Situated 40 km from Agra, the city of Fatehpur Sikri is an imperial
city built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar between 1571 and 1584. The
architectural grandeur of this deserted city cannot be described
in words and one can only experience the aura of its magnificent
edifices by seeing them. If you are looking for something that symbolizes
the grandeur of the Mughals, Fatehpur Sikri is a must-see during
your Taj Mahal tour in Agra.
The buildings within Fatehpur Sikri are a unique blend of different
architectural traditions. Though the general layout and concept
of the buildings conform to the Islamic style of architecture, the
actual buildings (mainly palaces), their ornate columns, arches,
carving style, etc., show a strong Hindu style in general and that
of Gujarat and Rajasthan in particular.
Dedicated by Emperor Akbar to his patron saint Sheikh Salim Chisti,
Fatehpur Sikri was also Akbar's imperial capital for fifteen years.
The new city, built on a ridge, grew into a magnificent township
larger than contemporary London. A splendid edifice, the fort today
rests in quiet peace - a mute witness to the times gone by.
There are a number of buildings within the Fatehpur Sikri complex
to be savoured during your Taj holidays in Agra. Each of the small
palaces in Fatehpur Sikri has a specific purpose and generally faces
a courtyard. Diwan-I-Aam (Hall of Public Audience) is an enclosed
space surrounded by colonnades and has a large open area where petitioners
and courtiers once stood in attendance; Diwan-I-Khas (Hall of Private
Audience) - used for serious, confidential, diplomatic and religious
discourses - is famous for its central decorated pillar consisting
of 36 elegantly carved brackets in the Gujarati style - heavy and
ornate, and sprouting in shape; Panch Mahal (five-tiered palace)
is an intriguing five-storied pavilion of winds. The Turkish Sultan's
palace is known for exquisitely carved panels depicting wildlife-lions,
birds, and foliage. Near the Diwan-I-Aam, one can see a tank called
the Anup Talao. Four bridges link the central platform at the Anup
Talao. Here the famous court
musician Tansen played music.
Jodha Bai's Palace (Jodha Bai was Akbar's Rajput queen) has the
most distinctively Gujarati and Rajasthani architectural features.
Also noteworthy are Mariam's Palace or Sunehra Makan (golden house),
Palace of Birbal (one of Akbar's minister notable for his witticisms)
and a miniature garden. Jami Masjid (mosque), sacred center of Sikri,
symbolizes the city's spiritual prominence. In the vast courtyard
stands the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti whose blessings are still
sought by childless women.
Jama Masjid or the Friday Mosque
Also known as the Dargah Mosque, this is said to be a copy of the
main mosque at Mecca. Its noted for its design which has persian
and Hindu elements.
The monumental 54 m high Buland Darwaza, the Gate of Victory, is
the main entrance. It was constructed to commemorate Akbar's victory
in Gujarat. A koranic inscription upon it read, "The world
is a bridge, pass over it but built no house upon it. He who hopes
for an hour, hopes for Eternity, for the world is but an hour".
Just outside the gateway is a deep well wherein local daredevils
leap from the top of the entrance into the water. The Shahi Darwaza
is the official entrance, where licensed guides can be hired.
of Shaikh Salim Chisti
The tomb visited by many seeking ful filment of their wishes was
built in 1570. The carved marble lattice screens (jalis) are simply
remarkable. Within the courtyard is the another tomb of Islam Khan,
the saint's garden.
Place of Jodha Bai
This was the principal harem wing for Akbar's Hindu wives, over
which Jodha Bai, mother of Salim (emperor Jehangir) presided imperiously
from her spacious purdah - screened salon. The architecture of the
building is a blend of styles with Hindu columns and Muslim cupolas
The walls of the Hawa Mahal or Palace of the winds are made entirely
of stone latticework.
This casket like palace belonged to Raja Birbal, Akbar's brilliant
Brahimin prime minister, one of the "None Jewels of Akbar's
Court". The palace fronts onto the Lower Haramsara, which was
once believed to be an enormous stable with nearly two hundred enclosures
for elephants, horses and camels.
Karawan Serai and Hiran Minar
The Karawan Sarai was a large courtyard used by visiting merchants.
The Hiran or Deer Minar is said to have been erected over the grave
of Akbar's favourite elephant.
Palace of the Christian Wife
There was a reperate abode for Akbar's Christian wife from Goa,
Maryam, located close to the Jodha Bai Palace. At one time it was
gilded throughout, earning the name the Golden Facade.
The journey to the royal palace begins with Diwan-I-Am or the Hall
Of Public Audience. This hall was also used for celebrations and
public prayers. It has cloisters on three sides of a rectangular
courtyard. To the west is a pavilion with the Emperors throne.
Beautiful jali screen on either sides separated the ladies attending
To the right is an apparently looking two storeyed building, with
corner kiosks, known as diwan-khana-I-khaas or Hall Of Private Audience.
On entering it, one finds only a single vaulted chamber. In the
centre stands a profusely carved column supporting a collosal-bracketed
capital. Four narrow causeways project from the centre and run to
each corner of the chamber. It is believed that Akbars throne
occupied the circular space over the capital and the corners were
assigned to the four ministers.
Turkish Sultanas House
To the left of the Pachisi Board is the Turkish Sultanas house.
The house, as its location at the corner of Anup Talao shows, was
a pavilion for repose, attached to the pool. The geometrical pattern
on the ceiling is reminiscent of Central Asian carvings in wood.
To the left of the Diwan-I-Khaas is the Treasury or Ankh Michauli,
once believed to have been used for playing the game, comprising
three rooms each protected by a narrow corridor which were manned
Located in the corner to the left is the emperors private
chamber. It has two main rooms on the ground floor. One housed Akbars
library while the larger room was his resting area. On the first
floor is the Khwabgah or the bed-chamber. It was connected with
the Turkish Sultanas house, the Panch Mahal, Mariams
House and the Jodha Bais palace by corridors.
Best time to visit
From November to February. Access Agra is connected to Delhi by
air. One can also use the Taj Express or the Shatabdi to get there.
One can even drive or travel by bus (204 km from Delhi).
General Information & Accomdation info on Fatehpur Sikri city of Uttar Pradesh - India