Fatehpur Sikri is the third in a series of travel guides being published by the Archeological survey of India with the aim of introducing the visitor to the world heritage monuments in India.
Extensive historical research and a focus on architectural details make this book an invaluable companion for anyone wishing to explore the imperial city emperor Akbar built and then abandoned after 14 years. The guide takes the traveler to the many monuments within the imperial palace complex and to the dargah of the Sufi saint Sheikh Salim Chishti and other monuments around it.
Specially commissioned photographs architectural illustration and easy to follow site maps make the book a visual delight.
Also included id a comprehensive section of all the information a traveler needs to make his way to Fatehpur Sikri form when to visit to where to stay form tourism offices.
• Gateways and Bazzars
• Imperial Palace Complex
• Jami Masjid and Chishti Monuments
• Environs of Jami Masjid
• Hiran Minar and Waterworks
• Practical Information
Also available in the world Heritage Series.
• Quitb Minar & Adjoining Monuments
• Humayun’s tomb & Adjacent Monuments
Fatehpur Sikri was built by Akbar as his imperial capital but was suddenly abandoned after 14 years. The complex houses a range of palaces and pavilions built in the Mughal architectural style and for a variety of purpose.
There is a story attached often not strictly true to almost all the building in Fatehpur Sikri but this only adds to the charm of the place Birbal’s House are superb examples of Akbar’s fusion style of architecture.
Among the other building at Fatehpur Sikri the Diwan-i-khass with its intricately carved central pillar the pyramidal Darwazza deserve special mention.
Visitors are advised to stay the night at Fatehpur Sikri to fully savor the medieval city splendor and to watch the peacocks dance in the faint light of the early morning.
Fatehpur Sikri is the third guidebook in a series being brought out by the Archeological Survey of India to showcase the 16 world cultural Heritage Sites maintained by them. Fatehpur Sikri is one of India’s most prominent tourist and due to its proximity to Agra also one of the most visited.
In order to maintain the pristine glory of the complex the ASI has drawn up an elaborate Master plan for Fatehpur Sikri Efforts are being made to ensure that although all tourist facilities are provided the ambience of the heritage city is maintained. Extensive conservation work is being carried dour including the landscaping and greening of all open spaces within the complex and a special effort is also being made to remove all unauthorized structure within the medieval city.
Founded in Ad 1571 by Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar (1542-1605) the third Mughal ruler of India this sprawling capital city is located 37 kms west of Agra. This medieval city built in honor of Shaikh Salam-ud-din Chishti was the capital of Akbar between 1571-85.
Exhibiting the vibrant features of sixteenth century Mughal Architecture, the majestic monuments dir the slopes of the dominantly sandstone ridge overlooking the cast (now dries up) lake towards the north-west this city enclosed by a 11 kms long fortification wall pierced with numerous gateways accommodates the remains of the ancient township built for common people to the south of the ridge. The imperial edifices built of sandstone however are clustered at the top of the ridge and include halls palaces gardens pleasures resorts hammams (baths) mosques and tombs apart from the remains of the quarters for noblemen.
Fatehpur Sikri stands out as one of the best examples of medieval urban planning particularly in its blending of religious secular and defence architecture. The continuance of this magnificent tradition can be seen in Lahore Agra and Delhi.
The palace complex and the Jami Masjid are some of the early projects undertaken at Fatehpur Sikri (1569-74) and together denote the blend of elegance and magnificence in Mughal architecture. The famous buland Darwaza was added later to commemorate the victor of Akbar over Gujarat.
Among other important building are the tombs of Shaikh Salim Chishti the Naubat or Naqqar Khana (drum house), Taksal (mint) karkahans (royal workshop), Diwan-i-Am mar yam’s House also called sunhara makan jodh Bai’s palace Birbal’s House etc.
Under a sustained field archeological research programme, explorations and excavations have been carried out since 1977-78 reveling hitherto unknown facets of the cultural heritage of this medieval city.
Fatehpur Sikri represents an enigma for the student of medieval Indian history. A city brilliantly conceived and actualized it was abandoned capital of one of the mightiest empires in history.
Descended as they were from the peripatetic warrior clans of Timur and Chenghiz Khan the early Mughals were quite accustomed to life in tented encampments Babur it is said was happiest in a tent pitched in a pleasant garden. The hapless Humayun was much too besieged as emperor to devote much attention to building although it must be said that he did begin to alt the foundation of a city he called dinpanah in Delhi. However his architectural ambition were rudely cut short by sher shah sur who wrested not only his throne but also his city project.
By the time Akbar became emperor in 1556 the Mughal Empire had settled down. By the late 1550s, Akbar had survived rebellions and attempted coups and had begun to win control over increasing areas in north India. Convinced about the importance of architecture in empire building Akbar embarked on a sustained and systematic programme of construction beginning in the 1560s he constructed forts in Agra and Lahore and smaller ones at attack Allahabad jaunpur and Ajmer.
In 1571 Akbar decided to build himself a capital city for it he chose Sikri a village on the road between the Mughal’s imperial centre Agra and their spiritual centre at Ajmer.
Unlike Agra that was a thriving centre of trade Sikri was just a little village which had first come to Mughal notice when Babur triumphant after defeating Rana Sanga at Khanuwa in 1527 according to a popular belief named the village Shukri meaning thanksgiving.
As chronicles attest Akbar choice of this site was largely governed by the presence there of Shiakh Salim Chishti a Sufi saint who had predicted that the heirless Akbar would soon be blessed with not one but three sons. By situating his imperial capital on ground hallowed by the popular mystic Akbar sought to attach the Charism of the Sufis to his imperial authority.
Fatehpur Sikri reflected Akbar design and architectural philosophy. This Akbar style of Architecture consisted of a synthesis of earlier styles. Timurid Persian and Indian. The lavish use of red sandstone sought to minimize the stylize clashes consequent to the mixing of these desperate elements.
The emperor’s own interest in the construction was all consuming he even quarried stone himself alongside the workmen says father men serrate the Jesuit priest who visited the city in 1580 Built by a single ruler in a relatively short span of fifteen years there was thus a certain architectural coherence to the city conceived as a courtly centre.
Fatehpur Sikri rose rapidly from a nondescript village to a thriving centre of commerce once Akbar court took its seat here in 1571-72. Historians estimate that the total population of Fatehpur Sikri in 1580 was just short of a quarter of a million. In 1585 the English traveler Ralph Fitch visited the city at its apogee and wrote Agra and Fatepore are two very great cities either of them much greater London and very populous.’
The new city had significant resonaces with Akbar’s early life as king. It was at Fatehpur Sikri in 1569 that his son and heir salim was born it was form there that Akbar marched out to Gujarat in 1572 and returned victorious the following year. To celebrate this triumph the emperor renamed Sikri as Fatehpur meaning city of victory and endowed it with a monumental commemorative doorway the Buland Darwaza.
However in 1585 only fourteen years after it was built. Akbar and his court left Fatehpur Sikri never to return again political exigencies made him move his capital to Lahore till 1598.
The popular explanation that Fatehpur Sikri was suddenly abandoned because the supply of water failed is unlikely given the otherwise meticulous planning that went into the making of the city. A repels able water source must have been one of the first things Akbar’s city planners took account of.
The more plausible explanation is that Akbar never really intended to establish a permanent capital/ he shifted court when he felt necessary. Fatehpur Sikri was temporarily suited to Akbar’s scheme of imperial expansion it was close to Rajasthan and Gujarat as well as the Gangetic plain allowing him to swoop whosesoever the call of dominion took him.
When he left for Lahore in 1585 Akbar too the life from Fatehpur Sikri leaving it a vast ghost city.
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