Posted on 11/21/2007

Photo taken on September 14, 2007

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Agra Fort

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One of the Kings walks

One of the Kings walks
Jehangiri Mahal Corridors, Agra Fort

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.

It is the most important fort in India. The great Mughals Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb lived here, and the country was governed from here. It contained the largest state treasury and mint. It was visited by foreign ambassadors, travellers and the highest dignitaries who participated in the making of history in IndiaThis was originally a brick fort and the Chauhan Rajputs held it. It was mentioned for the first time in 1080 AD when a Ghaznavide force captured it. Sikandar Lodi (1487-1517) was the first Sultan of Delhi who shifted to Agra and lived in the fort. He governed the country from here and Agra assumed the importance of the 2nd capital. He died in the fort in 1517 and his son, Ibrahim Lodi, held it for nine years until he was defeated and killed at Panipat in 1526. Several palaces, wells and a mosque were built by him in the fort during his period.

After Panipat, Mughals captured the fort and a vast treasure - which included a diamond that was later named as the Kohinoor diamond - was seized. Babur stayed in the fort in the palace of Ibrahim. He built a baoli (step well) in it. Humayun was coronated here in 1530. Humayun was defeated in Bilgram in 1530. Sher Shah held the fort for five years. The Mughals defeated the Afghans finally at Panipat in 1556.

Realizing the importance of its central situation, Akbar decided to make it his capital and arrived in Agra in 1558. His historian, Abdul Fazal, recorded that this was a brick fort known as 'Badalgarh' . It was in a ruined condition and 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 4000 builders worked on it for eight years, completing it in 1573.
It was only during the reign of Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan, that the site finally took on its current state. The legend is that Shah Jahan built the beautiful Taj Mahal for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Unlike his grandfather, Shah Jahan tended to have buildings made from white marble, often inlaid with gold or semi-precious gems. He destroyed some of the earlier buildings inside the fort in order to make his own.

At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort, a punishment which might not seem so harsh, considering the luxury of the fort. It is rumored that Shah Jahan died in Muasamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony with an excellent view of the Taj Mahal.

This was also a site of one of the battles 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.

Agra Fort should not be confused with the much smaller Red Fort at Delhi. The Mughals never referred the Red Fort as a fort; rather, it was referred as the 'Lal Haveli', or the Red Bungalow.

UNESCO designated the Fort a World Heritage Site in 1983.

The Agra Fort plays a key role in the Sherlock Holmes mystery, The Sign of the Four, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Agra Fort was featured in the music video for Habibi Da, a hit song of Egyptian pop star Hisham Abbas.

Shivaji came to Agra in 1666 as per the Purandar Treaty entered into with Mirza Raje Jaisingh to met Aurangzeb in the Diwan-i-khas. In the audience he was deliberately placed behind men of lower rank, Insulted he stormed out of the imperial audience and was confined to Jai Sing's quarters on 12th May 1666. Fearing the dungeons and excecution, in a famously sweet legend, he escaped on the 17th of August 1666. A heroic equestrian statue of Shivaji has been erected outside the fort.

In the second expansion pack for Age of Empires 3, the Asian Dynasties, Agra fort is conformed to be one of five wonders for Indian civilization