Travel Guide

Fatehpur Sikri


Located at a distance of 37 kms from Agra, Fathepur Sikri served as the capital city of Mughal Emperor Akbar between 1571-85. At the time when the construction began, Sikri was a mere small village lying between the city of Agra, which was the political capital of Akbar and Ajmer, which was the spiritual centre of the Mughals. Also the fact that the village was home to the Sufi Saint Shaikh Salim Chisti made it an ideal location. The saint had predicted that the emperor who was heirless will be blessed with not one but three sons.

The city was built within a span of fifteen years and Akbar took keen interest in it. As per a Jesuit priest, Father Monserrate who visited the city in the year 1580, Akbar even ‘quarried stone himself alongside the workmen‘. With Akbar’s arrival, Fathepur Sikri soon metamorphed into a busy city with close to a quarter of million population. However, just after fourteen years of occupation, Akbar abandoned the city and shifted his court to Agra. The reason for this was the lack of sufficient water supply which to a lot of people seems a rather unbelievable reason. The architect of the city must have taken into consideration the state of water supply of the city at the planning stage itself! It was something that could not have been neglected at any cost! A possible reason for this then is that Akbar never actually intended to stay at Fatehpur all his life. It was for military reasons that he made Fathepur Sikri his capital. The village was close to Rajasthan, Gujarat and Gangetic plain and therefore gave him an edge in his military conquests. As soon as his purpose was over, he shifted back to Agra.

During the time Akbar stayed in Fathehpur, he gathered some memorable moments to cherish. His son Salim was born there. Also, it was from here that he kickstarted his conquest of Gujarat and returned back victorious a year later. It was after this that Sikri was renamed Fathehpur and the grand Buland Darwaza was built to commemorate the victory.

Structures in the Imperial Complex

  • Gateways and Bazaars: Lal Darwaza, Akbarabad Darwaza, Delhi Gateway, Agra Gateway, Ajmer gateway, Gwalior Gateway.
  • Naubat Khana: From here drums were beaten to make important announcements together with King’s sittings in Diwan-i-aam.
  • Diwan-i-aam: From where Akbar heard and delivered justice to his subjects.
  • Daulat Khana: The Abode of Fortune consists of Diwan-i-Khass,Diwan-Khana-i-Khass, the Khwabgah, The Anup Talao, The Turkish Sultan’s pavilion.
  • Diwan-i-Khass: The Jewel House. The place where gems and jewels were stored. Also the place where the king met his ministers.
  • Diwan-Khana-i-Khass : The place where the king met the closest of his advisers.
  • Khwabgah: Just above the Diwan-Khana-i-Khass, the Khwabgah was the place where after hours of discussions with his ministers, Akbar rested and slept.
  • Anup Talao: The29 metres square Peerless Pool that has a central island connected by four bridges to the side.
  • The Turkish Sultan’s pavilion: Next to the Anup Talao, it was probably the place to rest.
  • The Imperial Harem: This was the place for royal ladies. Comprises of the Panch Mahal, Jodha Bai’s Palace, Maryam’s House and Birbal’s House.
  • Jodha Bai’s Palacex: Residence of Akbar’s other principal wives and not Jodha Bai.
  • Birbal’s Palace: Probably the residence of two of Akbar’s wife Ruqayya Begum and Sultan Begum.
  • Lower Haramsara: Believed to be the place where maids of the royal ladies stayed.
  • Badshahi Darwaza: The doorway used by Akbar to reach Jami Masjid and offer prayers with other devotees.
  • Jami Masjid : The mosque and the principal building in Fathepur Sikri.
  • The tomb of Shekih Salim Chisti : Built by Akbar to honour the sufi saint Sheikh Salim Chisti.
  • Bulund Darwaza: Built to mark Akbar’s victory over Gujarat, it is probably the grandest of all structures built to celebrate his victory.
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