Constructed by Emperor Akbar between 1571 and 1585 in honor of Salim Chishti, a well-known Sufi saint of the Chishti order, Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of the Mughal empire for 14 years. Among the finest examples of a Mughal walled city, with defined areas and imposing gateways, its architecture is a mix of Hindu and Islamic types, and reflects Akbar’s secular vision in addition to his type of governance. The city was deserted, some say for lack of water, in 1585, and plenty of of its treasures had been plundered. It owes its current state of preservation to the efforts of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India and an excellent conservationist.
THE MOSQUE AND THE TOMB
Towering over Fatehpur Sikri is the grand open mosque Jami Masjid. Its huge congregational space has monumental gateways to the east and south. The 177-ft (54-m) Buland Darwaza, a triumphal arch, was erected by Akbar to mark his 1573 conquest of Gujarat. The spiritual focus of the complex is the tomb of Sufi mystic Salim Chishti. Ever since Akbar’s childlessness was ended after the saint’s prediction in 1568, his tomb has attracted thousands, particularly childless ladies looking for a miracle. Visitors make a wish, tie a thread on the screen across the tomb, and return home assured that their wish will come true.
The greatest emperor of the Muslim Mughal dynasty, Akbar (r 1556-1605) was an excellent administrator and an enlightened ruler. Just 14 years old when he ascended the throne, his first job was to consolidate and broaden his fledgling empire. His most important move was the political and matrimonial alliances he formed with the Hindu Rajputs. Nevertheless, it was his policy of spiritual tolerance that really set him aside. Akbar was fascinated by the research of comparative faith and constructed a special “House of Worship” in Fatehpur Sikri, the place he typically met leaders of other faiths.
Considered one of colonial India’s most flamboyant viceroys, Lord Curzon ( 1859-1925) believed British rule was essential to civilize “backward” India. He launched sweeping modifications in the schooling system, however he’s remembered most for his function as a conservator of Indian monuments. Lord Curzon was accountable for the restoration of an enormous variety of Hindu, Islamic, and Mughal buildings, amongst them the gateway to Emperor Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra, Agra Fort, the buildings at Fatehpur Sikri, the Jain temples at Mount Abu, and the Taj Mahal.