From Sikandra, to Fatehpur Sikri we went. This is a place that had a brief moment of glory in history, and then just faded out until Lord Curzon, one of the British Viceroys sent an archaeological team to excavate the site at the end of the 19th century.
Yet, it has survived as a tourist destination. Like place is dotted with tourists who, like dutiful children, follow the tour guide around the place, some taking notes, and the others hanging around at the periphery of the group, some scratching their noses, others scratching their bums.
I have never been part of this circuit, and I have often thanked the ladies and gents who created and developed the Web. There is so much content on the net, that it becomes easy to research stuff you need. There is very little need to walk around with dog eared note books. I do carry the notebooks, however.
Fatehpur Sikri was first ‘named’ by Babar as Shukri, which means ‘thanks’, after he defeated the Sanga of Mewar there.
Later on, when the city – village – was re-discovered by Akbar, there was a Sufi saint called Shaikh Salim Chisti who was living there. Chisti foretold that Akbar would have an heir. Indeed, Salim, or Jehangir as he was later called, was born soon afterwards. In gratitude, Akbar moved his capital to Fatehpur Sikri. This was built between 1571 and 1586. Historians believe that Fatehpur Sikri was also chosen for the site because of it’s proxmity to Gujarat, and this suited Akbar’s expansionist ambitions.
In the centre, there is a huge square. The white building in the centre houses Salim Chisti’s tomb. Akbar did indeed revere him. The dargah of Salim Chisti, or the Jamat Khana, where Salim Chisti’s disciples gathered for prayers is used till this date, and is a fascinating building indeed.
I shot the above picture, of the eastern door (the Badshahi Darwaza) through the main door, the Buland Darwaza. I love the architecture of most old Mughal buildings, and it is good that we still honour them.
Every time I go to Fatehpur Sikri, I think that the Fatehpur Sikri is a fitting tribute to Akbar, the man. He is truly one of the most fascinating characters in Indian history. Extremely militaristic on one hand, illiterate yet devoted to learning; tolerant of religious views, and a great ruler.
We do owe him a debt of gratitude for his contributions to India.