Agra

Everybody goes for the Taj – Taj Mahal. It’s fine. It gives India the pride to hold one of the wonders of the world. But let’s talk something else here. Something that is not so glamorous but intricately serene and thought provoking.

Sikandara

Sikandara is a locality in Agra, bit away from city’s heart. But Sikandara is synonymous with Akbar’s Tomb. So when a local mentions the locality as Sikandara, they bring a definite respect in their talk.

Akbar’s tomb – designed by Akbar, started by Akbar – but finished by Jahangir. Now you can see some mismatches in the entire complex. As if something could have been placed batter somewhere else. The show of Akbar’s sense in architectural beauty and Jahangir’s not-up-to-the-mark wit on this matter.

Still, Sikandara provides peace of mind. It’s as usual set in the center of the Persian garden. A water canal leads you from entrance till the tomb complex. The entrance gate itself is a building. A similar gate provides the entrance to the actual tomb.

We felt like we can spend our life leaning on any wall here. Such a serene place. A lot of Agra tourists don’t find time to pay a visit here. That’s fortunate if you have any idea to go. It’s a lone place away from the city heat holding its owner in its womb. It has so much within itself that there is no need for any advertisement.

The startling beauty is the grave of Akbar. It has no decoration of whatsoever kind. A simple cool marble grave below the high domed ceilings. The final resting place of a mighty emperor of a great empire.

We can’t say whether Akbar himself wanted his grave to be such simple or Jahangir didn’t want to put mind into it, but the simplicity adds to the place’s beauty.

Again, the signature of Akbar style, his mausoleum is of red sand stone. It’s cool. His inclination towards things Indian made him creating constructions matching with India’s soothing natural landscape.

Agra Fort

Everybody goes here. We just comment here that there is a thumb rule to visit Agra fort. Anything you see here in red sand stone is built by Akbar. And anything you see here in marble is built by Shahjahan. There might be some other objects also which show “exception proves the rule”.

Go and see the room where Shahjahan locked himself up after the death of Mumtaj Mahal. People said when he came out after several days he was looking older and strangely – shorter.

 

This finally became the same room where he was house arrested by Aurangzeb till death. And this is the room from where he could see the Taj.

There are many sites to see inside the fort. Any travel guide will provide details on them. Make a plan to visit this place to feel the grandeur yourself.


Fatehpur Sikri

Akbar’s trial to set up the capital. But it did not work due to water crises. Buland Darwaza stands as the most prominent structure here. There are lot others in the complex.

Where in Fatehpur Sikri, it’s worth to have a look of the Hiran Minar. Sometimes it may not be allowed by the authorities to go neat the tower, but it is visible from other structures.

The specialty of this tower is its purpose. Akbar’s favorite battle elephant Hiran lies buried under the tower.

Hiran died a heroic death in battle for Akbar. It was pierced all over its body with arrows from enemy army. Akbar was riding it. Hiran was fatally injured, but denied to fall in the battle field. Instead it ran and reached the safe area of Fatehpur Sikri with the rider Akbar. Hiran died just when Akbar reached his safety.

Akbar’s tribute to Hiran is Hiran minar. If you see closely, the tower has protruding sticks all over its periphery. This depicts the arrow stuck Hiran at its last moments.

Fatehpur Sikri is about 30 km away from Agra towards Rajasthan. Interestingly Bharatpur is just another 30 km from Fatehpur Sikri.

Swatilekha Bhattacherjee

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