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A Handbook to Agra and the Taj by E. B. Havell

Nearly opposite to the railway station and the Jami Masjid


style="text-align: justify;">Agra in the Mutiny.

Agra did not take any prominent part in the events of the Mutiny. A mob plundered the city, burnt the public offices, and killed a number of Europeans; but the rioters left soon to join their comrades at Delhi. There was a small engagement outside the city. The British troops and the whole of the European population were afterwards shut up in the Fort until the capture of Delhi. The Lieutenant-Governor, Mr. John Russell Colvin, died there, and was buried in front of the Diwan-i-am.

The Fort

The present Fort was commenced by Akbar in 1566, on the site of an older one constructed by Salim Shah Sur, the son of Shere Shah. Its vast walls (seventy feet in height, and a mile and a half in circuit), its turrets, and noble gateways present from the outside a most imposing appearance. It contains within its walls that most exquisite of mosques, the Muti Masjid, and the palaces of Akbar and Shah Jahan. The principal or north entrance is the Delhi Gate, nearly opposite to the railway station and the Jami Masjid. Formerly there was a walled enclosure in front of this gate, called the Tripulia, or Three Gates, which was used as a market. This was cleared away by the military authorities in 1875. Crossing the drawbridge over the moat which surrounds the Fort, the visitor passes the outer gate, and by a paved

incline reaches the Hathi Pol, or Elephant Gate (Plate III.), so called from the two stone elephants, with riders, which formerly stood outside the gate, on the highest of the platforms on either side of it. The statues and elephants were thrown down by order of Aurangzib. There are four hollow places in each platform, where the legs of the elephants were morticed into it. [5]

The gate is a fine example of the early Mogul style; it contains the _Naubat khana_, or music gallery, where the royal kettledrums announced the Emperor's arrival or departure, and all state functions. It was also a guard-house, and probably the quarters of a high military officer, but it is certainly not, as the guides have it, the "Darshan Darwaza," or "Gate of Sights," described by William Finch, where the Emperor Jahangir showed himself at sunrise to his nobles and to the multitude assembled in the plain below. The Darshan Darwaza was undoubtedly near the old disused water-gate, which was joined to the royal apartments of the palace by a private passage, and answers to Finch's description of "leading into a fair court extending along the river." The Elephant Gate is at a considerable distance from the palace, and was never connected with it, except by the public road.

It is worth while to climb the top of the gate by the staircase on the right, inside the Fort. There is a fine view of the Fort, and beyond the walls the ever-beautiful white domes of the Taj appear in the distance. The Itmad-ud-daulah is visible on the left. Towards the town you look down into the quadrangle of the Jami Masjid. The pavilions on the summit of the great octagonal towers flanking the gate are finely carved, and bear traces of painting and enamelled tile-work. Descending the staircase to the floors beneath, one can wander through the curious small chambers and look out from the balconies on the front of the gate.

The Muti Masjid.

The road to the left after passing the Elephant Gate leads up to the entrance of the Muti Masjid, or "Pearl Mosque," placed on the highest point of the Fort enclosure. [6] You pass on the left a building known as Dansa Jat's house, said to have been occupied by the Rajahs of Bharatpur when the Jats held the Fort. It has been made hideous by modern additions which have converted it into officers' quarters.


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