Agra - Fatehpur Sikri
This was the temporary capital of Emperor Akbar, of the Mughal Empire, between 1570 to 1586. It is a perfectly preserved deserted city. It is 40km west of Agra and is a popular and interesting place. Emperor Akbar was emperor from 1556 to 1605. Despite having three wives, he was unable to have a son. He came to the city of Sikri and met the Sufi mystic called Sheikh Salim Chishti.
Salim told the Emperor that he would have at least three sons. A year later, the first son was born. In gratitude, Akbar named the son Salim (later known as Jahangir), after the saint and he also moved his capital here. Two more sons were later born. Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of the Mughal Empire for fifteen years.
It was then moved back to Agra. It is believed that it was deserted because of lack of water, but the exact reason is unknown. What is left are a perfectly preserved old palace area, and an impressive mosque. It was not rediscovered until the 19th century. Most people visit Fatehpur Sikri on a day trip from Agra. It can also be visited while traveling between Jaipur or Bharatpur and Agra.
Jami Mosque Jami Mosque is one of the biggest mosques in India. It is also known as Dargah Mosque. Buland Darwaza is the main gate to the Mosque. It is 40m (132 ft) high and is on a 12m (36 ft) high base, which makes it the highest gate in Asia. The gate was added after Akbar’s victories in Gujarat in 1576. When you go through the gate you have to take off your shoes.
You may also go through the Badshahi Darwaza gate (Kings gate). This gate was used by Akbar. In the middle of the courtyard (to the north) is the Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti, the Muslim Sufi saint who predicted the birth of Akbar’s sons. It was built in 1570.
The tomb is made of red sandstone faced by marble and has very beautiful lattice screens. Women who do not have a son hang a thread on the marble latticework screens (jalis). A friend of mine did this and was soon pregnant—with a daughter.
During Ramadan, qawwali singers come from all over the country. The tomb of the grandson of Salim Chishti, Islam Khan, is also within the courtyard. Outside the Buland Darwaza is an old, deep well. Outside the mosque is the small Stone-cutters’ Mosque. The cave of Salim Chishti is said to have been located near here. Beside it is a hammam (Turkish bath) and the Hakim’s House (Doctor’s House). Palace Area The ticket office is northeast of the mosque (open daily 6 am to 5.30 pm; Admission is Rs 25 for Indianas and Rs 250 for Foreigners. Video camera Rs 25).