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Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Agra, India. The fort is also known as Lal Qila, Fort Rouge and Red Fort of Agra. It is about 2.5 km northwest of its much more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. The fort can be more accurately described as a walled palatial city. Akbar built the fort of sandstone; his grandson Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal, constructed palaces of white marble within the fort itself. Shah Jahan was imprisoned in Agra Fort following the coup of his son, Aurangzeb, and died here in 1657.
Agra Fort built by Akbar in Red Sandstone when he was through with the consolidation of his power after accession to power in 1654, Agra Fort worked both as a military strategic point as well as the royal residence. Ever since Babur defeated and killed Ibrahin Lodi at Panipat in 1526, Agra played an important center of Mughal Empire it was in a ruined condition and Akbar decided to make it his capital and arrived in Agra in 1558 Akbar had it rebuilt with red sandstone. Architects laid the foundation and it was built with bricks in the inner core with sandstone on external surfaces. Some 1,444,000 builders worked on it for eight years, completing it in 1573.
At the end of his life, his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort, a punishment that might not seem so harsh, considering the luxury of the fort, imprisoned Shah Jahan. It is rumored that Shah Jahan died in Muasamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony with an excellent view of the Taj Mahal.
The fort contains splendid palaces both in red sandstone and white marble built by two generations of prolific builders Akbar and later Jehangir and Shahjahan. Of the nearly 500 Akbari buildings built in the Bengal and Gujarati traditions only a few have survived, arrayed in a band on the riverfront.
Some of the exquisite structures that deserve a mention are:
Sheesh Mahal – Literally meaning ‘Glass Palace’ it was the royal dressing room adorned by tiny mirror-like glass-mosaic decorations on the walls.
The Diwan-i-Am – Which was used as a communications ground between the public and the aristocracy and once housed the Peacock Throne.
Diwan-i-Khas – A hall of private audience, it was used to welcome kings and dignitaries.
The Anguri Bagh – It houses 85 square, geometrically arranged lush gardens.
Khas Mahal – An immaculate white marble palace.
Mina Masjid – Literally meaning ‘Heavenly Mosque’ it is a tiny mosque closed to the public.
Nagina Masjid – Literally meaning ‘Gem Mosque’ it was designed exclusively for the ladies of the court.
Musamman Burj – A large, octagonal tower with a balcony facing the Taj Mahal.