Guest Post || Why Fatehpur Sikhri is a MUST visit from Agra, by Rommanne

The architecture. It is beyond brilliant. The intricate details and carvings on red sandstone and white marble is unique to the Mughal Sultanate, and is a visual treat for the eyes. I wish the walls could whisper about the grandeur and charisma of this magnificent empire!

img_20151217_120526Jalal-ud-din Mohammed Akbar, the greatest emperor of the Mughal dynasty, had built the twin cities of Fatehpur and Sikhri between 1571-1585. The capital city of Sikhri is an example of meticulous urban planning of medieval times. This ancient township is protected by a 11km long fortification wall. A tomb is dedicated to the Sufi saint Salim Chisti. The palace complex houses various important buildings. A tour of the city is like walking into the pages of your school history text book – only to realize that no words can do justice to the pristine glory of the mighty Mughal empire.

How to get there?

By Road from Agra

It is only 37 km away from Agra, towards the west. An hour’s drive from the beautiful mausoleum city.You can hire a cab for approximately Rs 2000 (an air-conditioned Indica which is a four seater) and the price varies based on the number of people commuting. Your hotel will be able to help you with this booking.

Note: The Taj Mahal is closed on a Friday, but Fatehpur Sikhri isn’t. The Taj Mahal is open to tourists on full moon nights (once a month) and the view is of paramount beauty. So plan your tour itinerary accordingly.

What to Carry?

Carry a cap to avoid the blazing sun and sunscreen during the day in summers
Warm clothes – It can get icy cold during November to February
A good pair of walking shoes
Cash – the cab driver and local shopkeepers do not use debit / credit cards
A good camera
Water bottles – it is allowed inside
Some snacks to eat on the way (not allowed inside the monuments).
Entrance Fee (subject to changes)

Indian nationals : Rs 40
Foreign Nationals: Rs 550
Additional camera charges apply

Traveler’s Tip:

A tour guide is essential to explain the nitty-gritties of the architecture. Beware of cheats! An official guide would be wearing a white uniform and will have a license. He would charge you approximately Rupees 1500 and would not bargain. You could wait for another travel group to split your expense. However, many fake tourist guides roam at the entrance to con the tourist with a fake ID card and similar uniform. They agree to a lesser price but often provide false information or no information at all.

Sikhri

Babur, the descendant of Chengiz Khan, had noticed a small village and name it Shukri (meaning shukriya or thank you) when he defeated Rana Sangwa at Khanua in 1527. Akbar, Babur’s grandson called it Sikhri and made it his capital between 1571-1584.

Diwan-e-Khass

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Diwan-e-Khass (The Jewel House)

 

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The pillars are a blend of Indo-Islamic architecture

 

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The ornately carved central pillar is believed to house the throne of Akbar while the Ministers were seated at corners of the passage

Ankh Michauli – The Imperial Treasury

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The crevices in the wall suggest that the Royal Treasure Troves filled with gold, silver and copper coins were placed here

Palace of Jodha Bai – Shabistan-i-Iqbal

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The design of this building draws inspiration from Rajput traditions and Hindu architecture and was also equipped with a kitchen based on the request by Akbar’s favorite queen
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One of the walls of Jodha Bai’s palace lined with various designs of the Rajput Queen’s jhumkas or earrings

 

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While some historians believe that this was the Hindu prayer hall Jodha used, others refute by suggesting that Jodha had a summer palace and a winter palace. Akbar was the only Mughal emperor who allowed his queen’s to follow their own religion. The Jalal carefully examined the doctrines of all religions, customs and ceremonies and blended the best practices to start a religion called Din-i-Ilahi

 

Turkish Sultana’s Pavilion

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Rukaiyaa Begum’s Pavilion. The paintings adorning the walls have faded with the sands of time. The beauty and finesse of the Persian silk curtains guarding the entrance to the chambers can only be imagined
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A verandah facing the Talao. Intricacy herself would have sculpted the walls of the Turkish Queen. The delicate carvings on the friezes, pillars and pilasters of the stone masons can be mistaken to be teak wood carvings

 

Panch Mahal

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Badgir (wind catcher) consists of four storeys of decreasing size. It was meant to mitigate the intense summer heat

 

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No two columns are alike on the first floor. Several designs such as bell-and-chain motif, floral patterns and tiny circular blossoms are carved on these walls

 

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The ground floor consists of 84 columns (an auspicious number for the Hindus, the first storey consists of 56 columns, the second storey 20 , the third 12 and the top storey is a domed kiosk supported on four pillars

 

Hujra-i-Anup Talao

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North-east of the Talao is a beautiful structure described as a ‘superb jewel casket’

 

Fatehpur

The twin city of Fatehpur – meaning land of victory was built next to Sikhri. However, Akbar had to abandon Fatehpur-Sikhri due to the saline content in the water and scarcity of water in this region.

Jami Masjid Complex in red sandstone

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The Badshahi Darwaza, the entrance used by the Emperor to enter the Jami Masjid complex.

 

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Pillared bays in Jami Masjid

 

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The remnants of the ceiling once adorned with marvelous paintings and colors. A look at the center of the dome shows signs of the last designs peeling off

 

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The Masjid, the principal building of Fatehpur consists of an open courtyard. The inscriptions on the wall gives an idea regarding the construction and commissioning of the mosque

Darbar of Salim Chisti in white marble

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Akbar sought the blessings of Shaikh Salim Chisti who predicted the birth of his sons, heir to the throne of the Mughal Sultanate. The dargah marks the profound reverence and respect the Sultan had for the saint

 

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The intricate jali work architecture unique to the Mughal Empire, resembles carved ivory instead of white marble. The devotees tie a sacred thread around the jali to seek blessings of the famous Sufi saint

 

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The pillars around the dargah consists of serpentine brackets which spring from the shafts. The space between the curves is filled with jali work

 

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The marble screens around the tomb draw different patterns such as pentagon, hexagon and octagonal patterns. The early morning sun casts beautiful shadows which leaves the tourist spell-bound

Buland Darwaza

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The Buland Darwaza (Lofty Gate) was built to commemorate the conquest of Gujarat. This imposing gate is made up of plain red sandstone framed in white marble. Verses from the Holy Quran are inscribed on the structure which can be seen from far distances.

The gigantic gate characterizes the assertion of power and dominance of the most successful Mughal Emperor.

Souvenir Shopping at Fatehpur Sikhri and Agra

Click here to read what Agra is famous for and tips on souvenir shopping!

 

cropped-13906890_10155214073928636_2127596217741220551_nAbout the author in her own words:    A Bengali brought up in the cosmopolitan city of Bangalore, I believe in living life to the brim. I have spent years to hone up my technical skills to get the coveted tag of an “Engineer + MBA” and worked with some of the best brands of the corporate world. I love to splash colors on canvas, disappear into a different world by picking up a good book and flipping a few pages, put together some spices and meat to please my taste buds, sway to my favorite tune each time I hear good music and of course explore a new place every time I get a chance! Well, this doesn’t even sum up 0.1% of me! Each article here is a bit of me, a bit of what I think, a little of what I feel and are pieces of the jigsaw puzzle which makes me, Me!

You can check other amazing stories by Rommanne at http://www.rommanne.com

Disclaimer:  *Contents in this story is Authors personal views and presentation.

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