I remember reading about ‘Buland Darwaza’ in History text books from class VII or VIII. The mention of ‘Buland Darwaza’ almost always is clubbed with the description of ‘Fatehpur Sikri’ just like the witty stories of Birbal, that are incomplete without the mention of Mughal emperor Akbar. Both go together!
Fatehpur Sikri: a virtual tour
The first thing that you spot from the road is the mighty Buland Darwaza, standing tall & old, unable to stand guard for the city inside. Large bee hives hang from the ceilings of the gate & anyone can enter and leave the Buland Darwaza at any time. It’s an unticketed monument.
Mughal emperor Akbar stayed in Fatehpur Sikri for some time. You will find the palace of Birbal & queen Jodha nearby. Imagine the sounds of laughter that must have echoed within the walls of the city at the witty jokes and remarks of Birbal.
The city must have shone under the moonlight and sparkled under the Sun for Jodha loved Akbar dearly so much so that their stories are now made into features films & television series.
The architecture of Fatehpur Sikri is worth a mention for it’s a mixture of Persian, Hindu & Arabic influence. Under Akbar’s rule, all religions were accepted. People were free to follow any faith and visit shrines, temples, mosques or build a faith house of their own. In fact, Akbar synthesised a new religion based on the best principles of all – Din-i-ilahi.
The sounds that must have pierced the walls of the city are lost today. The insides are filled with people: guides, hawkers, astrologers and followers of Khwaja Salim Chishti.
All of them are there to ask – to ask for alms, to ask for forgiveness, to ask for money.
Step inside the ‘Buland Darwaza’ and you would see exemplary architecture all around you – all structures are domed and are decprated with beautiful balconies. The latticed structure of windows is welcoming – welcoming of one and all.
In the huge courtyard, you will find many localities selling knick-knacks. The city doesn’t have many sources of livelihood & thus they have to depend on the slim tourism that the place attracts.
In the middle of the courtyard, amongst the red sandstone, a white dot of love and purity beams, unaffected of the woes and sorrows around it. In fact, people come from all places of the world to ask for a wish, tie a knot in the lattice windows of the dargah (tomb) of Salim Chishti. Once their wish is realised, they come back and open one knot, symbolising, a completed wish.
Behind the tomb of Salim Chishti, there are many tombs and you have to tiptoe your way around them. Be very careful when you are following your guide inside the building.
If you don’t want to get any nightmares, don’t step on any of these.
I have heard different stories about this tunnel every time I have come here. Some guides claim that this tunnel runs to Lahore & thus closed now.
Look at these silent halls. Can you hear the music from centuries ago?
Outside the Buland Darwaza, you could enjoy the panoramic view of the city: the livestock, bullock carts, makeshift tea stalls and everything that’s not royal.
We met this kid outside the monument. He was selling some kind of bells for INR 10. This is his expression when we asked him whether he goes to school.
And his expression when we bought that bell from him.
Fatehpur Sikri was once a royal place that belonged to the great emperor Akbar, but it’s all dust and ruins today. It’s high time that ASI takes this place under their management and take some steps to restore the monument.