Fort Agra, India
One of the sightseeing spots near the Taj Mahal. The fort is a quite extensive complex, originally built by the grandfather of the emperor Shah Jahan. The emperor demolished a section in order to rebuilt many chambers, squares and halls using white building stones. The difference in architecture and style is noticeable. It is said that the emperor had a great (better) insight in architecture. Well, as he is responsible for the Taj Mahal architecture, why disagree!
Picture: Fort Agra entrance guard
Arrival Fort Agra
Upon arrival, you may be welcomed by wild Monkeys. Be careful with food, as they have experience with getting what they want. They are reasonably tame, in the sense that you can get relatively close to take a picture. However, carefulness is always a good thing as they still are wild animals and can carry deceases.
After being locked up in the Fort by his own son for spending too much of the families wealth on building the Taj Mahal, the emperor spend his days looking from his windows to the Taj Mahal, where the remains of his wife were put to rest. As both buildings are in close distance next to the river, from the Fort you have a clear view on the Taj Mahal.
Pictures: The outer walls of Fort Agra, in the old days, surrounded by water
Before that, the emperor lived in Fort Agra with his harem. The emperor was the only one with access to the harem, nobody else, not even his son, up until he would become emperor would have access. The harem was divided in 3 divisions: (i) woman who looked good with nice bodies, (ii) woman who were smart and (iii) woman who were strong. The emperor hand-picked his harem to his liking. It was not an option for the woman to decline the honor. Next to the woman, the were eunuch’s living in the Fort too, as they would not pose a threat to the harem and thus the emperor. The first category of woman had the job of satisfying the emperors needs and keep the emperor company. The second group of woman, the smart ones, were there to mentally satisfy the emperor and to manage the first group of woman. The strong woman were chosen for protection of the other woman and of course the emperor. In the Fort, it is said that a lot of extravagant parties took place with the emperor and his harem. A pool in the center of the courtyard, is assumed to be one of the places where the parties started/took places.
As the heat was a problem, allot of measures were taken to cool down the premises. At the pool-area, when you look up, you will see stone rings hanging outside. These rings were used to hang up the shading and tents. Also an irrigation system was maintained and (river-overlooking-) rooms were designed in such a way that is was made sure that sufficient wind would blow over the grounds to cool the area down.
For the decoration of this building, a fortune has been spend, bringing over valuable stones from, amongst others, Turkey and China. When you walk around the premises, you will get a feel on what life was like, a long time ago.
Pictures: a view of the inside of Fort Agra
The fort is approximately 4 hours drive from Delhi International Airport. When visiting both places, it would be best to take a taxi or Tuk Tuk back and forth between Taj Mahal and Fort Agra, as it is about 10-15 minutes drive, and taxi’s are not that expensive. In case you feel hungry after your tour through Fort Agra, close by is a restaurant called: “Pinch of spice”. This restaurant is usually filled with western tourist as they serve Indian food, but without the really heavy peppers. So Western style Indian food.