In 1739 Nadir, Shah of Persia, sacked Delhi, carried off Shah Jahan’s famous peacock throne, and laid Agra also under contribution. The Mahrattas next appeared on the scene. In 1764 the Jats of Bharatpur, under Suraj Mal, captured Agra, looted the Taj, and played havoc with the palaces in the Fort. They were joined by Walter Reinhardt, an adventurer, half French and half German, who sold his services for any work of infamy, and had only recently assisted in the murder of the British Resident and other Europeans at Patna. He afterwards entered the Mogul service, and was rewarded by a grant of a tract of country near Meerut, which remained in the possession of his family until recent times. He died at Agra in 1778, and was buried in the Catholic cemetery.
For the next thirty-nine years Agra was occupied by Mahrattas and by Mogul imperialists in turn. John Hessing, a Dutch officer in the employ of the Mahrattas, was Governor of Agra in 1794, and died there in 1802. The next year it was captured by the British under General, afterwards Lord, Lake, and from that time until 1857 its history was uneventful.
Agra in the Mutiny.
Agra did not take any prominent part in the events of the Mutiny. A mob plundered the city, burnt the public offices, and killed a number of Europeans; but the rioters left soon to join their comrades at Delhi. There was a small engagement outside the city. The British troops and the whole of the European population were afterwards shut up in the Fort until the capture of Delhi. The Lieutenant-Governor, Mr. John Russell Colvin, died there, and was buried in front of the Diwan-i-am.
The present Fort was commenced by Akbar in 1566, on the site of an older one constructed by Salim Shah Sur, the son of Shere Shah. Its vast walls (seventy feet in height, and a mile and a half in circuit), its turrets, and noble gateways present from the outside a most imposing appearance. It contains within its walls that most exquisite of mosques, the Muti Masjid, and the palaces of Akbar and Shah Jahan. The principal or north entrance is the Delhi Gate, nearly opposite to the railway station and the Jami Masjid. Formerly there was a walled enclosure in front of this gate, called the Tripulia, or Three Gates, which was used as a market. This was cleared away by the military authorities in 1875. Crossing the drawbridge over the moat which surrounds the Fort, the visitor passes the outer gate, and by a paved incline reaches the Hathi Pol, or Elephant Gate (Plate III.), so called from the two stone elephants, with riders, which formerly stood outside the gate, on the highest of the platforms on either side of it. The statues and elephants were thrown down by order of Aurangzib. There are four hollow places in each platform, where the legs of the elephants were morticed into it.