Fatehpur Sikri, From City of Victory to a City of Ghost
It took us about one hour driving from Taj Mahal to reach Fatehpur Sikri, which means City of Victory. It was the capital city of Mughal emperor for ten years then it was left behind by the Mughal to fight against the Afghan tribes. It became a ghost city, abandoned.
The city was built in 1569 by Mughal Emperor Akbar who had three wives: a Persian, a Muslim and a Hindu (and the most favorite one was the Hindu wife from Jaipur). It was built by red sandstone, as it appears the popular choice in that era.
Emperor Akbar was well known for being secularist despite of his Islamic devotion. It was shown in Buland Darwaza, a monumental gateway as the main entrance to the mosque of Fatehpur Sikri. The gate has Islamic structure and design, carved with verses from Qur’an. However on the main gate, there is an inscription in Persian that translated as following: “Isa (Jesus, as in Islam called the prophet), son of Mary said: ‘The world is a Bridge, pass over it, but build no houses upon it. He, who hopes for a day, may hope for eternity; but the world endures but an hour. Spend it in prayer for the rest is unseen.’”
The city has many gates to enter the city and among them (as I wrote in my travel diary): Delhi Darwaza, Lal Darwaza, Agra Gate, Suraj and Chandra Darwaza, Tehra Gate and Ajmere Darwaza. The complex of the city has royal palaces, ponds and public buildings such as court, mosque, and living areas for army and the royal family’s servants. However, the number of population in the city reminds unknown.
My favorite part is the Anup Talao area, it is a pool with ornamental design and it has a square terrace in the middle of it with four bridges leading up to it. It is a beautiful place to have summer barbeque and swimming party there..oh, my imagination..
I was impressed by the city’s well planning. Noting that the citadel is located in high area, the Emperor planned the drainage system and water-supply system in the city very well. Akbar built an artificial lake, water tank to harvest rainwater and groundwater supply using mechanical system to raise water. The water tank is now being used for some Indians to jump at the tanks/dams for some rupees…
It was Lord Curzon, British Viceroy who later did the restoration of Fatehpur Sikri in 1881. Sincerely, I am glad that British government through Lord Curzon did the restoration. The city has shown how progressive Mughal Emperor Akbar was, a leader from hundreds years ago in executing a city plan. Oh, this post reminds me of my promise back then to read the book from Abraham Eraley, The Mughal Throne: The Saga of India’s Great Emperors 🙂