Are you still with me or do you feel like this goat? We’re almost done with Agra and its monuments and then we hit the road to Rajasthan. Rajasthan will be forts, forts and more forts! Maybe then you’ll feel like this goat. I felt like this goat towards the end of our exploration of Akbar’s abandoned capital of Fatehpur Sikri. I wore a hat and thought I had hydrated properly but silly me. Later that night the heat exhaustion caught up with me and I learned my lesson.
Beginning in 1571 Akbar assimilated Persian and Indian architecture to create an outstanding collection of red sandstone buildings, more jewels of the Mughal empire, which became known as Fatehpur Sikri. Unfortunately fresh water was not readily available so shortly after it was completed in 1585, everyone left. Nowadays it’s a thriving tourist destination with many notable buildings but highlights include an impressive entrance, the Buland Darwaza, a mosque, Jama Masjid and the white marble Tomb of Salim Chishti, a Sufi saint. Salim Chishti was revered by Akbar for blessing him with three sons. Since the saint can perform miracles you will see red threads, representing wishes, prayers, hopes tied to the screens that surround his tomb. It is rumored that Salim Chishti is especially helpful in matters of fertility so there were lots of ladies circulating when we were there.
You cannot drive right up to Fatehpur Sikri. You must park the car or bus and walk down the road. We got into a little taxi coming and going. The entrance is big, roughly 178 feet tall. In seeing the other Mughal architectural monuments: Akbar’s Mausoleum, the Taj Mahal and the Baby Taj, you will quickly see how the style of Fatehpur Sikri was distilled and morphed into the later buildings. One could almost say it’s more fussy with the domes and flourishes but I like the fuss. Why not have your stone carvers and other artisans show off what they can do? It is the capital city of the empire, right?
From the more public areas we walked to the Royal complex of buildings. I tried to imagine once again what it must have been like occupied. Since the movie “Jodhaa Akbar” was my only idea of what may have been in 16th century Mughal India, I can’t say it’s entirely accurate but still I’m happy to use Hrithik Roshan’s face as my picture of Akbar. Wait, scrap that. That’s what I want it to have been like. I want Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to be Jodhaa and for the sumptuousness of the movie to be real. Plus they have fantastic chemistry and who doesn’t like seeing that? (See also “Dhoom 2” and “Guzaarish” for more of their chemistry).
Back to the heat and humidity and Fatehpur Sikri…
Okay so I don’t remember all the buildings that we saw but they all have names and significance. Now for decorative details and some fun!