Recently on a long weekend, along with a bunch of friends, a trip to Agra & Fatehpur Sikri materialized. Well, this wasn’t my first visit to Agra but definitely the first one to Fatehpur Sikri.
Having read about this small town in my good old school days had always left me with an urge to visit it someday. Sadly in all my previous visits to Agra visiting this town didn’t happen. After all, the beauty and marvelous architecture of Taj Mahal and Agra Fort is so encaptivating.
So this time, around our group made it a point to visit this historical town – the land of Jodha & Akbar.
From Agra, it takes around 45 minutes to an hour to reach to this town that was once settled by famous Mughal emperor Akbar.
The heritage sites here have been beautifully maintained by the tourism department. There is a point beyond which no private vehicles are allowed. However, government-run shuttle buses with good frequency or walking are the only two resorts left for a tourist if he wants to visit various heritage sites in this town.
Here are intriguing historical folklore and facts related to the top heritage sites that compel a history loving tourist to visit Fatehpur Sikri:
Queen Jodha Palace:
The love between emperor Akbar and Jodha, his Hindu wife is well known. But after coming to Fatehpur Sikri, one gets to actually experience the love and the position that Jodha had. She is not only considered to have given Akbar his successor but is also considered to be his most beloved queen. Whether she was Mariyam-ur-Zamani or not is still a point of debate among historians. Since inside Fatehpur Sikri itself, there is another palace of Mariam, who has been described as the Christian queen of emperor Akbar.
Nevertheless, the Jodha Palace is a huge architectural marvel and biggest among the palaces of all queens. As she was a vegetarian so she had a separate kitchen of her own which is huge and beautiful. It is believed that she too used to cook food. Many parts of her palace have influence of Rajasthani architecture.
Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti:
It is said that Akbar didn’t have a successor for many years and as he was an ardent follower of Sheikh Salim Chisti, one day he went to him and told about his woe. It is said that the saint then directed him to go to Ajmer sherrif on feet which mughal emperor Akbar did. When he came back, saint Salim Chisti professed that soon his hindu wife, Jodha, would bare him a successor. The prophecy did come true and soon Akbar’s first son was born whom he named ‘Salim’, as a mark of respect to the great saint. Since then the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti is visited by couples who don’t have children and prayers offered for the same. Though this story has many vivid versions and is still debatable but people from all walks of life despite of their religion come here and bow before this great saint.
Diwan -e-Khaas, Panch Mahal and Anup Talao:
These are some of the most beautiful and unique monuments in terms of their architecture. Diwan-e-khaas was the place where king Akbar used to meet his nine chief consultants (navratans incluing Birbal) and other religious people. The speciality of this monument lies inside it. Its central pillar has been beautifully designed with various geometric and serpentine patterns.
Next is Panch Mahal which is a gorgeous five storey monument that must have been a skyscrapper in Akbar’s era. Anup Talao is an ornately designed pond that has a central sittin area and connected with four bridges. It is said that the queens used to sit here and had a fun time.
Buland Dawaza is the huge victory door that was created after Akbar’s victory over Gujarat King. The intiguing part about this monument is the verse from Bible written on it which is a symbol of Akbar’s secularist mindset and respect for all religions.
As they say, ‘Great Men aren’t born great but they grow to be great’. So is the history left behind of Akbar-the-Great of which Fatehpur Sikri still is a living witness. I would say just be there to glimpse the royal mughal era!