The Fatehpur Sikri
The Fatehpur Sikri was established by great mughal emperor Akbar in 16th century. It was a tribute to renowned sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chishti. It is said that Akbar walked barefooted from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri seeking the heir for the Mughal Empire and Salim Chisti predicted a male heir. And the prediction of the saint came true and Akbar was blessed with a son. Akbar named his son 'Salim' after the Sufi saint.
It is located at 40 kilometres from Agra. The credit of visiting the city goes to my father who was very keen on visiting the city. And though I was not much interested in visiting this city after the exhausting Agra trip a day before, I loved the city. We headed to Fatehpur Sikri Fort complex which is dotted by several architectural marvels soon after our breakfast.
Though our guide gave a lot of information but only few seemed true. The first place we saw was Diwan-e-aam, the hall of public audience that was used for public meetings and celebrations; its construction is very much similar to Diwan-e-aam of Red Fort of Delhi. Then we headed to Diwan-e-khas, the hall that was used for private meetings, there is a beautifully carved pillar in the centre of this hall. One very interesting thing in front of the Diwan-e-khas, is a life-size board for a game of Pacchisi (a precursor to Ludo), where human figures were used as the pieces and were moved by the direction of its players. What royalty and grandness the Mughals lived their life in.
Then we headed to the three small structures. Our guide said that since Emperor Akbar had three favourite wives, one of whom was Hindu, one Muslim and one Christian, he built one palace in name of each of his wives. Though I have never read this version of story in any of the Mughal books I have read.
Panch Mahal, whose photo is shown in the tourist book’s pages is a five storeyed building a place for recreation and relaxation for the royal family. The structure has been so designed that each story is pillared and is smaller than the other as you move upwards. Though now it is not allowed to climb up this structure. While no less than 84 columns support the ground floor, the uppermost domed floor has only 4 columns. The whole structure is only pillared without any enclosed wall and hence very airy. It is said that it was styled to give relief from the scorching summers of Agra and never used for residential purpose.
The Turkish Sultana’s House is one of the most ornamented buildings of this complex. Each and Every inch of this building is beautifully carved and designed. Though there is not much story about who Turkish Sultana was, but our guide said she was one of the wives of Akbar. It is a small structure surrounded by a verandah, but designed very intricately.
Just adjacent to the Turkish Sultana’s House is Anup Talao. This is actually a pool with a raised platform built by red sandstone and surrounded by stone jalis in its centre. There are four paths from four directions that connect this raised platform to the sides of the pool. Our guide has one more story to say about this pool, don’t know how much it is true. But according to our guide- this pool was once filled with coins and ornaments during the Mughal Era and when the rays of sun falls on this pool it created a visual treat. Today, despite being a part of world heritage the water in the pool is dirty and no one can enter the raised platform in the centre of the pool.
Then there is Jama Masjid and Sheikh Salim Chisti’s Tomb. The Jama Masjid is a beautiful and grand masjid. There are two entrances for this masjid, one is from Buland Darwaza, through which we entered and other one is through The King’s Gate (Badshahi Darwaja). It is said that Bulund Darwaza is said be raised in 1602 AD to celebrate Akbar’s victory over Gujarat. We entered through Buland Darwaza.
The Sheikh Salim Chisti’s Tomb is one of the most revered Sufi shrines of India. People from all religions come here to seek blessings and it is believed that their wished will be granted. And though all the other structure of this complex is made of red stone, the tomb is made of white marble. It is enclosed by beautiful marble jalis where people tie thread and ask for the blessings of the Sufi saint. This tomb is very serene and beautiful.
Fatehpur Sikri remained the capital of Mughal Empire during the era of Akbar for 14 years. But then due to the acute water shortage in the region, it was abandoned by Mughals.