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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 🙂

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11 Comments »

  1. Fatehpur Sikri is one of my favorite sites in India, very mystical and beautiful. The story goes that Akbar could not have a son so he went to see a Sufi saint in Sikri (location of Fatehpur Sikri) who predicted he will have a son soon, and so he did a year later. To honor this saint and his blessing, Akbar moved the Mughal capital from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri.
    Still today there are women who visit the tomb of this saint to tie a ribbon into the window lattice next to the tomb. Did you see this?
    I have also heard that FS was maybe abandoned due to water supply problems, but who knows.
    Anyhow, I was there again in April this year and will definitely return whenever I have a chance! I am very interested in everything Akbar constructed and have been contemplating writing about him… 🙂

    • How amazing you know Fatehpur Sikri in details! Yes, I remember the ribbons, I think I took pictures of them. My understanding they were representing the wishes, aren’t they?
      My apology for responding late – gosh balme it on my office workload. I will catch up soon with your blog this weekend – I would love to read your travel story in India!!

      • No worries, I am sort of inactive too –been not feeling well for a while now. Only taking care of comments at the moment..

        Inside the tomb there is always a young man (a sort of priest, or a tomb gardener, I don’t know) who hands out the ribbons if you pass by him (many ppl leave some money in exchange). I think you tie the ribbon to the window while making a wish so correct.

        Have a lovely weekend 🙂

        PS I have almost completed writing about my first trip to India in 2008 (what remains are Udaipur and Pushkar) and I have done some writing about this past trip (2014): a little bit of Rajasthan again, Varanasi (will write more), Kerala (ayurveda) and Bombay.

    • Thank you so much Sreejith! My travel in India was a memorable one, I am sure someday I will return and visit the rest of the places.. Your country is so huge! 🙂

  2. Actually, Fatehpur Sikri, changed from City of Victory to a City of ill-maintained forts. Due to Taj Mahal in the vicinity, all other nearby forts were disregarded irrespective of their beautiful history.

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