Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri is a World Heritage Site which is situated 37 km off Agra in Uttar Pradesh, India. The palace complex is 3 km long and 1 km wide. The now deserted fort city was originally founded by Mogul Emperor Akbar in 1569 to honor a Sufi saint Sheikh Salim Chishti, after whom he also named his son. Akbar used to have elaborate discussions on religious philosophies with leaders of different religions, writers, statesmen and philosophers in Fatehpur Sikri. However, he was forced to move his court of Fatehpur Sikri just after 15 years in 1585 due to acute shortage of water and the proximity of the city to the Rajputana areas that were in constant rivalry with the Mogul empire. The five mile long fort wall is still intact and protects the complex from three sides. The fourth side of the palace complex had a lake at that time.

The 8 sq km complex of Fatehpur Sikri houses several buildings which have been built with a blend of Islamic and Hindu architectural styles. Tuhir Das was the chief architect of the palace complex who synthesized the principles of various regional schools of architecture, most notably those of Bengal and Gujarat in its construction. The red sandstone used in the construction of the Fatepur Sikri was sourced from the local quarries of the nearby Sikri village. The 11 km long fort wall of the palace complex has 09 gates through which one could enter into the palace complex. These gateways have specific names, most of which are named after the main cities of the time. The nine gateways are named as Delhi Gate, Gwalior Gate, Ajmeri Gate, Agra Gate, Birbal Gate, Chandanpal Gate, Lal Gate, Tehra Gate and Chor Gate.

Buland Darwaza : is the main attraction of Fatehpur Sikri. The 54 m high and 35 m wide massive arched gateway was built by Akbar to commemorate his victory over the Khandesh Kingdom. The pillars of Buland Darwaza have intricate stonework and the gateway itself is decked with Chhatris (latticed domes).

Panch Mahal : The five storey complex offers you a commanding view of the entire palace complex. There are intricately carved 176 columns in Panch Mahal. Each tier of the palace diminishes in size as you ascend to the top fifth floor which has a single large Chhatri or latticed dome over it. The complex was used by Akbar and his consorts. Hawa Mahal was used by Akbar's consorts to catch the cool morning and evening breeze.

Jama Masjid, also known as Jami Masjid was constructed in 1571-72. There are three mihraabs in the mosque with the central one being decorated with a dome. The mosque is decorated with white marble inlay and Jaali work.

Daulat Khana : It was a library that had a collection of more than 50,000 manuscripts. It also houses Akbar's sleeping chamber Khwabgah or the House of Dreams that had water channels to provide cool breeze to the emperor during his resting time and sleeps.

Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti, Diwan-I-Aam, Diwan-I-Khas, Ibadat Khana, Jodha Bai's Palace and the House of Turkish Sultana are other attractions of Fatehpur Sikri complex.

Best time to visit Fatehpur Sikri is from November to March when the weather remains relatively pleasant. The palace complex remains open for public visits from the sunrise to sunset.

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