When people think of Agra, they naturally think of the Taj Mahal. It’s also a city of 2 million, was the capital of the Mughal Empire 4-500 years ago and has a few other sites worthy of interest.
The Mughals, muslim descendants of Genghis Khan, descended from Mongolia about a millenium ago and established a very significant presence in India from Agra to Lahore. Agra was the winter capital and Lahore was the summer capital.
Before the Taj was built, there was the Red Fort, overlooking the Yamuna river (a tributary of the Ganges), occupied by the father of Shah Jahan as well as himself, his brothers and family.
The Red Fort is a massive place. It was constructed as a defensible palace. So the outside looks like a fort, but the inside has many artistic and luxurious features of a palace. The moat was famously filled with alligators and crocodiles with a ring around the moat occupied by Bengal tigers–ensuring that an invader would never reach the alligators. The parapets were equipped to throw boiling oil on any intruders. If an invader ever managed to breach the gate, he could expect massive rolling stones hurtling down the narrow walled entry path to the palace level.
The courtyards, chambers, performance and assembly spaces of the palace are bare now, but at one time were covered with carpeting, the walls painted with gold or silver and the hand carved walls inlaid with precious stones.
Some of the more impressive features of the fort include the drainage systems as well as methods of collecting water for storage, gravity feeds to keep the fountains operating, architectural features facilitating ventilation (especially useful during hot summers) and, since temperatures varied between 40C in the summer to below 0C in winter, there were also ingenious methods of insulation.
The Shah had 300 concubines. His most favored wife, Mumtaz, bore him 14 children, 8 boys and six girls. Eight of them died in infancy or childhood, leaving 4 boys and two girls. Mumtaz died giving birth to the 14th child. I think we can assume he hardly ever listened to her.
But he did build the most beautiful mausoleum ever in her honor.