Fatehpur Sikri - The Grand Mughal Folly - Part II

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Anup Talao Fatehpur Sikri
Anup Talao Fatehpur Sikri with Akbar's Bedroom in background

Fatehpur Sikri - The Grand Mughal Folly - Part II




After completing the tour of Jama Masjid complex we passed through Badshahi Gate to move towards the Palace complex. We had already purchased tickets online. There is no ticket for Jama Masjid complex, however, a ticket is charged for Palace complex. We hired an ASI guide also.

Jodha Bai's Palace

The first building that we encountered was Jodha Bai Ka Mahal or Jodha Bai's Palace. It is a popular belief that this Palace was built by Akbar for his Rajput wife Jodha Bai, who was a princess of Amer and Akbar married her as a diplomatic move to the side a section of fierce Rajputs with him. The palace has huge impressions of Rajput architecture. The Jharokhas and the arches resemble those found in Rajasthan. After crossing the main gate, there is a huge courtyard. In the centre and right in front of the main gate is the place for Tulsi plant. On both the right and left side are the summer and winter palaces. They are so designed to keep the palaces warm and cold in summer and winter respectively. The servants used to live on ground floor and the queen on first floor. The access to these have been barred. In the centre and opposite to the main gate is the place, which is once said to be the temple of Lord Krishna. Though some people contest this claim of it being a temple, however, the carvings of bells, swastika and holy urns point towards it being a temple. Opposite to the Jodha Bai's Palace is the Jodha Bai ki Rasoi or Jodha Bai's Kitchen.


Jodha Bai's Palace - outer view
Jodha Bai's Palace - outer view


Jodha Bai's Palace courtyard
Jodha Bai's Palace courtyard 
   Above is the picture of the courtyard of Jodha Bai's Palace. In the centre is the place for Tulsi and behind it is the Krishna temple. On the right and left sides are the summer and winter living palaces.


Living Palace of Jodha Bai
Summer Palace  of Jodha Bai


Krishna Temple at Jodha Bai's Palace.
Krishna Temple at Jodha Bai's Palace.




Sunehra Mahal


After Jodha Bai's Palace is the palace of Akbar's Catholic wife Mariam. Though this palace is much smaller than Jodha Bai's Palace, but the presence of very faded paintings on the wall indicate the presence of beautiful frescos done in gold on the walls of this palace and its grandeur. This palace was called Sunehra Mahal. Incidentally, Akbar was a diplomatic genius and to strengthen his relationships with other Kingdoms, he had three queens from different religions 1. Jodhabai a Hindu Rajput Queen 2. Mariam a Catholic and 3. Rauquyya Begum a Muslim.


Sunehra Mahal - Mariam's Palace
Sunehra Mahal - Mariam's Palace

Degenerated painting inside Mariam's Palace.
Degenerated painting inside Mariam's Palace.

                  Above is one of the paintings singing the glory of this palace in its hay days. In the picture, Akbar can be seen riding a horse.

Panch Mahal


Next to Mariam's Palace is a beautifully laid garden. On the far end was a building which once served as a women's hospital. Another beautiful building visible from here is Panch Mahal. This is a five-storied building with every next story being smaller than the previous one. It does not have any walls and is supported by 176 pillars. It is said that none of the two pillars is similar. This place was used by Akbar for entertainment with his wives. The entry to this building has also been closed.

Panch Mahal
Panch Mahal




Aankh Micholi Mahal


After crossing the garden, a small gate led us to another courtyard which had many important buildings. The first building was Aankh Micholi Mahal. One school of thought says that this was a building for entertainment and Akbar used to play hide and seek with his queens and other girls of the harem. Another school says that this was used to store Gold and silver coins and important documents. The walls of this building are hollow and have 24 coffers built into them. Whatever the use may be, the building has been built beautifully. There is small canopy outside this palace with Jain Mandir Toran styled arches on all its four sides nemed Astrologer's seat. It is said that this is the seat for Akbar's astrologer. Akbar took astrology very seriously and went to the astrologer for interpretation of his dreams, when he dreamt of something important.


Outer corridor of Aankh Micholi Mahal
Outer corridor of Aankh Micholi Mahal

A coffer inside the wall at Aankh Micholi Mahal
A coffer inside the wall at Aankh Micholi Mahal


Astrologer's seat in front of Aankh Micholi Mahal
Astrologer's seat in front of Aankh Micholi Mahal

Courtyard view for Astrologer's seat
Courtyard view from Astrologer's seat. Visible buildings are Madrasa, Anoop Talao Panch Mahal,  Ruqqayya's Palace and Akbar's Khwabgaah




Diwan E Khas


The next building is Diwan E Khaas. It is the place, where Akbar used to consult his cabinet of ministers. This building from the outside looks like a double story building, however inside it is a single story building and has a very interesting architecture. In the centre is a pillar and on the top of which was Akbar's seat. There are four vestibule like bridges connecting to the corridor running along the periphery of the building, where his navratans used to sit. Later on when Akbar started a new religion Din E Ilahi, which celebrated the amalgamation of all the religions. Then this place called to be known as Ibadatkhana. The central pillar has symbols of various religions carved on it. The building is an excellent specimen of art.


Diwan E Khas
Diwan E Khas

Diwan E Khas - inner view
Diwan E Khas - inner view. Central pillar with Akbar's seat atop and, four bridges are visible 


Central Pillar with carvings at Diwan E Khas
Central Pillar with carvings at Diwan E Khas



Diwan E Aam


Next in the courtyard is Diwan E Aam. It has a seat for the emperor set in a beautiful garden and here Akbar used to listen to the general public and deliver justice.


Diwan E Aam
Diwan E Aam


Next Building is the Palace of Ruqayya Begum or Turkish Sultana, the Muslim wife of Akbar. This is the smallest of the three palaces of Akbar's wives, but the most ornate ones. The walls and ceilings are exquisitely carved. The guide told us that the walls of the palace were studded with precious jewels and mirrors once upon a time. This acted as a palace of mirrors or Sheesh Mahal, where just by lighting one candle, the whole room used to get illuminated. Incidentally, Ruqayya Begum was the wife on which Akbar relied the most and turned to for advice or consultation.

Carvings inside Ruqayya Begum's Mahal
Carvings inside Ruqayya Begum's Mahal

Ornately carved outer wall and roof outside Ruqayya Begum's Palace
Ornately carved outer wall and roof outside Ruqayya Begum's Palace


Another view of highly carved pillars and outer walls of Ruqayya Begum's Palace
Another view of highly carved pillars and outer walls of Ruqayya Begum's Palace

intricately carved panels inside the Ruqayya Begums's Palace
intricately carved panels inside the Ruqayya Begums's Palace


The most impressive and beautiful place in the complex is Anoop Talao. It is a small square waterbody with four bridge-like walkways from all four sides and a seat in the centre. This is the place, where Tansen used to sit and perform for the royal audience and the other elite. There are a few interesting stories associated with this place. It is at this place only, where Tansen performed Rag Deepak. Some say that he sang this on the insistence of Akbar and this Raag generated so much of heat that he was able to light the candles. In this process, his body became very hot. Then his daughter was called and asked to sing Raag Megh Malhaar. She faltered on the seventh note and it is still known as Mian Ki Taan. Finally, she was able to get it right and summon the clouds to rain. This cooled Tansen's body. Another legend goes that Tansen Sang this Raag Deepak during his competition with Baiju Bawra and lighted the candles. It was Baiju Bawra, who sang Raag Megh Malhar to cause rain and save Tansen. Another legend says that he was engulfed in fire while singing Raag Deepak and died. Whatever the story may be, one thing is sure that this place is a witness to the performances of the legendary singers.

Anup Talao
Anup Talao with a view of Madrasa, Panch Mahal, Diwan E Khas, Diwan E aam and Ruqayya's Begum's Palace 

Anup Talao
Anup Talao with Akbar's Khwabgaah in background


In the centre of the courtyard is the Pachisi court. Pachisi is the name of an Indian board game of medieval times also known as Chaupar, it is also called Pachisi because Twenty Five ( known as pachhis ) is the highest score for which the dice can be rolled. This court is called Pachisi court because a large Chaupar is made on the floor of the courtyard. In the centre is a table on which the dice were rolled and Akbar used to play Chausar with girls of the harem as live pieces.



Pachisi court
Pachisi court


There is another building, which architecturally does not look that impressive, but is an important one, was a girl's Madrasa. This is where the girls of the harem studied.


The last building behind the Anup Talao was Akbar's bedroom or Khwabgaah. It was a huge complex, which had Akbar's library and bedroom. Akbar's bed was a stone bed raised at a height. The palace had the arrangement to keep it hat and cold. Wet silk curtains were draped and the servants used to fan from outside to make the room cool in summer. In winters, coals were burnt below the stone bed to keep it warm. Small chambers in the floor were filled with rose water to keep the palace smell good.

Akbar's Bed
Akbar's Bed

Akbar's Khwabgaah
Akbar's Khwabgaah the small moat chamber in the floor was filled with rosewater 


Another important building in the complex was Birbal's palace. The building is named a Birbal's Palace, but as per ASI, it is not sure that Birbal lived here. A long corridor opposite this palace is named as camel stable. It has small round stones with a hole in it, which seem to serve the purpose of tying the camel. However, a board by ASI suggests that these might be the quarters of the servants. And the stones were to tie the curtains to make separate enclosures for the servants.


Birbal's Palace
Birbal's Palace

Camel Stable
Camel Stable


Karvan Cavern
Karvan Cavern

Meena Bazar
Meena Bazar

Ruins of the buildings in Fathepur Sikri
Ruins of the buildings in Fatehpur Sikri



                             This ended our tour of Fatehpur Sikri. This tour gave us a glimpse into the life of the Mughal Emperors and Empresses.





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5 Comments

  1. awesome website blog keep it up the good work
    Jumma Mubarak

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  2. i have been two or three times here. it is my native place from my live place Agra. wonderful place ... Made by red stone Jodhabai mahal is awesome . Wonderful pictures.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for appreciation. Most of the tourists in this circuit visit Tajmahal only. Though very beautiful, but the history of Taj ends ina few lines. However the walls of Fatehpur Sikri have so many stories to tell.

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  3. I am new to this site and this is a wonderful post from you, Parveen. It must be amazing for the king and his royal family to live in such a lavish palace in bygone days. I really enjoy reading your travelogues, with historical background and your breath-taking pictures. They just add colour to your post and I look forward to following your travel adventure!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks a ton Dear Bauhinia. I also like to visit places, which tell stories either historical or mythological or legends.

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