Agra: The Mughal Capital

When I looked at the ‘darwaza’, I felt as if the king was about to enter through it, riding a majestic horse, coming back victorious from a battle

– Dada

Dada (my grandfather) often told me about Fatehpur Sikri and its grandeur. Occasionally, I used to think that he was exaggerating, but his descriptions never failed to pique my interest about the city-fort. Akbar’s reign is perhaps one of the few sections of my history book that I loved reading and the prospect of visiting his kingdom’s blooming capital was very exciting.

After our splendid tour of the Taj Mahal, we had breakfast and Mr. Rupinder Singh (who was taking us to the various places) drove us towards Fatehpur Sikri. We boarded a bus from the car-parking area.

When one of the several entrances became visible, Dada’s description came to my mind.

Fatehpur Sikri (9 of 18)
Fatehpur Sikri – the city outside the fort

The city had been abandoned after 1585 due to the proximity of the Rajput neighbourhood and scarcity of water. It had remained a ghost town following the abandonment.

Now, however, it is one of the best-preserved elements of Mughal architecture.

Our time was limited (owing to our relatively late hour of visit), and we hired a guide who explained to us a few sections of the fort.

Fatehpur Sikri (1 of 18)
A segment of the Diwan-i-aam

The above hoop was supposedly used as a tool for delivering capital punishment: an elephant used to be tethered to trample a criminal.

Fatehpur Sikri (10 of 18)
The central pillar of Diwan-i-khas (hall of private audience) where Akbar used to be seated with the navaratna surrounding him

The Diwan-i-khas is a simple square building. However it is famous for the central pillar.

Fatehpur Sikri (11 of 18)
This pillar represents the Dīn-i Ilāhī


The Dīn-i Ilāhī (Persian: دین الهی‎‎ lit. “Religion of God”) was a syncretic religion propounded by the Mughal emperor Akbar the Great in 1582 AD, intending to merge the best elements of the religions of his empire, and thereby reconcile the differences that divided his subjects.


Fatehpur Sikri (13 of 18)
Pachisi used to be played with sixteen young slaves wearing the players’ colours, representing the pieces
Fatehpur Sikri (15 of 18)
Platform inside the Anup Talao. Tansen would perform different ragas at different times of the day, seated on this platform.


Fatehpur Sikri (17 of 18)
Jahangir, Akbar’s son supposedly erased the faces of several works of art because he did not want to distinguish between them
Fatehpur Sikri (2 of 18)
On the left is an elevated platform which used to be Akbar’s resting place. On the right is the dining area.
Fatehpur Sikri (4 of 18)
The Hawa Mahal – a blend of Chinese and Mughal architecture
Fatehpur Sikri (5 of 18)
Jodha Bai’s palace
Fatehpur Sikri (8 of 18)
Buland Darwaza

Fatehpur Sikri (18 of 18)

Fatehpur Sikri (7 of 18)

The area behind the Buland Darwaza contains the Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti.

Chisti had blessed Akbar soon after which he had had three sons.

Akbar had Fatehpur Sikri built around his camp. Nowadays, people believe that offering prayers at the mazar (mausoleum) fulfils whatever one wishes.

We had barely covered one-third of the fort. It is huge. It is lively. It is something to be witnessed, but it requires an entire day.

In short, we covered (very briefly) two places in Agra on the 3rd of November, which are two of the finest examples of Mughal architecture.


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