Jahangiri Mahal

Jahangiri Mahal is situated in the south east quadrant of the Fort, where it was effectively protected from public areas. Its outer walls rise with the massive ramparts of the fortress on the river. Its strategic dominance over the surroundings emphasis its Imperial character. The so-called Jahangiri Mahal despite its name, was built by Akbar. It is one of the earliest surviving buildings of Akbar's reign and the earliest palace extant. The Jahangiri Mahal is the only portion of the Fort walls apart from the Gates distinguished by the ornamental treatment accorded to its eastern facade. The architectural setting of the Jahangiri Mahal is defined by clarity, simplicity and integrity of its different components.

Another most striking aspect of the building is the exquisite surface ornamentation including marble inlay and intricate geometric and floral patterns. It has no inscription nor clear mention in contemporary Persian histories, therefore the architectural setting of the palaces of Agra Fort are the source of its historical position. The apparent alignment with Akbar's Palace, baoli and its connection with the subterranean chambers clearly defines the contemporaneity of the Akbari Mahal.

Jahangir in his memoirs has clearly mentioned the buildings were erected by his father Akbar but did not take any credit for the construction of an excellent palace like Jahangiri Mahal. Akbar's authorship of Jahangiri Mahal is therefore obvious both by its architectural setting and historical background and its design at Agra and Fatehpur Sikri is also very well known.

The large facade of the palace is most remarkable for its projecting portico whose lotus parapet is decorated with beautiful merlon in relief, a rectangular opening with carved panels and projecting balconies supported on circular pillars, elegant brackets with Bengal slanting roofs on both sides of the deep pointed shapely arch where decoration with marble lined niches and six pointed stars comparable to the main gate of Purana Qila, New Delhi.

The monotony of the wide eastern walls is broken by series of rectangular openings (darichas) overshadowed by parapet walls with merlons and pillared chhatris on both corners' engaged bastions. Below are the series of marble inlaid outlines of rectangular panels and marble lined niches with lotus buds and marble arches that spring from the elephant trunks which are the modified form of Gaja Lakshmi, a symbol believed to be most auspicious by the Rajput rulers. Below the niches are the square and rectangular panels outlined by marble inlay work. The entire structure is constructed in lakhauri bricks and veneered by finely dressed and carved red sandstone slabs on a one metre high plinth. The red sandstone slabs are so finely joined that no end of a hair can penetrate into the joint as correctly recorded by Abul Fazl, a court historian of Emperor Akbar.

Jahangiri Mahal

The building is arranged with the grand central square portico (deorhi) finely executed four arches with lotus friezes and arcuate squenches supporting the excusitely carved in the form of a full bloom lotus whose petals and central lotus are designed with thick marble inlay work.

The passage through this porch requires a grant of admission by the door-keeper to the visitor. The portico provides very protective restriction. Immediately next to the portico is a gallery, which accommodates series of apartments meant for lodging the royal maidservants. Here one faces a service window, which opens in the southern hall (Diwan Khana) whose walls have space in between. This is the first appearance of a service window in Indian domestic architecture.

The facade of this outstanding double storeyed hall is supported by double square pillars with multiple brackets with exquisitely fine carvings, which were originally pamted in blue and other colours whose remains can still be seen here and there. The upper parts of the beautifully carved brackets are decorated with parrots and other birds. The upper storey is composed a of series of fine arches, central projecting balcony and overshadowed by chajjas or eaves. The service window indicates that this hall must have been used by the Emperor for entertaining his intimate friends, guests who were offered refreshments and drinks through this service window. There is a square large open courtyard, around which western and northern halls are arranged with flat carved ceilings and deep niches in the indigenous style of unparalleled sophistication and beauty. Then there are rectangular chhatris on the centre of the facades. The first floor of northern hall is supported by carved square pillars, brackets and its flat ceiling is supported by struts in the form of serpents indicating the makra forms of the Gujarati temple architecture. The western hall around the court is believed to be the temple meant for the principal queen of Akbar, Maryamuz-Zamani, mother of Jahangir who also lived in this palace.

The veranda leading to the second large courtyard with stone floor is supported by a low flat ceilings with arcuate ceilings. The eastern opening is supported by two beautiful tall carved pillars of Central Asian design. In the centre of the courtyard is an elegant octagonal cistern with a fountain whose inner borders are decorated with lotus buds. The fountain must have had perfumed water to spray in the evenings when the Emperor retreated for recreation with dance and music. The eastern wall is screened by decorative series of arched windows. There were more than a dozen rooms arranged in this double storey arrangement where wide arched openings are decorated with marble outlines. The parapets on the first floor are crowned with merlons.

The entire red sandstone surface is profusely covered with delicate carvings in relief in floral and geometric designs. Looking to the space covered and delicacy of the surface carvings it has no match in the entire range of Indo-Islamic architecture. The northern Bengali domed apartment was known as Nashaiman-i-Zill-Ilahi, which was used by the Emperor during summer and rainy seasons. The interiors of the rooms around eastern courtyard were plastered and covered with beautiful arabesque and stucco coloured designs. And the northern apartments had inner walls decorated with aina bandi (mirror work) and lime stucco of geometric pattern.