Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri or the City of Victory, is located in Agra. It was founded in 1569 by the Mughal emperor Akbar to honor the Muslim saint Shaikh Salim Chishti, who had foretold the birth of Akbar’s son and heir, Jahangir. The city was Akbar’s capital until 1584. By 1605 it was largely deserted because of the inadequate water supply. Fatehpur Sikri is a World Heritage Site.

The monumental 177 feet high Buland Darwaza, the Gate of Victory, is the main entrance. It was constructed to commemorate Akbar’s victory in Gujarat in 1573.

Arabic inscription on the sides of the gate,

“The world is a bridge. Pass over it but build no house upon it, for whoever hopes for one hour, hopes for all eternity. The world is one hour. Spend it in prayer, for the rest is unseen.”

The doors of the gate have horse shoes nailed on them. When someone’s horse gets sick, they come here to offer prayers.

When the horse gets well, the owner nails a horse shoe on the door as a sign of gratitude.

Fatehpur Sikri was Akbar’s capital for approximately 15 years. But due to shortage of water, he had to ultimately move his headquarters to Agra Fort.

Rooms within the fort, now used to teach young children how to read the Qur’an.

Each pillar is carved out from a single block of stone – meaning, there are no joints. Simply amazing!

Entrance to emperor Akbar’s favorite mosque, where he delivered azan and lead the prayers. He even swept the floors of this mosque himself.

Akbar’s mosque, with a touch of modern stuff 🙂

The original lamp made of gold was stolen by the British (the guide told us so) and was later replaced by this bronze lamp, design remains the same as the original.

A fusion of Islamic and Hindu architecture.

This smaller palace belonged to the historians and writers of Akbar’s time.

The palace of Birbal.


Birbal Emperor Akbar

Birbal’s duties in Akbar’s court were mostly military and administrative but he was also a very close friend of the emperor, who liked Birbal most for his wit as well as his wisdom, as a result of which they frequently had witty and humorous exchanges between them. These exchanges and stories have become part of a rich tradition of folklore and legend (source).

The Elephant Tower – in memory of Akbar’s favorite elephant. Others say it’s called the Hiran Minar or the Deer Tower. It is said that there’s a spiral staircase leading up that tower. The stairs take 7 turns, so Hindus are careful because they believe that if you climb up those 7 spirals, marriage can take place (saat pherey).

The Hatyapul Gate (Elephant Gate)- it may have been the ceremonial entry into the royal enclosure from the lower level of the north plains.

Tomb of Shaikh Salim Chisti – the saint who foretold Akbar that he will have a son.

The lattice screens in this tomb are among the most beautiful and intricate in the world.

The marble screen up close – there is no joint.


The Panch Mahal – A five storied architectural marvel, where Akbar would spend his evenings with the ladies of the harem.

It is said that sitting on this central platform, Akbar’s greatest composer musician in Hindustani classical music, Mian Tansen would perform different ragas at different times of day, and the Emperor and his select audience would honour him with gold coins.

Here’s Mian Tansen

A worship place for Akbar’s Hindu wife, Jodhaa Bai (taken from Hubby’s phone)

Some more beautiful works of art…

Fatehpur Sikri is regarded as Emperor Akbar’s crowning architectural legacy.

Date of travel: April 2008

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