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Fatehpur Sikri, Agra (Uttar Pradesh)

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Fatehpur Sikri or 'the City of Victory' is a fortified city in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. It was founded in 1569 by the Great Emperor of the Mughal dynasty Akbar. The palace city atop a rocky ridge, confined within walls on its three sides and a lake in the foreground, was designed by Tuhir Das using Indian principles of art.

The structures in the city have been designed following the styles of Hindu, Jain and Islamic architecture, using red sandstone, which is also called as 'Sikri sandstone'. The city can be entered through several gates that are erected at different points along the wall bordering the fort. The gates are namely the Chandanpal Gate, the Agra Gate, the Tehra Gate, the Lal Gate, the Delhi Gate, the Birbal Gate, the Gwalior Gate, the Ajmere Gate and the Chor Gate.


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The great emperor Akbar had no heir. He visited many places offering prayers and seeking blessings of saints. On one such endeavor he was blessed by a Sufi Saint Sheikh Salim Chishti in the village Sikri and the saint foretold that the emperor will be blessed with a son. After birth of his son the emperor showed his gratitude by building a city in the honor of the Sufi Saint and named it Fatehpur Sikri. "Fateh" in Persian language means "victory".

The city is about 37 km from Agra on the Sikri ridge 3 km in length and 1km wide surrounded by wall covering three sides and a lake on the fourth side. Akbar conceptualized to build the walled city which took around fifteen years to complete and includes royal palaces, private quarters, harems, different utility buildings, court and mosques. Tuhir Das, the architect of the city primarily used Indian principles which includes use of various regional schools of art and craftsmanship specially that of Bengal and Gujarat. Apart from Islamic elements, significance was given to Hindu and Jain architecture. Akbar shifted his capital from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri. Number of gates was built to approach the city namely Delhi Gate, Agra Gate, Lal Gate, Birbal's Gate, Gwalior Gate, Tehra Gate, Chandanpal Gate, Chor Gate and Ajmere Gate. After the death of the Sufi saint, Akbar erected a Tomb of the saint made of red Sandstone. It is this city that gave birth to the legends of the great Akbar and his famed courtiers known as "Navratnas" or the nine jewels.

Persian principles are highly reflected in the complex as Akbar wished to revive magnificence of Persian court ceremonial as was during the time of his famous ancestor Timur. Local abundance of red sandstone was fully utilized in constructing the structures and buildings. The royal palace complex consist series of individual pavilions that were beautifully arranged in geometric patterns inspired from Arabian and central Asian encampments and rests on a piece of level ground. The monuments and structures in Fatehpur Sikri remind one about artistic sense and the holistic approach of the great emperor. Influence of Indian embellishments is highly represented.

Due to shortage of water availability the palatial complex was abandoned by Akbar just after its completion in 1585. The presence of nearby Rajputana areas in the North West and the increasing turmoil also caused shifting of the emperor's base from Fatehpur Sikri to Lahore and thereafter again to Agra in 1598.


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