Ghost town and bird sanctuaries where the rare Siberian crane flies, here is what you can admire in the surroundings of Agra, the pearl of India
Agra is the pearl of India and although it is known for one of the seven wonders of the modern world, do not stop at the Taj Mahal because you can admire many wonders in its surroundings.
About forty kilometers from Agra, for example, is the beautiful ghost town of Fatehpur Sikri , the capital of the Moghul empire during the reign of Akbar (1571-1585). The decision to build the city here is due to the emperor Akbar, who had met in the village of Sikri the Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti who had prophesied the birth of an heir to the throne. When the child was born, the sovereign decided to elect Sirki as the capital and here he will build a wonderful mosque (still used today) and a palace for each of his favorite wives, a Hindu, a Muslim and a Christian.
The city (renamed “City of Victory”) is an architectural masterpiece made in Indo-Islamic style, but the location proved to be unhappy because the area was subject to strong periods of drought and after the disappearance of Akbar was gradually abandoned.
Today, Fatehpur Sikri, declared Unesco heritage, can also be visited in one day, but if you do not wish to return to Agra, you will find comfortable hotels to immerse yourself in the exotic atmosphere of the picturesque bazaar in the village of Fatehpur. Moreover, it is at sunset, when the red sandstone walls are colored, that the city offers tourists the most impressive spectacle.
Do not miss the Jama Masjid mosque , a religious building dating back to 1571, made with characteristic elements of Persian and Indian architecture. Architectural gem of value is the great gateway to the mosque – at the height of a stone staircase – called Buland Darwaza (Victory Gate) and built to celebrate the military success of Akbar in Gujarat.
In the courtyard of the mosque there is another monument of great artistic value: the beautiful tomb of Shaikh Salim Chisti , all in white marble, built in 1581 and accessible via an ebony door. Inside you will find paintings on the walls with colorful flowers in bright colors and the vault decorated with mother-of-pearl motifs. Here, women who cannot have children go hopefully in the divine intervention and pray on the tomb of Akbar, the emperor who went there in the hope of having a son who is heir to the Mughal throne. Women as a vote tie a thread to the jali (perforated marble slabs among the most beautiful in India) of the tomb of the sovereign.
To the right of the tomb are the tombstones of some relatives of Shaik Salim Chisti and, nearby, access (closed by a sturdy gate) to a long tunnel that runs underground and which, according to some, would lead to Agra Fort. The mosque’s ventilation is guaranteed by three openings in the farthest wall and the sensation of fresh air can still be felt today.
A little further east of the tomb of Shaikh Salim Chisti is another unmissable monument to the surroundings of Agra. It is the tomb of Islam Khan, a beautiful mausoleum, built in red sandstone where lies Islam Khan, governor of Bengal and nephew of Shaikh Salim Chisti.
But it is not only the monuments that make the surroundings of Agra an unmissable destination and one of the most captivating tourist destinations in the world. Even nature is able to give unique wonders and 56 kilometers from the city is the bird sanctuary of Keoladeo in Bharatpur, one of the most interesting oasis of the world. Bharatpur also belong with royal family and now day destination connected with the India most luxurious train Palace on Wheels.
Inside there are almost four hundred different species of birds that enjoy almost thirty square kilometers of oasis and that include very rare birds such as, for example, the Siberian crane and many others who love to fly here from the central areas of Asia. Established as a protected sanctuary in 1971, the sanctuary was also declared to be UNESCO World Heritage.
In the city of Bharatpur also the fort Lohagarh, famous for having resisted many military attacks by the army of His British Majesty, deserves a visit . And only 32 kilometers away is the Deeg Palace, a mighty fortress, summer resort of the rulers of Bharatpur and characterized by many palaces and gardens.