Wednesday, 1 November 2017

23rd October - Fatehpur Sikri, Utter Pradesh, India

We left Agra with our guide from the day before, it was another morning of sunshine and a slight mist or dust.  Early morning is an interesting time to travel, while the traffic is not as heavy there are always some interesting sights to see, eith in or on a vehicle or walking alongside the road.

Our guide was with us because we were visiting the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri.  Constructed by the Emperor Akbar as part of his plans to build a grand capital for his empire, Fatehpur Sikri is 39 km outside of Agra. It served as the Mughal capital from 1571 to 1585. 

It was originally situated on the banks of a large natural lake, that is now almost all dried out.
Spread across eight sq km, the city is about three miles long and one mile wide. Built with red Sikri sandstone, the city’s architecture is a blend of Islamic and Hindu styles. The sandstone throughout the city has exquisite ornamental carvings and interlaced decorative designs.

We drove up quite a steep hill to reach the entrance, and entered the walled city through steps and a large open patio.  This was the main entrance and towers and domes could be seen above the trees.

All the buildings are made of the Red Sandstone with very little marbler in contrast to yesterday.


Through the main entrance, passing through a square arch you enter the main square of the city.

The Emperor Akbar, longed for an heir, and was assured of sons by the Sufi mystic Salim Chishti. When the son was born, Akbar named him Salim in honour of the Sufi saint. Salim later came to be known as Jahangir after he ascended the throne. Following his military victories in Rajasthan, Akbar decided to build a new capital and chose Sikri village, where the Sufi saint used to live. The city was christened Fatehabad, Fateh meaning victory. It later came to be known as Fatehpur Sikri.

The planning and construction of the walled city took 15 years. Akbar took great interest in its planning and building. Planned on Persian principles, Akbar tried to revive the glory of old Persian courts. The sloping levels of the city were connected by terraces, and water was a large feature, with grand ponds and pools fed by canals, the water providing cool air during the hot days of the summer.

We spent time wandering in and out of the open buildings looking for inspiration for photographs, while imagining what it must have been like when the city was occupied.

The architecture is a mix of Indian architectural styles especially Gujarati and Bengali styles as skilled craftsmen from different regions were employed for the construction of the city.

Islam does not allow pictures on the walls, but the Emperor felt as he was the ruler, he could change the rules.  The paintings and frescoes have faded in many places but a few are still visible.

Fatehpur Sikri had royal palaces, halls for public and private audience, the zenana or the quarters for women, courtyards and grand avenues. The aristocrats had residences on a higher plane than the commoners. 

Here you can see a five storey building, the top five storeys being open  on all sides.

Seen from the ground there is a lovely perspective caused by the arches that make the end seem much smaller.

With it being so hot in the summer, the design was all about providing a cool environment, water was key to this with a large pool that was also a swimming pool.

The rooms were also shaded and cool, and as a result shadows were thrown across the floor.

Arches were seen everywhere, some plain but effective.

While others were very ornate, like this carved elephant trunk.

And open windows looked out across the dry scorched land.

Besides its historical and architectural importance, Fatehpur Sikri was the place where the legends about Akbar’s Navratnas, his nine ministers took shape. The city remained Akbar’s capital for 14 years. It was abandoned in 1585 due to acute shortage of water in the region. Today, the city lies uninhabited but mostly intact.

Ornate gardens lined the open areas, and the water that was circulated to cool various areas was used to irrigate the gardens.

There are lawns and trees outside of the main palaces today that were not part of the original city.  This area was open and left to stone.  Here two tame Elephants were kept, and used for executions!

It was time to move on, and we made our way to the car, and said goodbye to our guide who we dropped off at the bus station for his journey back to Agra.  We headed east in the direction of Jaipur, as we left the city limits there was a lovely view across the wasteland to the Ghost City.

As I turned back too the car I was reminded of the other side of India a dead cow was lying in the grass, having been skinned for the leather.   

An interesting and fascinating morning and as we headed off towards Jaipur we discussed how amazing it must have been when the city was occupied

1 comment:

  1. This city looks more beautiful through these photographs and post, The heritage monuments of this city need to be explored by the visitors of Agra and Taj Mahal Tour by car will take tourists to all the famous and popular monuments of Agra city Fatehpur Sikri.


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