A sight to behold the turrets and domes of this majestic ancient city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fatehpur Sikri is the short-lived capital city of Mughal emperor Akbar between 1571 and 1585 and is located 40km west of Agra. A royal specimen of the Indo-Islamic architecture, Fatehpur Sikri is the pride of the Mughal empire and is one of the major attractions in the state of Uttar Pradesh. A walled city constructed entirely out of red sandstone, it is basically a protected city built by the king and had been the capital city of Mughal empire for fifteen years.
Fatehpur Sikri is a unique union of brilliant architecture, craftsmanship, and as well as religious beliefs and sums up an entire world inside the small city. It held a special place in the heart of emperor Akbar as it was the village Sikri where he was foretold about the birth of a son and heir to the Mughal throne, by the renowned Sufi saint, Shaikh Salim Chishti. After Jahangir was two years old, Akbar’s prophesied son and heir, the emperor commenced the construction of what would become his capital for years to come.
The breathtaking sights of sunset or sunrise as the sky gets shrouded with hues of crimson from its 11-km-long ramparts is something to witness and behold. The fort is walled from three sides with a lake on the fourth and its rhombus-shaped layout along with the design of the favorite structures inside the city, are said to be inspired by the emperor’s interest in the arts and architecture. After the demise of Akbar and water scarcities in the area led to the abandoning of the city, though the famous mosque remains function to date.
The land of Agra echoes of the Medieval Mughal Reign with several historical architectures depicting the Mughal reign, and Fatehpur Sikri is one of them. It was the short-lived capital of the Mughal Empire between 1571 and 1585 during the reign of Akbar. Once upon a time Akbar visited the village of Sikri to discuss with the Sufi Saint Shaikh Salim Chisti who made a prediction about the birth of an heir to the Mughal throne. When the prediction came true, Akbar decided to construct a city and shift his capital to Sikri and named it as Fatehabad at first, ‘Fateh’ translating to ‘victory’. It was later renamed to Fatehpur meaning ‘city of victory’ which seemed fitting a name for the capital city that brought with it the happy words of Akbar winning over Gujarat and making it a Mughal province in 1573.
Emperor Akbar founded Fatehpur Sikri with fervor and was so much engrossed in its construction that he himself dictated its architectural style. He wanted the complex to be of Persian style to resuscitate the Persian courtly ritual made popular by his ancestor Timur. The edifice is made of red sandstone because of the easy availability of it. The small city had several water shortages and because of that it was banned as the capital city after the demise of Akbar.
Fatehpur Sikri town is mostly build in red sandstone – which is a major and popularly used building material for many Mughal buildings and monuments. The town is home to various monuments built by Akbar including three palaces belonging to each of his favorite wives - one a Hindu, one a Muslim and one a Christian. The carvings, the open courtyards, and the general atmosphere of this ancient walled city will mesmerize you while the majestic panoramic views the ramparts offer is something to reminisce for eternity. The structure can be accessed through several gates on the eight-kilometer-long fort wall such as the Delhi Gate, Lal Gate, Agra Gate, Chandanpal Gate, Gwalior Gate, Birbal’s Gate, Chor Gate, Ajmeri Gate, and Tehra Gate. Some of major palaces and monuments of Fatehpur Sikri are given below –
Diwan-I-Aam : It is the Hall of Public Audience that was meant to hold public meetings and gatherings to settle public grievances by the emperor.
Diwan-I-Khas : This was the hall of private audience and was constructed in Persian architectural style. Only the royal members were allowed to enter the hall to discuss private affairs.
IbadatKhana : Built in 1575 CE, House of Worship or IbadatKhana was a meeting house where spiritual leaders of various religions used to gather to carry out discussions of the wisdoms of their respective faiths.
Panch Mahal : A spectacular edifice in Sikri, Panch Mahal resembles a Buddhist temple in design and has 4 storeys in decreasing size built asymmetrically over the ground floor and has a pool in front of it where musical concerts used to happen.
Tomb of Salim Chisti : This is the shrine of the Sufi Saint and is a beautiful architecture. It finds its place in the courtyard of the mosque.
Jama Masjid : This was one of the first edifices constructed in the city and was a congregational mosque built in the 17th century. A World Heritage Site now, Jama Masjid is one of the most visited places in Agra.
Mariam-Uz-Zamani’s Palace : Originally Jodhabai, Mariam-uz-Zamani was the Hindu wife of Akbar in whose dedication the palace came into existence and shows an impressive blend of Rajput and Mughal architecture.
Birbal’s House : Akbar’s favorite, Birbal was the Hindu minister of Akbar and was extremely wise. The palace is located near the northwest corner of Jodhabai’s palace.
Apart from these edifices, Fatehpur Sikri has some other palaces and monuments made by Akbar such as Daftar Khana (office), Pachisi Court (amusement of playroom), Khwabgah (emperor’s personal space), Lower Haramsara (place for servants), and Buland Darwaja (a grand doorway leading to Fatehpur Sikri from Agra).
Fatehpur Sikri has an entry fee for tourists – INR 35 for Indian, SAARC, and BIMSTEC nationals and INR 550 for foreign nationals. Entry below 15 years of age is free.
You can also book Fatehpur Sikri online ticket through various sites or Fatehpur Sikri official site and save yourself the hassle of waiting in a queue.
The city remains open for tourists from 6 AM to 6.30 PM on all days of the week except for Fridays.
By Air: Kheria Airport in Agra is the nearest airport to Fatehpur Sikri; it is situated about 40 kilometers away and is well-connected with various cities across India. Delhi’s Indira Gandhi airport is one of the closest international airports to the town and is connected to most significant cities across the world.
By Train: The nearest train station from here is Fatehpur Sikri Railway Station, which is 300 m away from the town, and is well-connected to many neighboring cities.
By Road: Idgah Bus station is the nearest station to Fatehpur Sikri from where several state-run buses depart to Fatehpur Sikri and will reach there in an hour and a half.
Known as the ‘Pride of the Mughal Empire’, Fatehpur Sikri is a town near Agra founded by Emperor Akbar in 1571 and made of red sandstone. Declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town is home to many other historic monuments and is an amalgamation of Indo-Islamic architectural excellence, and religious beliefs that appear best during sunset.
Fatehpur Sikri is located 40km from Agra in Uttar Pradesh and is a walled city .
Fatehour Sikri was built by Mughal emperor Akbar to make it his capital city after a prophecy done by a Sufi saint came true and his son and heir to the Mughal throne was born.
Fatehpur Sikri is a UNESCO heritage site and is a man-made walled city made entirely of red sandstone by Akbar as his capital city. An Indo-Islamic architecture, the city comprises of several palaces, mosques, halls, stepwells, tombs, gates, and a temple.
Fatehpur Sikri is approx. 40km towards the west of Agra and can be reached in 1.5 hours via bus.
Fatehpur Sikri has several monuments inside the city and some of the major historical monuments are: