Highlights of India: Fatehpur Sikri

You may be aware that Uttar Pradesh is one of India’s most historic and exciting regions, the home of the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort. Uttar Pradesh offers culture vultures a vast treasure chest of history and architecture.

Fatehpur Sikri, India
Fatehpur Sikri, India

If you travel just 40km from the city of Agra you will reach the historical city of Fatehpur Sikri. Here a rich period of Mughal history comes alive through the ornate mix of marble and sandstone. So indulge your curiosity and step out of the buzz of Agra and into the provinces for a well worthwhile trip.

What to do

Like the Agra Fort, the city is a fortress containing a series of royal palaces, harem, courts, a mosque as well as other buildings.

The UNESCO World Heritage site briefly served as the capital of the Mughal Empire between 1571 and 1585 during the reign of Emperor Akbar, and there is so much to see inside this ancient citadel.

Panch Mahal
Panch Mahal

From the stunning Panch Mahal, a towering five-story building, consisting of a network of open archways, to the sprawling Jama Masjid mosque, Fatehpur Sikri needs to be explore to be believed.

The Panch Mahal operates as Fatehpur Sikri’s centrepiece and is a good starting point for those who just don’t know where to begin in this enchanting city.

The ornate sandstone structures creep round the outside of the ornate central square, at the centre of which is a wash of green and red as the perfectly manicured lawns entwine with the deep red sandstone pathways, which seem to lead you deep into a forgotten world.

For culture vultures

In one of the outer squares of the citadel, standing out like a beacon of white marble from the sea of red sandstone is the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti. The mausoleum is the final resting places of the Sufi saint that proclaimed that Emperor Akhbar would rear a son to succeed him.

The tomb sits in the centre of the crypt on a marble plinth about a metre off the ground. The intricate and ornate artwork that decorates the interior is testimony to the esteem that the Sheikh was held in by the Moghuls.

What to eat

Mortar & PestleCurry lovers will love Uttar Pradesh, one of Indian’s culinary hotspots. Dishes such as korma, samosas, chaat, pakora and raita are all popular in the region, but Uttar Pradesh is perhaps most well known for its kebabs. The Seekh Kabab is probably the most famous of all, and is well work a try. Minced lamb is mixed with spices and grilled on skewers in a Tandoor oven, finally served with a mint raita.

For those with a sweet tooth, jalebi, an Indian version of churros, is a very popular desert. It can be eaten as an after dinner treat, but is perhaps best reserved as a snack purchased from a street vendor.

Agra itself boasts a wide range of authentic Indian restaurants boasting traditional as well as more touristic dishes, so there is something for everyone.

What to drink

After a long day exploring you’ll probably want to take time to sit down, collect your thoughts and grab something to drink. If you are feeling adventurous why not try a sharbat or sherbet, a sweet drink made from fruit or flower petals that is served chilled, often in a near solid form, although water can be applied to help dilute it. Popular flavours include lemon, mango and orange.

Tea is still very popular throughout India with Darjeeling and Assam being the most popular strands. For those wishing for something stronger, India’s growing beer industry produces internationally recognised brands such as Kingfisher for you to sup on.

Moment you’ll never forget

Like the rest of Uttar Pradesh’s historical architecture, the city of Fatehpur Sikri is best viewed at sunset. The red sandstone palaces create a glowing ambience as the sun transforms into a dying orange ember, bouncing off the grand structures.

Everything appears a little more serene in the late afternoon glow, and as the shadows draw longer you can feel the sun setting of a fallen empire.

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