"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, March 13, 2015

The India Journals, Ch. 26, Of Mughals and Fortresses

Ch. 26, Of Mughals and Fortresses

For three ruling generations from Akbar, learning, wisdom, and arts came to be much esteemed in India—Swami Vivekananda

Today’s a travel day.   Right after lunch, we will board our coach for a two hour drive to Bhartpur where a special treat awaits us.   But first, we have to catch up on something we missed when we arrived in Agra late after our flight from Kolkata was delayed.

And this is where I got my second big surprise.   The first, if you recall, was finding out I’m a magnet for hawkers.   That was the bad surprise.

Today, the coach drops us off in front of a massive red sandstone fortress called Agra Fort.   I had no idea India had forts, and with a little Googling I find India has lots of forts.   This one is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

I am thrilled beyond belief.   Forts and castles are my love.   I can do without palaces and temples and mosques, but forts!   Here, we run into the famous Mughals again, who conquered much of India. 

Claiming direct descent from Genghis Khan, the Mughals were Turko-Mongols from central Asia, the area that is now Uzbekistan.

We make our entrance at one of the four gates into the fort, called the Lahore Gate, also called the Amar Singh Gate.  The 94-acre fort was built by the Mughals on the ruins of another fort that had been there since the 11th century.

Another gate, the Delhi Gate, is considered to be the masterpiece of the architecture of the era.   It is off limits to tourists because the India Military Parachute Brigade is still using the part of the fort inside that gate.

The drawbridge

The drawworks

Inside the first walls, looking out.

Mughal emperor Akbar the Great arrived in Agra in 1558 and ordered the fort reconditioned.   Four thousand workers worked on the stronghold and completed it in eight years, 1565-1573.  Akbar’s grandson is the one who built the Taj Mahal.

The unevenness of the ramp allowed for traction for the horses.

Built in a semi-circular shape, the fort is protected by a moat and drawbridges, and its walls are 70 feet high.

The Mughals, especially under Akbar, introduced a period of great advancement in India.   They were tolerant of all religions, and commerce boomed.

The is the Hall of Public Reception.  

The common folk would gather in this courtyard while the emperor sat on his throne (photo below).   The design of the arches amplified his speech so clearly that the commoners could hear every word.

This is where the emperor's throne was.

This block of marble below the throne room is where his family sat.

Over the centuries, the fort was occupied by various rulers and armies until the British conquered it in 1803.  In 1857, the country saw direct rule by the British.


For photos of the Delhi Gate and information and history of the fort, see this site:

Delhi gate from Wikimedia Commons

And now, more fort photos than you ever wanted to see.... unless you love forts as much as I do.

The throne room.

I explored every stairwell and every cranny.   I got lost twice and a guide had to find me.

A look back at the hall of public reception.

The glass palace.   Bits of mirrored glass are embedded all over.

This is inside the corner tower above.


Courtyard of the Hindu palace inside the fort.

Inside the Hindu palace in the fort.

The walls of the structure were hollow.   During cold months, the walls were filled with boiling water which transferred heat to the room.   Notice the depression in the floor beyond the tourists.

This is where the water went when the walls were drained.

Close up of one column.

Didn't get far exploring this cubby hole.

Note the Jewish Star of David embossed in the sandstone.   The Mughals accommodated all religions.

The emperor's bathtub.

Many parts of the fort, including this emperor's bathtub were decorated with gold and precious jewels.   They were stripped by various conquerors, including the British.

Steps inside the tub.

This dog is asleep in grass clippings.

Leaving by the Lahore Gate.   You can see that even if an invading army gained entrance across the moat and drawbridge and the battlements, it still had to fight its way up this long ramp.

Re-grouting the ramp.

Therer were monkeys climbing all around the Lahore Gate as we left.   This group was huddled for warmth.

This one ran down the ramp and sat about three feet from me.

This one was pretty close too.   It appears to have swollen glands.


  1. This was a fantastic tour. The architecture and artwork is amazing. It's too bad we can't afford to do that kind of work today.

    1. I wish my photos could do it justice. Some rooms, like the mirror room, were impossible to photograph and convey the awe.

  2. Well it sure puts our old western forts to shame....

    1. Doesn't it? These are more like European castles, but with more extensive places and such within the walls.

  3. Holy fort!!!!

    I never heard of boiling water within walls for warmth. Mind boggling!!!

    I'm so glad you got to see a fort.

    1. I was pretty astounded at that too. In other places, I saw spots where fires were built under a portion of a wall that was filled with water. Clever.

  4. I have become so 'numb' to the many forts in India that it came as a surprise to me you did not realize that India had forts. Nice you like them so much. Interesting they were so friendly to all religions. What has happened to that philosophy I wonder? Nice of you Shaddy to alert us to the filling of the walls with boiling water. Can you just imagine the effort that would be! CAN YOU JUST VISUALIZE THE EFFORT it would take. Walk it through one step at a time! Ah yes the monkeys are everywhere. Great Post. For Patti I sign off being happy at Patti's joy in your India Posts .. Patti and Cap (still loving Hong Kong) ..

    1. If you Google Agra Fort you will find that there was an ingenious system of raising the water.

    2. What has happened to the religious tolerance? Well, the Mughals were driven out, for one things.

  5. This post simply leaves me ... stunned? astounded? entranced? enchanted? fascinated? All of these and more. What a FORT! It is HUGE, and stunningly beautiful. This post blew me away. Fort Agra. This deserves every bit as much attention as The Taj, in my humble opinion. Great tour. The tour organizers are lucky to have been able to drag you away from this! WOW. Patt in Alaska, Cap in Hong Kong

  6. Loved the pictures in this blog !

    A bit dated for my response - but was laughing out loud when I saw your comment "The Mughals accommodated all religions".

    Respectfully - FYI Except for Akbar who was inquisitive and tolerant of other religions, the Mughal reign in India is known in normal parlance as the worst period of tyranny, despotism and intolerance as rulers! In fact there is a very old saying that I have heard from my great-grandfather (who has since passed on) when referring to the arrogance, totality and coercion of some politician or a government department, transilerated - "This is a repeat of Mughal times".
    My Hindu ancestors and all non-Muslims in general in India faced the worst of their rule.

    Concept of accommodation of religions and Islamic Mughals are like night and day apart.

    The Star of David has been used commonly as a Jewish symbol only AFTER the Mughal time around the mid 1700's or so. It is a just a geometric shape often found in Islamic building motifs. Also, that "star" of David has been used in Hinduism/Vedic religion as the Yantras since ancient times.