Mughal City of Fatehpur Sikri

According to estatelearning, the Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri was built from 1569 to 1574. It was only the capital of Mughal emperor Akbar the Great (1542–1605) until 1585, presumably the lack of water led to the early abandonment of the splendid palace ensemble. Outstanding buildings include the palace district with the Diwan-i-Khas audience hall, the Daulat Khana private palace, the Sultan’s house, the Jodh Bai harem and the 54 m high Victory Gate.

Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri: facts

Official title: Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri
Cultural monument: Former capital of the Mughal Empire, numerous monuments worth seeing such as the palace district with the Panch Mahal and the Diwan-i Khas (“Hall of the Jewel House”) as well as the Jodh Bai Palace, as well as the marble mausoleum for Sheikh Salim Chisti, the Nagina Masjid, originally for the Court ladies designated mosque, the Great Mosque (Jami Masjid) and the 54 m high Victory Gate (Buland Darwaza)
Continent: Asia
Country: India, Uttar Pradesh
Location: Fatehpur Sikri, southwest of Agra
Appointment: 1986
Meaning: Example of the planned layout of a Mughal capital
Naming: Fatehpur Sikri means “City of Victory”

Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri: history

1556-1605 Mughal ruler Akbar
1568 Encounter between Akbar and the mystic Sheikh Salim Chisti
08/20/1569 Birth of the heir to the throne Jahangir
1569-74 Construction of a residence on the hill of Sikri
1571 Construction of a 10 km long fortification wall, construction of the Great Mosque with a courtyard of 109 x 133 m, there marble mausoleum of St. Sheikh Salim Chisti
1572 Renamed to Fatehpur Sikri
1575-76 Construction of the 54 m high Buland Darwaza
1585/86 Task as the capital of the Mughal Empire
1619 Jahangir moves briefly from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri because of a plague epidemic
1882 archaeological work

The Red Residence – Akbar the Great’s dream city

Sheikh Salim Chisti was a Muslim sage who lived on the rocky hill of Sikri far from the noisy city of Agra. Legend made him an ascetic hermit, but this is doubtful, since he stayed in a comfortable house with several wives and half a dozen servants. Here Salim Chisti, whose fortune-telling art had got around the country, also received the Mughal ruler Akbar several times, to whom he not only prophesied the birth of a much-desired heir to the throne, but also “three brave sons” one after the other. The prediction came true; but neither Akbar the Great nor Salim the Wise could foresee that the three – and especially the heir to the throne, Jahangir – would make their father anything but pure joy.

The truly energetic Mughal fell so deeply under the spiritual influence of the sage that he left Agra and moved to the hill Sikri: “His Majesty plans splendid buildings, and the work of his mind and heart is given a garment of lime and stone,” wrote Akbar’s chronicler Abul Fazl. In the astonishing time of less than ten years the ambitious plan was realized, and Fatehpur Sikri, the “City of Victory”, developed into a flourishing metropolis of the Mughal Empire before it had to be abandoned due to lack of water. It is said that around 200,000 people lived there during the brief period of prosperity; Nevertheless, the thesis of a lack of water seems dubious, because the artificial lake of Fatehpur Sikri could still be filled all year round with sufficient maintenance and constant supply of the system.

Fatehpur Sikri is praised as “the most perfect architectural expression of Akbar’s generosity and tolerance”, which expresses the “thought turned to stone” of the Grand Mogul. In fact, Akbar’s urban planning ideas are easy to understand and comprehend when viewed as a whole: the buildings, made entirely of red sandstone, each serve a firmly assigned function. Their assemblies structure the urban area and create new, diversely arranged open spaces between the individual sectors. In the different buildings all important tasks for a seat of government could be done. There were special houses for audiences, a hospital and stylish hostels for state guests. All buildings are richly decorated with reliefs and ornaments as well as delicately perforated parapets and lattice-like filled window openings, as they could almost only be carved out of the uniquely soft and at the same time permanently stable sandstone of Sikri. Oriels and galleries decorated in relief, lavishly decorated columns and arcades recur as essential design elements in various dimensions on most buildings, usually flanked or crowned by dainty roof turrets with characteristic curved domes.

In the religious center of the city rises a large mosque in the old Iranian style, on the wide courtyard of which stands the magnificently decorated mausoleum for the sage Salim Chisti. On the outside, curved stone pillars support the roof; Inside, variously openwork marble slabs form highly suggestive eye-catchers.

Fatehpur Sikri – “the best preserved ghost town in the world” – proves, unlike all later masterpieces of Mughal architecture, to be clearly inspired by the Indian spirit. This also includes the clearly visible basic scheme of sandstone beams, boards and railings, which make some of the buildings look like “wooden houses made of stone”. And if you take a closer look you can see that for the most part it is a kind of prefabricated construction, the standardized individual elements of which have already been delivered ready-machined and only put together on the construction site.

Mughal City of Fatehpur Sikri