This was undoubtedly one of the world’s most beautiful prisons…
When people ask me when Agra Fort was constructed, I say, ‘I can tell you the start date but never the date of completion.’ This applies to all forts in India. One king will choose one way and then their son will completely renovate it! Then another king will demolish parts to make room for his design preferences. That’s why Agra Fort is sometimes referred to as a city within a city.
Originally a Rajput king called Badul Singh constructed the building as a residence with brick in the late 15th century. The guidebooks usually skip the history until the 3rd Mughal Emperor, Akbar, lived there and whose father, Humayun, was crowned at Agra Fort. The 5th ruler, Shah Jahan, was responsible for the exquisite use of marble seen throughout the architecture. An interesting anecdote about Shah Jahan says that every morning at sunrise he was obligated to show himself from his bedroom windows to his people as evidence that he was alive and well. Can you imagine having to give proof of life every dawn? What if you wanted a lie in? This was before his son imprisoned him for the last eight years of his life – after all history is all about conflict!
Other than one of the world’s most beautiful prisons, Agra Fort was used both as a fort and a residence. On an excursion, I go into detail not just about the history and the interiors but also the lines of defence from the moat and its drawbridge to the L-shaped pathways that would prevent the barraging elephants of an attacking army – they would need a straight, level run up to crush down the door. It’s easy to spend an hour-and-a-half to two hours here…at least!