Built in the 16th century (1571-1585) by the Mughal emperor Akbar, the Fatehpur Sikri complex was to be the imperial city of India's ruling dynasty. The buildings are a unique blend of different architectural traditions; while the general layout is Islamic, many of the pink and red sandstone structures (palaces, columns, arches, carvings, etc.) show a strong Hindu (particularly Gujarat and Rajasthan) influence. Buildings in Fatehpur Sikri include palaces for each of Akbar’s queens, halls for public and private audiences, gardens and courtyards, a five-story Hawa Mahal, or “pavilion of winds,” the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti, a 54-meter high triumphal archway (the Buland Darwaza, erected in 1602, the highest gateway in India and one of the largest in the world), and a mosque which is said to be a replica of the one in Mecca.
Fatehpur Sikri was occupied for less than twenty years before a shortage of water forced Akbar to relocate the Mughal capital to Lahore. The ruins now stand as a silent and eerily beautiful ghost town. Fatehpur Sikri is located 37 miles outside of Agra, and is often visited by tourists attracted to the area by the Taj Mahal. It is well worth the trip; deserted and yet still regal, the ornately carved and decorated structures stand as a reminder of the splendor of another age.
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