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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

Fatehpur Sikri: a city designed for grandeur

Fatehpur Sikri is a city designed with grandeur firmly in mind….

By Bhanu Jodha
Cultural Tour Guide in Agra

Fatehpur Sikri is a city designed with grandeur firmly in mind. This was the first time the Mughal dynasty were able to shed their nomadic existence and settle. So, imagine you’re a rich and powerful King, what’s the first thing you do with all that money and freedom? Build a city of course so you can be remembered forever!

En-route to Agra, the ancient city’s immense structure sticks out in red sandstone. The marble you see at Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal hadn’t come into fashion yet. Fatehpur Sikri was a little different to the usual Islamic cities in that instead of being built to honour an Emperor, it was devoted to a Sufi saint said to have granted the 3rd Mughal Emperor, Akbar, a son. Akbar then propagated a religion, Din-I llhai, fusing aspects of Hinduism, Christianity, Jainism, Buddhism and Islam, their distinct design elements you’ll see throughout the complex.

The highlights start with the Buland Darwaza, a towering gate, one of the largest in the world, that celebrates one of the many Mughal victories. It leads to the mosque, a small mecca for Muslims where you can see the all-important Sufi-dedicated shrine. Then you can peruse the beautiful ladies’ quarters which housed the emperor’s mothers and sisters and where no men aside from the emperor could enter.

The emperor’s residence itself is an impressive layout with certain features seen nowhere else in India. Historians believe that it would have been flooded with rosewater to control the temperature. He also had a large stone pot which you can still see today filled with the holy water brought all the way from the Ganges. Then you have a big tower called Hiran Minar covered in stones shaped like elephant tusks. It was dedicated to the emperor’s favourite elephant who reportedly had these large doe-like eyes. Elephants back then were important creatures used for transport, processions, and war. When Alexander the Great first saw them on the battlefield, his whole army stood there momentarily dumbfounded.

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Alfred & Bhanu Jodha

Bhanu has been a cultural guide for seven years. He grew up in Jaipur living in the rural areas of Rajasthan and is fluent in many of the languages native to his country. Moreover, Bhanu commands a unique understanding of and passion for the culture, heritage and flora of Rajasthan.