Fatehpur Sikri, a magnificent fortified ancient city, 40km west of Agra, was the first planned city of the Mughals, during the reign of Emperor Akbar. Akbar had visited the village of Sikri to consult the Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chishti, who predicted the birth of an heir to the Mughal throne. When the prophecy came true, Akbar built his new capital here. He raised lofty buildings for his use and houses for the public. Thus grew, a great city with charming palaces and institutions. Akbar gave it the name of Fatehabad and which in later days came to be known as “Fatehpur Sikri”.
This well-planned city’s sloping levels were connected into terraces which were utilised for various complexes such as Jami masjid, Buland-Darwazah and tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti; Khass Mahal, Shahi-Bazar, Mina-Bazar, the Panch-Mahal, Khwabgah, Diwan-i-Khass, Anup-Talao, Chaupar and Diwan-i-Am. The efficient system of drainage and water-supply adopted here suggest an extremely intelligent town-planning by the Mughal emperor. It is prolific and versatile Indo-Muslim composite style, which is a fusion of the composite cultures of indigenous and foreign origins.
The Indo-Islamic masterpiece Sikri has an extension of the upper Vindhyan ranges and was situated on the bank of a large natural lake, which has now mostly dried up. Rock shelters with paintings exist on the periphery of the lake. Stone age tools have been found in this area. Ochre Coloured Pottery (c. 2nd millennium B.C.) and Painted Grey Ware (c.1200-800 B.C.) have also been discovered from here.
Here practically, all Mughal institutions such as the ‘Ibadat-Khanah’, ‘Din-i-Ilahi’, ‘Tarikh-i-Ilahi’ , Jharokha-Darshan, the doctrine of Sulh-i-Kul and policy of liberal patronage to indigenous arts and literatures, were founded. It was also here that workshops of various handicrafts were established.
All these palaces were built of red sandstone in the trabeate beam-and-post order, and composed of pillars, ornamental arches, brackets-and-chhajjas, jharokhas, chhatris, chhaparkhats, chaukhandis and so on. Domes have been used sparingly. Sometimes corbelled pendentives have been employed in the transition phase.
The architecture of Fatehpur Sikri has a definite all-India character. It is prolific and versatile Indo-Muslim composite style, which is a fusion of the composite cultures of indigenous and foreign origins. And that’s what makes it a must visit!