An Abandoned City-Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri -A city that was built and abandoned within a span of 14 years.  An emperor built an impressive city and wrote a new poetry with the stones and one day suddenly abandons it for some inexplicable reason. Having read about it in my history text book since childhood I always had a keen interest in visiting it one day.  I wandered a lot in and around this city but never reached Fatehpur Sikri, it always lured me from a distance. The reason behind this was its closeness to Delhi.  I always thought that I could visit it anytime.

DSC_0473.jpgInside view of Buland Darwaza

 Fatehpur Sikri is popularly known as the Capital city of Mughal established by Akbar, it has a long cultural history prior to it. Archaeological explorations of the region have revealed pre-historic stone tools, rock shelters with paintings on the periphery of the lake

For a long time, Mughal emperor Akbar had no son to succeed him. On hearing that the Sufi saint Sheikh Salim Chishti could perform miracles, he went to see him and seek his blessings.  Soon Akbar was blessed with his first son Salim, who went on to become Emperor Jahangir. As a mark of gratitude and respect, between 1571-73, Akbar had the city of Fatehpur Sikri built around Salim Chishti’s camp, 45km southwest of Agra and 21km east of Bharatpur, and shifted his capital there. The city was the Mughal capital only for about 14 years and is a bit of a ghost town now, but it is a fascinating example of Akbar’s secular beliefs, with its mix of Hindu, Persian, Buddhist and Christian architectural elements.

dsc_0479Dargah and Jama Mosque
DSC_0474.jpgBuland darwaza-inside View

The reasons for the city’s abandonment remain enigmatic. The theory that the city’s water supply proved incapable of sustaining its population is no longer widely accepted – even after the city had been deserted, the nearby lake to its northwest still yielded good water. A more likely explanation is that the city was simply the victim of the vagaries of the empire’s day-to-day military contingencies. Shortly after the new capital was established, the empire was threatened by troubles in the Punjab, and Akbar moved to the more strategically situated Lahore to deal with them. These military preoccupations kept Akbar at Lahore for over a decade, and at the end of this period he decided, apparently for no particular reason, to return to Agra rather than Fatehpur Sikri.

dsc_0477Sheikh Salim Chishti’s tomb

It is believed that by offering prayers at this Mazar whatever one wishes will definitely get fulfilled . There is also a ritual of tying a thread at the marble windows of this Dargah to in order to have one’s wishes fulfilled and, consequently, many threads can be seen to be tied there

dsc_0494

The whole atmosphere near the Dargah looked divine with hundreds of men and women thronged their for the prayers. We also prayed in the Dargah and offered the rose flowers on the tomb. Please note that before entering in the Dargah, you have to cover your head either by a cap or other piece of cloth. You can also get a round cap free of cost just at the entrance gate of Dargah, but do not forget to return it when you come outside. Outside the Dargah, you can often see some people with the musical instruments. They are the qawwal singers, who make the day special with their devotional songs, known as qawwalis.

DSC_0500.jpgPanchmahal Fatehpur Sikri
dsc_0496-1corridor inside the Royal Monument

We drove in our car to the city however the main monuments are not reachable b y private cars. You get a lot of public transport like bus, tuk-tuk and  taxis. We decided to walk towards the Buland Darwaja. Road was very good, weather was pleasant and I was more than excited to explore this magnificent city. Soon the reality started to unfold,  It was because of the omnipresent touts, or so-called guides.  It felt like a gang of guides attacked on us. From the age of 15 years to 60 years, there were many guides or touts, at each step.  But nobody was official (I learnt that later).  They all were the local people of Fatehpur Sikri, who declare themselves as the tourist guides.

Avoid to hire the guides soon you reach the city because as you approach the monuments you find the boards cautioning you to beware of fake guides.  Except Jama Mosque Complex,  no touts are allowed to enter in the Royal Enclosures. Those touts will show you the area of Jama Mosque and then they will fly away from the scene. My suggestion, Just ignore them.

dsc_0481-1The Grand Buland Darwaza

There are many monuments and to see in Fatehpur Sikri which are not covered in my article. The Mughal history and era echoes in this well maintained UNESCO heritage site and a must see to experience the galore. However the whole experience was not very jolly, the place has turned into a money making site and every soul you encounter is trying to make some money by either selling something or scaring you with some bad omen if you do not participate in the rituals at the dargah. Rather than enjoying the historical stories thoroughly I had to spend my energy in avoiding unwanted tour guides, children selling souveniers and shamelessly accepting the curses as I was chasing the people threatening me to participate in the rituals.

Have you ever visited a place where you were forced to spend money?

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