Agra Fort or Agra Red Fort is an iconic tourist attraction ranking right below Taj Mahal in Agra. Until the middle of 17th century, this fort was the royal residence of Mughal emperors. Later, the capital was shifted to Delhi. The fort is more of a walled city. Today, it stands as an important tourist attraction and icon of culture of the country.
The fort is open from 6:00 in the morning to 6:30 in the evening. The fort is best visited during morning or early evening to get a great panoramic view of the city with Taj Mahal. From one of the towers of the fort, one can get a good view of the wonder. It is said that Shah Jahan spent his last 8 years of life in the tower watching Taj Mahal. The fort is open throughout the week. People choose winter for its pleasing climate.
Indians are charged 40 INR per head and children below the age of 15 are free. Foreigners are charged 550 INR and children are free to enter. People of SAARC countries are charged 80 INR per head.
Audio guides in various languages are available near the ticket counter.
The fort stretches for 380,000 square meter with a semi-circle layout. The fort has double ramparts with circular bastions. There are four gates to the fort and one of the gates (Khizri Gate) opens to the river. The Lahore Gate is also called as Amar Singh Gate. It is the main entrance for public today. The Delhi Gate faces the western side of the fort and was built by Akbar to increase the security of the fort. It was the royal entrance to the fort. The gate is decorated with marble inlay work. Once inside the gate, you will find elephant gate, which has two life-sized elephant statues. Delhi Gate is not open to tourists as it is still under the control of Indian Army. Tourists have to enter via Lahore Gate or Amar Singh Gate.
According to history, there were 500 buildings inside the fort. Some say there were more than thousand buildings inside the fort during Akbar’s period. Many were destroyed by Shah Jahan to build marble palace and many were destroyed by British. Today, 30 buildings stand inside the fort.
Top buildings to visit inside the fort are:
After 16th century battle of Panipat, Babur won the region and stayed in this fort. He built a step well in it. Later, his son was defeated by Suri and the fort was under their control for 15 years after which Humayun, Babur’s son recaptured it. In earlier days, this fort was called as the brick fort of Badalgarh. It was in ruined condition when Akbar came to throne. He rebuilt it with red sandstones from Rajasthan. 40,000 workers toiled for eight years to complete the fort in 1573. When Shah Jahan took the crown, he re-designed it to the structure that we know today. He used marbles to redesign the fort.
Shah Jahan was arrested inside the fort and he died in Muasamman Burj inside the fort. In 18th century, the fort was captured by Maratha Empire and it changed hands several times. In 1803, the fort went to the hands of British. The Indian rebellion 1857 took place in the fort, which ended the rule of British East India Company, and India went directly under the control of Britain.
There are no restaurants inside the observatory. You can find a lot of stalls and shops around the spot, near the ghats.