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Sikandra, Agra

The tomb of Akbar the Great is an important Mughal architectural masterpiece built in the 16th century. Akbar himself planned his own tomb and selected the site for it. He started the construction and, after his death, his son Jahangir completed the construction in 1613. The impressive tomb is a fascinating architectural achievement and the great gateway to the monument has a large number of inlaid patterns that are timeless in their beauty. The grounds are a precise 690 meter square, aligned with the points of the compass, surrounded by high walls, and laid out in a classic charbagh garden style. A gatehouse stands at the center of each wall, and broad paved avenues, laid out in Mughal style with central running water channels representing the four rivers of Paradise, lead from these to the tomb at the center of the square. The south gate is the largest, with four white marble chhatri-topped minarets which are similar to (and pre-date) those of the Taj Mahal, and is the normal point of entry to the tomb. The tomb building is a four-tiered pyramid, with a marble pavilion containing the false tomb. The true tomb, as in other mausoleums, is in the basement. The buildings are constructed mainly from deep red sandstone, enriched with features in white marble. Decorated inlaid panels of these materials and a black slate adorn the tomb and the main gatehouse. Panel designs are geometric, floral and calligraphic.