Sikri, Shukri, Fatehpur Sikri

Sikri, Shukri, Fatehpur Sikri

Article Dated  - December 2002

Around 1527, after defeating Rajputana’s Rana Sanga, Babar passed through Sikri, returning thanks (Shukriya) to God for his fateful victory and renamed Sikri as Shukri. Nothing remains of the pavilions and gardens that Babar built except an inscribed well as described in his memoirs. The new capital that Akbar built, sprawling astride a rocky ridge, was much later, around 1571.

The birth of this city is an interesting story. On a mountain top in Sikri, lived a Sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chishti. Hearing of his renown, Akbar visited him to ask for blessings for a son and when the son was born he was named Salim. Akbar built a mosque for Chishti and a fort for himself, shifting base to Sikri. The new city was renamed Fatehpur after Akbar’s victory of Gujarat. But Akbar lived in his new capital only for 15 years. Troubles in the North-west and the shortage of water eventually compelled him to shift to Agra. And within a few years, the palaces, mosques and mansions of the nobles deserted, leaving a ghost city behind.

The architecture of Fatehpur Sikri is a mixture of Hindu and Muslim styles of architecture. The Jami Masjid here is said to be a replica of the mosque in Mecca. Every year, childless women of all religions come to the Dargah, praying for their wishes to be fulfilled. Salim Chishti’s Urs (death anniversary) is celebrated during winter with kawwali and music.

There are primarily two places to visit in Fatehpur Sikri, the Mosque and the Fort. One of the biggest doors in India, the Buland Darwaza opens to the Mosque or Jami masjid, which has the tomb or Dargah of Salim Chishti with its exquisite lattice carved marble screens. The Fort houses the Diwaan-e-Aam, and the Diwaan-e-Khas, Birbal’s house, the treasury, Daulat-khana-e-Khas, Hawa Mahal, Panch Mahal, Nagina Masjid; and the palaces of his queens - Jodha Bai’s palace, the house of the Turkish Sultana, and Mariam’s Sunhara Mahal. All the buildings, though in different styles, are essentially made in red sand stone, except the Dargah of Salim Chishti which is carved in marble. Like all Forts, it tells a story of glories past, and lost.

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