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Fatehpur Sikri

After breakfast, we left Agra at 9am and headed for Jaipur, which would be a 6 hour drive, including a couple stops along the way.

The first stop was Fatehpur Sikri, a World Heritage site. At this point it was just us and our driver but just outside Fatehpur, we picked up our guide for this monument. We spent over an hour walking the complex.

This magnificent fortified ancient city, 40km west of Agra, was the short-lived capital of the Mughal empire between 1572 and 1585, during the reign of Emperor Akbar. Earlier, Akbar had visited the village of Sikri to consult the Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chishti, who predicted the birth of an heir to the Mughal throne. When the prophecy came true, Akbar built his new capital here, including a stunning mosque, still in use today, and three palaces, one for each of his favourite wives – one a Hindu, one a Muslim and one a Christian (though Hindu villagers in Sikri dispute these claims).

The city was an Indo-Islamic masterpiece, but was erected in an area that supposedly suffered from water shortages and so was abandoned shortly after Akbar’s death. The red-sandstone palace walls are at their most atmospheric and photogenic near sunset.

This concrete/stone piece in the middle of the lawn above was where executions by elephant occurred. A criminal defendant would be put before the elephant in the minister’s feeding pen. The ensuing meting of justice went as follows: If the elephan disregarded the defendant and continued to eat, the defendant would go free. In the alternate scenario, the elephant would trample the defendant to death. The elephant was the judge, jury, and executioner!

The photo above is the emperor’s bed. It’s lifted about 8 feet in the air to keep him safe from murder attempts. It’s also elevated because this area was known to flooding at times. The platform the size of at least 2-3 king size beds.

Here’s a gallery of the complex:

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