An important architectural masterpiece of the Mughal Empire is Akbar's Tomb. It is a mausoleum that houses the mortal remains of King Akbar. The tomb is believed to have been built between 1605 and 1618. Unlike the other tombs of famous Muslim kings around the world, the Tomb of Akbar is faced towards the rising sun instead of the Mecca. Akbar's Tomb is a wonder to behold and one of the best examples of Mughal architecture. Akbar was a wise and just king, to visit his tomb is to pay homage to the man who was way ahead of his time during an era of stringent and ruthless kings.
The tomb is situated in Sikandra, the outskirts of Agra and spreads over an area of 119 acres. The main tomb is surrounded by a beautiful garden that was designed by Akbar himself, in fact, Akbar was infamous as the king who was fond of gardens. His wife's (Mariam-uz-Zamani Begam) tomb is also located in Sikandra about a kilometre away from Akbar's Tomb.
The main structure of the tomb is built out of sandstone and a portion is made from marble. Following Tartary traditions, that state that one must see-through the construction of one?s tomb themselves, Akbar lived through the construction of his tomb and built a beautiful garden around it. Although his son, Jahangir added a marble storey at the top to the tomb, thereby completing its construction. During the British Raj, Lord Curzon oversaw the repair of the tomb which cost the empire a large amount of money.
The site for the tomb was selected by Akbar, and most of the construction happened during his lifespan. After his death his son Salim, also known as Jahangir, decided to add another storey made of marble at the top of the structure, thereby seeing through the end of the construction for his father's tomb.
During the rule of Akbar'sgreat-grandsonn Aurangzeb, the tomb suffered a lot of losses. Being an oppressive and strict ruler, Aurangzeb had offended a lot of Hindus but destroying their temples and belittling their religion. This resulted in a revolt headed by the Jats who attacked the Agra Fort. In order to offend Aurangzeb more, they looted Akbar's tomb and walked away with precious silver jewellery, gold ornaments, diamonds, and carpets and damaged the property. They even burned the bones of Akbar and cremated them, which is unacceptable in Islam. All of these retaliations were carried out under Raja Ram Jat in order to avenge his father's death.
The Architecture of the Akbar's Tomb can be pondered upon and studied forever. It is by far an epitome of Mughal style. The architecture is a mixture of Hindu Rajputana design and gothic Mughal style. It has the standard feature of symmetry like other monuments of this era. The tomb is surrounded by a wall which encloses the entire property. There are four gates. The southern gate is the largest one with four marble chhatri-topped minarets which are very similar to those of Taj Mahal's. This gate is the normal point of entry. The shape of the tomb is pyramidal and has four storeys and a marble pavilion, which contains the false tomb. The true tomb is in the basement.
The ground floor is surrounded by walkways all around except at the centre of the southern side, which is the way that leads in from the main gate. These arcades are divided by huge arches and piers that divided the walkways into many bays. The next three storeys are square with arcades and clusters of kiosks on each side. In the second storey, some of the kiosks have marble roofs in pyramidal shapes. The rest of the kiosks are crowned by cupolas. Every end of the third storey has a small square shaped room.
The top storey that is, the pavilion is made entirely of white marble. It has an open-to-the-sky square court. Slender arches and piers have enclosed the central courtyard, dividing it into many bays. A square platform lies at the centre of the courtyard over which the false tomb is laid out, made of marble. The tomb had floral patterns and arabesque beautifully carved on to it.
The building is constructed mainly from a deep red sandstone, enriched with features in white marble. Black slate and various decorated inlaid panels adorn the entire structure including the main gatehouse. The panel designs are geometric with floral patterns and calligraphy.
The tomb of Akbar is located on the Mathura Road at NH-2 and lies around 8 km from the city centre. The easiest way to get to Akbar's tomb is by hiring a cab or an auto rickshaw from any part of the city.