I hired a car to take me from Delhi to Agra, the ancient capital of India. The drive was harrowing but also fun as I watched the Indian countryside streak by. My first night in Agra was at the Agra Hilltop Hotel, a complete nightmare; I was harassed by mosquitoes all night resulting in dozens of mosquito bites.
The next morning, mosquito bitten and weary, I made my way to the Red Fort. I was really looking forward to my visit; the Red Fort is perhaps the most important fort in Indian history.
When I arrived, I was pleasantly impressed with the beautiful red sandstone brick work that comprised the outer walls of the fort. I couldn’t wait to go in and explore.
The fort resembled a medieval castle with a moat channel and tall walls and ramparts. It was originally built prior to the 11th century and was first mentioned in history when it was attacked in 1080 by the Ghazavide force when it was captured. The first sultan who lived in the fort was Sikandar Lodi who moved the government here in the late 15th century.
The Red Fort remained an important location and became the seat of the Indian government when Akbar relocated here in the 16th Century. He rebuilt the fort using red sandstone giving us the appearance that we see today. Akbar was perhaps the most well known Mughal leader. He embraced all religions and believed that no one should impose their religious beliefs on another. He studied and followed Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism. His influence can be seen on the buildings in the fort; the building below was the house for some of his wives and it shows the designs of an Islamic building and has the Judaic Star of David.
In the 18th Century the British captured the fort and it fell into disuse.
In 1628, a Moghual prince named Khurram became King after a long and bloody battle. His wife bore him 14 children and she was the love of his life. Later when she died, he built the Taj Mahal as a shrine to her. He intended to build a mirror shrine – a black Taj - on the other side of the river when his son imprisoned him. His son believed that his father was bankrupting the Muslim Moghal Empire and imprisoned his father in the Red Fort.
On this relief in the Red Fort I noticed Islamic styled designs as well as swastikas & 6 pointed Stars of David.
The relief work on the pillars and overhangs was detailed and quite beautiful. I shot dozens of photos and just marveled at the beautiful detail fo the buildings.
Looking out from the Red Fort you can see the Taj Mahal. The Moghul King built the crypt of his beloved wife so that he could gaze out and see her while he ruled from the Red Fort.
I met this old Indian man (dressed in white in the photo below) who served as a tour guide. He had access to the room of a million mirrors and he invited me for a private tour; the area is normally off limit to tourists.
Entering the chamber my guide explained that it was a favorite part of the palace and that the Moghul liked to dine here and entertain guests.
Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of pieces of mirror and glass were inlaid into the plaster of the palace. When dinner was served by candle light, each flame from each candle reflected back appearing as though a million stars were reflecting. Someday, when I build my dream home, I would love to make a room like this and entertain guests…
The King sat on a black throne at the Red Fort within view of the Taj Mahal. I couldn’t believe it, but they allowed tourists to sit on the throne for photos. I couldn’t resist and shot this photo:
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