If you are in Agra and looking for other places to visit besides the Taj Mahal, look no further than the Agra Fort and a little further south, to Fatehpur Sikri.
Near the gardens of the Taj Mahal stands the important 16th-century Mughal monument known as the Red Fort of Agra. It was built primarily as a military structure by Emperor Akbar but later was transformed into a palace by Shan Jahan, the same emperor who commissioned the Taj Mahal.
Ironically after the transformation, Shan Jahan was imprisoned in the palace by his son, Aurangzeb, who overthrew him.
There are many different iconic structures to view in the fort:
Possibly the most unique structure displayed in the Agra Fort, this is also the first thing you see upon entering. The Mahal was the principal royal household, mainly used by the wives of Akbar. It has a Hindu and Central Asian style of architecture.
The Khas Mahal is the model for the Diwan-I-Khas at the red fort in Dehli. It is also known as Aramgah-i-Muqaddar, and was a private palace built by Shah Jahan for his daughters Roshnara and Jahanara
Mussaman Burj is where Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son, until his death. It was slow torture as Shah could gaze out at the Taj Mahal and see the tomb of his wife but never venture any closer.
Built in 1637 next to the Mussaman Burj, the Hall of Private Audience is approached by a staircase which brings you out at the side. A three-sided pavilion with a terrace of elegant proportions, the Diwan-i-Khas was reserved for important dignitaries or foreign representatives.
An internal staircase leads to the Diwan-i-Am which was used by Shah Jahan for government business and features a throne room where the emperor listened to petitioners. The smart positioning of the pillars gives the visitor an uninterrupted view of the throne as they arrive through the gates situated on the right- and left-hand walls of the courtyard.
From the corner opposite the Diwan-i-Khas, two doorways lead to a view over the small courtyards of the zenana (harem). Further round in the next corner is the tiny but exquisite Nagina Masjid (“Gem Mosque”). Built in 1635 by Shah Jahan, this was the private mosque of the ladies of the court.
Once you are finished with the Agra Fort, it is well worth the hour and a half drive south that it takes to visit Fatehpur Sikri
Once the blooming capital of the Mughal empire, it was abandoned in the late 1500's due to water scarcity, which still plagues the city to this day.
Supposedly one of the largest gates in all of Asia, the Buland Darwaza stands at an astounding 177 feet.
On the main gateway, an inscription in Persian reads ‘Jesus son of Mary said, “The world is a bridge pass over it, but build no houses upon it. He, who hopes for a day, may hope for eternity; but the World endures but an hour. Spend it in prayer for the rest is unseen”’.
Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of the Private Audience)
A hall meant for VIP's and religious leaders who wanted or were summoned for a private audience with the Emperor.
The living quarter of the Mughal Queen Jodhabai
Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti
The grave of Sheikh Salim Chishti is essentially the most famous building in the palace complex. The building is made of carved white marble and is one of the finest examples of the artistic stone carving mastery in medieval India.
The primary purpose of this building is known to be entertainment and was often used for various theatrical, musical and dance performances.
- Canon EF 24-70mm ƒ2.8 L II USM Lens
- Canon EF 70-200mm ƒ2.8L IS II USM Lens
- Canon EF 11-24mm ƒ4L USM Lens
- Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR Camera
- Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR Camera
- Everyone is still trying to hustle you, just be careful!
- Easy to knock out in a day
- I would do two rounds of this for photographs. Some of the light for photographing is best in the morning, but other structures such as Jahangiri Mahal would be best photographed at sunset.
- For fewer people, the earlier the better.
- Surprisingly, my 11-24mm lens was the one I used most in India and during this trek. I would advise you to make sure you have a wide angle lens to capture some of these structures effectively.