Friday, June 7, 2013

Fatehpur and Sikri - the abandoned glory

Fatehpur-Sikri has been photographed to death by countless photographers and written about also by equal number of travelers. From this point of view, any further attempts to write about it will be, in the bard's language, "trying to gild the gold". Nevertheless, I still chose to write about it as it is one of my favourite historic places. In fact I prefer this ghost city to its more illustrious cousin city which houses the worlds most famous mausoleum. 

The usual practice of people is to club Fatehpur-Sikri along with Agra Fort & Taj Mahal & It-Mat-Ud-Daulah on the same day. This, in my opinion, only serves the purpose of putting a tick against it's name on the travel itenary and not really achieve anything. It takes about half a day to one day to do justice to this place. Fatehpur-Sikri, in fact, has a nice UP tourism department guest house (where we had our lunch) with a sprawling lawn in front. The place evoked a rather agreeable image of sitting in the lawn with a glass of chilled beer after spending the day at the ruins

Some of the images that were captured by me at Fatehpur Sikri 

1) The entry : We enter into Sikri through an unimpressive gate and then a set of long and interesting looking corridors

2) Hiran Minar : This is supposed to be a monument dedicated to Akbar's favourite elephant (name unknown; some say it was called "Hiran" while the rest insist that it was called "Gajamukta") who died in the famous battle of Haldighati (where Akbar defeated Rana Pratap). The reason for this rather unusual structure is also unknown but those multiple projections coming out of the central column seem to symbolize the arrows stuck on an elephants trunk or leg.

3) Diwan-i-Khas

The "Diwan-i-khas" of Fatehpur Sikri is famous for the central pillar where the emperor ,  supposedly used to sit on a revolving chair and listen to two debating sides. Sadly I didn't really get a good shot of this pillar but the outside structure of Diwan-i-khas is also fascinating

4) Anup Talao and Panch Mahal (in the background)

This has been immortalized by the story of the legendary singer Tansen and how he had lighted fire with his redemption of the Deepak Raga. Legend has it that the song set fire on Tansen and then his talented daughter Saraswati sang the Megh Mallar raag to cause rain and thereby saved Tansen's life. 

The Panch Mahal (or Badgir) was the windy palace of entertainment of the emperor. 

5) Buland Darwaza

A shot of Buland Darwaza taken from the inner courtyard. This was the main entry to Fatehpur which was constructed to celebrate Akbar's victory over Gujrat.  

6) I read somewhere that during Akbar's era, they did not have "doors". This is incorrect or was this a later day addition?

7) The walkway beside the Buland Darwaza

8) A "typical tourist" shot of the Dargah of Salim Chistie - the saint who's is supposed to be responsible for Akbar having his heir - Salim (Jehangir). Unless you are strongly religious or is compelled to be thorough and see every place "completely", you can safely avoid going inside the dargah and thereby save yourself the torture of haggling with local vendors.

A few do's and don't for the first time travellers to Fatehpur-Sikri

a) The car can come till the parking lot near the UPTDC tourist centre. From this point, you need to walk for about 500 metre to come to the bus departure point. Regular buses ply fro here to Fatehpur Sikri (takes about 5 minutes to go). 

b) The walk from the parking lot till the bus departure point passes through a kind of shopping mart where all local curio items are kept. One should spend some time to look at these stuffs but carefully restrain oneself from actually buying anything :)

c) DO NOT hire any guides from the parking lot. There is a full fledged "private guide centre" at the parking lot with published rates. This entire thing is a hoax. These guides have no authorization whatsoever (though they carry an impressive but fake guide pass) and charge about 4 times the actual rate. The ASI (Archeological Survey of India) guides are available at the ticket counter at Fatehpur Sikri. 

 d) Tripods are not allowed inside either of the place.

Dear traveller - it is now your turn to wander into the city of Lal Patthar. 


Singh Style said...

Well captured & documented, keep it up!

Victor Ghoshe said...

Great work and Good Piece of info man, I know a couple of my friends have gone through this fake guide racket at the parking. it's run by local Muslim groups who take people to salim Chisti's darga and sqeeze money, they are not even allowed at the main palace.

Atanu Dey said...

Thanks Victor

Claudia Tanna said...

I have to go back again, you caught the moods so well I guess I really remember how beautiful the place is...must go soon

Anonymous said...

Love the Hiran Mina Tower, to think how they loved their special animals...Pics are showing great knowledge about photography as well as the culture of the place...Great writing, too... I want more!

Anonymous said...

finally claudia managed to post her comment..nice write up :-)

Anonymous said...

Very well said sir.. I love your photography and after reading this blog and seeing the pictures I feel like going there and exploring place myself.. and I would be looking forward for some more stuff like this..

Purba said...

lovely pics that aptly manage to capture the romance of this place. Also, as usual, very well-written post :)