Exploring the spectacular red sandstone palace of the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri
The ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri was founded by Emperor Akbar as the capital of Mughal Empire in 1571. Akbar’s son Jahangir was born in the village of Sikri in 1569 and that year Akbar constructed a religious compound to commemorate Sheikh Salim who had predicted the birth. After Jahangir’s second birthday, he began the construction of a walled city and imperial palace here. The city came to be known as Fatehpur Sikri, the “City of Victory”, after Akbar’s victorious Gujarat campaign in 1573.
The Imperial complex was abandoned in 1585, shortly after its completion, due to the exhaustion of the small, spring-fed lake that supplied the city with water, and its proximity to Rajputana, with whom the Mughal Empire was often at war. The capital was shifted to Lahore so that Akbar could have a base in the less stable part of the empire, before moving back to Agra in 1598. Because the palace area has been in nearly continuous use over the centuries, much of the imperial complex which spread over nearly two by one mile wide area is largely intact. Sadly, the same cannot be said of the rest of the city which, after it was abandoned in 1610, has fallen into a state of ruin.
The fort, a listed UNESCO World Heritage site, is a wonderful complex of buildings, constructed from local red sandstone, sitting on a rocky ridge with excellent views of the surrounding areas. The complex has several sections starting with the public spaces where the Mughal emperor and his consorts would meet with the local people and then progressing into private spaces when the royal family lived.
The most impressive of the buildings are set around the palaces of the royal family. The Buland Darwaza or the loft gateway at Fatehpur Sikri was built by the great Mughal emperor, Akbar in 1601. Akbar built the Buland Darwaza to commemorate his victory over Gujarat. The Buland Darwaza, approached by 42 steps is 53.63m high and 35 meters wide and is the highest gateway in the world. The most striking of all the buildings at Fatehpur Sikri is the Panch Mahal, a five-storey building that provided shelter to the royal ladies and mistresses. The top story of the building offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area.
In summary …
- Fatehpur Sikri is definitely worth a trip and is easily accessible as a day trip from Agra or on the way from Agra towards Rajasthan
- You should be able to see everything there within a couple of hours
- Beware, as you leave the bus or car you will be inundated with street sellers.
Planning your visit
Agra is the most easily accessible tourist destination in India. The city has excellent air, rail and road links. While in Agra, the best way to visit Fatehpur Sikri is by taxi. The Imperial fort of Fatehpur Sikri is approachable from Agra, 37 kilometres away or 18 kilometres from Bharatpur. Most visitors prefer to take a day trip to the fort en route from Agra or from Bharatpur, as it requires at least half a day to explore.
AIR: The nearest airport is Agra which is 7 km from the city centre and 3 km from Idgah bus stand. It only takes 40 minutes from Delhi to Agra.
RAIL: The main railway station is the Agra Cantonment station. It is well connected to all major cities of India.
ROAD: Idgah bus stand is the main bus stand of Agra, from where one can catch buses for Delhi, Jaipur, Mathura, Fatehpur-Sikri, etc.
Best time to visit Fatehpur Sikri
Fatehpur Sikri in summer – From April till July
Fatehpur Sikri has hot and dry summers. The temperature during this time ranges between 30 degrees Celsius to 42 degrees Celsius. Summers are recommended to be avoided if you are planning to visit Fatehpur Siri. However, you can check out some other summer destinations in India.
Fatehpur Sikri in Monsoon – From July till August
Monsoon is the best time to visit Fatehpur Sikri. The area receives sufficient rainfall, especially in the month of July. The temperature in Fatehpur Sikri ranges between 25 degrees Celsius to 38 degrees Celsius. This is a good time to explore Fatehpur Sikri’s Diwan-i-aam, Diwan-I-Khaas, Buland Darwaza and other magnificent attractions.
Fatehpur Sikri in winter – From October till March
In the winter season, Fatehpur Sikri is mildly chilling in the day and very cold at night. During the daytime, you can enjoy exploring its fort and other attractions with ease. The temperature in winters stays between 8 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius.
Where to stay?
1. THE OBEROI AMARVILAS AGRA
Just 1,950 feet from the Taj Mahal, The Oberoi Amarvilas Agra boasts luxurious 5-star accommodation with a flat-screen TV. This property houses 4 dining options and provides free parking. Free WiFi is available in the rooms of the property.
Beautiful rooms come with stylish modern interiors and large windows. All the well-appointed units are equipped with a sofa, personal safe and private bathroom.
Guests can visit the Oberoi Spa for a body massage, swim, or exercise at the gym. Car rental and ticketing services are available at the tour desk.
2. THE CORAL TREE BOUTIQUE HOMESTAY
The Coral Tree Homestay in Agra is only 2,300 feet from the Taj Mahal
The accommodation is air-conditioned and every unit is equipped with a private bathroom with free toiletries and a hairdryer. Towels are available.
The food here is great according to all the reviews!
Mehtab Bagh is 4.3 miles from The Coral Tree Homestay, while Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah is 3.8 miles away.
3. MAX GUEST HOUSE
MAX Guest House is situated in the heart of Agra city centre, located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Taj Mahal.
Free WiFi. Just 2.3 km from Taj Mahal and Agra Fort is 3.3 km far away and convenient access to Agra attractions such as the Akbar’s Tomb and Sadar Bazaar.
En suite bathrooms include hot shower amenities and free toiletries. At MAX GUEST HOUSE you will find a garden and a 24-hour front desk. luggage storage and an ironing service. Also offers car hire. This property is also rated for the best value in Agra.