Fatehpur Sikri, Agra: History, Architecture, Places, Details

In the heart of northern India, nestled near the iconic city of Agra, lies an architectural gem that whispers tales of Mughal grandeur and imperial vision. It is known as Fatehpur Sikri, a city frozen in time, where the echoes of royal courts and the brilliance of Mughal architecture create an enchanting tapestry of history. 

In this blog post, let’s go on a virtual journey through the red sandstone corridors and marble wonders of Fatehpur Sikri, unraveling the stories behind each intricately carved pillar and magnificent gate.

About Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri, located near Agra in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is a historical city that served as the short-lived capital of the Mughal Empire during the late 16th century. 

Commissioned by Emperor Akbar in 1569, the city was built to honor Sufi saint Sheikh Salim Chishti, who was believed to have blessed Akbar with a male heir. The construction of Fatehpur Sikri spanned from 1569 to 1585, and the city boasted a unique blend of Mughal, Persian, and Indian architectural styles.

The city’s architectural marvels include the Buland Darwaza, a grand gateway marking Akbar’s military victories, the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India, and the Diwan-i-Khas, a hall of private audience adorned with intricate carvings. 

Fatehpur Sikri also features the palatial complex where Akbar’s wives and courtiers resided, including structures like the Panch Mahal and Mariam-uz-Zamani’s Palace.

Despite its grandeur, Fatehpur Sikri was abandoned after only a few years due to water shortages and other logistical issues. Today, it stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting tourists and history enthusiasts from around the world who come to marvel at its well-preserved architecture and learn about its brief but significant role in Mughal history.

History of Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri has a fascinating history that dates back to the Mughal era:

Foundation by Akbar (1569-1571)

Emperor Akbar, the third ruler of the Mughal Empire, decided to establish a new capital in 1569.

The city was strategically located near Sikri, where he had won a decisive victory over Rana Sanga, and also close to the dargah (tomb) of Sheikh Salim Chishti, a Sufi saint.

Construction and Architectural Marvels (1571-1585)

Fatehpur Sikri witnessed an unparalleled construction boom during this period, showcasing the architectural brilliance of the Mughal Empire.

Prominent structures include the Buland Darwaza (Victory Gate), a symbol of triumph; the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India; and the Diwan-i-Khas, a hall of private audience adorned with intricate carvings.

Abandonment (1585)

Despite its grandeur, Fatehpur Sikri was abandoned after only about 14 years due to water shortages in the region.

The reasons for abandonment also include the strategic importance of the nearby Lahore, which Akbar decided to make the new capital.

Legacy and UNESCO World Heritage Site (19th Century – Present)

In the 19th century, Fatehpur Sikri gained recognition as a historical and architectural treasure.

It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, acknowledging its cultural significance and the well-preserved remnants of Mughal architecture.

Cultural Significance

Fatehpur Sikri is not only a testament to the architectural genius of the Mughals but also reflects the religious tolerance promoted by Akbar. The city’s architecture incorporates elements of Hindu, Persian, and Central Asian styles.

Today, Fatehpur Sikri stands as a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors with its historical charm, architectural splendor, and the tales of Akbar’s grand vision for his capital. The site continues to be a living testimony to a bygone era of Mughal grandeur and cultural synthesis.

Places to Visit in Fatehpur Sikri

Buland Darwaza

The Buland Darwaza, or the “Gate of Magnificence,” is one of the most iconic structures in Fatehpur Sikri. It stands as a grand entrance to the city and is a remarkable example of Mughal architecture. 

The Buland Darwaza was built by Emperor Akbar in 1575 to commemorate his victory over Gujarat.

It was constructed with red sandstone and white marble, showcasing a perfect blend of Persian and Indian architectural styles.

The Buland Darwaza is known for its colossal size and imposing structure. It stands at a height of 54 meters (176 feet) above the ground.

The facade of the gateway is adorned with intricate carvings, including verses from the Quran and Persian inscriptions praising Akbar’s conquests.

Jama Masjid

The Jama Masjid in Fatehpur Sikri is one of the largest and most impressive mosques in India.

The Jama Masjid was commissioned by Emperor Akbar and built between 1571 and 1572.

It was constructed to serve as the main congregational mosque for the residents of Fatehpur Sikri.

The mosque exhibits a blend of Persian, Central Asian, and Indian architectural styles, reflecting the syncretic approach favored by Akbar.

The mosque is built with red sandstone and is adorned with white marble, showcasing intricate carvings and geometric patterns.

The Buland Darwaza, the grand entrance to Fatehpur Sikri, is located on the southern side of the Jama Masjid.


The Diwan-i-Khas, or the Hall of Private Audience, is a distinctive structure within the Fatehpur Sikri complex. The Diwan-i-Khas served as a private audience hall where Emperor Akbar would meet select dignitaries, ministers, and important guests.

Unlike the Diwan-i-Aam (Hall of Public Audience), which was open to the general public, the Diwan-i-Khas was reserved for more intimate and confidential discussions.

The hall is a single-storey building constructed with red sandstone and features a square plan.

The structure is known for its stunning central pillar, which supports a circular platform that was likely used for Akbar’s throne.

The walls of the Diwan-i-Khas are adorned with Persian inscriptions, some of which are verses praising Akbar and his policies of religious tolerance.

These inscriptions highlight Akbar’s interest in fostering a sense of unity among his diverse subjects.

Anup Talao

Anup Talao is a beautiful water tank located within the Fatehpur Sikri complex. It served both functional and aesthetic purposes in the Mughal era.

It was a significant water reservoir, providing water for various buildings and structures within the complex.

The platform in the center of the tank was used for musical performances and other cultural activities.

  • The tank is a square-shaped reservoir built with red sandstone.
  • It has four bridges leading to a central platform, creating a symmetrical and visually appealing design.
  • The central platform is connected to each corner of the tank by a walkway, allowing access from all sides.

Panch Mahal

The Panch Mahal, meaning “Five Palaces,” is a unique and architectural marvel within the Fatehpur Sikri complex.

The Panch Mahal was primarily a recreational and entertainment structure rather than a residential one.

It is believed to have been a place where the royal ladies, especially those belonging to Akbar’s harem, could relax and enjoy the surroundings.

  • The Panch Mahal is a five-story structure with an open pavilion on each level.
  • The building has a pyramidal or tiered structure, with the number of columns decreasing as one ascends, creating a sense of lightness and elegance.
  • The ground floor has 84 columns, followed by 56 columns on the second floor, 20 on the third, 12 on the fourth, and finally, four columns on the fifth floor.
  • The columns are delicately carved and support chhatris (domed pavilions) on top.

How to Reach Fatehpur Sikri?

By Air:

The nearest airport is the Agra Airport (Kheria), approximately 40 kilometers away.

Visitors can also use the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, which is about 200 kilometers away, and then proceed by road or train.

By Train:

Fatehpur Sikri has its own railway station, Fatehpur Sikri Railway Station, which is well-connected to major cities.

Agra Cantt Railway Station is another major railway station nearby, and visitors can take a short train or bus ride to reach Fatehpur Sikri.

By Road:

Fatehpur Sikri is well-connected by road. State buses, private buses, and taxis are available from Agra and other nearby cities.

The site is accessible by car, and parking facilities are available for visitors.

Tips for Visitors

  • Comfortable Attire: Wear comfortable clothing and footwear suitable for walking, as exploring the vast complex may involve a fair amount of walking.
  • Sun Protection: Carry sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, especially during the warmer months, as Fatehpur Sikri can get quite hot.
  • Hydration: Stay hydrated by carrying a water bottle, especially during the visit, as there might not be many water facilities within the complex.
  • Photography: Check the photography policies at the site. Some areas may have restrictions, and it’s important to respect these rules.
  • Respectful Behavior: Follow the rules and regulations of the site and maintain a respectful demeanor, especially in places of worship within the complex.
  • Local Cuisine: Explore local eateries for a taste of the regional cuisine. Agra is known for its delicious street food and traditional dishes.
  • Weather Considerations: Check the weather forecast before visiting, as it can impact the overall experience. Carry an umbrella or raincoat during the monsoon season.


As we bid adieu to the architectural marvels of Fatehpur Sikri, it’s not merely a farewell to a historical site but a continued appreciation for the rich tapestry of India’s past. Fatehpur Sikri’s grandeur, cultural synthesis, and the visionary spirit of Emperor Akbar echo through the ages. 

Our journey through its palaces, gates, and courtyards unveils the legacy of a remarkable era. May the red sandstone structures and white marble wonders stand as enduring witnesses to the Mughal Empire’s brilliance, inviting future generations to tread the same paths and marvel at the timeless beauty etched in every stone of this extraordinary city.


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