Built by Akbar (or rather, by his 4,000 workmen) on the west bank of the Yamuna, Agra Fort first took shape between 1565 and 1573, but each successive emperor was to add his imprint, and today the towering red-sandstone ramparts house a variety of palace apartments, representing the different building styles of Akbar and his grandson Shah Jahan. Akbar's son, Jahangir, installed a "chain of justice" (1605) by which any of his subjects could call on him, which provides some insight into the ruling qualities of the man many dismiss as a drunkard. Entrance is through impressive Amar Singh Gate. On your right-hand side you pass Jahangiri Mahal, the palace that housed the women of the court, dating to Akbar's reign (ca. 1570). In front is a stone pool with steps both inside and outside -- legend says it was filled with rose petals during Nur Jahan's time, so that she could bathe in their scent. Much of the exterior (the jutting jarokhas, for example, and the domed chattris) and almost the entire interior were clearly built by Hindu workmen, who used Hindu building styles and decorative motifs -- indicative of Akbar's all-embracing religious tolerance. Adjacent, facing Anguri Bagh (Grape Garden, where flowing water, flower beds, hidden lamps, and hanging jewels would have transformed it into a fantasy garden), is Khas Mahal (1636), built overlooking the cooling breezes of the Yamuna. You are now entering Shah Jahan's palaces, immediately recognizable by the extensive use of white marble. Historians also point out that here -- unlike in Akbar's buildings, which feature straightforward Hindu elements next to Islamic -- a subtle blend of Hindu and Persian elements resulted in a totally new style, referred to as the "Mughal style," with its classical purity. The Khas Mahal is flanked by two Golden Pavilions (a reference to the fact that they were once gilded): the bedrooms of the princesses Jahanara and Roshanara, before the latter plotted the downfall of her father and sister. On the left is Mussaman Burj, an octagonal tower open to the cooling breezes, which may have been the emperor's bedroom. Romantic accounts would have us believe that Shah Jahan, imprisoned by his son in this room, would gaze at the Taj Mahal until his death of a broken heart in 1666. However, evidence points to death by a massive dose of opium, complicated by the prolonged use of aphrodisiacs. Near the tower are the mirrored Sheesh Mahal and Mina Masjid (Gem Mosque); adjacent is Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience; 1637), its marble columns inlaid with semi-precious stones in pietra dura floral patterns. In front of Diwan-i-Khas are two thrones (from where the emperor watched elephant fights below); facing these is Machchhi Bhavan (Fish House), once filled with the sounds of trickling water. Beyond lies Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience), the arcaded hall where the emperor would listen to the complaints of his subjects, seated on the Peacock Throne. Note the insensitive placement of the tomb of John Russell Colvin, who died here during the Mutiny and was laid to rest in front of Diwan-I-Am. The ugly barracks to the north are also 19th-century British additions. From here on, most of the buildings (except for Nagina Masjid, the private mosque of the ladies of the court) are closed to the public, undergoing extensive excavation at press time.