January 21, 2012

Two nodes of the Golden Triangle (Part-IX) (Agra Day 2 - Continued)

We reached Agra fort at Amar Singh gate after our exit from Taj West gate. This fort has a big area and a lot of history involved, so must be seen with leisure and a guide. It is open from sunrise to sunset like other Agra monuments. Entrance Fee for citizens of India and visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) - Rs. 10 per head. and for Others: US $ 5 or Indian Rs. 250/- per head (ASI). children up to 15 years are free. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site.
Here we tried the audio self guide in place of manual guide and found the experience immersive and worth repeating. Audio guide is a service provided by a company AudioCompass. They provide you an electronic equipment with recorded interactive commentry and a map of the fort with route and points marked on the map. The voice language is English (for INR 105) and many Indian languages (for INR 63). One instrument can handel two headsets. The second headset is provided at the cost of INR 37. If you have your own mp3 or mobile headset with you, you can plug that in for your travel partner for free. They keep your ID proof in original as a security and return it when there equipments are handed over back to them. You can take a look at there site http://audiocompass.in/agra-fort.html for more detail. We took 2 equipments with additional headset for total cost of INR 200 which was almost equal to the cost of a good manual guide, but the experience was altogether different and informations authentic. Only drawback is that you can't ask your silly questions from this audio self guide.

My son with Audio guide gadget and headset
Audio Guide pamphlet
Audio Guide Map for Agra fort
Agra Fort:
Agra Fort is situated on the bank of the river Yamuna. It is one of the most important and robustly built fort of the Mughals, with number of richly decorated buildings displaying Mughal art and architecture. It was constructed by the third Mughal emperor Akbar on the remains of an ancient site known as Badalgarh. Sikandar Lodi (1487-1517) was the first Sultan of Delhi to shift his capital from Delhi to Agra. After Sikandar Lodi who died in 1517, his son Ibrahim Lodi held the fort for 9 years until he was defeated and killed in the battle of Panipat in 1526. Several palaces, wells and a mosque were built in the fort during the Lodi period. 
We entered the fort from Amar Singh Gate, and walked in following sequence listneing to a quality commentary in our Audio guide -
  • Akbari Gate
  • Shahjahani Gate
  • Akbari Palaces
  • Jahangir's Bath
  • Jahangir Palace
  • Bangla-i-Jahanari
  • Khas Mahal
  • Anguri Bag
  • Musamman Burj (Place where Shahjahan used to look at Taj in his last days)
  • Pachisi Court
  • Mina Masjid
  • Deewan-i-khas
  • Machchi Mahal
  • Deewan-i-Aam

Here are some of the photographs snapped at various stops of the fort:

Plan Map of the Fort
Jahangir's Bath
Carving on the bath
Jahangir Palace Entrance
Inside Jahangir's palace
Ruins of Akbari Mahal

Angoori Bagh

Musamman Burj

Tomb of Sir John Colvin
Hall of Deewan-e-Aam
See the Taj in center square of the Jaali
A squirrel in action in the fort compound
Eating 'Kurkure'
Mechanism of operation of Amar Singh Gate. 
When roller comes down, 
it closes the huge  gate by pulling the chain
The chain of the gate on other side. 
The chain goes in and lifts the gate
 which otherwise acts as a connecting bridge
Amar Singh Gate Entrance is entry and exit point for the fort
It was 1730 and we finished the round of the fort and proceed to hotel for a rest after a memorable day at Taj and Fort. The fort organizes 2 light and sound shows in the evening hours, one in Hindi and other in English, but we decided not to see this as the kids were tired and wanted to have rest. It was the end of our Agra trip. We checked out the hotel next morning and took a full day taxi for Mathura and Vrindavan excursion and dropping at the Mathura Railway station.
In my opinion if you are interested in historical places, it is must to do some prior reading about the place, always take a guide, watch the monuments in full detail with enough time and take your mind back in the era of the history to get maximum feel. Just a cursory walk without any detailing does not make any purpose for a historical place visit.
The photographs were taken on Nikon D5100 and are size reduced version of the original.

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