Agra Fort may always be in the shadow of the Taj Mahal, but travellers willing to explore the beauty of this Indian treasure will ultimately be rewarded, from sunrise to sunset. In addition to my own words and photographs, please refer to this site for some detailed history on Agra Fort.
The highlight of my trip to Agra and India in as a whole was, of course, the Taj Mahal, but Agra Fort is a major tourist attraction that is actually very close to the Taj itself. I visited the Agra Fort around noon having spent the entire morning at the Taj. I used a motor rickshaw to travel along the Yamuna River between the two awe-inspiring attractions, and it was not difficult to find somebody willing to transport me. The 4km journey was interesting in that it was nice to see the Taj getting smaller behind me, while at the same time Agra Fort looming ever-larger in front of me! When I was there, I soon realised that, in its own way, Agra Fort was just as special at the Taj Mahal. After paying the extortionate 300 Rupees admission fee for ‘foreigners’, I was able to enter the complex. The red coloured walls of the fort here this afternoon were in stark contrast to the marble white by which I had been so encapsulated in the morning. And it was busy. Very busy. I expected it at the Taj (just like the Pyramids, or the Great Wall of China), but here it was quite unexpected. For the most part, it was difficult to get a clear photo of any part of the fort without mass crowds in the way!
I thought the semi-circular layout of Agra Fort is very similar to that of the Red Fort in Delhi, not to mention the 70ft walls of the fort bearing striking similarity in colour! It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (one of 3 in the city of Agra), and is very reminiscent of a walled city. Some of the most famous features here are the four gates, positioned on each side of Agra Fort. In particular, the Delhi Gate is considered to be a marvel of Mughal architecture. I would like to remark on the number of monkeys I saw here at Agra Fort. I had seen none when visiting the Taj Mahal, but here at Agra Fort, monkeys were literally everywhere.
Agra Fort’s Diwan-I-Am (“Hall of Public Audience”), said to be erected by Shah Jahan, is another amazing part of the complex. The details on the ceilings and columns of the building are a sight to behold. Many royal pavilions are positioned in the centre parts of the Agra Fort complex, as well as some important mosques and other elegant palaces including Macchi Bhavan, Shish Mahal and the Zenana Mina Bazaar! It takes a long time to have a look at everything, and regretfully my visit was a flying one, so it was not as comprehensive as I would have liked, yet I still achieved my ambition of seeing some of the interior sections of Agra Fort – and I was not disappointed!
My trip to Agra Fort was an amazing experience, and one that I would probably like to do again one day, if I ever find myself in this part of India. Even though I visited in the middle of the day, rather than the presumably optimal sunrise or sunset periods, I still got everything I wanted to get from the visit (despite not bothering with a guide).
In fact, of the three cities in the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ of India (Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra), I would claim that Agra is the comfortably the true highlight.