Fatehpur Sikri, India

December 28, 2002

Weather: high of about 75ºF and hazy

From Bharatpur, we make the fairly short drive to Fatehpur Sikri. This is a ghost town (except for all the tourists and touts) but was once the capital of the Moghul emperor Akbar. It was built between 1569 and 1585 and is remarkably well preserved.

This is a corner of the Jami Masjid (or Dargah Mosque) containing memorials of the royal family. Ackbar was a great unifier of Muslim, Hindu, and Christian. The enscription over the entrance to this plaza is this passage from the Koran: "Said Jesus Son of Mary (peace be on him): The world is but a bridge - pass over without building houses on it. He who hopes for an hour hopes for eternity; the world is an hour - spend it in prayer for the rest is unseen."
Our guide told us that this white shrine is better than the Taj Mahal. We just have to trust him on that since we haven't seen the Taj yet. This shrine honors a holy man that prayed for Akbar to have a son, and he did, by his third wife.
This is the building Akbar used to hold religious discussions between Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jains, and Zoroastrians. Akbar hoped to synthesize India's religions, but the Muslims were offended by some of the discussions here and staged an uprising which Akbar then crushed.
This platform was once surrounded by rosewater and was the seat of court musicians. The courtyard was covered in Persian carpets, and oil lamps  hung around the walls. Akbar kept a harem of as many as five thousand women guarded by a legion of eunuchs. This point is of considerable interest to our tour guide.

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