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World Heritage Site - Agra - Fort

The Agra Fort is a UNESCO world heritage site located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It is about 2.5 km northwest of its more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. The fort can be more accurately described as a walled city. The fort is also known as Lal Qila, Fort Rouge and Red Fort of Agra. 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 bot 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.

Layout :-
The 380,000 sq m (94-acre) fort has a semicircular plan, its chord lies paralled to the river and its wall are seventy feet high. Double ramparts have massive circular bastions at intervals, with battlement, embrasures, machicolations and string courses. Four gates were provided on  its four sides, one Khizri gate open on the river.
Two of the fort's gates are notable; the "Delhi Gate" and the "Lahore Gate". The Lahore Gate is also popularly also known as the "Amar Singh Gate", for Amar Singh Rathore.
The monumental Delhi Gate, which faces the city on the western site of the fort, is consideredd the grandest of the four gates and a masterpiece of Akbar's time. It was built circa 1568 both to enhance security and as t kheing's formal gate, and includes features related to both. It is embellished with inlay work in white marble. A wooden drawbridge was used to cross the moat and reach the gate from the mainland; inside, an inner gateway called Hathi Pol ("Elephant Gate") guarded by two life sized stone elephants with there riders added another layer for security. The drawbridge, slight ascent, and 90 degree turn between the outer and inner gates make the entrance impregnable. During a siege, attackers would employ elephants to crush a fort's gates. Without a level, straight run-up to gather speed, however, something prevented by this layout, elephants are ineffective.
The site is very important in terms of architectural history. Abul Fazal recorded that five hundred buildings in the beautiful designs of Bengal and Gujarat were built in the fort. Some of them were demolished by Shahjahan to make way for his white marble palaces. Most of the other were destroyed by the British between 1803 and 1862 for raising barracks. Hardly thirty Mughal Buildings have survived on the south-eastern side, facing the river. Of these, the Delhi gate and Akbar Gate and one palace - "Bengali Mahal" - are representative Akbari buildings. Akbar Darwazza was renamed Amar Singh Gate by the British. The gate is similar in design to the Delhi Gate. Both are built of red sandstone.

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.

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