Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri, “the City of Victory”, is a city and a municipal board in Agra district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India.

Built during the second half of the 16th century by the Emperor Akbar, the complex of monuments and temples, all with the same architectural style includes the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India.

The majestic marble and red stone structures of the city still narrate the formidable past of this ancient city. Non doubt the exquisite architectural splendour of Fatehpur Sikri has left a permanent impression in the legacy of Indian architecture.


The name, Fateh means victory in Urdu and Persian with an Arabic origin. The Mughal Emperor Akbar wanted to make Fatehpur Sikri his headquarters, so he built this majestic fort, but due to the lack of water, he must to move to Agra Fort, which was a great asset militarily as well as it served as the Royal residence.

Once a small village, Fatehpur Sikri holds a fascinating tale about the capital of Mughal Emperor Akbar. The legend goes; Akbar decided to seek the blessing of Shaikh Salim Christi who used to live in the village, Sikri.

The saint prophesied that Akbar would have three sons and soon it came be true and born his first son Salim. Akbar was so glad that he decided to build his new capital near Sikri and named as Fatehabad, later it became Fatehpur.

Akbar ascended to the throne in 1556 at 14 years, apparently due to the sudden demise of his father Humayun. As soon as he consolidated his power, Akbar turned his attention in built a magnificent Imperial capital at Agra. He built the new city according to the instructions of Salim Chisti whose mausoleum is a part of Fatehpur Sikri.

Another set of historians say that he built the new city at Fatehpur Sikri as it was falling on the highway towards South India from North India. From this place he was able to control all parts of the country and move in any direction without much trouble.

Buland Darwaza – Fatehpur Sikri It was the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 until 1585 until it was abandoned due to lack of water.

The abandoned city then slowly started to see the signs of negligence and never regained its lost glory again. The tomb "Salim Chisti Ka Mazar" was built in honour of Sufi saint Salim Chishti in 1571 by Akbar. But history never forgot the city and now it is one of the most visited tourist destination and one’s of the World Heritage Site in India.

The finest treasures of the Mughal artistry and royalty are the number of architectural treasures that ornate the city with the colours of red and pink. The great majesty of the Mughals slowly unfolds in front of you whether you take a walk inside barren palaces and halls.

Many royal palaces have been built in Gujarati and Rajasthani architectural styles, using ornate columns, sumptuous carving and surface ornamentation.

Most of buildings located inside Fatehpur Sikri are unique blend of architectural traditions; the small palaces are largely a sequence of connected rectangular courtyards aligned with the polar axes and grouped in a staggered formation across.

Some of the important buildings in this city are:

  • Buland Darwaza – the 'Gate of Magnificence' is one of the gateways to the Jama Masjid built in 1575 on the southern wall of the courtyard. It celebrates Akbar’s conquest of Gujarat with 176 feet height from ground level. The grand recessed central arch is a stupendous piece of architecture from the outside, gradually making a transition to a human scale in the inside.
  • Naubat Khana – Drum house, near the entry where important arrivals are announced.
  • Diwan-i-Am – Hall of Public Audience, a pavilion like multi-bayed rectangular structure fronting a large open space. One of the nine gateways on the way to the palace complex contains the royal balcony set within a frame of jail screens and in front of it, a stone hook is still found embedded in the ground.
  • Diwan-i-Khas – Hall of Private Audience famous for the magnificently sculptured stone columns at the centre of the hall with thirty six brackets supporting a circular platform where Akbar initiated religious discourses amongst other religious groups.
  • Raja Birbal's house is the Akbar's favourite minister Hindu. The horizontal sloping sunshades or chajjas and the brackets which support them are its notable features.
  • Mariam-uz-Zamani's palace is the building that shows Gujarati influence and is built around a courtyard, with special care being taken to ensure privacy.
  • Char Chaman Tank is a tank with a central platform and four bridges leading up to it.
  • Panch Mahal is a five-storied palatial structure on the western line of the courtyard. The bottom floor has 176 intricately carved columns. It is the badgir, a Persian wind tower for ladies of the harem, the 176 differently carved pillars have disappeared of the jails screens, but sometime ago they provided cover to queens and princess on the top terraces who enjoyed the cool breezes and watching splendid views of Sikri fortifications. In the courtyard Akbar played pachisi (checker board) with dancing girls as live pieces.
  • Jama Masjid is the mosque, built in 1571 with liwans (aisles) around a central courtyard. A distinguishing feature is the row of chhatris, small domed pavilions over the sanctuary. The exterior is modest but the interior has the most gorgeous ornamentation in the floral arabesques and ingenious geometrical patterns in brown, red, and turquoise, black and white. The tomb of Salim Chisti is within the mosque's courtyard.
  • The tomb of Salim Chisti was built eight years after the saint died in red sandstone around 1572. In 1606 by order of Jehangir it was covered in white marble. The real grave lies in an undisturbed repose in the crypt, closed to visitors. Women devotees come here and tie a coloured thread to the jails longing a child, and they come back when their wish is granted by thankfulness.
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