Today I’m taking you to Agra, about 2 km northwest of the Taj Mahal. There lies a large fort which was the capital of the Mughal Empire in the 16th century. It was Emperor Akbar’s pride and refuge for numerous Rajputs.
This fort is situated on the bank of the river Yamuna at about 380,000 square meters. Originally it belonged to the Rajputs but after the Panipat battle in 1526, Mughals took over the fort, stolen all the Rajput treasures and ruled Agra. It is said that among their wealth was also the famous diamond Koh-i-noor (105 carats) which curently adorns the crown of Queen Elizabeth.
One part of the Agra fort was built of red sandstone and part of white marble. The reason was that tastes differ and while Akbar prefered red colour, his grandson, Shah Jahan, liked white marble.
Besides the red color, Akbar also loved Rajasthan. Who would not love this beautiful country. Despite the continuos conflicts between Mughals and Rajputs, Akbar always felt attraction towards Rajputana. He married a Rajput princess and he was a great fan of Rajasthani art.
First thing you see when you enter through the grand gate into the fortress is the palace which Akbar had built for his son Jahangir. The palace was also a home for many wives of Akbar.
When you pass through the first gate, you reach beautiful gardens.The largest and the most impressive garden is the Grape garden (Anguri bagh). As there are no grapes in the garden I wanted to find out why it is called Grape garden but my attention was distracted by numerous squirrels and sounds: “Madam, one photo, please madam…”
One guard explained how the garden is located next to the hammam and this was the main gathering place for the king’s wives. And apparently in the garden grew grapes of unseen quality. My conclusion was that the Mughals liked to drink wine and that the temperatures at that time did not exceed 40 C in the summer because high temperatures have a bad affect on the quality of the grape’s growth.
If you go deeper into the fortress, you will reach Hall of public audience (Diwan-i-am) and Hall of private audience (Diwan-i-khas). The king recieved there kings, diplomats, important guests but also common people to hear their complaints and needs. Within the fort there are several mosques. Akbar had one, his ministers had one, his wives had one and so on. Each mosque had its own name. Akbar’s mosque was called Divine mosque. Ministers had the Pearl mosque and the women prayed in the Gem Mosque.
Not far from the Hall of private audience is Musaman Burj tower whose balcony overlooks the Taj Mahal. It is the place where Aurangzeb imprisoned his father Shah Jahan after he proclaimed him unfit to rule. Aurangzeb’s eldest sister, princess Jahanara was also imprisoned. After the death of her mother, Mumtaz, Jahanara became the first lady of the court. Aurangzeb never accepted this and was always jealous. Jahanara on the other hand called him “white snake who will never rule Agra”. Imprisoned in the tower, Jahanara stayed there until the end of her life.