Agra Fort (Agra, India)

 The show ended with Aurangzeb taking up the throne of the ‘Sultanat of Hindusthan,’ amidst thousands of mosquitos, trying to taste the blood from each and every exposed part of the body and the fort authority, desperately trying to get rid of the menace with the help of smoke.

Whatever may have been the scene out there, the ‘sound and light show’ in the Agra Fort was just brilliant.

It was a cool morning in Delhi and we started for Agra at about 7 am. A beautiful drive after the Faridabad belt and we reached Agra by 11.30. After a quick lunch, we set off for the Agra Fort; a UNESCO declared world heritage site.

Our intention was to coincide the visit with the sound and light show in the Fort. We were keen on the Hindi show because that would very naturally bring out the authencity of the entire story of the Mughal dynasty. Built principally as a military establishment by Akbar in 1565, the red sandstone Agra Fort was partially converted into a palace during Shah Jahan's time.

Though Akbar built the principle structure, his grandsons made many more additions to the existing structure. This massive fort is 2.5 kms long and is considered as the predecessor of the Delhi Red fort. The gigantic fort, built and surrounded by thick and strong red sand stones, somehow gives a very scary and haunted look. According to Abul Fazal, the Agra Fort had more than 500 buildings within it among which only a few exist today. History says that this fort was constructed in place of a strong foothold of the Rajputs, the Badalgarh Fort. Two layers of thick wall surround the entire fort and two big ditches.

Of course one of the ditch has now been filled up and a road has been constructed on it, which serves as the entrance to the fort. On entering the Fort, we gradually climbed up a rough, hard and stony pathway instead of steps and reached the main complex. The Jahangiri Mahal, the red sand stone building, built by Akbar, is the only building that survives among the original palace buildings. It is built of stone and is decorated on the exterior in a very simple manner.

This is the first notable building that we saw on the right hand side at the end of a spacious lawn, as we entered through the main entrance. To the right of Jahangiri Mahal was the palace of Maharani Jodha Bai. The simplest of all palaces gave an elegant view of the ‘Taj’ through the slits.
The golden pavilions are traditionally associated with Shah Jahan's daughters-Roshanara and Jahanara Begum and the Angoori Bagh or the grape garden, the formal, 85m square, geometric gardens lie to the left of the fort. During Shah Jahan's time decorative flowerbeds considerably enhanced the beauty of the gardens.

Situated in between the golden pavilions is the Khaas Mahal. Built entirely of marble, this place has a classic mixture of Hindu and Islamic features. The Sheesh Mahal was closed due to renovations and we moved towards the touchiest place in the entire fort, The Mussamman Burj or the Jasmine Tower. Later, Shah Jahan newly built this fabulous creation of marble for Mumtaz and it is from here that he breathed his last, gazing towards the Taj. The clearly visible Taj Mahal stood there epitomizing the story of eternal love. Going around the Diwan-e-Khaas, Hammam-e-shahi and the Macchhi Bhawan, the fish enclosure that once contained pools and marble fountains, which were carried off by Jat Raja Surajmal to his palace at Deeg, we came back to the center courtyard where the stage was set for the sound and light show.

An old tree takes the role of a narrator (voice lend by Naseeruddin Shah) and narrates the entire story starting from Babar’s sacrificing his own life for saving Humayun to Akbar’s courtroom; Wits from Birbal and Tansen’s recital of raag Miyan-ke Malhar; From Jahangir’s slaying Sher Afgan and marrying Meherunnisa to Shah Jahan’s eternal love for Mumtaz; from Aurangzeb’s cruel behaviour to taking up the throne of India; fascinatingly narrated in one hour’s time. Basically the entire Mughal history made interesting, exciting and memorable forever. With sweet sounds of bangles and goblets, neighing of horses and clanging of swords in the background, the show was a hit. Though the mosquitoes played a spoilt sport, at least the authorities tried their best to get rid of them. As if anyone has ever been able to get rid of the parasites!!