In this hundred and forty-second archive story by Kristian Bertel, we learn about the architecture at the Agra Fort in India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Mughals brought in Persian style into Indian architecture. In this photograph from the we see a watchtower at the Agra Fort, which is a historical fort in the city of Agra in India. It was built during the years 1565 to 1573 for Mughal Emperor Akbar. It was the main residence of the rulers of Sikarwar clan of Rajputs until Mughals occupied it and Mughal Dynasty until 1638, when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi.
Mughals brought in Persian style into Indian architecture. In this photograph from the we see a watchtower at the Agra Fort, which is a historical fort in the city of Agra in India. It was built during the years 1565 to 1573 for Mughal Emperor Akbar. It was the main residence of the rulers of Sikarwar clan of Rajputs until Mughals occupied it and Mughal Dynasty until 1638, when the capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi.

Agra Fort in India

Agra Fort was also known as the 'Lal-Qila', 'Fort Rouge' or 'Qila-i-Akbari' and can be more accurately described as the 'Walled city'. Before capture by the British, the last Indian rulers to have occupied it were the Marathas. The Agra fort is about 2.5 km northwest of its more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal.


What are the characteristics of Mughal architecture?

Mughal architecture is the type of Indo-Islamic architecture developed by the Mughals in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries throughout the ever-changing extent of their empire in the Indian subcontinent. It developed the styles of earlier Muslim dynasties in India as an amalgam of Islamic, Persian, Turkish and Indian architecture.


Portrait photography from a village in India
India has seen a variety of architectural styles emerge over the course of its history Kristian Bertel | Photography learned. Some examples include temple architecture, Mughal architecture, Dravidian architecture, Sikh architecture and cave architecture. In many architect constructions watchtowers are also present and thesewatchtowers are a type of fortification used in many parts of the world. It differs from a regular tower in that its primary use is military and from a turret in that it is usually a freestanding structure. A minaret is a type of tower typically built into or adjacent to mosques. Minarets are generally used to project the Muslim call to prayer the so-called 'Adhan', but they also served as landmarks and symbols of Islam's presence. They can have a variety of forms, from thick, squat towers to soaring, pencil-thin spires.

The most famous Indo-Islamic style is Mughal architecture. Mughal art and architecture, a characteristic Indo-Islamic-Persian style flourished on the Indian subcontinent during the Mughal empire from the years 1526 to 1857. This new style combined elements of Islamic art and architecture, which had been introduced to India during the Delhi Sultanate from the years 1192 to 1398 and had produced great monuments such as the Qutb Minar, with features of Persian art and architecture. Its most prominent examples are the series of imperial mausolea, which started with the pivotal Tomb of Humayun, but is best known for the Taj Mahal.




"The formal function of a minaret is to provide a vantage point from which the 'Muezzin' can issue the call to prayer or 'Adhan'. The call to prayer is issued five times each day, dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and night. In most modern mosques, the 'Adhan' is called from the 'Musallah', which the prayer hall via microphone to a speaker system on the minaret"




A
dditionally, minarets historically served a visual symbolic purpose. In the early 9th century, the first minarets were placed opposite the 'Qibla' wall. Oftentimes, this placement was not beneficial in reaching the community for the call to prayer. They served as a reminder that the region was Islamic and helped to distinguish mosques from the surrounding architecture. They also acted as symbols of the political and religious authority of the Muslim rulers who built them.

Construction and design
The region's socio-cultural context have influenced the shape, size and form of minarets. Different regions and periods developed different styles of minarets. Typically, the tower's shaft has a cylindrical, cuboid, which is a square or octagonal shape. Stairs or ramps inside the tower climb to the top in a counter-clockwise fashion. Some minarets have two or three narrow staircases fitted inside one another in order to allow multiple individuals to safely descend and ascend simultaneously. At the top of the stairs, a balcony encircles the upper sections of the tower and from here the muezzin may give the call to prayer. Some minaret traditions featured multiple balconies along the tower's shaft. The summit often finishes in a lantern-like structure and or a small dome, conical roof or curving stone cap, which is in turn topped by a decorative metal finial. Different architectural traditions also placed minarets at different positions relative to the mosque. The number of minarets by mosques was also not fixed. Originally only one minaret accompanied a mosque, but some later traditions constructed more, especially for larger or more prestigious mosques.

Minarets are built out of any material that is readily available and often changes from region to region. In the construction of the tall and slender Ottoman minarets, molten iron was poured into pre-cut cavities inside the stones, which then solidified and helped to bind the stones together. This made the structures more resistant to earthquakes and powerful winds.

It is known for features including monumental buildings with large, bulbous onion domes, surrounded by gardens on all four sides and delicate ornamentation work, including 'Pachin kari' decorative work and jali-latticed screens. 'Pietra dura' or 'Parchinkari' rose to prominence under patronage of Emperors specially under Shah Jahan. Originating from Italy, it found its way to Mughal courts via trade route.

Read also:  Fatehpur Sikri portraiture




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More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a watchtower in Agra. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.