Famed as the second-best counterpart of Agra, Fatehpur Sikri has all the ingredients of a magnificent architecture and a rich historical past that can astonish many a traveller.
Approximately 37 kilometres from Agra, Fatehpur Sikri's history dates back to the year 1569 when Emperor Akbar, impressed by the Sufi saint Sheikh Salim Chishti’s divine prediction of a heir to the Mughal empire, decided to construct a beautiful walled city complex in his honour. This stunning complex which took almost fifteen years to complete is not just a monument but a huge land comprising of a gigantic entrance known as Buland Darwaza, royal palaces, courts and much more. There are many parks, gardens, pillars and turrets as well as red sandstone carvings that are truly impeccable, to say the least. The famous Dargah of Khwaja Salim Chisti is also situated within the Fatehpur Sikri complex.
Fatehpuri Sikri has rightly been given the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is by far the best preserved example of Mughal architecture in India. Gradually stepping in as a city, the place now attracts many travellers owing to the famous Dargah which again is no less than a star catcher of pilgrims and tourists alike. While a day trip is usually preferred by most of the people, we suggest you stay here for a while and soak in the marvellous architecture that was uniquely crafted by the then artisans.
Witness the finest paintings and carvings depicted on the red sandstone buildings inside the monument complex, especially at the time of sunset.
This marble wonder stands as a unique and attractive architectural piece amongst the red stone complex. It is believed that sincere prayers are answered at this worship place and pilgrims from far and wide often visit the Dargah barefoot.
Kheria Airport in Agra is the nearest airport to reach Fatehpur Sikri. It is approximately 40 kilometres away and is well-connected with most of the cities across the globe. Most of the major airlines like Indigo Airlines, Air India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet, Indian Airlines, Go Air, Air India Express and AirAsia have regular flights to Agra. Outside the airport, there are many local taxis and cab providers who can take you to the city at a nominal charge.
Agra Cantt, the nearest railway station from Fatehpur Sikri, is located in Agra. It is approximately 40 kilometres away from the town. Fatehpur Sikri Station comes before the Agra Cantt and the trains are thus well-linked with most of the Indian cities. Many super-fast and routine trains like Haldighati Pass, Avadh Express, Punjab Mail, Karnataka Express and Jhelum Express run daily to and from the station. You would find many buses and private taxi operators outside the station who can take you to the city.
Fatehpur Sikri is well-connected to neighbouring towns like Agra (37 kilometres), Delhi (210 kilometres), Noida and others by regular bus services that are operated by Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC). You can choose from regular, deluxe and Volvo buses. This is the most economical mode of transport and owing to a good road network, the journey is quite comfortable as well.
Buland Darwaza, also known as the ‘Gate of Magnificence’, is one of the largest gateways in the world with a height of 54 metres. This 15-storey grand entrance narrates the success saga of the great Mughal emperor Akbar and was built to celebrate his victory over Gujarat. Showcasing a perfect amalgam of Persian and Mughal architectures, this grand doorway serves as the main entry to the imperial complex, Fatehpur Sikri.
Like many other landmarks in Fatehpur Sikri, Buland Darwaza too was constructed using sandstone with marble decorations on it. Inscriptions from the Quran on the front pillars and cenotaph are the highlights of this structure. Among many famous inscriptions, one over the gateway states, ‘The World is but a bridge, pass over but build no houses on it.’
Bearing testimony to India’s golden past is the grand Jodha Bai Palace in Fatehpur Sikri. One of the integral parts of the royal harem, this red sandstone building was constructed for the noble Hindu queen. The place was replete with all facilities and safety measures for the convenience and protection of the regal woman. For safety, the palace just had a single doorway that was protected by guards at all times.
While visiting the palace, you will observe various Hindu motifs such as srivatsa mark, parrots, lotus flowers, elephants and swans adorning its interiors. The western suite in the complex of the palace is believed to have been a temple with intricately carved pillars with brackets. Besides, the tiles used on the walls and chattris of this magnificent structure bear resemblance to Arabsesque design. Step into this palace to get an insight into the royal lifestyle of Mughal queens.
One of the finest examples of Mughal architecture and a noted religious centre for Muslims is the Dargah or Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti in Fatehpur Sikri. Emperor Akbar had this tomb built in the honour of Sufi Saint Salim Chisti between 1571 and 1580. The saint was a successor of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, whose mausoleum is located in Ajmer, popularly known as Ajmer Sharif.
A popular legend states that Akbar who did not have a successor was blessed with a baby boy by the blessings of Khwaja Salim Chisti. To show his respect, the great emperor named his boy Salim, who became the fourth Mughal ruler and was known by his imperial name Jahangir.
Diwan-E-Khas, also known as the Hall of Private Audiences, is a grand chamber in Fatehpur Sikri. This is where Emperor Akbar had discussions with people about the faiths belonging to different religions.
This square-shaped structure features four chhatris and is extremely popular for its intricately carved colossal central pillar. Showcasing Persian style of architecture and embellished with precious stones, this building is a must-visit for those interested in getting a peek into the Mughal Era.
One of the most beautiful structures of the palatial Fatehpur Sikri complex is Khwabgah or the Dream Palace. Built using red sandstone, the impressive edifice was constructed for the great Mughal King Akbar and was attached to the Daftar Khana (office) of the royal complex.
There are several rooms in this building where Akbar held official meetings. There is also a bedroom, a personal library and a small bathroom. It is believed that the library or Utub Khana of Akbar had more than 25000 manuscripts along with his important official documents. It is said that Akbar's bedroom or Khilwatkada-I-Khas was connected to the Panch Mahal and the royal harem through an enclosed passage.
Hiran Minar, also called the Tower of Antelope, is a grand 21.34 metres tall tower. It was named after the Mughal emperor Jahangir converted the region surrounding the tower into a deer (hiran) sanctuary. An interesting feature of this tower is that upto the height of 3.91 metres, it is octagonal and the rest of it is circular. You can get in the tower through a flat door that leads to a staircase. After climbing 53 steps, you can reach the top and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of royal city of Fatehpur Sikri.
On this tower, you can see the decoration of six stars and hexagons in alternate rows. From the middle of each star and hexagon, a number of elephant tusks can be seen protruding, which makes it a unique design. The design was made such because it was said that an elephant tusk is symbolic of the splendour of the Mughal Empire.