I’m not the kind of person who would miss any opportunity to travel. So, when a friend told me that she was planning a trip to Agra and asked me if I would like to join her, I jumped in. That was actually years ago, before I started traveling solo.
My sole purpose for this trip was to visit the Taj Mahal, which we did. Taj Mahal is the most beautiful and mesmerizing monument I have ever seen. Hence, I didn’t have high hopes about the Agra Fort but I was in for a pleasant surprise. I had some knowledge about Agra Fort but was not much keen to visit then.
Though a major part of this fort is not open for visitors, with whatever I saw, I was not disappointed at all.
Why is Agra Fort famous and why should you visit it?
Agra Fort is an architectural marvel with astonishing amalgamation of Mughal and Persian architecture.
Influences of Gwalior, Bengal and Rajasthani architecture can also be noticed. This majestic fort underwent many modifications under various rulers which is evident in many areas inside the fort.
Agra Fort is a must visit for people interested in art, architecture and history. The combination of red sandstone and white marble, ornamental designs, intricate carvings, floral inlay work and the exquisite lattice work captured my attention as soon as I entered the fort.
The ancient site of the Agra Fort was earlier known as Badalgarh. The Mughals captured this fort after the first battle of Panipat in 1526 A.D. It was in ruined condition and was reconstructed under the reign of Emperor Akbar as a walled city in 1565.
Later on, modifications were made in the fort and buildings inside it as per the likings of the next emperors, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Mughals lived at this fort untill 1638, when they moved their capital from Agra to Delhi.
A major part of the fort is under the Indian Army, hence not accessible to the visitors. I don’t see any reason to lose the chance to see what we are still able to see there. Also, Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Why was the Agra Fort constructed?
The location of this city, Agra, seemed very strategic to the then Emperor Akbar for political reasons. Agra Fort, as we see in its current form, was constructed by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1573.
The fort was constructed as a residence for the royal family and administration centre. Later on, Shah Jahan added many other white marble buildings to it. Further expansion of the fort was undertaken by Aurangzeb when he constructed walls enclosing the fort and a deep moat.
It made the fort stronger against attacks.
What is inside Agra Fort?
There were hundreds of buildings inside the fort but they were demolished by Shah Jahan to construct buildings of his choice and by the British troops later in the nineteenth century to construct barracks. What we see today in the fort are the buildings that managed to survive this.
The fort is built in semi-circular shape surrounded by 21 metre tall walls.
After entering through the Amar Singh Gate, there was another gate that I passed through that led to an elevated passageway. The walls on the sides of this passageway have been renovated but there is a small part of the wall that is still in its almost original form.
Jahangir’s Bathtub or Jahangir’s Hauz
Right in front of the Jahangiri Mahal, there is a monolithic structure lying in the courtyard that was used by Jahangir for bathing. It is a movable tub with a height of 5 feet.
The entrance gate, design, art work and windows of the Jahangiri Mahal reminded me of palaces in Rajasthan. This palace is made of red sandstone. The gorgeous artwork on the pillars showcases the precision and hardwork of the workers. This is the zenana area, where the women used to live.
Khas Mahal is the palace where Shah Jahan lived with his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Precious stones, gems and gold adorned the white marble walls and ceiling of this palace with intricate carving and inlay work. Floral motifs are abundantly used in the walls adding color to its beauty.
There are golden pavilions on the sides which were used by the Shah Jahan’s daughters Roshanara and Jahanara.
There is a beautiful huge garden inside the fort that was used for growing grapes. The place where women used to stay, haram or zenana area, is also located nearby.
Diwan-E-Aam is visible as soon as you enter the main premises of the fort. It is open at three sides and the Emperor’s throne used to be placed at a considerable height on the fourth side. The Emperor used to meet his subjects and hear the public grievances in this hall.
Identical pillars and arches in white color create an attractive symmetrical appearance.
It is situated to the left of the Khas Mahal and made with white marble. This octagonal tower is the place where Shah Jahan was kept captive by his son, Aurangzeb. There is a fountain inside the chamber and the chamber is richly decorated with floral engravings.
It is said that Shah Jahan wanted to spend the rest of his life in a place where he could have a look at the Taj Mahal, where his beloved rested.
Diwan-E-Khaas or ‘Hall of private audience’ is located next to the Muthamman Burj. This is the place where the Emperor used to meet his ministers, officials and special guests. This hall was decorated with precious metals and stones that would create a great impression on the emperor’s guests.
The famous Peacock throne or ‘Takht-E-Taus’, made up of gold and precious stones, adorned this hall once. The same was looted by the Persian invader Nadir Shah from the Red Fort, Delhi in 1739.
This is a beautiful private mosque that was built by Shah Jahan inside the Agra Fort. This mosque is made in white marble and is also known as Gem Mosque or Jewel Mosque.
This mosque was also built by Shah Jahan for his personal use. It is said that he used to offer his prayers here during his imprisonment in Muthamman Burj.
Machhi Bhawan is a double storey structure that runs around a courtyard. It has a number of chambers with adjoining arched hallways. Earlier this courtyard had fish tanks and fountains. Machhi means fish. That is how it got its name ‘Machhi Bhawan’.
Sheesh Mahal was built by Shah Jahan.This palace is not open to the public now. There was a time when the walls and ceilings of this palace were gilded in gold. When artificial light fell on the small mirrors laid in the walls and ceilings, it made the ambience romantic and magical.
The precious metals that were used in this palace were plundered by the various invaders over time.
Best time to visit Agra Fort
November to February is the best time to visit Agra Fort. There is a lot of walking involved and the heat during the rest of the months would make it difficult to spend some good time here.
Timings and entry fee
- Agra Fort is open from sunrise to sunset throughout the week.
- Entry Fee- INR 50 for Indians, INR 650 for foreigners (INR 35 and 550 respectively for cashless transaction)
- Entry is free for children under 15 years of age.
How to reach Agra Fort?
Agra Fort is located in Agra, at a distance of about 200 Kms from the national capital Delhi. Agra is a famous tourist destination which is well connected with all other major cities of the country. It is easily accessible by trains and buses.
When in Agra, taxis or auto-rickshaws can be hired to reach Agra Fort. The nearest airport is Kheria Airport which is located 5 Kms away from the city. Idgah bus stand is the nearest bus station.
How many gates are there in Agra Fort?
Earlier there used to be four gates in Agra Fort but now there are only two gates- Delhi Gate and Lahore Gate. As the northern portion of the fort is under Indian Military, Delhi gate cannot be used by the visitors.
They have to enter through Lahore Gate which is also known as Amar Singh Gate. There is an inner gateway known as Elephant Gate or Hathi Gate.
Agra Fort is located in Rakabganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Drinking water and toilet facilities are available inside the fort.
Wheelchair facility is available and most of the areas can be accessed by a wheelchair.
If you are visiting Agra Fort for more than just taking pictures, I would highly recommend hiring a guide. This would add to your knowledge and experience of the visit. Make sure to check for ID issued by the government to the tour guides.
A Sound and Light Show is organised every evening after sunset. This show sheds light on the history of the Agra Fort. Tickets for this show costs INR 70 for Indians and INR 200 for foreigners. These can be purchased on the spot before the show.
Yes, Ola is available in Agra.
Bus journey would take about 3 to 4 hours to reach Agra from Delhi and it would take about 2 to 3 hours by train.
Get all the details about traveling from Delhi to Agra by clicking here.
Agra Fort is open everyday throughout the week and also on national holidays. 2 to 3 hours are usually enough for visiting the Agra Fort. It also depends upon your interest in architecture, history and photography.
Travel Tips to Agra
- In case you are visiting during summers, carry a water bottle, shades and something to cover your head.
- If possible, visit early in the morning.
- Wear comfortable shoes as there would be a lot of walking around.
Agra Fort has a long history and has been under many different rulers like Lodhi dynasty, Suri dynasty, Mughals, Marathas and British.
This trip to Agra Fort made me realise how interesting history can actually be when you get to see something like this rather than just reading it in books. I’d definitely recommend you to add Agra Fort to your list of ‘must visit places in India’.