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The deserted imperial city of Fatehpur Sikri is situated 26 miles west of Agra. It was built by Emperor Akbar as an act of gratitude to the sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chishti. An architectural legacy this city exuberated the respect of Emperor Akbar towards religion whether Hindu or Islamic. The aesthetic halls, mosques and palaces within this city introduce you to the ideals and visions of the Emperor. Though it was the capital of the Mughal Empire for 15 years but it was deserted due to an inexplicable reason such as the shortage of water supply. And this aroused numerous curious questions and doubts about the city. The most popular of them are enlisted below.
Sheikh Salim Chishti's Prediction of an Heir :
The prosperity and development during Emperor Akbar's reign is still remembered with gratitude. But despite such progress the absence of an heir grieved the Emperor beyond the limit. Thus he commenced the pilgrimage to the Sufi Saint Sheikh Salim Chishti in order to seek his blessings. According to the prophesy of the saint, Emperor Akbar was to be blessed with three sons in the near future. And the following year the Emperor son was born named after the saint as Salim. This joyous moment was later, in 1571, transformed into a mosque built for the Sufi Saint Sheikh Salim Chishti. Post the saint's demise in 1572 a tomb was built for him within the mosque complex.
Fatehpur Sikri the Capital of the Mughal Empire :
The city was aptly named as Fatehpur Sikri. The first word implies "the city of victory" and the latter was added to commemorate the conquest of Gujrat by Emperor Akbar. The development of this city began in 1571 and lead to the building of elaborate palaces, mosques, harems, tombs, formal courtyards and a beautiful palace for the Emperor. Gradually the royal court shifted here and thus was born a new capital of the Mughal Empire.
The Architecture :
The architecture of this city plays a vital role in reflecting the tolerant nature of Emperor Akbar. His respect for all religions and a non-biased approach lead to the fusion of Hindu and Islamic architecture within the structures of the city. It consists of palaces, courtyards, public halls, harem, the treasury, soldier?s barracks, the main mosque, the shrine of Sufi Saint Sheikh Salim Chishti and the Buland Darwaza.
Abandonment of Fatehpur Sikri :
In the year 1585 Emperor Akbar abandoned the city which took almost 15 years to be completed. The reason is stated to be the lack of adequate water supply. But it is rumored that the Emperor lost his interest in the city.
The Friday Mosque :
Fabled to be a copy of the main mosque in Mecca the Jama Masjid or the Friday Mosque is perhaps the largest mosque ever to be built in India. At any given time ten thousand men can gather here to pray. With an entrance of an arched wan and the three domes of the prayer hall this was the first major structure to be built within the city.
The Buland Darwaza :
The name implies "the gateway of victory". It is one of the two entrances to the Jama Masjid. Situated on the southern side of the mosque this massive gateway was built to commemorate the victory of Emperor Akbar over Gujrat. Built in colored sandstone and white marble on the southwestern end of the ceremonial city the gateway can be accessed via a flight of stairs that are 12 meters from the ground level.
The Dargah of Sufi Saint Sheikh Salim Chishti :
The sacred shrine of Sufi Saint Sheikh Salim Chishti is located within Jama Masjid comlpex. His tomb is one of the significant Sufi shrines of the region. Originally built in red sand stone later it was replaced by lattice marble screens. The realization of saint?s prophesying regarding the birth of an heir elevated him to such a sacred stature. And out of his gratitude for the saint Emperor Akbar built this Dargah. Till date the belief holds strong and many childless parents visit Jama Masjid, especially the shrine of Sheikh Salim Chisthi and tie threads on the lattice screens to seek fulfillment of their wishes. There is another tomb within the masjid complex of the sufi saint's grandson Islam Khan.
The Royal Complex :
Measuring upto 250 meter square the royal complex is one of the largest building complexes at Fatehpur Sikri.It has three main areas:
The court of commons is the first structure beyond the gateway to the palace. It is enclosed by colonnades and was overlooked by the Emperor on the pavilion on the western side of the court. The intricate stone screens provided the women to glimpse at the ongoing of the celebrations and processions within this court. The marriage of Prince Salim with a Hindu Princess was one of them. Behind the Diwan-i-Amm is a small entrance that leads to the protected private domain of the imperial palace. It includes mansions for the royal harem and the ladies-in-waiting, residencies for the ruler and living quarters.
The court of exclusive from the exterior has two storeys with a balcony supported on heavy corbels. But the inside has a high-ceiling to form a single huge harboring area. An elaborately carved centre pillar supports the balcony connected by bridges that run diagonally from the corners of the gallery. Cue to its peculiar square shape the structure is referred as a Hindu structure. It served the purpose of Emperor Akbar conducting meetings with the ambassadors, governors, and other officials of the state.
Aaankh Michauli :
This hall is part of Diwan-i-Khas, the court of commons. Romantic tales have been spun regarding the purpose of this area. The peculiar name implies ?hide and seek". And it is rumored that the Emperor used to entertain his female seekers within this area. But these rumors have been rubbished due to the location of this hall within the men's complex where access to women was restricted.
Anup Talao :
Built in the men's complex this ornamental pool with embellished edges has a platform at the center that can be reached by narrow bridges. It is towards the Khwabgah i.e the resting place for the Emperor. The royal court singer Tansen is fabled to have performed from the seat in the center of the pool.
The Panch Mahal :
The name of this palace is derived from its five-storied structure. The ground floor of the palace has a hundred and seventy-six intricately carved columns. The next two floors are similar whereas the top two floors are in the form of pillared halls. The top of the palace has a crowned stone umbrella for enjoying the view of the fort and the palace. The view form the top shows the distinct layout of the imperial city, the private and the public areas with courtyards linking them together.
Jodha Bai's Palace :
Situated in the centre of a rectangular courtyard known to be the women's area it was known as the Zenana of Emperess Jodha Bai. The Empress was a Rajput Princess before her marriage to Emperor Akbar and this is reflected in the architecture of the palace. With blue tiled roofs and arcades surrounding the courtyard on all four sides the palace can be accessed only through a single fortified gateway on the east side.
The Hawa Mahal :
Also known as the Wind Palace this beautiful structure was built of walls with complete stone lattice work. Residing on a raised pavilion the palace served the purpose of being a summer retreat for the women of the harem.
The Birbal Palace :
This elaborate palace is named after Emperor Akbar's royal advisor Birbal. It is located neighbouring the Jodha Bai Palace. Though claimed to be the advisor's residence it is still a mystery whether this claim is true or not. The reason being that except fo the royal family no one else was allowed to remain on the royal complex.
So much awaits you in this deserted yet mysteriously attractive city. While planning your trip to Fatehpur Sikri do contact us at Indian Memirz because we can cater to every selective need of yours with perfection.