Fatehpur Sikiri, India - Mogul architectural extravaganza!! a brief note

Fatehpur Sikiri. www.gyanipandi
 Among the countless monuments that are spread across India, dating back to several centuries, many sites are excellent tourist destinations. Each monument is unique in its own way, you can not classify them or grade them. An interesting fact is they never fail to take us back to the bygone days of various dynasties, cultures and dominance of religions. The monuments at Fatehpur Sikiri are worthy of mention and they bring out the affluence of Mogul rulers and the workmanship of the talented workers of their period. They are architectural master pieces.

Sikri. which is an extension of the upper Vindhyan ranges, is on the bank of a large natural lake, which has now become mostly dried up. It is believed it is a pre-historic site continuously being occupied since the pre-historic days. Abundant water, forest and raw materials were added advantage for the earliest inhabitants.  Rock shelters, paintings  on the periphery of the lake, stone age tools found in this area and ochre coloured Pottery (c. 2nd millennium B.C.) and painted Grey Ware (c.1200-800 B.C.) confirm the antiquity of this place. 

Babur's grandson Akbar (1556-1605) moved his residence and court from Agra to Sikri, for a period of 13 years, from 1572 to 1585. This was done  to honour the Sufi Saint Sheikh Salim Chishti, who resided here (in a cavern on the ridge). Akbar respected and revered  him very much because  it was this great saint who blessed him with a boy (named Salim in 1569). Akbar constructed big and artistically pleasing buildings for his use, besides  houses for the public. In a way, Akbar was instrumental in developing Sikiri into a city with   impressive palaces and institutions. The Previous name of Sikiri, as chosen by Akbar,  was Fathabad which in later days came to be known as “Fathpur Sikri”
  • Fatehpur Sikiri, /asi.nic.in
    Here  all Mughal institutions such as the ‘Ibadat-Khanah’, ‘Din-i-Ilahi’, ‘Tarikh-i-Ilahi’ , Jharokha-Darshan, etc., were built. Akbar gave shape to the doctrine of Sulh-i-Kul and policy of liberal patronage to indigenous arts and literature and  established  here the workshops of various handicrafts. 
  • In the entire history of the Mogul rulers,Sikiri  takes the credit of being the  first planned city of the Mughals. The city had several complexes  -  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. 
    It is mentioned in Babur's memoir that  Babur visited the place on the eve of the Khanwah battle in A.D. 1527 and made reference to this area  as ‘Sikri’. He built  here a garden and a Jal-Mahal surrounded by the lake-water, and a baoli (step-well) to celebrate  his victory in the Khanwah battle.
    For any city, proper drainage system is very important. Mogul town planners and the ruler himself adopted an efficient drainage system.
    The architecture of Fatehpur Sikri is typically of Indo -Muslim style with strong Indian character. and it reflects on the fusion of the composite cultures of indigenous and foreign origins.
 The monuments include palaces  made of red sandstone  with pillars, ornamental arches, brackets-and-chhajjas, jharokhas, chhatris, chhaparkhats, chaukhandis and so on. Dome construction was done sparingly. 

 The city was abandoned in 1585, because of depletion of water in the rain-fed lake and yet another reason was Sikiri was much closer to Rajputana with which the Mogul ruler did not have friendly relationship. There were frequent war between two rulers. Akbar moved the capital to Lahore (now in Pakistan) and later back to Delhi.