Red Fort at Agra – Also known as the Red Fort of Agra, it encloses the palatial residence of the Mughal kings and the state treasury and mint. Originally the residence of the Chauhans, the fort was seized by Mahmud of Ghazni in the 12th century, and later occupied by Sikander Lodi in 1506. His son, Ibrahim Lodi lost the battle of Panipat to Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire. Since then, it has been the seat of the Mughal administration, and home to all the Mughal kings thereafter.
The Aram Bagh, a Persian garden built by Babur by the banks of the Yamuna was the first Mughal construction. To Akbar’s credit goes the construction of the fortress walls, and developing the city as a centre for art and commerce. While Jahangir added to its landscape with a number of gardens, Shah Jahan refined its interiors with marble and pietra dura inlay, and gave it international recognition with the construction of the Taj Mahal, before shifting his capital to Delhi. However, Aurangzeb returned to Agra before relocating his capital to Aurangabad in 1653.
Tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah
I’timad-ud-Daulah was the title conferred to Mirza Ghiyas Beg, the father of Nur Jehan, and the tomb was built at her instance across the east bank of the Yamuna in Agra after the death of her husband Emperor Jahangir. Built between 1622 and 1628 the mausoleum has other relatives of Nur Jerhan also buried here.
Typical Mughal architectural patterns have been adhered to in its construction. Fine inlay work on the white marble floors, intricate latticed windows and delicate pietra dura are a hallmark of this mausoleum. The four octagonal towers on the corners assume a cylindrical shape as they rise, and the monument inspired the layout of the Taj Mahal.
Chini ka Rauza
Located near the tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah, it was built in 1635 as a mausoleum for Allama Afzal Mullah of Shiraz, the Prime Minister in the court of Shah Jahan. Colorful tiles, or ‘chini’ adorn the façade of the tomb, hence the name. On the walls and the ceiling, inscriptions and inlay work have been used.
A short distance away from the tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah is the now decrepit pavilion called Chauburj built by Babur, in the midst of beautiful rectangular gardens which served as his temporary burial ground in 1530, before being buried in Kabul in 1539.
Built in 1530 in the village of Kachhpura, the mosque is one of the oldest Mughal monuments in India. Once plastered with decorative tiles, the mosque now lies in ruins. Five arches and a high iwan stretching up to the central dome formed the façade of the building. The dome rests on diamond shaped pendentives and squinches, or arches built across the interior angles of the walls.
Jami Masjid Tomb of Firuz Khan Khwajasara
Firuz Khan was a noble in the court of Shah Jehan, who built his tomb before he passed away in 1647 in Tal Firuz Khan. The tomb opens from the southern gate, while the other gateways of the octagonal building are blocked by “jaali’ work. A dome sits atop the roof of the monument, capped by a kalash-shaped finial. Geometric, abstract and floral motifs grace the walls of the monument.
The sandstone structure has the casket on the ground floor, and a flight of stairs leads to the first storey which has pillared canopies with pyramidal roofs on the southern and northern ends. The western corner of the mausoleum houses the mosque.
Other Mughal Monuments in Agra
Buland Bagh and Battis Khamba
Humayun’s Mosque and Barah-Siddi
Riverside Mughal Havelis
Mughal Monuments on the Sikandara bypass
The construction of Akbar ka Maqbara, or Akbar’s tomb in Sikandra, is believed to have started in the reign of Akbar himself in 1604, though completed under the keen supervision of his successor son Jehangir in 1612 and 1614. It follows a square plan, with the mausoleum in the centre of the square garden, and arched gateways on all four walls. The main gate is a higher structure with four soaring marble minarets above it carrying inscriptions in praise of Akbar and Jehangir carved by Amanat Khan. Watercourses divide the heavenly garden, or “behistan” into four quadrants, symbolizing the rivers of Paradise. Access to the mausoleum is through the southern gate, and encloses the caskets of Akbar’s daughters Shakrul Nisha Begum and Aram Bano.
The mausoleum rises five levels, ringed by low galleries with pillared arches on the first storey, the area decreasing in size at every level. From the second level to the fourth, the balconies are arcaded, with chhattris or canopies on the corners.
Mariam Zamani was the Rajput wife of Akbar, and the mother of Jahangir. The mausoleum was built by Jahangir in 1623 in Sikandra. A large garden encompasses the tomb, which is built on a raised platform accessed by a flight of stairs from its northern and southern sides. Brick and mortar have been used in the construction, which is characterized by broad arches and vaulted roofs. A cenotaph is placed just above the tomb, and another, made of marble on the terrace. Stairways lead to the rooms on the next level, and the terrace above, which has four large cupolas on the four corners made of red sandstone.
The Mariam Zamani Tomb has floral patterns running along the sandstone walls and the piers and cupolas. Carved friezes, glazed tiles and wall paintings were extensively used to create a memorial befitting the gracious Queen.