I visited the 2 beautiful monuments of Agra, The Taj Mahal, and Agra Fort in December last year. While my mother was in awe of the Taj, my dad and brother loved the fort and roamed around scanning every single room and garden with a lot of patience and intrigue. The fort has a lot of history, culture, beauty, and architecture to soak in. I was busy clicking pictures then and was also intrigued to find out more details and facts. So, here is a list of 15 interesting facts to know about the magnificent Agra Fort.
- History before Akbar:
Ibrahim Lodhi lost the fort in Battle of Panipat (1517-1526) >> Babur took over after defeating Ibrahim (1526-1530) >> Humayun (1530-1540) >> Sher Shah Suri captured the fort and it remained under the Suri Dynasty until 1555 when Humayun recaptured it >>Hemu (1555-1556) >> Akbar defeated Hemu in second battle of Panipat and captured Agra.
- Realizing the importance of the forts central and strategical location, Akbar made it his capital and arrived in Agra in 1558.
- It took 8 years and 1,444,000 workers to rebuild the Fort under Akbar’s rule using Red Sandstone brought in from the district of Dhaulpur in Rajasthan.
- Agra Fort was built by Akbar primarily as a military structure, but his son, Shah Jahan transformed it into a palace using white marble that can still be seen in various parts of the fort.
- The fort is separated from its sister monument Taj Mahal by just 2.5 kilometers.
- The fort houses numerous impressive structures like the Jahangir Mahal, Khas Mahal, Diwan-i-Khass, Diwan-i-Am, Machchhi Bhawan, Moti Masjid.
- Other attractions of the fort include a grape garden, a jasmine tower, a mirror palace (Shish Mahal), courtrooms and the ruins of Akbar’s once magnificent palace. It is said that the fort once housed five hundred beautiful looking buildings. Unfortunately, many of those buildings were destroyed at different time periods for various reasons.
- The Diwan-i-Khas in Agra Fort once housed Shah Jahan’s iconic “Peacock Throne”, which was inset with precious stones including the magnificent Koh-i-Noor.
- Shah Jahan spent his last 8 years in the fort under house arrest on the orders of his son, Aurangzeb (who seized power in 1658). Shah Jahan spent his final years marveling at the Taj from “Muasamman Burj” balcony reminiscing his beloved, Mumtaz Mahal and his days of glory.
- It was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until 1638 when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi.
- The Agra Fort served as a model for Shah Jahan’s Red Fort in Delhi.
- The fort was the site of a battle during the Indian rebellion of 1857, which caused the end of the British East India Company’s rule in India, and led to a century of direct rule of India by Britain.
- After India attained independence in 1947, the British handed the fort over to the Indian government. The Indian military now uses 80% of it.
- The Agra fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- It is said that the hollowed walls of the royal chambers were filled with water to keep the rooms cool in summer. It is also believed that the fort has several hidden underground tunnels and secret passages.