t loomed like a red, hulking creature slumbering against a backdrop of blue and white clouds.

It was a brilliant sight to behold in the afternoon sun, exuding power and indestructible force.

The Red Fort of Agra was our second stop for our second day in India. Agra Fort was a stark contrast to the timeless elegance of its more famous sister monument, TajMahal.

This one spoke of India’s capacity for power and might. The fort is crescent-shaped and stretches into a 2.4-kilometer perimeter. It’s crescent-shaped, flattened on the east with a long, nearly straight wall.

The fort is ringed by double castellated ramparts of weathered red sandstone that turns into a burnt orange shade in parts hit by the afternoon sun’s rays. Bastions punctuate the formidable walls at regular intervals. The inner wall soars up to 22-meters high.

There is nothing pretty about how the fort looks from the outside. But the formidable size and its show of strength still took my breath away.

Agra Fort’s story is connected to that of Taj Mahal, and the story is also as tragic.

During the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan (the same guy who ordered the Taj built), he destroyed some of the earlier buildings inside the fort to make way for his own. He liked to have buildings built from white marble and often inlaid with gold and semi-precious gems, just like the Taj. His marbled palaces can still be found inside the fort.

After the Taj was built, the emperor started working on building another monument similar to it. This time he wanted it to be a black Taj Mahal to house his tomb after he dies.

But near the end of his life, he was imprisoned inside the fort by his own son, Aurangzeb, the black sheep of the family who took over Shah Jahan’s reign.

Shah Jahan spent the last days of his life inside the fort. Ramesh said it was rumored that he spent most of his last days inside a tower that has a marble balcony with a view of the Taj Mahal (pictured below). 

Why do the greatest love stories in history almost always have such a depressing ending? Romeo and Juliet. Tom and Summer. Shah and Mumtaz. 

We walked through a crooked entrance with a steep rise where our group of 20 ASEAN journalists, with our tour guide Ramesh and staff from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of India, were greeted by gray-haired monkeys. 

One tourist held out a banana, which one monkey swiftly grabbed. It loped over effortlessly to a nearby clearing to eat it in peace.

More of its relatives were chilling out around the entrance, generally ignoring the tourists' coming and going. 

They were harmless and left the visitors alone. Unlike the macaques I visited in Bohol. There, caretakers have to escort each visiting group, carrying sticks to shoo away the monkeys that have been known to be too playful and attracted to shiny trinkets.

The bricked-walls inside showed more signs of wear and tear. Nevertheless, it didn’t blunt the fantastic architecture of this walled city which is an incredibly rich blend of Persian, European and Indian arts.

It is said that the Mughals seized a vast treasure that included a diamond when they captured the fort in the 1550’s.

From this point onwards, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Up next is Day 3 post, “Meeting the EA Minister and Indian Journalists”

This post is part of my Incredible India Experience series. In case you missed the previous posts in this series, click on the following (at your own risk!) :

Day 2, Part 1: Honking Our Way to Taj Mahal

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  1. Very clean place and very old. Nice! You're lucky to experience this! More travels!


  2. Gorgeous photographs.... I loved the unique shade... Agra fort is a marvelous monument...


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