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. More
The Red Fort in Agra is rather immense for one photo. Perhaps they have one here, but I have several photos of the place! Since we saw the Taj Mahal very early in the morning we were able to see the Red Fort the same day. It was raining on and off the whole day as you will notice.
The Red Fort is near the Yamuna River and from certain vantage points you can see the Taj Mahal. It’s another testament to 16th century Mughal architecture and decoration. Akbar made Agra his capital in 1558 and initiated the reconstruction of the Red Fort in 1565 since it was a collection of deteriorating buildings. Over 1,000,000 workers worked 8 years to complete it. Akbar’s grandson Shah Jahan is responsible for creating many of the white marble buildings inlaid with gold or semi-precious stones. Unfortunately for Shah Jahan he was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb in the fort and later died in one of its towers where he had a view of the Taj Mahal, monument to his love Mumtaz Mahal.
The main entrance to the fort is through the Amar Singh Gate which is pictured above. There are other gates, reportedly more spectacular but you cannot enter through them. And so begins our exploration of this 94 acre fortress. As you may recall there’s a Red Fort in New Delhi which is not as grand as this one, but still important! It is impressive with several beautiful buildings and decorative details which I photographed extensively. Instead of numerous food photos I give you photos of patterns and carvings!
Which reminds me of food in India…it’s not like Indian food anywhere else. The butter and oils they use are different therefore making the digestion of food not so easy. I enjoyed eating it but the daily dose of Pepto tablets wasn’t fun. There was only one time I vomited and that was due to heat exhaustion at Fatehpur Sikri, we’ll get there eventually.
There is a moat all around the Fort which now has bushes and trees growing in them but they once had water and wild animals in them.
Have you ever visited a museum or monument and developed an acquaintance? You never speak to the person or persons but you see them as you move around. They become part of your tour, whether or not you see them again, is part of the fun. I had two such monument acquaintances at the Red Fort. Of course I saw the same people over and over within the same places but these particular people figure into a lot of my photos. There’s a couple, man in plaid shirt and woman in pinkish-red sari, and then there’s a family who didn’t obviously color coordinate (or did they?) but they all have on complementary colors of turquoise, pink, lavender and yellow-orange. I took pictures of them because they looked so good together.
Oh and then there’s the Fort. Shah Jahan did a great job of adding his white marble, grand details here and there. I would have loved to see it in its day with water in the fountains and candles in the niches. Maybe there were sumptuous fabrics and textiles draped in doorways or covering the floors. I hope so.
There’s a picture of a Sadu, holy man, all in orange talking on a cell phone. I stalked him to get this picture. I couldn’t help it. The idea of this man having a cell phone amused me.
Another interesting thing is how brightly colored women dress as oppose to the men. The men got stuck with the 70s era polyester shirts and pants and the ladies have vibrantly colored saris and scarves. Yeah for the ladies!
Akbar’s Mausoleum outside Agra in Sikandra was one of my favorite monuments in India. Can you tell by the smile on my face? The sublime beauty of the buildings and grounds left me in awe. We spent a few hours walking around, taking it all in. I wish we could have spent the whole day there but the heat and humidity were challenging. Regardless I was so happy to be there and have the chance to see it. More