delhi Gate, while the southern entrance was a private one. Nowadays, visitors enter through the southern gate, while the northern gate is restricted.
Named after the brother of the Maharaja of Jodhpur who was executed here in 1644, the Amar Singh Gate is the southern entrance of the Agra Fort. It is nowadays the visitors' entrance as well, and consists of three successive defensive gateways intended to deter any invader. Each gateway is beautifully decorated, but the most exquisite is the third one, whose two polygonal bastions are partly covered in colourful decorative glazed tiles, albeit badly preserved.
One of the oldest surviving structures in the Agra Fort, Jehangiri Mahal was built by Emperor Akbar in 1565. Its architecture thus reflects the earlier imperial style which was a synthesis between Islamic and Hindu designs, constructed in red sandstone and decorated with intricate carvings and white marble inlay. The exterior of Jehangiri Mahal is somewhat more Mughal-Islamic in style with a monumental gateway decorated with pointed arches and geometric designs, similar to structures seen in Delhi. In contrast, the inner courtyard exhibits the Hindu architectural features of Akbar's taste and is highly reminiscent of the imperial palaces of Fatehpur Sikri, another Akbar-era project. The back of the palace opens to another courtyard-terrace with views over the River Yamuna. South of Jehangiri Mahal was another Akbar-era palace, known as Akbari Mahal, but nowadays it is in ruins.
For photos of the architectural details of this palace, take a look at the travelogue: "Agra Fort - Jehangiri Mahal."
The open and barren terrace just outside Diwan-i-Khas was once covered in what was perhaps the most richly decorated pavilion in the entire Agra Fort. The reason for this extravagance was that it contained the emperors' thrones. Unfortunately, this pavilion was destroyed when the Agra Fort was invaded and pillaged by the Jat Kingdom in 1761, and its decorations were removed and transported to the palace of the Jat ruler, Surajmal, in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Although the pavilion is long gone, two imperial thrones remain on the terrace: a white marble one facing the Machchhi Bhavan courtyard and a black onyx one facing River Yamuna. The latter is known as Takht-i-Jehangir (Jehangir's Throne). From this terrace, one could enjoy the best views across the River Yamuna to the Taj Mahal.
Located north of the courtyard of Diwan-i-Am, Moti Masjid was the grand mosque of the Agra Fort. The white marble that covers the structure in its entirety earned it the name "Pearl Mosque" (moti = pearl, masjid = mosque). It was built in 1646 by Shah Jahan, and follows the typical Mughal-period design, with three onion shaped domes crowning the long rectangular prayer hall, which is preceded by an arcaded courtyard. However, the white marble that covers the structure is a deviation from the typical red sandstone seen at most other Mughal-period mosques. This mosque is said to be one of the most beautiful Mughal-period mosques in India, but unfortunately, it lies in the restricted area of the Agra Fort and is thus not open to visitors (at least when I visited in Feb 2009). A glance at its majestic domes and chhatris from the courtyard of Diwan-i-Am had to suffice.
Situated at the westernmost end of the half circular shaped Agra Fort, facing the old city, the Delhi Gate was once the main public entrance into the fort. It consists of an imposing gate flanked by two octagonal towers crowned by chhatris (domed pavilions). This gate is nowadays closed to the public as it is used exclusively by the Indian military which occupies a large section of the Agra Fort. The Delhi Gate is best seen from downtown Agra, near the main mosque, Jami Masjid.
Named after its octagonal shape, Muthamman Burj (or Mussamman) juts out of the walls of the Agra Fort towards the River Yamuna (muthamman = octagonal, burj = tower). Shah Jahan built it in 1631 for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and he spared no expense in it decorating with white marble, pointed arches, intricate jali screens and precious stones. It was in this palace that Emperor Shah Jahan himself was imprisoned when he was deposed by his son Aurangzeb in 1658, and from its veranda he was able to gaze at the mausoleum of his late wife, the Taj Mahal, until his death in 1666.
The formidable red sandstone Agra Fort was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1565 while Agra served as the capital of his empire. Construction continued until 1573, by which time Akbar had already moved the capital to nearby Fatehpur Sikri, then to Lahore, before once again making Agra the capital in 1599. Two other emperors, Jehangir and Shah Jahan, ruled from the Agra Fort, until the latter built the Red Fort and Shahjahanabad (now known as Old Delhi), and moved the capital there in 1648. The interior of the Agra Fort contains a collection of sumptuous palaces and pavilions, in a variety of architectural styles depending on the taste of the emperor who built them, all overlooking the majestic River Yamuna. The British later used the Agra Fort as a military base and added a few of their own structures, which continue to be used by the Indian military to the present day and are closed to the public. The rest of the Agra Fort, where the imperial palaces lie, is open to the public.
Originally built by the local hindu leaders around the year 1,000, this fort was later adopted by the first Mughal leader in the area, Sikander Lodi in the late 1400's. Today the fort is still used by the Indian military but the most intersting portions are open to the public.
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