This week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site is the less-well-known older sibling of the world-famous Taj Mahal. The Red Fort of Agra is located about a mile and half away from the Taj Mahal. Like the Taj, the Red Fort of Agra is a relic of the Mughal Empire, which ruled India from the 16th to the mid-19th centuries.
While the Taj Mahal was built as a monument to Mumtaz Mahal, the favorite wife of the Emperor Shah Jahan, the Red Fort of Agra was the center of the Mughal administration and the home of the imperial family. More of a walled city than a mere fort, this breathtaking collection of buildings gets its name from the red sandstone that the walls and many of the buildings are constructed out of.
Inside the walls, there were originally about 500 sandstone buildings, though some were destroyed by Emperor Shah Jahan and replaced with white marble palaces that were more to his taste. Many others were destroyed when the British Empire occupied India, as they tore them down to build their own barracks. However, enough buildings, mosques and gardens remain to give visitors a taste of the splendor of Mughal India.
According to UNESCO, which named the fort a World Heritage Site in 1983, “Like the Delhi Fort, that of Agra is one of the most obvious symbols of the Mogul grandeur which asserted itself under Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan.”
To visit the Red Fort of Agra, you’ll need a passport and an Indian visa. India does not issue visas to American citizens on arrival, so it’s important to apply in advance and allow enough time to receive your visa before your departure.
For more information on getting an Indian visa, see Indian Visa Requirements for Tourists.
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