Akbar's Tomb - Sikandra Fort

Sikandra Fort is the place where the Tomb of the great Mughal Emperor stands. The Sikandra Fort is a beautifully engraved Tomb with intricate detailing. It is made of a special red-colored sand stone, which imparts a rich look to it. The Sikandra Fort is a vast edifice, significantly representing the Emperor's broad and enriched mind.

This is also known as the Mausoleum of Akbar. It is situated in a small town near Agra, which is called Sikandra. Akbar's Tomb is one of the excellent examples of the blend of both Hindu and Muslim Architectures.


The tomb of Akbar was built by his son prince Salim also called Jahangir. Akbar planned the tomb and selected a suitable site for it. After his death, Akbar's son Jahangir completed the construction in 1605-1613.

Akbar was one of the greatest emperors in the history of India. However, during the reign of His great-grandson, Aurangzeb, the rebellious Jats under the leadership of Raja Ram Jat, ransacked the intricate tomb, plundered and looted all the beautiful gold, jewels, silver and carpets, whilst destroying other things. He even, in order to avenge his father Gokula's death, plundered Akbar's tomb, looted it and dragged Akbar's bones and burned them in retaliation. He was later sentenced to death by Aurangzeb.

The Tomb has suffered a lot, until extensive repair was carried out by the British under Lord Curzon. The neighbouring Taj Mahal was also looted, and two of Agra's gates were taken away.

Style of Architecture

Akbar's tomb is a medley of architectural styles, displaying more interest in experimentation than harmony of design. The sloping dripstones, finials surmounting all the domes, balcony windows and pierced screens are all indigenous Hindu elements of architecture. Based on the pillar and beam principle, the tomb is built like a wedding cake in tiers, using the carved columns and brackets typical of Hindu construction to create the openings on the upper levels. But the pointed arches surrounding the base are Islamic, as are the inlaid geometric designs around the archways.

The tomb of Akbar, though Islamic in spirit, is a blend of styles. The magnificent entrance, use of exquisite patterns, excellent jali work (intricately perforated decorative stone screens), fine Persian style calligraphy, the charbagh garden layout (four-quartered garden layout, with the main building at the center), etc., are representative of Islamic influence.

India's craftsmen were masters of stone-carving and the art of inlay, preferring graceful organic motifs from nature to the more formal geometric and stylized floral designs of Persian origin. Built by Jahangir, the tomb shows far less of the deep figurative stone-carving employed so prolifically at Akbar's Red Fort in Agra, but several of the domes and the arched ceiling of the tomb give a spectacular display of colorful patterns created with the exuberant fluidity that is the mark of Hindu craftsmanship.

Large panels of superbly crafted jali (filigree) screens form the outer wall of the verandah on all four sides. Akbar's grave lies in the basement, reached through a portico covered with gorgeous stucco paintings in gold, blue, and green floral arabesque of Persian inscriptions.

Garden and Water Devices

The tomb stands in the centre of a vast garden which is enclosed by high walls on all sides. The middle of each enclosing wall is a monumental gateway. The main gateway is on the south side while the other three, planned for architectural symmetry, are ornamental only and do not function as gateways, in the right sense of the term. In fact, these are full-fledged mansions.

This plan is similar to the plan of the Sarvatobhadra Temple Mire by inspiration, as it appears, than by accident. The whole garden has been divided into lour equal quarters on the conventional char-bagh or chahar-bagh (four-quartered) plan. each quarter separated by a high and broad terrace or causeway with a narrow, shallow water-channel running in its centre and raised footpaths on the sides.

These four minarets appear here in this region for the first time. They are just superimposing the gateway and, though a unique feature, they are attached and subsidiary to it. That their purpose was purely ornamental can scarcely be doubted. They occupy the angles of the gateway.

Conventionally, this space would have been occupied by chhatrisas are there on the main tomb. Why then these minarets were not used on the main tomb, instead of the main gateway?

They rise gracefully high into the sky, as if carrying the whole body of the gateway with them.

The tomb proper is connected with the four- gateways by these four causeways which measure 75'(22.86 m) in breadth and are raised sufficiently above the level of the garden, from which they are approached by means of a number of regularly disposed staircases, each containing a cascade (water-chute; chadar) in its middle and a lily-pond into which water descended and then flowed into the stone water-courses which originally irrigated the garden.

Each terrace has in the centre a raised tank with a fountain. Four tanks have also be formed in the centre of the four sides of the main platform on which the mausoleum Stan(. each one facing it. They also have fountains, one each. These fountains were inlets the outlets being provided in each case by the overflowing of water into the channels.

A large baoli (step-well) in the south-east quarter were, however, reserved for supplying water to the fountains and the channels. Overhead tanks were built to ensure adequate water in the fountains.

Water was ultimately passed into the garden where it was used to irrigate the flower-beds and tree-avenues which were the chief attraction of the garden. A large tank on a raised chab0tara (platform) was also built in the centre of each quarter.

As it appears, a dome was not there in the original plan itself. Akbar did not use any dome in his palatial mansions at Agra are some domes in his buildings at Fatehpur Sikri, they are all used in a subsidiary posi6on. He did not like his tomb to be predominated by a dome as it would have certainly done. and it was designed without it, with the characteristic features of the Jamuna-Chambal region. ft was planned to be dome less and it belongs essentially to this class.