Agra Fort is a reputed UNESCO World Heritage Site which is based in Agra and is about 2.5 kms away from the north-western part of Taj Mahal. It was created by the Great Mughals and is existent since the 11th century. The fort was conquered by the Mughals following the First Battle of Panipat, 1526, after which they captured the 'Koh-i-Noor' jewel from its premises. During 1558, Akbar made Agra Fort his official capital as he discovered its strategic significance. 'Lahore Gate' and 'Delhi Gate' are the two crucial gates of Agra Fort. Combinations of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles have been implemented in its construction.
The walled city of Fatehpur Sikri was developed by Akbar during 1569 and it was his capital from the years 1571 till 1585. It is situated in Agra District and is considered one of the best masterpieces of Mughal architecture in the nation. 'Sikri sandstone' or red sandstone was employed in its construction, which utilized a fusion of Jain and Hindu architectural features, alongside Islamic building styles. The various forts and palatial structures of Fatehpur Sikri exhibit influences of Bengal and Gujarat in their craftsmanship and designs. The 'Tomb of Salim Chishti', 'Buland Darwaza', 'Diwan-i-Aam' 'Diwan-i-Khas', 'Jama Masjid', etc. are amongst the famous parts of Sikri.
The Allahabad Fort is present in the region of Allahabad and was established by Ashoka on the banks of Yamuna River, close to the intersection of Ganga and Yamuna Rivers. Emperor Akbar had repaired the fort during 1583 and is believed to be the greatest fort to be built by him, boasting of unparallel architectural characteristics. Today, the fort is utilized by the army and can be accessed by visitors. Inside the fort premises are present the 'Saraswati Koop', the 'Zenana' or Palace of Mariam-uz-Zamani, Patalpuri Temple and also the Ashoka Pillar belonging to the 3rd century BC. The legendary 'Akshayavat' or 'immortal tree' is also situated here.
Also referred to as Chandrakanta Chunargarh, the Chunar Fort is based in Mirzapur District at a distance of nearly 23 kms away from the south-western part of Varanasi. The fort has been a spectator to the reign of Sher Shah Suri (1532) followed by that of the rule of the Mughals, Nawab of Awadh and several kings till the year 1772 and eventually the British Raj in 1947. In ancient times, the fort was indestructible as it was built with the aide of large ramparts and local sandstone. The quarries of Chunar have been employed in the creation of the bastions of the fort.
Jhansi Fort is also known as 'Jhansi ka Qila' and exists on the summit of a large hill called 'Bangira Hills' which used to be administered from the 11th till the 17th century during the regime of the ruler Chandela Kingsin Balwant Nagar. The term 'Jhansi' was obtained from the word 'Jhainsi' which implies 'indistinct' or unclear. The Jhansi Fort displays the northern Indian style of fort construction. The Kadak Bijli cannon which was utilized in Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, Shiva temple and Ganesh temple are some of the impressive structures inside the fort grounds. A memorial board present here depicts Rani Lakshmibai leaping onto horseback from the fort.
The Kalinjar Fort is present in Bundelkhand, particularly in Banda District and has been proclaimed a World Heritage site of Khajuraho. It served as an important fortress-city of central India and was existent during the regime of different historical dynasties including the Solanki Dynasty of Rewa, Chandela Rajput Dynasty of the 10th century. Some of the famous structures of the Kalinjar Fort comprise various temple belonging to Gupta Dynasty, Palace of prince Aman Singh, Venkat Bihari Temple, rock-carved Trimurti images of Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu and others.
Ramnagar Fort is situated in Ramnagar in Varanasi close to Ganga River right opposite the Tulsi Ghat and was erected by Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singh during 1750. The basic construction matter was 'chunar' sandstone which was cream coloured. Large open courtyards, beautifully carved balconies and pavilions bear testimony to the fact that Mughal architectural features were introduced in its architectural design. The rulers of Benares were believed to have developed the fort museum which is known as the Saraswati Bhawan Museum. The museum was the Durbar Hall of the fort.
Also recognised as 'Karar Fort', 'Shahi Qila' or 'Jaunpur Fort', the Shahi Fort belongs to the 14th century and was created by Firoz Shah Tughlaq during 1360. It is located on the banks of Gomti River and was established with the help of raw materials from the temples and palatial abodes of the Rathore rulers of Kannauj. The fort was remodelled and repaired by Humayun and Akbar. The Atala Mosque present in the fort boasts of Bengal style of architecture is one of the most important historical mosques of India. The 'Bhool Bhulaiya' or Turkish bath or 'Hammam' in the Shahi Fort is a magnificent structure.
Other Forts of Uttar Pradesh
The state of Uttar Pradesh is filled with historical buildings and there exist a range of other forts like Aligarh Fort, Chapar Ghata Fort, Fort Ruhya, Hathras Fort, Kuchesar Fort, Parikshitgarh, Senapati Fortress and Sigra Fort in Varanasi.