Fatehpur Sikri is a historic city located about 37 km west of Agra, the city famous for Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Fatehpur Sikri complements Agra with its own share of historical monuments, which are in an excellent state of preservation. Fatehpur Sikri is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a popular tourist destination in India.
Fatehpur Sikri is all about the reign of the great Mughal emperor Akbar. Akbar became the Mughal king of Delhi Sultanate in the year 1556. Agra had been a prominent city since Sikandar Lodi founded it in 1504 and developed it as the second capital. Akbar realized the importance of Agra and made it his capital in 1565. The work on Agra Fort was started, and, with more than a million workmen, the Fort was completed in eight years time in 1573.
Akbar was highly influenced by Shaikh Salim Chishti, the great Sufi saint, who was greatly revered in India. Akbar went to Shaikh Salim Chisti to seek his blessings. Shaikh Salim Chishti predicted that Akbar would get a son. Afterwards, Akbar got a son, whom he named as Salim in honor of Shaikh Salim Chishti. Salim, later became known as Jahangir and became the emperor after Akbar. Akbar built a royal city in Fatehpur Sikri in honor of Shaikh Salim Chishti and made it his capital in 1571. He built a grand mosque, Jama Masjid, and a complex of palaces and meeting places for the royal family and the ministers.
It is believed that the founding principles and concept of main nine ministers, the Navratnas, evolved in Fatehpur Sikri. However, because of water shortage and strategic reasons, Akbar decided to leave the city of Fatehpur Sikri, moving to Lahore, which became his capital in 1585. In 1599, Akbar returned back to Agra and Agra remained the Mughal capital thereafter, till Shah Jahan decided to move the capital to Shahjahanabad (Delhi) in the year 1649.
Buland means “high”, or “soaring”; Darwaza is “gate”. So Buland Darwaza is a high gate. It is indeed very high, at 176 feet from ground and 134 feet from the top step, making it one of the biggest gateways in the world. One has to climb 42 steps to reach the entrance to the monument. Viewed from outside, Buland Darwaza offers a grand majestic look. It is believed to have been constructed in 1573, celebrating Akbar’s conquest of Gujarat.
Buland Darwaza is the main entrance to the Jama Masjid mosque complex.
Badshahi gate is on the eastern side of the mosque complex. This gate was used by Akbar for attending the congregation at Jama Masjid.
Jama Masjid is one of the most important and largest mosques of the world. It was built in 1571. Also known as the Friday Mosque and Dargah mosque, it is most sacred building and is situated at the highest point in Fatehpur Sikri.
TOMB OF SHAIKH SALIM CHISTI
The white marble shrine inside the mosque complex houses the tomb of Shaikh Salim Chisti. People come here to seek blessings for fulfillment of their wishes.
Although this building is attributed to Birbal, it is believed to be the residence of Akbar’s senior queens, Ruqaiyya Begam and Salima Sultan Begum. There is a beautiful balcony on the first floor as are the windows, called jharokhas, also on the first floor.
Diwan-I-Am, or the Hall of Public Audiences, was the place for public meetings. There is a pavilion for the emperor’s throne. The audience would gather in the open spaces on three sides of the pavilion.
Diwan-I-Khas, or the Hall of Private Audiences, was the place of official meetings where Akbar would meet his ministors, visitors, scholars and generals. The central pillar of Diwan-I-Khas is piece of architectural novelty. It has thirty six volutes supporting a circular platform at the top of the pillar. The platform provided the place for the emperor’s seat.
Panch Mahal is the five-storied palace, supported on columns, with third story onwards, floors getting smaller and at the top there is single domed small structure supported on four columns. From Panch Mahal, one could enjoy the cool breeze and a panoramic view of the city around.
Anup Talao, or the Peerless Pool, is a square pool, with a platform in the center. This platform was used as a stage and it is said that Tansen used to perform here.