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The Agra Fort was a Mughal fortress and palace in Agra, India and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Agra Fort is one of India’s most impressive and important forts and palaces, close to the Taj Mahal.
From fortress to city
Primarily intended as a military structure, the Agra Fort is made up of 20 metre high walls with a circumference of 2.5 kilometres. However, the Agra Fort was later transformed into a city unto itself expanding into a labyrinth of red sandstone buildings, including a palace, a mosque, homes, halls and monuments.
Original construction of the Agra Fort was commenced by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1565 with successive emperors of the Mughal Dynasty adding to it over time. One particular contributor was Emperor Akbar’s grandson and commissioner of the Taj Mahal, Emperor Shah Jahan, who added further white marble buildings, in effect creating a palace.
While the Agra Fort was intended to keep out enemies, it in fact transformed into an opulent prison in 1685, when Shah Jahan was imprisoned there for the final eight years of his life when his son, Aurangzeb, seized power.
What there is to see
Incredibly well-preserved, the Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site. In addition to the fort itself, some of the most impressive structures within the Agra Fort complex include the Diwan-i-Am or ‘Hall of Public Audiences’, from which Shah Jahan conducted state business, the 17th century Nagina Masjid or ‘Gem Mosque’ and the mirror encrusted Shish Mahal palace. The Anguri Bagh gardens are also very beautiful, having been extensively restored.
Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of the Mughal Empire for a short period in the sixteenth century.
Fatehpur Sikri near Agra was the short-lived capital of the Mughal Empire. Commissioned by Emperor Akbar in 1571, Fatehpur Sikri was built on the site where a holy man called Shaikh Salim Chishti was said to have predicted the birth of Akbar’s third son, who would become the leader of the empire.
Fatehpur Sikri was built in honour of this prediction and also following Akbar’s victory in conquering Gujarat. Indeed, “Fatehpur Sikri” is translated as the “city of victory”.
Completed in 1573, Fatehpur Sikri was a magnificent city with numerous palaces, monuments, mosques and houses as well as public buildings. Today, the city is a ghostly sight, with its buildings intact but entirely empty save for the tourists.
Interestingly, Fatehpur Sikri is the origin of several board games. At the time of its existence, people (usually women) were used as the pieces and games were played at the Parcheesi Court.
Fatehpur Sikri was abandoned in 1585, when Lahore became the new capital. This was arguably due to the need to move to be nearer tribal conflicts, but it has been posited that the reason was inadequate water supplies. It would serve as an emergency capital once more in 1691 when a plague made Agra uninhabitable, but only for a few months.
Visitors can walk through Fatehpur Sikri to see structures such as the great Jama Masjid mosque and the building where Akbar addressed his people – the Diwan-i-khas – amongst others. All the buildings are similarly designed, creating an overall sense of continuity. In 1986, Fatehpur Sikri became a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Humayun’s Tomb in Central Delhi is the resting place of the second emperor of the Mughal Dynasty and was the Indian Subcontinent’s first garden mausoleum.
Humayun’s Tomb or The Tomb of Humayun is the mausoleum of the second emperor of the Mughal Dynasty, Humayun.
Humayum was the ruler of over one million square kilometers, encompassing modern Pakistan, Afghanistan, and parts of northern India, his reign spanning from 1530 to 1540 and from 1555 to 1556.
Humayun’s Tomb represents the first garden tomb in India and inspired future designs, including the iconic Taj Mahal. Despite the fact that Humayun’s Tomb was the first of its kind, it is considered to be a magnificent example of Mughal architecture, a status which has earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was Humayun’s wife, Biga Begum, who commission the building of his tomb in 1562 and its architect was Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, of Persian origin.
Over time, Humayun’s Tomb came to house several other members of the Dynasty and now contains around 150 graves. Humayun’s Tomb is a solitary irregular-octagonal structure made up of red sandstone crowned by a marble dome and set on a wide platform amidst a large garden area.
Jama Masjid is a seventeenth century mosque and the largest in Delhi. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.
Jama Masjid, translated as the “Friday Mosque”, is Delhi’s largest and most famous mosque. Commissioned in 1644 by the builder of the Taj Mahal, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, Jama Masjid took fourteen years to complete.
The result was a symmetrical multi-domed masterpiece capable of holding up to 25,000 worshippers in its vast courtyard. Today, Jama Masjid is a popular tourist destination. Visitors can climb one of its two 130-foot minarets for great views of the city.
The Lahore Fort is a vast fortified complex built by the Mughal Emperors and is UNESCO listed.
The Lahore Fort (Shahi Qila) in Lahore, Pakistan is a large complex of fortifications, marble mosques and palaces built by Mughal Emperor Akbar, known as Akbar the Great. Whilst there were buildings and fortifications on the site since the eleventh century and even before, it was under Akbar the Great that the current fort flourished.
In the sixteenth century, Lahore became Akbar’s capital and, in circa 1580 he established the Lahore Fort as it is known today. Since his reign, successive leaders have made their mark on the fort including Shah Jahan’s seventeenth century Crystal Palace or “Shish Mahal”. However, despite all of the renovations and additions to the Lahore Fort, Akbar’s work can generally be distinguished as the red brick constructions.
Ornate and full of incredible sites such as Naulakha Pavillion and the Hall of Public Audience or ‘Diwan-i-Aam’, the Lahore Fort is also well-planned. For example, it is compartmentalised to separate the residential aspects from those of the administrative functions.
After the Mughal Empire fell in the eighteenth century, the Lahore Fort was ransacked and many of its buildings were damaged. However it has now been carefully restored, allowing visitors to enjoy its original splendour.
The Lahore Fort houses three museums, the Mughal Museum, the Armoury Gallery and the Sikh Museum, each containing a series of interesting exhibits.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Lalbagh Fort is an unfinished seventeenth century Mughal fortified palace in Dhaka.
The Lalbagh Fort is a seventeenth century Mughal fortified palace in Dhaka which was never completed. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Lalbagh Fort was the scene of - ultimately unsuccessful - revolts by the local soldiers against the British during the Great Rebellion.
The Mausoleum of Emperor Akbar is the tomb one of the most famous of the Mughal emperors.
The Mausoleum of Emperor Akbar was the final resting place of the third Mughal Emperor, Abu Akbar, known as Akbar the Great (1542-1605). Having succeeded to the throne from his father Humayun at the age of thirteen, Emperor Akbar is known for having been an effective leader, recapturing much of the land lost by his predecessors and vastly expanding the empire.
Emperor Akbar was also a Muslim leader of a mostly Hindu nation and was famously tolerant of all religions, abolishing discriminatory laws and taxes. The Mausoleum of Emperor Akbar was started by Akbar and completed by his son. Beautifully ornate and neatly symmetrical, it reflects both Muslim and Indian influences including combining traditional red sandstone with Islamic elements such as its four minarets.
Visitors enter the Mausoleum of Emperor Akbar via the aptly titled “Gateway of Magnificence” and can view the Akbar’s grave.
One of the most famous Mughal sites, the Red Fort is a world famous fortified structure and palace in Delhi, India and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Red Fort (Lal Quila) in Delhi, India was originally built by the fifth Emperor of India’s Mughal Dynasty, Shahjahan in 1639, when he moved India’s capital from Agra to Delhi.
The Red Fort, which derives its name from the red sandstone bricks which make up its protective walls, was built as Shahjahan’s new palace and as a defensive structure. The walls of the Red Fort are an imposing sight, rising up to 33 metres in places, with ornate carvings, domes and minarets. In addition to the Red Fort itself, the historic Red Fort Complex is made up of palaces, gardens, halls, monuments, mosques and even another fort, Salimgarh.
The Red Fort Complex took almost a decade to complete and covers a staggering 120 acres, at one time holding a population of 3,000 people. Its architecture is considered to be a testament to the creativity of the Mughals, enriched by Persian, European and Indian imagery.
The Red Fort Complex consists of numerous impressive structures, including the Diwan-i-Am or Hall of Public Audience, once the home of the royal throne and the private apartments along the Stream of Paradise or ‘Nahr-i-Behisht’ as well as several other palaces and even the Chhatta Chowk or palace market. All of these are placed within strict geometrical lines within the Red Fort Complex’s distinctive octagonal shape.
Over time, the Red Fort has been subject to change and is now a shadow of its original grandeur, particularly following the destruction of many of its buildings and gardens after 1857 by British colonialists. However, with ongoing restoration and maintenance, the Red Fort remains one of the most popular tourist sites in Delhi and is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage historic sites. An average trip can last around three to four hours during peak times.
The Taj Mahal is an opulent, world-famous mausoleum in Agra, India and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Probably the best known of all the Mughal sites.
The Taj Mahal is an iconic structure and a UNESCO World Heritage site in the city of Agra in India. Built between 1631 and 1654, the construction of the Taj Mahal was ordered by the ruling emperor Sha Jahan as a mausoleum for his favourite wife, Empress Mumtaz Mahal.
The Empress had died in 1631 whilst giving birth to the couple’s fourteenth child, Gauhara Begum and her jade and jasper adorned coffin was placed in the centre of the Taj Mahal, although her body and that of her husband (buried there later) are actually contained several floors below.
The white marble structure of the Taj Mahal, with its central dome flanked by arches and smaller domes as well as minarets is famed for its incredible symmetry and opulent design. Inside, the Taj Mahal is lavishly decorated with plant life imagery and Koranic calligraphy, each aspect of which is entirely individual. In fact, it is believed that approximately 20,000 workers toiled to create the Taj Mahal.
Visitors to the Taj Mahal can enter the main mausoleum (although generally not the underground floors) and also enjoy its incredible gardens with their reflective lakes.
Nearby are several other beautiful buildings, including the Taj Mahal’s mosque and the Jilaukhana gated complex, all of which add to the overall symmetry of the site.
Some of the Taj Mahal’s original decoration has been looted over the centuries and the white colour structure is suffering from the effects of pollution, but overall this is a must-see site when visiting India.