More Mughal Era Monuments – Tour of The Agra Fort. Pauli in India – Part 2
Well hello you, welcome back to Paul in India Part 2 where we tour the Mughal era Monuments in Agra including the Agra Fort with me Pauli as your guide
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I promised to show you more of the gorgeous places I visited in Agra! After my Taj Mahal jaunt, I headed off to see more of this wonderful region, specifically mughal era monuments and sites. My wanderlust and engineering spirit were truly in heaven. Alice in wonderland must have felt like I did lol. So come on lets go…
I continued my quest for the rich heritage of the country. Despite being famous and known for the Taj, Agra is home to other Mughal era monuments with outstanding architecture. Check out this architectural view of the mughal era monuments! I took this opportunity to tour other famous monuments like Agra Fort and Itmad-ud-Daulah. Although not as comprehensive as the top 10 mughal monuments … See even India TV News gives you their top 5 mughal era monuments via their website. I am only sharing what I saw and how I felt about it, so that you too may decide if you would love to go see for your self
MUGHAL ERA MONUMENTS – AGRA FORT
Agra Fort or the Red Fort was constructed by the Akbar the Great who was a mighty Mughal Emperor. It is an amalgamation of palaces and buildings of various tastes and architectural expressions of Mughal rulers, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. Agra Fort is located along the right bank of the Yamuna river towards the East of Agra City. The Yamuna river presents beautiful panoramic views from the facade facing it. Construction of Agra Fort was begun in 1565 over a period of eight years to its completion. It is surrounded by two big ditches that were moats in those days filled with crocodiles for protection from enemies. The fort complex covers a radius of three kilometres with a thick and tall perimeter wall, 70-foot high and built from red sandstone.
We entered Agra Fort via a majestic gate, the main Amar Singh Gate or the Lahore Gate. It is apparently named after Rao Amar Singh of Jodhpur and formerly called the Akbar Darwazza (Akbar Gate). This gate is located on the southern extremity of the fort and it was built by Emperor Shah Jahan. There is a second gate, the Delhi gate that is also open to the public. (I had a great Tour Guide don’t you think!) I had also done some research in preparation for my tour, I like to be informed.
As I wandered around the complex, I admired the mixture of the genius of Akbar’s architectural mindset inspired by Gujarat and Bengal architecture, together with the meticulous designs of Shah Jahan which were expressions of the flamboyant dynasty. A lot of the surface decorations are non-islamic, with mortifs of birds, dragons and elephants instead of calligraphgy. After the Taj Mahal, my eyes were honed to receive more beauty and awe and Agra Fort didn’t disappoint as my images show I hope! Man am I grateful to have had this opportunity! Thank you Universe!
MUGHAL ERA MONUMENTS – JEHANGIRI MAHAL
On the southern extremity of the complex, was one of the remains of the surviving buildings, the Jehangiri Mahal; or Jahangir’s palace which is a double storied building of striking red sandstone. A palace built by Akbar the Great for his son. It is the largest part of Agra Fort. In contrast, Jahangir’s son, Shah Jahan chose white marble when he constructed the famous Taj Mahal for his wife. Yet Agra Fort in my view is just as awesome and amazing in its own way, not on as large a scale.
Sadly, although Agra fort used to contain several other buildings, only a few are still in existence such as the Diwan-e-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas, Sheesh Mahal and Akbari Mahal.
The Diwan – e – Aam, the Hall of the Public Audience was constructed by Akbar the Great. Shah Jahan remodelled it and built the arches, pillars and ceiling with a finish of inlaid marble work. He also built the throne room where the Royal Darbar was held to hear petitions. I walked into this room and imagined the court in session, the multitude of colours, the judges and the condemned…Sobering thoughts! Didn’t take away from my joy at being here!
Diwan-i-Khas or the Khas Mahal, the Hall of Private Audience was built by Shah Jahan using white marble in 1637 for hosting visiting kings and dignitaries. It features a black throne of Jehangir and it has a facade to the Yamuna River on one side. It has two big halls, pillars and arches that are inlaid with precious stones and coloured flowers. I cant even begin to imagine the cost of security in this place…Yet you don’t feel over whelmed or threatened by it.
I loved the sheer brightness of the white marble pavilions, open courts and the beautiful tank in the front with fountains, very calming place, It made me feel spiritually grounded. And the fact that its not as favoured by tourists means it was less crowded and I could enjoy it in actual solitude! I imagined Julie cutting a few videos and showcasing it even better, I missed her and the little ones greatly at this point…
Check Our those intricate ceilings, an Architect’s Dream 🙂
MUGHAL ERA MONUMENTS – THE SHEESH MAHAL
By the way you might wonder at all these Mahals, whats the meaning? The word Mahal simply means Palace!
The Sheesh Mahal, also known as the ‘Palace of Mirrors’ or the ‘Hall of Mirrors’, was used as a dressing room by the ladies of the “Harem.” Note that its not the in downtown Oklahoma!
This Palace has walls with intricate mirror-work inlaid into the white marble walls and ceilings to create a gleaming effect. It was built by Shah Jahan in 1630 like a Turkish Bath. It has two chambers and two tanks for hot and cold water. These chambers are paved with marble floors carved and inlaid with designs of fish. This is where the Mughal Emperor used to enjoy himself and relax with many of his beautiful wives. Imagine such a scene, sheer decadence!
MUGHAL ERA MONUMENTS – AKBARI MAHAL
The Akbari Mahal or Akbar’s Palace was another of the mughal era monuments built in red sandstone between 1565 and 1569. This palace complex uses chief ornamentation techniques of simple carvings and architectural features. It has a large stone paved courtyard and it was designed to ensure security of the women in the harem.
MUGHAL ERA MONUMENTS – ITMAD-UD-DAULAH
It was time to move on and visit the Itmad-ud-Daulah or “Pillar of the State” situated on the
opposite side of river Yamuna. This is where the Mughal architecture transcends from the phase of red sandstone to white marble. This mausoleum or stately building that houses a tomb was the very first to be built out of marble in India. The detailed design of the Itmad-ud-Daulah is a clear statement of finesse by the Jahangir’s wife, Nur Jahan in loving memory of her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg. Its construction began in 1622 and was completed in 1629.
The main entrance gate is made of red sandstone with a HUGE double storied structure that has inlay work of white marble. It has rooms that provided a cool retreat from the summer heat. The upper chambers were used by Royal ladies as bathrooms.
The story of Mirza Ghiyas Beg (later known as Itmad-ud-Daulah) is a typical tale of “rags to riches”. Ghiyas Beg was a poor merchant in Persia (Today’s Iran). He wanted to abandon his new born daughter, since he had no money to feed her. He later changed his mind as the kid was crying continuously.
The baby girl allegedly brought good luck to her parents when Ghiyas Beg found a caravan that took him to the court of the great Mughal Emperor, Akbar. When Akbar died in 1605, his son Jahangir became the Mughal emperor. Jahangir married Nur Jahan who made Ghiyas Beg his Prime minister or Wazir and also honoured him with the title of Itimad-ud-Daulah or the “Pillar of the State”.
Nur Jahan ordered the construction of tomb after the death of her father, Ghiyas Beg, in 1622. Mirza Ghiyas Beg was also the grandfather of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Shah Jahan, who constructed the Taj Mahal.
The Itmad-ud-Daula was meticulously carved out of white marble with an architectural mixture of Indian influence. Its marked by the absence of the dome and a closed kiosk on top of the building, together with Persian influence symbolised by the use of arched entrances and octagonal shaped towers.
From above, the Itmad-ud-Daula is set in a beautiful garden and it looks like a “Jewel Box” on the Yamuna river bank. Its also nicknamed the “Baby Taj” since its design was used as a basis for that of the Taj Mahal.
The Itmad-ud-Daula walls are constructed from white marble encrusted extensively using the “Pietra dura” inlay technique with semi-precious stone decorations later used at a much larger scale in the Taj Mahal. The walls are decorated with images of jugs, cypress trees and vine flasks carved on the marble. Light penetrates to the interior through delicate jali screens that were intricately carved by hand out of white marble.
Many relatives of Nur Jahan are interred in the mausoleum. In the entire complex, the only element that is not symmetrical is that the cenotaphs of her father and mother have been set side-by-side. A formation replicated in the Taj Mahal.
I could not miss the ceilings that are so beautifully decorated. Originally with gold and silver, scraped away by the Jats during their short occupation of Agra. It was repaired and painted with some of the original colours still visible.
After a wonderful and breath-taking day, it was time for me to retire to my hotel for the evening meal. A well deserved rest was needed.
Love my rendition of my Dreamtrip to India and my Top Mughal era Monuments? Feel free to share, tweet, like and Leave a comment below. For good things have been known to happen to those that do so…
Phew I feel like I have gone right back to Agra and Delhi, this whole trip down memory lane is so wonderful for me. I hope it has been as such for you visually and yes I sure hope I have planted a wee seed for you to go for your dreams and wait no more. Life is to be enjoyed Now! READY FOR PART 3…ME TOO
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