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Essay, Paragraph or Speech on “Agra : The City of Monuments” Complete Essay, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Agra : The City of Monuments

 

When Humayun died, 13 year old Akbar with his guardian, Bairam Khan was in the Punjab. He was crowned Emperor in a garden at Kalanaur on February 14, 1556. At the time of his accession, his territory was confined to the Punjab and the area around Delhi and Agra.

Six months after his accession to the Throne, Akbar arrived at Agra. Agra was Akbar’s Capital, as it had been the capital of his father and grandfather. But it was Akbar who made Agra great. He built several beautiful buildings in the city. The old brick fort of Sikandar Lodhi was pulled down in, its place Akbar built an impressive fotress of rusty sandstone. This is why the Agra fort is also known as ‘lal quila’, The construction of the fort at Agra was started by Akbar in A.D. 1565 it took eight years to complete. According to Abul Fazel, Akbar’s historian, the Fort had 500 buildings of red stone in Bengal and Gujrat styls. Only a few survive today. Subsequent additions were made by successive five Mughal rulers.

The massive fort stands as a crescent on the banks of the river Yamuna. The double walls, which enclose and protect the fort, make a wide curve, 2.4 km. long and 21 metres high. Both walls are provided with a sentry path and flanked by towers.

 The fort has four gates. Entry is through the Amar Singh Rathore gate, on the south side of the fort. Outside the Amar Singh gate is a stone statue of a horse’s head. It was built by Amar Singh Rathore of Jodhpur in memory of his faithful horse. Insulted by the courtiers, the proud Rajput killed them with his sword in the Emperor’s presence, and fled on his horse. Finding the gates closed, Amar Singh jumped the high walls of the fort, on horseback, to safety but the horse’s legs were broken, and Amar Singh had to kill him to end his suffering.

The north and east side gates near the river are now closed. The fourth gate on the west is called the Delhi gate. It was through this gate that the Emperor, leading nobles and ambassadors entered the fort.

At the entrance of the Delhi gate are two statues of Jaimal and Patta, who had been killed in action, fighting Akbar. The statues were erected by Akbar to honour the courage and chivalry of these teenage warriors.

Between the fort and the river was an open space for holding elephant fights. Akbar loved watching elephant fight from the top of his palace.

Behind the Fort’s battlements is Akbar’s magnificent palace. The palace is open on three sides. The roof and the floor are made of red stone.

The Emperor sat on his throne in the Diwan-E-Aam (Hall of Public Audience) dispensing justice. He devoted sixteen hours a day to state affairs.

To the east of the Diwan-E-Aam and near the Diwan-E-Khas (Hall of Private Audience), is a double storeyed building called Machli Bhavan (Hall of Fishes), so named because it has tanks in the centure for coloured fish. It is believed that Akbar’s grandson, the Emperor Shahjahan later used it as a respository for royal jewels.

Not a from the Diwan-E-am lay the meena Bazar, the royal shopping centre. On festive days, court ladies acted as sales girls, while the royal family posed as stingy buyers, haggling over prices.

To the west the building is the strange Ankh Michauli (Hide and Seek), containing secret hiding places. It could have served as a treasury, but the common belief is that here Akbar played ‘hide and seek’ with the ladies of the court.

At 26, Akbar was the ruler of a large empire. He had many wives, riches and fame. But his prayers for a son remained unanswered. A (sufi) saint, Shaikh Salim Chisti, whom the Emperor visited at Sikri, predicted that he would have three sons. The Shaikh’s prophecy came true. On August 26, 1569, a son was born to Akbar’s Rajput wife Jodha Bai. He was named Muhammad Salim in honour of the saint. A second son was born on June 7, 1570 and named Murad (joyous). Two years later, a third son was born and named Daniyal. To show his gratitude to the saint, Akbar decided to build a new city and shift his capital to Sikri, 40 km. south-west of Agra.

Using the stone of the hill itself, Akbar raised a fairy-tale city, on a rocky spur with an artificial lake 30 km. in periphery on one side and nine huge gates on the other three sides. The city was named Fatehpur Sikri (city of victory). The prefix ‘Fateh’ was added to commemorate Akbar’s victory.

Each structure of Fatehpur Sikri is decorated with beautiful carvings. The marble mausobeum of Shaikh Salim Chisti still attracts thousands of childless women, who come to pray for the same blessings the same con-ferred on Akbar four centuries ago.

In 1575, Akbar created the ibadat-khana (House of Worship) for holding religious discussions with scholers of all religions Zoros Thrians Orthodox and Sufi Muslims, Christians, Jews, Jains and Hindus. Akbar de-veloped a new religion, the Din-E-Elahi (Divine faith), in which he synthesised the good points of all religions. Akbar’s idea was to unite all Indians under one head.

Besides religious tolerance to his subjects, Akbar made political innovations also. High military as well as administrative posts were held by many Rajput princes and Hindus of merit. The Emperor set an example In intercommunal harmony by marrying Hindu girls. He abolished the Jizya, the hated tax on non-muslims.

Though illiterate, Akbar patronised art, literature, philosophy and science. His court was adorned by nine jewels (ratnas)—The brilliant intellectuals of his time. There was the poet faizi and his brother, Abul fazal, (author of Akbarnama-biography of Akbar and Ain-E-Akbari-regulations of Akbar). the witty Raja Birbal, Abdul Rahim -Khankhana”, Tansen—the immortal singer and Todarmal—Minister of Finance.

The glory of Fatehpur Sikri is the Jamia Masjid built around A.D. 1575, it can hold 10,000 worshippers, and is said to be a copy of the mosque of Mecca. It contains elements of both Persian and Hindustani architectural designs. It was in this Jama Masjid that Akbar had announced his new religion, the Din-E-Ilahi. It is a building, 15 metres square, surmounted by a central dome, above the inner chamber.

Inside the mosque lies the dargeh (tomb) of Shaikh Salim Chishti. The marble lattice work screens surrounding the tomb are a masterpiece of delicacy. AbdI Fazal and Faizihad their homes just outside the mosque. Entrance to the Jama Masjid is through the gigantic ‘Buland Darwaza’, one of the tallest gateways in the world. This majestic half-octagonal structure, 41 meters (134 feet) high, over a base of steps, climbing 10 meters (34 feet), was erected by Akbar in A.D. 1601. to commemorate his victories in the Deccan. The Darwaza has three entrances. The one in the centre is nicknamed Nal darwaza (Horse Shoe gate) because the thousands of horseshoes nailed by horse owners on its doors as offerings to Shaikh Salim Chishti, bless their animals. An inscription on the archway roads, “The world is a bridge, pass over it, but build no house on it.”

Other Mughal marvels at Fatehpur Sikri are the Panch Mahal, probably a watch-tower, from which the Emperor and the royal ladies had a panoramic view of the city. It is a pyramid type palace structure of five storeys, standing on 176 pillars and resembles a Buddhist Pagoda (temple). The ground floor has 84 columns, the first story has 56 columns, the second 20, and the third 12. Top storey has only four pillars crowned by a small dome. No two columns on the first floor are alike. Raja Birbal’s palace is richly carved. It is said to have been built by Birbal for his daughter.

Haram Sora, Jodha Bai’s Palace is the largest of the residential buildings. It is a beautiful blend of Hindu architecture and Muslim domes. In the centreof the courtyard is a stone basin, which had the sacred tulsi (an odoriferous plant of the basilica family) for Jodha Bai’s worship. Akbar let his wives perform ‘Pujas’ in the royal harem. The Sunehri makan or ‘Golden House’ is the House of Marium, named after Akbar’s wife, Marium. The Pacchis’ courtyard in its neighbourhood derives its name from ‘Chess-board’ on which Akbar played the game of chess, using young slaves as Pawns.

Diwan-E-Aam (Hall of public Audience) is a courtyard 111 meters long. It is surrounded by an arcade gallery with sandstone screens. Akbar used to sit on his throne in the centre, surrounded by his councillors, ministres and bodyguard. Diwan-E-Khas (Hall of private Audience) is a square building of red sandstone with four doors and windows fitted with delicately pierced screens of stone in the centre is the `Akbar Pillar’, connected to the four corners of the hall with diagonal foot-bridges. It was on this central pillar that Akbar sat on his throne while giving audience, holding philosophical discussions or consultations on state affairs.

Hiram minar is a 21.3 meter (feet) high tower, embedded with elephant tusks made of stone. A climb of 53 steps to the top provides a spectacular view of the country, miles around Sikri. Elaborate arrangements were made for the supply of water. Water was drifted from wells and run through an aqueduct into a reservoir. Gigantic Persian wheels lifted the water into a tank from where channels carried it to the royal apartments, baths, tanks and gardens.

An Englishman, Ralph Fitch, who visited Fatehpur Sikri in 1583 A.D., writes, “Agra and Fatehpur are very great cities, both of them greater than London and more populous. The distance between Agra and Fatehpur Sikri is 23 miles and all along the way is a market of visuals and fine things.”

For 14 years (1574-88), Fatehpur Sikri was Akbar’s capital, and then he abandoned it and moved to Lahore and then to Agra.

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