World HIstory

Fatehpur Sikri

Just to the west of Agra about 40km is the incredible fortified city of Akbar the Great, Fatehpur Sikri. It is renowned for being among the very best preserved examples of Mughal architecture in all of India, and it is resplendent with details. Fatehpur, meaning victory, was built by Akbar in 1569 following the fulfillment of a Sufi saint’s prediction that Akbar would have a son to inherit his empire.

It was here at Fatehpur that Akbar built an enormous palace, complete with royal quarters and his harem courts. It was also here that Akbar sought the advice of extraordinary men. Said to have been passionate about learning, Akbar assembled nine advisors on various religions and the arts, and consulted with them in the Hall of Audiences, an awesome building with an amazingly ornate central pillar atop which Akbar sat when he consulted with his advisors or held private audiences.

Despite the architectural achievements, the palace at Fatehpur was short lived. It was abandoned in 1585 due to a shortage of water and its closeness to brewing troubles to the West.

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The Agra Fort

Only a few kilometers away from the incomparable Taj Mahal is the Agra Fort, a fortified palace built by the Mughal emporer, Shah Jahan. More than a simple military stronghold, the fort is built with a combination of red sandstone and white marble, and houses a palace of incredible architectural details.

Shaw Jahan’s son, Aurangzeb, eventually seized power from him and he was emprisoned at the palace. From the white marbled palace one can gaze along the banks of the Yamuna River at the incomparable Taj Mahal, where his wife is entombed.

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Purana Qila

Said to be built on the ancient site of Indraprastha, a city belonging to the Pandavas dating to 400 BCE, Afghani ruler Sher Shah built the fort of Purana Qila in the 1540’s. Within the walls of the Old Fort, Sher Shaw built the Qila-i-Kuhran Mosque. Now in ruins, the mosque’s construction uses local red sandstone, white and black marble and it serves as a tomb.

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