Fatehpur Sikri evokes reminiscence of history among the minds of the locals. A once proud capital of the Mughal Empire during the 16th century, it is now a deserted and well-maintained ghost city. The richest period of Indian history can be credited to the Mughal era led by Emperor Akbar for his contributions. Being one of the most fascinating parts of Agra, it stands for all the great architectural marvels that the Mughal Empire’s time could conjure.
The Fatehpur Sikri was built from the twin villages of Sikri and Fatehpur as an honor to Sheik Salim Chisti, a popular Sufi saint. It is because the saint precisely predicted the birth of Akbar’s long-awaited son. Located 25 miles from Agra, Uttar Pradesh, the marvelous palace and mosque still brings to mind Akbar’s vision and power. Deserted after only 15 years, it is perfectly preserved and represents the lifestyle of the Mughals during the height of their glory.
So, how is this historical city today? Nowadays, the phantom city is one of Agra’s tourist attractions where one can see various monuments. There are plenty of places to see within the Fatehpur Sikri. Entry is via the Agra Gate, and if you approach from Bharatpur, you will pass the site of a huge lake that served as a defensive barrier back then.
On the other side, there is a huge defensive wall with nine gates – Chandar, Agra, Bir, Lal, Delhi, Tehra, Gwaliori, Ajmeri, and Chor. From the gate, you will pass the red sandstone structure Tansen’s Baradari and the Chahar Suq gallery. The path inside leading to the entrance is lined with bazaars.
Other interesting places in this Mughal city are the ruins of Akbar’s palace, murals of Akbar’s wives, the mosque, and many more. The beautiful marble tomb of Salim Chisti, lying in the heart of the mosque, is often frequented by Muslim worshippers to pray for a child similar to Akbar’s. You can hear the Sufi gawalli music playing at the direction of the Sufi saint.
When visiting Fatehpur Sikri, you can find a handful of hotels nearby and do your sightseeing by car. Take your time exploring this deserted city, especially the mosque during sunrise and sunset when the atmosphere is very quiet and beautiful. You can truly appreciate the serenity of life in this town. The buildings are evocative and spectacular and help tourists envision Akbar’s idealism and ambition.
This historical monument is open from sunrise and sunset. For foreigners, admission is $5, while children below 15 years old can enter for free. It is best to come early, before it becomes crowded. You can hire official guides for $1-$2, depending on season. It is best to avoid the main entrance as there are lots of hawkers. Instead, take the right side path after entering the Agra Gate for a hassle-free entry. Bring lots of drinking water.
Perhaps the most convenient option to get to Fatehpur Sikri is through a day trip from Agra. You can travel by bus for $1.20. The best time to visit is during the winter months of November to March.