Journey through India – Day 20 – Fatehpur Sikri
We checked out of our Agra hotel and set off for Jaipur with a few stops along the way.
First up was Fatehpur Sikri, a town in the Agra District which was founded as the capital of the Mughal Empire in 1571 by Emperor Akbar (1542-1605). The city was built primarily with red sandstone. Akbar and his family of several wives lived here in luxury for around 14 years before he abandoned it and moved elsewhere. The place was literally a ghost city for hundreds of years.
This time, we had a good guide who was a teacher during the week and was both pleasant and passionate about the place. The whole tour was very inspiring and a good story.
It seemed that everything was “red” – beautiful buildings with great symmetry, arches, carvings and of course marble. While the insides of the buildings were quite bare, the evidence of great wealth and beauty were still evident.
The niches in the mosque were all so different.
It was great to see so many Indian people visiting this place. Often I wait for people to move before I get my photo, but this time I have tried to include them. Loved the colours of their clothes.
The Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience) was one of the first places we visited. A large pillar occupies the central position with a massive expanding capital supporting a circular stone platform. From the platform, stone bridges radiate along each diagonal, giving the appearance that there are two floors. 36 brackets support the throne platform. Very impressive.
Next was Diwan-i-Aam (Hall of Public Audience). Akbar would meet the general public here and listen to their concerns. It was here that we could view the beautiful gardens.
Most of the buildings we visited had decorative columns, some were weathered while others seemed to withstand the many hundreds of years of use. Looking up to the ceilings, one can only imagine how colourful this place would have been.
Panch Mahal is a five-storeyed palatial structure with the tiers gradually diminishing in size. It was built as a recreation place for the royal family.
Over 80 columns support the ground floor. The open pillared complex gave relief from the very hot summers.
Anup Talao is actually a pool with a raised platform built in red sandstone and surrounded by a stone platform in its centre. There is no public access to this platform but it provides a great centrepoint to the surrounding buildings such as Jodha Bhai’s palace.
The Jama Masjid was built by Akbar in 1571. Also known as the “Friday Mosque”, it is one of the largest mosques in India.
The main façade of the mosque had an incredible entry arch with very old painted ceilings. So much to photograph here.
Inside the mosque, many passageways gave way to more colour, beautiful ceilings and of course more niches. So decorative. Just take photos of them all!
One of the hallways had the most beautiful morning light streaming through.
I just loved this family photograph.
The Sheikh Salim Christi’s tomb is one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture in India. It was built around 1580 and enshrines the burial place of the Sufi saint, Salim Christi (1478 – 1572).
This beautiful building is enclosed by delicate marble screens (jalis) on all sides. Love getting photos of the screens from the inside looking out.
It is a much revered shrine with people coming here to seek blessings. It is believed that if they tie a thread to the Jalis, they will have their wishes granted. We were told women come here to be blessed to have children.
Just wandering around, there is always a particular aspect of a building that will catch your eye. Loved these windows and the old blue roof.
And then there are those special moments to capture.
Whilst we saw a lot and had a good guide, there was perhaps a more that we missed. One piece of advice for photographing these places is to stipulate to the guide that your main purpose here is to learn about the place and to take great photographs. Most will get you through a place and take you to the shops.
Fatehpur Sikri is definitely worth visiting. Perhaps you could add it to your Agra itinerary or like us, visit on route to another place.