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fatehpur sikri

Fatehpur Sikri: Mughal Splendor in A Fortified City
So grateful was Mughal Emperor Akbar to the saint he believed blessed him with three sons that he built a City of Victory 40km west of Agra with Salim Chishti's tomb as its centerpiece. Constructed in the mid-16th century, Fatehpur Sikri was the short-lived capital of the Mughal Empire at the height of its glory. A scarcity of water led to the abandonment of the fortified city after just 10 years. Nearly five centuries later, Fatehpur Sikri is a World Heritage Site that testifies to the extravagance of the Mughals.

To enter their ancient world, you'll need to fend off an army of souvenir hawkers and rupee-seeking guides. Once past their persistent flanks, pass through red sandstone fortifications into an opulent complex that encompasses three palaces for each of Akbar's wives, one a Hindu, one a Muslim and one a Christian. The emperor's taste for diversity also is reflected in Fatehpur Sikri's masterful blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture—particularly evident in its most important building, the Jama Masjid. The white marble Indi-Islamic structure is one of India's largest mosques. Still in use today, it houses the tomb of Salim Chishti, the Sufi saint who predicted the birth of Akbar's heirs.

Accessible by car and bus, Fatehpur Sikri is on the main Agra-Jaipur road. A visit can be easily combined with a trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra.