THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE MOGULS
Although the Moguls have vanished, their glory remains in the most sublime and beautiful monuments that were ever erected by human hands, and people come from the uttermost parts of the earth to admire them. In the form of fortresses, palaces, temples and tombs they are scattered pretty well over northern India, and the finest examples may be found at Agra, a city of 200,000 inhabitants, only a short ride from Delhi, the Mogul capital. Agra was their favorite residence. Akbar the Great actually removed the seat of government there the latter part of the sixteenth century, and expended genius and money until he made it the most beautiful city in India and filled it with the most splendid palaces that were ever seen. Shah Jehan, his grandson, who was a greater man than he, and lived and reigned nearly a hundred years after him, even surpassed him in architectural ambition and accomplishments. Jehan built the fort at Agra, and the best specimens of his architectural work are within its walls, erected between 1630 and 1637, and he was confined within them, the prisoner of his son Aurangzeb, for seven years before his death, from 1658 to 1665.
The fortress at Agra is probably the grandest citadel ever erected. It surpasses in beauty and strength the Kremlin at Moscow, the Tower of London, the citadel at Toledo and every other fortress I know of. Nothing erected in modern times can compare with it. Although it would be a poor defense and protection against modern projectiles, it was impregnable down to the mutiny of 1857. The walls are two miles and a quarter in circumference; they are protected by a moat 30 feet wide and 35 feet deep; they are 70 feet high and 30 feet thick, and built of enormous blocks of red sandstone. There are two entrances, both very imposing, one called the Delhi Gate and the other the Elephant Gate, where there used to be two large stone elephants, but they were removed many years ago. Within the walls is a collection of the most magnificent oriental palaces ever erected, with mosques, barracks, arsenals, storehouses, baths and other buildings for residential, official and military purposes, all of them on the grandest scale. Since the British have had possession they have torn down many of the old buildings and have erected unsightly piles of brick and stone in their places, but while such vandalism cannot be condemned in terms too strong, the world should be grateful to them for leaving the most characteristic and costly of the Mogul residences undisturbed. A small garrison of English soldiers is quartered in the fortress at present, just enough to protect it and keep things in order, but there is room for several regiments, and during the mutiny of 1857 more than 6,000 foreigners, refugees from northern India, found refuge and protection here.
Although the palaces seem bare and comfortless to us to-day, and we wonder how people could ever be contented to live in them, we are reminded that when they were actually occupied the open arches were hung with curtains, the marble floors were spread with rugs and covered with cushions, and the banquet halls were furnished with sumptuous services of gold, silver and linen. The Moguls were not ascetics. They loved luxury and lived in great magnificence with every comfort and convenience that the ingenuity and experience of those days could contrive. It is never safe to judge of things by your own standard. You may always be sure that intelligent people will adapt themselves in the best possible manner to their conditions and environment. Those who live in the tropics know much better how to make themselves comfortable than friends who visit them from the arctic zone. Wise travelers will always imitate local habits and customs so far as they are able to do so. While these wonderful compositions of carved marble seem cold and comfortless as they stand empty to-day, we must not forget that they were very different when they were actually inhabited. Some idea of the luxury of the Mogul court may be gained from an account given by M. Bernier, a Frenchman who visited Agra in 1663 during the reign of Shah Jehan. He says: