37 kms from Agra is built a city predominantly in Red Sandstone
A royal city perfectly preserved, Fatehpur Sikri provides a marvellous escape into the past. Akbar embarked on the construction of a new capital here when a prophecy of the birth of a male royal heir by the Sufi Saint Salim Chisti of Sikri, came true.
Imposing gateways and light- hearted palaces were built in red sandstone within this fortified city only to be abandoned a few years later.
Also known as the Dargah Mosque, this is said to be a copy of the main mosque at Mecca. Its noted for its design which has persian and Hindu elements. The monumental 54 m high Buland Darwaza, the Gate of Victory, is the main entrance. It was constructed to commemorate Akbar's victory in Gujarat. A koranic inscription upon it read, "The world is a bridge, pass over it but built no house upon it. He who hopes for an hour, hopes for Eternity, for the world is but an hour". Just outside the gateway is a deep well wherein local daredevils leap from the top of the entrance into the water. The Shahi Darwaza is the official entrance, where licensed guides can be hired.
The journey to the royal palace begins with Diwan-I-Am or the Hall Of Public Audience. This hall was also used for celebrations and public prayers. It has cloisters on three sides of a rectangular courtyard. To the west is a pavilion with the Emperors throne. Beautiful jali screen on either sides separated the ladies attending the court.
To the right is an apparently looking two storeyed building, with corner kiosks, known as diwan-khana-I-khaas or Hall Of Private Audience. On entering it, one finds only a single vaulted chamber. In the centre stands a profusely carved column supporting a collosal-bracketed capital. Four narrow causeways project from the centre and run to each corner of the chamber. It is believed that Akbars throne occupied the circular space over the capital and the corners were assigned to the four ministers.
Palace of Jodha Bai
Also known as "Shabistan-I-Iqbal" (Principal Haram Sara), it is the largest and most important zenana, or palace for the imperial women. Baths and latrines project to the south, a viaduct and splendid balcony, to the north. It has but one entrance facing east across a wide paved courtyard. It used to be connected to the Emperor's Daulat Khana, which was destroyed.
Nagina Masjid is the generic name in Mughal palaces for the small private mosque set aside for the ladies of the imperial harem. These were often small and sumptuously decorated. The strictly orthodox in India disapprove of women praying in congregation, even in a screened cubicle.
These large and ruined colonnades are called the "Red Gate" of Fatehpur. Also known as langar-khana or soup kitchen, it is attached to the khanqah within.
Buland Darwaza This gate can be approached from the outside by a 13-metre flight of steps which adds to its grandeur. The gate erected in 1602 AD to commemorate Akbars victory over Deccan is the highest and grandest gateway in India and ranks among the biggest in the world.
In summer, between March and June, the temperature soars up to 45°C during the day. Dry, searing winds heat up the ground and make it difficult to venture outdoors. Light cottons are the best clothing, except in winter, when light woollens are required. The temperature is around 28°C during the day, but can go down to 4°C at night.
Air : Agra airport is 7 km from the city center and 3 km from Eidgah bus stand. Major airlines operate daily tourist shuttle flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Banglore.
Rail : The main railway station is the Agra Cantonment station that is well connected to Delhi, Varanasi and other cities of Utter Pradesh Rajasthan. Trains like Palace on Wheel, Shatabdi, Rajdhani, and Taj Express are the best choices if you want to reach Agra from Delhi.
Road : Eidgah bus stand is the main bus stand of Agra, from where one can catch buses for Delhi, Jaipur, Mathura and Fatehpur-Sikri etc.
From November to February. Access Agra is connected to Delhi by air. One can also use the Taj Express or the Shatabdi to get there. One can even drive or travel by bus (204 km from Delhi).
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