Fatehpur Sikri

The state of Uttar Pradesh in India boasts of a city as well as a municipal board in the district of Agra. It is also popularly known as Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar, the renowned Mughal emperor founded the city in 1569. The city was the capital of the Mughal Empire between the years of 1571 till 1585. Akbar was a devotee of Salim Chisti. To honor the Sufi saint he wanted to shift the capital to Fatehpur Sikri from Agra. It is located at a distance of 23 miles i.e. 37 km from Agra. After reaching Fatehpur Sikri he began the building of a city walled from all sides. The city would include harems, courts, palaces, mosques and various other buildings of use. The city was coined Fatehpur. It derives its name from the word Fateh, which is an Arabic word; in Persian it means ‘victory’. It later came to be known as ‘Fatehpur Sikri’. Fatehpur Sikri is the place where Akbar’s Navaratnas were born. Fatehpur Sikri undoubtedly the best display of the architecture of Mughals in India.

All the buildings in Fatehpur Sikri are majorly an end product of sandstone as it was easily available. The most famous Imperial Palace is made up of many independent pavilions. These pavilions are arranged in informal geometry on the leveled land. This is a pattern which is basically derived from the tent encampments that were popular in Arab and central Asia. Akbar took a lot of interest and play during the entire construction time period of Fatehpur Sikri. Owing to his strong Persian ancestral connections, Timur, Akbar’s ancestor from Persia, he worked towards reviving the Persian principles. Thus laid the foundation of the complex on Persian principles. Inevitably, the emperor used even Indian embellishments to decorate his buildings.

The Imperial Complex was left abandoned in the year 1585 soon after it was completed. The reasons cited were shortage of water as well as closeness to the Rajputana states of the north-western side. Fighting was a natural and common phenomenon between the states. The very reason leading the Mughal capital to shift to Lahore. But in the year 1598, he came back to Agra with his entire focus on Deccan. Akbar did not come back to Agra to reign but only for a very short period in the year 1601. History states that the city was occupied by Muhammad shah for a very brief period between 1719-1748. His regent Syed Hussain Ali Khan Barha. The town today bears resemblance to a ghost town. The complex spread over an area of two miles long and a mile in breadth. It is surrounded by walls on 3 sides as was originally built. There are a few more buildings that stand in that area apart from the imperial Building. The town begins from the western end of the complex. A municipality since 1865 till the year 1904, the area was later modified as the ‘notified area’ with a total population of about 7,147 in the year 1901. The city is renowned for its masons and artisans. Sikri is a village now and it too exists nearby.

History and significance

Fatehpur Sikri, the city got its name after Mughal Emperor Babur had defeated Rana Sanga in a battle at a place known as Khanwa. Akbar had a deep desire to make Fatehpur Sikri his capital. For this, he built this majestic fort. But as he faced the scarcity of water in this area, he shifted his headquarters to Agra Fort.

Akbar did not have any children. It was only after the blessings of Sufi saint Salim Chishti he was blessed with a baby boy. He was christened Salim after the saint’s named Salim. Salim went on to become Emperor Jahangir. The tomb of ‘Salim Chisti ki azar was built in the year 1571 by the great Mughal emperor Akbar. It was initially built of red sandstone but was later changed to a marble mausoleum. It was built much later than the Fatehpur Sikri Fort built by Akbar.

It is one of the finest pieces of Mughal architecture. Mughals were extremely fond of architecture as is evident from the fact that built such spectacular buildings as were never seen before. The masjids, palaces are picturesque.

Location

At a distance of 40kms (25 miles) from Agra is the city of Fatehpur Sikri. It is in the state of Uttar Pradesh

Architecture

The architect of Fatehpur Sikri was Tuhir Das. The construction of the city is based on Indian principles. Fatehpur Sikri is on a rocky surface which is 3kms in length as well as 1 km in width. The city is protected by a wall on its three sides which is 6km in length. The fourth side was however a lake during that era. The buildings at Fatehpur Sikri bear a fine synthesis of a number of regional schools for architecture in India. They bear resemblance especially from the states of Bengal and Gujarat. The reason was the masons and craftsmen employed were indigenous. There is a good mix of Jain and Hindu elements mixed well with Islamic architecture. Sikri-sandstone has been used in the construction of the palace-city complex. Red sandstone is locally quarried at Fatehpur Sikri. The entrances to the Fatehpur Sikri are through the Lal gate, Delhi Gate, Agra gate, Ajmere Gate, Gwalior gate, Chor Gate, Birbal’s gate and Chandanpal gate.

Buildings of the Fatehpur Sikri

A number of sacred and popular buildings are there in Fatehpur Sikri namely:

  1. Buland Darwaza: The Buland Darwaza is a splendid monument. It is also known as the ‘gate of magnificence’ as well as is one of the gateways to the Jami Masjid.

  2. Tomb of Salim Chisti: It is a tomb of the great saint Salim Chisti which is encased in white marble. And is there within the courtyard of the Jama Masjid.

  3. Naubat khana: It is a kind of a dream house where the arrival of important people is announced.

  4. Diwan-e-Aam: this was the hall of Public Audience: it is a regular in the Mughal architecture where the ruler or the king would meet the general public. It is a kind of a rectangular structure which has a large front open space.

  5. Diwan-e-Khas: This was the hall of private audience. It boasted of a circular platform with a central pillar with vaulted brackets which were 36 in number.

  6. House of Raja Birbal: This was the home of Raja Birbal who was Akbar’s most favoured minister. One of the most distinguishable features of such a structure was chhajjas they were sloping sunshades.

  7. Mariam-uz-zamani’s palace: This particular building bears a kind of Gujarati influence. It is built along a courtyard. Very special care is taken to make sure privacy is not invaded.

  8. Pachisi Court: It was a square marked as a big- sized board game.

  9. Char chaman tank: it was a tank of platform in the centre and bridges four in number would lead up to the tank.

  10. Panch Mahal: It was a palatial structure and was five storied. The last floor had 176 columns which were carved and were highly intricate.

  11. Jama Masjid: It is a mosque which is constructed in the way mosques in India are made. A distinct note would be the chhatris which are made all over the sanctuary.

  12. The five storeys Panch- Mahal:It is a building made up of five stories and has 276 pillars in whole. It gives a fantastic view of the whole monument.

How to reach

Fatehpur Sikri is at a distance of 39 kms from the city of Agra. Kheria airport or the Agra Airport is the nearest airport which is 40 kms away. Fatehpur Sikri is the nearest railway station which is only one kms away from the main city centre. It is well connected by roads all across the city. UPSRTC has its services all over the city. Tourist buses and taxis also ply on the road.

Entrance Fees

All the tourists from India and SAARC (Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Maldives) countries as well as BIMSTEC countries (Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar and Thailand) have to pay only - Rs. 10 per person.

Others

All the others will have to pay US$5 or Rs.250/- per person as according to ASI.

Rs.10/- per person (ADA)

Rs. 500/- the tickets purchased at Taj Mahal by ADA is held valid only for the below mentioned monuments. They are Agra Fort, Akbar’s tomb, Sikandara, Fatehpur Sikri, Itimad-ud-daula.

(The ticket charge for children up to the age of 15 years is free.)

Opening Hours

Sunrise to sunset

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Fatehpur Sikri is from the months of November to February. One can even travel by Taj Express and Shatabdi. Tourists can drive or travel by bus as well. It is at a distance of 204 kms from Delhi. Agra is also connected to Delhi by air.

Related Image

Fatehpur Sikri 1
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