Location : - Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh). Built In : - 16th century. Built By : - Akbar. The founding of Fatehpur Sikri reads like a fairy tale. When all else had failed, the Emperor Akbar came here in search of the renowned Sufi mystic, Sheikh Salim Chishti, to ask the blessing of a son. His prayer was heard, and soon a son was born. In honour of the saint, Akbar named the new-born prince Salim and vowed to found a new city. And so Fatehpur Sikri, a magnificent new city rose on the craggy hills 40 kms from Agra. And for 16 short but memorable years it was the wonder of travellers from all over the world. Today, Fatehpur Sikri is a deserted, phantom city. But the inner citadel is immaculately preserved. Its walls, palaces, baths, royal mint, courts and gardens still stand in splendid homage to a great visionary and builder. The heart of the palace complex however, is very much alive. For at the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishi, a white marble canopy set in the great courtyard of the Royal Mosque, pilgrims still come in thousands to offer flowers, tie a thread in the latticed screens, and to pray for the gift of a son. Diwani-i-Am : - The Diwani-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience) is where the monarch sat and lent a patient ear to all the petitions he received. A paved courtyard called the Pachisi was where the monarch played chaubar, a game that closely resembles chess- using slave girls as pieces. Diwani-i-Khas : - TheDiwani-i-Khas nearby housed theIbadat Khana or the 'House of Worship' where the emperor debated various systems with noted theologians. Although semi-literate, Akbar was the most liberal of the Mughal emperors, and in 1579, he was declared the highest authority in matters of religion by the famous 'infallibility decree'. Three years later, the emperor founded Din-a-Ilahi or the 'Religion of God' which was an amalgam of all the major religions of the world. Decried by religious zealots from his own community as an apostate, Din-a-Ilahi disappeared as a faith after Akbar's death in 1605. Ankh Michauli : - As you enter the Ankh Michauli (Closed Eyes) pavilion, you realise that Akbar could be as flippant as he was profound. Here the Mughal played 'blind man's buff' and indulged in frivolous pranks in the company of his harem. Friday Mosque : - Begun in 1571 and completed four years later, the Friday Mosque was the largest of its kind in India at the time, measuring 168 metres by 144, with a huge inner courtyard. The Buland Darwaza or 'Sublime Gateway' was added later to commemorate Akbar's military conquest of Gujarat. The gateway, which rises to a height of 45 metres, presents an awesome spectacle of isolation, and has exquisite Persian calligraphy inscribed on it. Jodhabais Palace : - Jodhabai's Palace is befittingly the grandest of all palaces in Fatehpur Sikri - as she was his most favoured wife and the mother of the crown prince. Other notable palaces at Fatehpur Sikri are the five-storeyed Panch Mahal and the Hawa Mahal. The Everlasting Glory of Fatehpur Sikri : - By 1585, Akbar wearied of the dry, hot climate of the city and moved to the cooler climes of Lahore. Within a few years, the pomp and pageantry of the city vanished - but the sandstone monuments endure to this day. Such were the construction methods employed, that there is not a single derelict monument in the city. The Mughal Empire has long since vanished from the firmament but the greatest of the Mughal emperors, Akbar etched his name forever in the sands of time by building the Fatehpur Sikri. How To Reach : - The city of Fatehpur Sikri is only 40 km from Agra city. Agra is well connected by air with Khajuraho, Varanasi, and Delhi. It has good rail and bus connections with major Indian cities. There are daily trains from Agra Fort railway station to Fatehpur Sikri. Tourists can also take buses from Agra's Idgah bus terminal. Private tour operators, who conduct excursions around the city, make a stopover at Fatehpur Sikri. Travelers can also hire taxis and cars for Fatehpur Sikri.
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