Fatehpur Sikri - February 11th 2017

Salim Chishti stepped out of his shelter. A claim was coming from the streets. The Emperor was coming. The capital of the Mughal empire, Agra, was 40 kilometers away from Sikri but the emperor Akbar would travel regularly there. After all these years he was afraid he didn’t have any heir. So he was always willing to receive the benedictions from the Sufi saint, Salim Chishti.

That time when the emperor came to him, Salim saw the birth of a son for the Mughal throne.

The prophecy proved even more true: Akbar had three sons. To thank the saint and celebrate the renewal of his power, Akbar established in 1572 a new capital in the small city of Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri was born. He built magnificent buildings made of red stones: a stunning mosque guarded by an impressive gate and beautiful palace complex with fine sculptures. Especially, there was a palace for three of his wives: one a Hindu, one a Muslim and one a Christian.
But the stunning city did not last long. It was abandoned in 1585 in favour of Lahore, currently in Pakistan.

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The impressive Gate
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The Elephant Tower, studded with stone elephant tusks

We were impressed how the ancient city was well conserved. It is clearly a masterpiece of Mughal architecture. However the people managing the place must not have inherited the magnificence of the emperor Akbar but rather the scam manners of a mafia…

It was already 30 minutes after we bought our tickets and we realized we could not remember the man at the booth had handled us our change back. We rushed all the way back until the entrance of the site and the ticket officer quickly gave us 1000 Rp (about 10 €), no question asked. We could see he knew he did not give it at first place. But it was not finished. At the exit of the site, we were approached by loads of little children. They told us they wanted to keep our entry ticket as a souvenir. “Why you are not at school?” Alex said. The children run away. Three teenagers even asked us to buy our tickets. So people including children get the used tickets at the exit from tourists and must sell them back to the ticket office… And indeed our own tickets were dated a few months back instead of today’s date.

So now you know the money you pay for this visit does not go to some restoration work but in some officers’ pockets. I don’t know what tourists can do to stop it except keeping their ticket. But don’t worry, this does not alter the fact that Fatehpur Sikri is a magnificent place to visit!

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