Fatehpur Sikri is an abandoned city in Agra. The city was held as the capital of Mughal Empire during 16th century and was abandoned within a decade or two. Fatehpur Sikri means Victorious city. It was built as a symbol of Akbar’s victories during the period. Today, it stands as an interesting reminder of Mughal architecture. You can also find Jain temples inside the walled city, which indicates the growth of Jainism during Mughal reign.
During an archaeological survey in 2000, many antiques, statues and structures that are more than 1000 years old were evacuated. Many Jain statues were a part of the evacuation. Today, it stands as a heritage site and a reminder of ancient India’s architecture, culture and lifestyle.
The great emperor Akbar had no heir. He visited many places offering prayers and seeking blessings of saints. On one such endeavor he was blessed by a Sufi Saint Sheikh Salim Chishti in the village Sikri and the saint foretold that the emperor will be blessed with a son. After birth of his son the emperor showed his gratitude by building a city in the honor of the Sufi Saint and named it Fatehpur Sikri. "Fateh" in Persian language means "victory".
The city is about 37 km from Agra on the Sikri ridge 3 km in length and 1km wide surrounded by wall covering three sides and a lake on the fourth side. Akbar conceptualized to build the walled city which took around fifteen years to complete and includes royal palaces, private quarters, harems, different utility buildings, court and mosques. Tuhir Das, the architect of the city primarily used Indian principles which includes use of various regional schools of art and craftsmanship specially that of Bengal and Gujarat. Apart from Islamic elements, significance was given to Hindu and Jain architecture. Akbar shifted his capital from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri. Number of gates was built to approach the city namely Delhi Gate, Agra Gate, Lal Gate, Birbal's Gate, Gwalior Gate, Tehra Gate, Chandanpal Gate, Chor Gate and Ajmere Gate. After the death of the Sufi saint, Akbar erected a Tomb of the saint made of red Sandstone. It is this city that gave birth to the legends of the great Akbar and his famed courtiers known as "Navratnas" or the nine jewels.
Persian principles are highly reflected in the complex as Akbar wished to revive magnificence of Persian court ceremonial as was during the time of his famous ancestor Timur. Local abundance of red sandstone was fully utilized in constructing the structures and buildings. The royal palace complex consist series of individual pavilions that were beautifully arranged in geometric patterns inspired from Arabian and central Asian encampments and rests on a piece of level ground. The monuments and structures in Fatehpur Sikri remind one about artistic sense and the holistic approach of the great emperor. Influence of Indian embellishments is highly represented.
Due to shortage of water availability the palatial complex was abandoned by Akbar just after its completion in 1585. The presence of nearby Rajputana areas in the North West and the increasing turmoil also caused shifting of the emperor's base from Fatehpur Sikri to Lahore and thereafter again to Agra in 1598.