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Time Trumps All- Lessons from the Agra Fort

Photo Essay: As one enters the majestic structure which is called the Agra Fort, one is instantly mesmerised by its grandeur and sheer size and stature. The original red fort of the country, this, was built by Akbar at the peak of his rule in the 16th century. Since then the fort stands strongly on the right bank of Yamuna, a little far away from Taj Mahal, which can be seen from the fort itself.

Agra fort is all what any king or emperor could have wanted to seal their legacy with, for good. It’s huge, palatial, architecturally diverse and also quite political in its make and design. Since the fort was the site for the capital of the Mughal empire during Akbar’s regime it had the provisions of administrative spaces like Deewan-e-Aam, while also being the grand residence for the emperor of India and his family.

But once the feeling of awe and amazement subside, what strikes one the most is what it is today. A monument maintained and conserved by the government of India’s archaeological body- Archaeological Survey of India now, this once upon a time an epitome of imperial power and majesty, is a mere tourist spot. Anyone under the sun who can shell out a few rupees can gain entry into this huge structure. One doesn’t need to do much to imagine, what a common person or more aptly put a non-powerful person would have felt had he or she gained admission to this fort in the times of Akbar’s reign, if at all they did.

That’s the funny thing about time. It is a great equaliser. Akbar or any emperor for that matter whilst building these forts and palaces must have always imagined that things will always be the way they were; that times may change but their dynasties will reign and these forts and palaces will remain a symbol of their power in perpetuity. But how times change!

As the age of imperialism subsided in most parts of the world and all of India, palaces and forts became spectacles open to the gaze of the commoners, something that their all powerful owners might have never approved of. The fact that tourists can saunter their way into any part of these structures, open for public, at their sweet will, just speaks a lot about the power of change. Now that musical evenings are organised in the Deewan-e-Aam, which once used to be the all powerful Akbar’s court, almost seems surreal.

From Taj Mahotsav 2014. Performance by Parvin Sultana and others in a decked up "Diwan-e-Aam". To check out more pictures from then click here
Power has that way about it. In the moment it seems insurmountable and invincible. The paraphernalia associated with it, adds to its grandeur and appeal for the time being, but perspective can ruin the most awesome perceptions. As time passes, those symbols of power which once inspired awe and sometimes fear in people are the ones precisely that serve as a reminder of the fragility of the concept of power. After all is said and done, time trumps all. 

A few pictures follow to remind us precisely this...

As a guide controls his flock, perhaps he is the most commanding figure in this historical structure.

To be fair, this was named as Diwan-e-Aam by Akbar, but he might not have envisioned such common or "Aam" access to the royal court. 

Wonder how close a common person could have come to Akbar's seat in Diwan-e-Aam back then!
And a few more reminding us that down the line all the imperial grandeur and legacy serve as mere spectacles to glance at history...

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