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Fatehpur Sikri

This magnificent fortified city was the capital of the Mughal Empire between 1571 and 1585 during the reign of Emperor Akbar. This city was abandoned shortly after Akbar's death due to water shortages.  The main palace compound and magnificent Jama Masjid are pieces of stunning Mughal architecture. The ruined city is visible as far as the eye can see across the surrounding country. Fatehpur Sikri lies along the top of the ridge 40 km west of Agra. Jama Masjid also known as Dargah Mosque contains elements of Persian and Hindu design and is said to be replica of mosque at Mecca. The main entrance is through the impressive 5 4m high Buland Darwaza or the Victory Gate built to commemorate Akbar's victory in Gujarat. In the northern part of the courtyard is the superb white marble dargarh or tomb of Shaikh Salim Chisti built in 1570. The carved marble lattice screens are finest in India. There is also tomb of Islam Khan the saint's grandson within the courtyard. The first building inside the gate is the Palace of Jodha Bai. The architecture is a blend of styles with Hindu columns and Muslim cupolas.

The Hawa Mahal is a room with walls made entirely of stone latticework to allow ladies of the court an unobtrusive view of the events. Close to the Palace of Jodha Bai the Palace of the Christian wife was used by Akbar's Christian wife Maryam. Birbal Bhavan is an elegant building blending Hindu and Mughal features and thought to have been built either by or for Raja Birbal.Panch Mahal is a five storey palace once used by the ladies of the court and had stone screens on the sides. Diwan-i-Khas was known as the Jewel House.
Agra is famous in the world over for its TAJ Mahal.

It has plain exterior but the interior is dominated by a magnificently carved stone column in the centre of the building. The pillars flares to create a flat topped plinth linked to the four-corners of the room by narrow stone bridges where Akbar used to initiate discussions with scholars of different faiths. Just inside the northeastern gates of the city is Diwan-i-Am a large open courtyard surrounded by cloisters. Pachisi courtyard is just next to it which is set out like a gigantic game board.

It is believed that Akbar used to play the game pachisi here with the slave girls as the pieces. The Karawan Sarai or caravanserai was a large courtyard surrounded by the rooms used by visiting merchants. The Hiran Minar or Deer Minaret which is outside the fort grounds is said to have been erected over the grave of Akbar's favorite elephant. Stone elephant tusks protrude from the 21 metre high tower from which Akbar is said to have shot a deer and other game driven in front of him. Ankh Michauli is a building where Akbar used to play hide and seek with ladies of the harem. However some historians say that either it was used as a treasury or for keeping records as it has some curious struts with stone carvings.