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Uttar Pradesh: Fatehpur Sikri
The place was christened 'Sikri' by Babur, which was a deviation from “Sukriya” meaning “Thank You” to the Almighty, when he defeated the Rajputs there.
Much Later, Akbar, after conquering Gujarat, added Fatehpur to the name, and made it is capital. It was his capital from 1869 to 1885, after which he shifted back to Delhi, for lack of water. The township is like a haunted place now, with great architecture, but no one living there.
Fatehpur is a plateau land, about a 1 mile wide and about 2 miles long. Akbar huilt his capital on this piece of land. Three sides of it are covered with boundary wall. The remaining side had an artificial lake at that time. The lake was about 32 Sq Km at that time. It was built in grandeur, intermingling Hindu and Muslim architecture. The entire place is built in red sandstone.
The main entrance, Shahi Darwaza, is in the east. There is a nahabatkhana over the gate, and thereafter you will find the royal mint, stable etc, and you will soon reach up Dewan-E-Aam. There is also the royal chess board, pachisi courtyard, where slave girls used to act as the pieces of the board. Incidentally, the game of chess originated from India.
There is also the Ibadathana, meaning place of worship, from where Akbar started his own religion, Din E Elahi. The architecture of this place is heavily influenced by the Hindu architectural style.
The architecture of Dewan E Khaas will also attract you, especially its two pillars outside. The place is double storied.
Just outside the fotress is the Hiran Minar, or Elephant tower. Hiran was Akbar's favorite elephant, and he used to kill those who were life sentenced. Few lucky ones survived, if Hiran desired so. When Hiran died, Akbar built this minaret in his memory. Akbar also used to kill deers and other animals for sport from the top of this minaret.
You should also check out the golden house of the mother of Akbar, Palace of Jodhabai, his Christian wife from Goa, Begam Marrium's golden palace, Begam kothi, the palace of his wife Rukaya Begam who was from turkey, Birbal's house, and many more.
You can also see the hanging wind palace, whose pillars are made in Hindu architecture, while the domes are made in Muslim architecture. The walls have intricate stone grills.
The nagina mosque, created exclusively for ladies, is also a treat to the eyes.
The aankh micholi, on he South West of Dewan e Khass was the place where the Badshah played hide and seek with his queens. Its also called treasure pavilion. He spent 6.5 millions to build up his own library or 24,000 renowened books, novels and epics. He also got the Ramayana, Mahabharata etc translated into parsi. The construction of this five storeyed building is very special. To let air flow through, each storey has been progresively made smaller, as they go up. The ground floor started with 84 pillars, and the top has only 4. Each pillar is different from the other. It makes a great architectural feat.
On the west is the Jami Mosque, which is a mixture of Persian and Hindu architecture. It is inspired by the mosque of Mecca and 10,000 together can read namaz here. You have to enter it via the Buland Darwaza, which is the chief attraction of this place. It is 41 meters high, and possibly the biggest doorway of the world. There is a Salim Chisti Darga inside the mosque. It was made of red sandstone, and was later covered in white marble by Jahangir. Akbar got his sons with blessings from Salim Chisti, and the traditions still continues. Many women come to ask for kids at Salim Chisti's Darga. One has to cover his/her head with a piece of cloth, denoting respect, to enter the darga.
Uras, the death anniversary, is observed on the month of Ramadan.
On the left is a deep well, and you will kids ready to jump into the well to retrieve and take the coins you throw into the well. House of Abul Fazal, a member of the Navratna of the royal court, is also here.
How to reach: There are package tours by UPSTDC and ITDC. However, they allow only an hour to see the Fatehpur Sikri fort, possible to complete the sight seeing only if you are a superman. Instead, it is advised you travel Fatehpur either from Agra or from Delhi without any package tour. You can take service buses from these places. You can also take trains from Agra. Better still, you can hire a car.
Guides are available at the fort.
You can also couple up a part of Rajasthan and a part of Uttar Pradesh in your trip. You can plan Sikandra → Agra → Vindravan → Mathura → Fathepur Sikri → Bharatpur or Jaipur.
Keetham Lake: Close to Runkata on Agra Delhi road, it is also connected by railways. It is a picturesque lake and is a part of Surdas reserve forests, or Sur Sarovar Reserve forests.