The Dead City

306 The Dead CityThere is one particular city in India which is often nicknamed as the “Dead City”. Fatehpur Sikri is situated somewhere between Agra and Jaipur. It is a ghost town and it looks like an abandoned place after a bomb explosion. Its buildings are in the colours of the desert at sunset, i.e. testaceous. But despite this, they are really very beautiful. There are three hypotheses explaining why Fatehpur Sikri was abandoned when it was the capital of the Mughal Empire in the period 1571-1585. So, what were the possible reasons? Plague could have caused the movement of the imperial capital back to Agra. On the other hand, the lack of water could have made the city’s residents leave the place. And last but not least, a reason could have been Prophet Salim Chishti’s death that lead to the migration of the residents.

Hmmm …What did I do? I started from the end. So, I will correct this and I will tell you a few things about the establishment of the city which is connected with one very interesting legend which goes like this.

Mughal Emperor Abu’l-Fath Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar, or better known as Akbar the Great, had three wives who belonged to Islam, Christianity and Hinduism, respectively. But he couldn’t get a son from any of them. Being in a deep sorrow, he left Agra and started wandering in India. Soon after that he met Prophet Salim Chishti who told him to go back to Agra and assured him he would have at least three sons very soon. One year later his Christian wife gave a birth to their first son and the other two wives “followed” her. Akbar was so grateful to the Prophet so he offered him to come to the palace and live there. Salim refused saying that the greatest gift he had, was his freedom. And do you know what happened? Akbar himself commissioned the establishment of a city near the Prophet’s village which he called Sikri. More than 100 buildings were erected only for 10 years. The Emperor moved his family and servants and settled down in the newly established settlement. Thus it became the capital of the Mughal Empire for plus minus 15 years.

No matter the city was abandoned, it still exists. Despite being nicknamed as the “Dead City”,  Fatehpur Sikri is an amazing place where tourists can enjoy various architectural styles (Islamic, Christian and Hindu) gathered at one and the same place. This diversity is due to Akbar’s open-mindedness. He was open to the various religions and points of view. A piece of proof for this is his habit of gathering representatives of different religions every Thursday who were always encouraged to express their views freely.


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