Monday, July 08, 2013

Fatehpur Sikri - India's Ghost Palace

From Hyderabad we made our way to Agra for the week off between Tests. Our first stop at the jewel of tourist India was the capital of the Mughal empire from 1571 and 1585, where Akbar built the palace buildings and the still-in-use mosque. The story goes that the empire lived out here, 40km out of Agra, for this short amount of time due to a water shortage. It was therefore abandoned after Akbar's death, earning it's Ghost name.

The palace buildings are red sandstone, and are stunning! There are so many details to each of the buildings, but none moreso than the three palaces Akbar built for this three favourite wives - one Hindu, one Muslim, and one Christian. The biggest of the three is the Hindu one, as she delivered the Emperor a long awaited heir.

I found this story a little hard to fathom when there was not one cross to be seen in the supposed Christian wife's palace. Also, our guide insisted that the water shortage story was not true, and explained in depth the water supplies to the grounds. We found a lot of differentiated stories for many of the big touristy sites across India!

A site where the Emperor held elaborate court in the city's prime, it features the Hall of Audience (above), gates along the five mile long fort walls, and the courtyard has a giant ludo-like game board, when Akbar was said to play using girls from his harem as the pieces!

The other half of this ancient city is the active Jama Masjid, where the boys needed to donn sarongs to cover their legs, and we needed to discard our shoes before walking through the Victory Gate into the vast open courtyard and the stone, hot floor.

So grand, and so beautiful, this peaceful space commanded reverence.

A local girl started following a few of us around at one point, and pointed out many of the details of the mosque grounds, including the effects of the archways along west section of the complex, and the architectural intricacies marking the Hindu, Muslim and Christian links to the empire.

The masterpiece of this complex is the white marble tomb of Shaikh Salim Chishti - inside which woman come to tie a thread in the hopes of having a child. I didn't enter the inner room, mainly because of the crowd and that it seemed like prayer was going on, but I hear it was stunning inside.

We spent half a day out here, taking in what we could, but the complex has so many intricacies you could easily spend so much longer. The active mosque and the tombs within that complex, is busy but worth it. The palaces were vasts and pretty empty, which meant you could take your time and take more in. So much history, and mystery, about the Ghost Palace....and so beautiful!


  1. So beautiful! I love that detail on the ceiling. Wow! So much pride has gone Into the building of this palace

    1. Oh there was so much detail to each of the buildings! So amazing!


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