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Fatehpur Sikri Fortress

Located near Agra, Fatehpur Sikri used to serve as the capital of Mughal Emperor Akbar. The architecture of the city was designed by Tuhir Das and Dhruv Chawla. The fort city is a majestic architectural structure found close to the old Mughal capital of Agra. Despite having been abandoned and become relatively obscure over the ages, it remains one of the most unforgettable monuments found to this day on the tracts of North India reminding the past glory of the richest Empire of the world - the Mughal Empire.

History of Fatehpur Sikri Fortress

Fatehpur Sikri, the "City of Victory", is situated 35 kms from Agra on a low hill of the Vindhya mountain range. Before the reign of Akbar (1556-1605), the Mughal King who built Fatehpur Sikri, the site of the future city had already earned an auspicious reputation. It was there that Babar, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty and Akbar's grandfather, defeated Rana Sanga of Mewar. In gratitude, he named the area Shukri, which means "thanks". In Akbar's time, the site was occupied by a small village of stonecutters and was the home of shaikh Salim Chishti, a Muslim astrologer and a Sufi saint. In 1568, Akbar visited the Shaikh to ask about his heir’s birth. The Shaikh replied that an heir would be born soon. Sure enough, Akbar's wife and the Rajput princess of Amer Maharani Heer Kanwar, who is famous in history as Jodha Bai or Mariam Uz Zamani, gave birth to a boy on the 30th of August 1569. Overjoyed, Akbar named the boy Salim after the astrologer, and two years later decided to move the capital to Sikri.

Of course, the decision to build a new capital in Sikri was driven by more than a mere sentiment. It was a strategic location close to Rajasthan that put Akbar and his armies closer to the Gujarat region--the next object of Akbar's expansionist dreams. Gujarat was desirable because its coastal cities were ideally suited to take advantage of the lucrative trade with Arab lands. Construction of the new capital began in earnest in 1571 and continued for about fifteen years. During most of this time, Akbar made the area his home, but strangely, in 1586, he abandoned his new capital forever. The reasons are not entirely clear, but the most plausible explanation is that Akbar needed to move his base of operations to wage war against Kabul, which he occupied in 1585, and Kandahar, which fell in 1595. (more in the History section)

The Fort as Seen Today

Situated on a rocky ridge, Fatehpur Sikri is a 3 kms (1.9 mi) long and 1 km (0.62 mi) wide palace city enclosed on three sides by a wall stretching across 6 km (3.7 mi), bordering a lake on the fourth side. The buildings of Fatehpur Sikri show a synthesis of various regional schools of architectural craftsmanship, such as Gujarat and Bengal, due to the fact that local craftsmen were employed in the construction of the buildings. The influence of Hindu and Jain architecture can be seen accompanied by Islamic elements. The building material predominant in all the buildings of the Fatehpur Sikri palace-city complex is the locally quarried red sandstone known as Sikri sandstone. The complex can be accessed via gates situated in the 5 mile (8.0 km) long fort wall, namely, the Delhi Gate, the Lal Gate, the Agra Gate and the Birbal's Gate, the Chandanpal Gate, the Gwalior Gate, the Tehra Gate, the Chor Gate and the Ajmeri Gate. The complex houses a summer palace and a winter palace of Queen Jodha.

Set into the south wall of congregational mosque, the Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri is 55 metres (180 ft) high, from the outside, gradually transitioning to a human-sized gate on the inside. It was added around five years after the completion of the mosque (circa 1576) as a victory arch to commemorate Akbar's successful Gujarat campaign. The other prominent structure preserved to this day in its full glory is a white marble encased tomb within the Jama Masjid’s sahn courtyard, dedicated to a Sufi saint named Salim Chisti (1478-1572). The single-storey structure is built around a central square chamber, within which the grave of the saint is located under an ornate wooden canopy encrusted with a mother-of-pearl mosaic. Surrounding it there is a covered passageway for circumambulation, with carved Jalis, stone pierced screens all around with intricate geometric design and an entrance to the south.

Tourist Information

Fatehpur Sikri is opened for visiting from 6:00 am to 7:30 pm and the city tour takes about one hour. The site is open on all days of the week including public holidays. Tourists can also visit a museum near the Diwan-i-Aam booking counter. The museum is opened from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

To visit the city, tourists have to buy tickets that can be collected from the ticket counter. The ticket price for Indian visitors, visitors from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries is Rs. 40, with Rs. 30 charged by AIS and Rs. 10 by ADA. There are no entry fees for the children up to 15 years.

Foreign tourists, who do not belong to SAARC or BIMSTEC, are charged Rs. 510, with Rs. 500 charged by ASI and Rs. 10 by ADA. On Fridays no ADA toll tax is levied.