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Between 1570 and 1585, during the reign of Emperor Akbar, the capital of the Mughal Empire was situated here, 40 km west of Agra. Then, as suddenly and dramatically as this new city had been built, it was abandoned, mainly due, it is thought, to difficulties with the water supply. Today’s it’s a perfectly preserved example of a Mughal city at the height of the empire’s splendour- an attraction no visitor to   Agra should miss.
Legend says that Akbar was without a male heir and made a pilgrimage to this spot to see the saint Shaikh Salim Chishti. The saint foretold the birth of Akbar’s son, the future emperor, Jehangir, and in gratitude Akbar named his son Salim. Furthermore, Akbar transferred his capital to Sikri and built a new and splendid city. 
Although a Muslim, Akbar was known to be very tolerant towards other religions, and he spent much time, discussing and studying them in Fatehpur Sikri. He also developed a new religion called Deen Ilahi which attempted to synthesise elements from all the major religions. Akbar’s famous courtiers, such as Bibal, Raja Todarmal and Abu Fazal, had their houses near his palace in the city. 
Most people visit Fatehpur Sikri as a day trip from Agra, but it can be a pleasant place to stay. Spending the night here would allow you to watch the Impressive sunset over the ruins. The best place is from the top of the city walls, a two-km walk to the south.  

JAMA MASJID (Dargah Mosque)  
Fatehpur Sikri’s mosque is said to be a copy of the mosque at Mecca, and is a beautiful building containing elements of Persian and Hindu design. 
The main entrance is through the 54- metre-high Buland Darwaza the Gate of Victory, constructed to commemorate Akbar’s victory in Gujarat. This impressive gateways is reached by an equally Impressive flight of steps. A Koranic inscription inside the archway includes the useful thought: ‘The world is a bridge, pass over it but build no house upon it. He who hopes for an hour may hope for eternity ‘.A large colony of bees has established itself at this gateways but apart from raining little yellow stains on passers-by below they seem to leave visitors alone. Just outside the gateway is a deep well and, when there is a sufficient number of tourists assembled, local daredevils leap from the top of the entrance into the water. 
The eastern gate of the mosque is known as the Shahi Darwaza (King’s Gate), and was the one formerly used by Akbar.    

Palace of Jodh Bai
North-east of the mosque is the ticket office and entrance to the old city. The first building inside the gate is a palace, commonly but wrongly ascribed to Jodh Bai, Jehangir’s Hindu mother and the daughter of the maharaja of Amber. 
The architecture is a blend of styles with Hindu columns and Muslims cupolas. The Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) is a projecting room whose walls are made entirely of stone latticework. The ladies of the court may have sat inside to keep an unobtrusive eye on events below.    

Birbal Bhavan
Thought to have been built either by or for Akbar’s favourite courtier, Raja Birbal building provoked Victor Hugo, this elegant building provoked Victor Hugo, the 19th century French author, to comment that it was either a very small palace or a very large jewellery box. Birbal, who was a Hindu and noted for his wit and wisdom, unfortunately proved to be a hopeless soldier and lost his life, and most of his army, near Peshwar in 1586. The palace fronts onto the Lower Haramsara, which was once believed to be an enormous stable, with nearly 200 enclosures for elephants, horses and camels. This is now thought to be where the palace, maids lived. The stone rings still in evidence were more likely to have been used to secure curtains than to fetter pachyderms.  

Karawan Serai & Hiran Minar
The Karawan Serai or Caravanserai was a large courtyard surrounded by the hostels used by visiting merchants. Outside the fort grounds. The Hiran Minar (Deer Minaret) is said to have been erected over the grave of Akbar’s favourite  elephants. Stone elephants tusks protude form the 21m tower from which Akbar is said to have shot at deer and other game which were driven in front of him. The flat expanse of land stretching away from the tower was once a lake and still occasionally floods today.  

Palace of the Christian Wife
Close to the Jodh Bai Palace, this house was used by Akbar’s Goan Christian wife, Maryam, and at one time was gilded throughout –giving it the name the Golden House.  

Panch Mahal
 This whimsical five storey palace was probably once used by
the ladies of the court and originally had stone screens on the sides. These have now been removed, making the open colonnades inside visible. Like a house of cards, each of the five storeys is stepped back from the previous one until the top floor consists of only a tiny kiosk.

The Hall of Private Audiences, known as the Jewel House, is unique for its interior design. A carved stone column in the center of the building flares to support a flat-topped ‘throne’ which is 6m high. Narrow stone bridges radiate from the corners of the room and meet at the throne. The function of the building is disputed; some think Akbar spent  much time on the ‘throne’ discussing and debating with scholars of different religious persuasions; others believe it to be the perch from which he meted out justice. Another possibility is that this was where the emperor was weighed at the commencement of the Persian New Year.

Diwan –I- Am
Just inside the north-eastern gates of the deserted city is the Hall of Public Audiences, a large open courtyard surrounded by cloisters. Beside the Diwan-I-Am is the Pachisi Coutyard, set out like a gigantic game board. It is said that Akbar played the game pachisi here, using slave girls as the pieces.  

Other Monuments
Musicians would play from the Naubat Khana, at one time the main entrance to the city, as processions passed beneath. The entrance road then ran between the mint and the treasury before reaching the Diwan-I-Am. The Diwan Khana-I- Khas (Khwabgah), in front of the Daftar
Khana (Record office), was Akbar’s own sleeping quarters. Beside the Khawabgah is the tiny but elaborately carved Rumi Sultana or Turkish Queen’s House. Near the Karawan Serai, badly defaced elephants still guard the Hathi Pol, or  Elephant Gate. 
Outside the Jama Masjid are the remains of the small stone-cutters’ mosque. Shaikh Salim Chishti’s cave was supposedly at this site and the mosque predates Akbar’s imperial city. There also a Hakim’s House (Doctor House), and a fine hammam, or Turkish bath, beside it.    

In the northern part of the courtyard is the superb white marble dargah or Tomb of Shaikh Salim Chishti, built in 1570. Just as Akbar came to the saint four centuries ago looking for a son, childless women visit his tomb today. The carved marble lattice screens (jails) are probably the finest examples of such work you’ll see anyway in the country. 
The saint’s grandsons, Islam Khan, also has his tomb within the courtyard. Abul Fazi and Faizi, adviser and poet to Akbar, had their homes just outside the mosque.

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