Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri, constructed between 1571 and 1585, was the Mughal emperor Akbar's capital for 15 years. It's in the modern state of Uttar Pradesh, about 40 km from Agra. It's built with red sandstone, and though the workmanship is ornate, it's also understated.

Akhbar was not only a conqueror – he was also a statesman, who believed in religious conciliation and in alliances, and he had Muslim, Hindu and Christian wives, all of whom had their quarters in Fatehpur Sikri. The city was built quickly, and deserted just as quickly, as the strategic interests of Akbar's empire shifted. 

Click for a larger version Buland Darwaza

Angled somewhat to exclude as many of the hawkers as possible. Inside there's a huge courtyard, with a massive mosque, the Jama Masjid, on the other side.

The square (and the city) are all aligned with the mosque, which is aligned with Mecca.

Click for a larger version Salim Chisti's Tomb

The tomb was built in 1570. Salim Chisti was a Sufi saint, and Akbar came to him looking for help in having a son. The jalis - screens carved out of marble - show superb workmanship.

To the left, in the shadows is part of the Jama Masjid, where Chisti taught.


Click for a larger version Islam Khan's Tomb

Islam Khan was the grandson of Salim Chisti. His tomb is directly to the right of his grandfather's, overshadowing it in size.

Click for a larger version The Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience)

 The Diwan-i-Kas is also known as the Jewel House or the Ekstambha Prasada (Palace of Unitary pillar)

Inside the building there's a central stone column. It supports four crisscrossing walkways that go across the upper level. 

Click for a larger version Astrologer's Seat

Akbar had astrologers on staff, who he consulted before making important decisions. He used Hindu astrologers and Muslim munajjims, just to play it safe. This is where they made their pronouncements.

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This was the emperor's building. On the upper level there was a living room, library and a place where he napped or entertained women. The lower level was the Diwan-khana-i-khas, or audience hall. 

Apparently, there were sliding stone doors and elaborate interiors, but the building was looted later on.


Click for a larger version Turkish Queen's residence

Akbar liked variety in his wives (especially if marrying them cemented alliances). He had a Christian wife and a Hindu wife, and this one was Turkish. (In the local parlance she was the Rumi Sultana, which sounds to me like a flavor of ice cream.)

Though it doesn't look like much at this point, the quarters were on the left. The pool in front is Anup Talao, and was a famous spot for music.


Click for a larger version Parcheesi board

Inside the palace complex, and apparently played with live pieces.