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Fast FactsFatehpur Sikri - Agra
Location : 40 kms south-west of Agra, Uttar Pradesh.
Built By : Akbar
Open to Visitors : From sunrise to sunset.
Entry Fee : Rs. 10, entry is free on Fridays.

Fatehpur Sikri - Overview
Situated 40 kms south-west of City of Taj - Agra, Fatehpur Sikri is a perfectly preserved Mughal city that you should not miss during your Agra trip. The name 'Sikri' originates from the Urdu word 'Shukriya', meaning thanks to Allah (God) and was originally uttered by Mughal Emperor Babar on the occasion of his triumphs over the Rajputs. But, today everything else related to Babar has vanished in Fatehpur Sikri except the place name 'Sikri'.

When Emperor Akbar conquered Gujarat, he expanded the name by adding Fatehpur to Sikri and since then 'Sikri' became known as Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar established the town of Fatehpur Sikri to commemorate his Gujarat victory and even made this city his new capital that remained operational between 1570 and 1586. But extreme scarcity of water forced Akbar to reshift his capital to Agra from Fatehpur Sikri and the city was abandoned.

History of Fatehpur Sikri
Legend has it that Akbar's harem was teemed with around 800 members and several begums (queens) but the Emperor was without a male heir. With the hope to get a male heir, Akbar made a pilgrimage to Fatehpur Sikri to meet the Muslim Saint Shaikh Salim Chisti. At last by the blessings of the Salim Chisti, Jodha Bai, one of the queens of Akbar, bore him a son. Out of the gratitude of the Saint Akbar shifted his capital to Fatehpur, the native place of the Fakir and named his son Salim.

Emperor Akbar erected a fortress on a hill top in 1569 and very soon a township was developed around it. Akbar constructed his palace on a range of hills about 2 miles in length and 1 mile wide. Akbar's Palace was flanked on its three sides by a wall and on the fourth side was an artificial lake extending to a length of over 20 miles. The new capital was build with a fine blend of the Hindu and Muslim architectural styles and the buildings were believed to changing colour from pink to red with advancing day. The main entrance to Fatehpur Sikri town was through 'Shahi Darwaza', situated to the east.

Tourist Attractions in Fatehpur Sikri
Diwane-i-Khas Diwan - i - Aam : Just inside the gates at the north-east end of the deserted Fatehpur Sikri town is the Diwan - i - Aam. Diwan - i - Aam or the 'Hall of Public Audiences' is the place where the Emperor presented himself before the assembled subject every morning. This building consists of a large spacious courtyard surrounded by cloisters. Apart from Diwan - i - Aam, there is a huge 'Pachchisi Courtyard' which is blocked out like a massive games board. It is said that Emperor Akbar played chess here, using slave girls dressed in yellow, blue and red as pieces.

Ibadatkhana : Close to Diwan - i - Aam is the Ibadatkhana or the hall of religious discussions. The Ibadatkhana is decorated prominently in Hindu architectural style. Deen- i- Elahi, the universal religion preached by Akbar himself originated from Ibadatkhana.

Diwan - i - Khas : Diwan - i - Khas or the 'Hall of Private Audiences' a two storeyed building was made specially for the principal ministers of Akbar's Durbar. Though the exterior of Diwan- i - Khas is simple, but its interior is quite impressive and unique. Diwan - i - Khas has two elegantly ornamented columns that supports a flat topped 'throne'. From the four corners of the room, stone bridges lead across to this throne and it is believed that Emperor Akbar would sit in the centre while his four principal ministers would sit at the four corners.

Jami Mosque or Dargah Mosque : Believed to be a replica of the mosque at Mecca, Jami Mosque is an impressive building combining the elements of Hindu and Persian architectural styles. Enter inside the mosque through 54 mts high Buland Darwaza (the Gate of Victory), which was built in 1573 to commemorate the Emperor's conquest of Gujarat. You can reach the huge gateway by a flight of 13 mts high staircases, next you will come across an inscription brought from Holy Qoran that means, "The world is a bridge, pass over it, but build no house upon it. He who hopes for an hour may hope for eternity." Just outside the Buland Darwaza you can see a deep well which remains flanked by tourists most of the time.

Jami Mosque is a big mosque and around 10,000 people may offer namaz (prayer) at a time here. When you move inside the mosque, you will see the Dargah (tomb) of Shaikh Salim Chisti. Built in sand-stone, this Dargah is wonderful specimen of Mughal period architecture. In 1571 Salim Chisti died at the age of 92 yrs and this dargah was built on Akbar's instructions, who earlier blessed the emperor for Jehangir's birth. Even today, large number of childless women visit this Dargah looking for a child. Every winter the Urs or death anniversary of Salim Chisti is celebrated here.

Palace of Jodha Bai : After visiting the mosque, head north-east to see the Palace of Jodha Bai, Akbar's Hindu wife and Jehangir's mother. Just like other structures at Fatehpur Sikri, the Jodha Bai Palace is a blend of Hindu and Muslim architectural styles which you can see in columns and cupolas. When you enter inside the palace, the Hawa Mahal or 'Palace of the Winds' a projecting room will fascinate you with its fabulous stone lattice work. During Mughal period, this palace was used by the ladies of the court to keep a quiet eye on events below.

Birbal Bhawan : Located close to Jodha Bai Palace, this building is believed to be constructed either by or for Birbal, Akbar's favourite courtier. Although Birbal Bhawan is slightly smaller in size, but its wonderful design execution are quite enough to hold your attention. In fact, Victor Hugo, the Victorian-era French author, commented about Birbal Bhawan that it was either a very small palace or a very large jewellery box.

Karawan Sarai and Hiran Minar : Karawan Sarai and Hiran Minar are another tourist attractions at Fatehpur Sikri. During Akbar's period, Karawan Sarai or 'Caravanserai' was a big courtyard flanked by the hostels all round that were used by visiting merchants to the town. Hiran Minar or 'Deer Minaret' is believed to have been built over the grave of Akbar's most-loving elephant. Here, you can see stone elephant tusks protruding from the 21 m high tower. It is said that Akbar had shot at deer and other animals, which were brought before him, from the top.

Mariam's House : Also known as 'Golden House', this building is located close to Jodha Bai Palace. Mariam's House was used by Akbar's Christian wife Mariam who belonged to Goa. During its early days, this house was gilded throughout and this gave it its name, the 'Golden House.'

Punch Mahal - Fatehpur SikriPanch Mahal : Next, visit the Panch Mahal or the 'Five Storey Palace' a building constructed in Persian architectural style which looks more or less like a Buddhist monastery. Quite notable for its architecture, this building has been tapered upwards and each of the five storeys is stepped back from the previous one until at the top there is only a small kiosk. The number of pillars has gradually diminished from 84 on the first floor to 56, 20, 12 and finally 4 on the top floor. The pillars of the Mahal are not identical and the walls were latticed in the past. Panch Mahal is crowned with a dome which is supported by four columns. Panch Mahal had stone screens on the sides and it was perhaps used by the ladies of the court or for holding assemblies. You can have a view of the entire fort from the top of building, but the climbing is somehow difficult due to uneven condition of the steps.

Ankh Michauli : Ankh Michauli literally means 'hide and seek'. It is the place where the Emperor used to play hide and seek with his queens. This building is situated South- West of 'Diwan-i-Khas' and is also called the treasure pavilion. Ankh Michauli also served as the Emperor's record room and it has some curious struts with stone monsters carved into them.

How to Reach
By Air : Kheria airport in Agra is the nearest airport from Fatehpur Sikri. Domestic flights are available to Agra from important places of India. From the airport, you have to reach Fatehpur Sikri via road route.

By Train : Nearest major railway station is located in Agra. Agra railway is served by large number of express trains from important places of the country. Taj Express, Shatabadi express and several other trains are available from Delhi to Agra. Trains are available at regular intervals between Agra and Fatehpur Sikri.

By Bus : UPSTDC, ITDC and other private operators arrange conducted tours to Fatehpur Sikri, but the tour buses stop only for an hour. If you want to spend longer time at Fatehpur Sikri it is better you take a regular bus from the Idgah Bus Stand.

Places Where You Can Stay
Very few accommodation options are available at Fatehpur Sikri, so Agra is the best place to stay. Agra is dotted with large number of star as well as economic hotels that provide you good accommodation facilities.

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