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March 26, 2020 / catherinebwrites


We left Agra for Jaipur. Fields of yellow flowers lined the roads. A relief from grey suburbs and ugly grey factories.

“Mustard flower” Deepak tells us.

Deepak is our driver and he’s turning out to be a mine of information. The sun is shining and that too is a relief from the fog and the smog. After several miles we drive into a car park, are assigned a guide and herded onto a bus. There’s another fort to visit.

Do I really want to see another fort?

On the way in we are assailed by men and boys selling beads and bangles, postcards and key rings. They are hard to shake off.

“My sister she make this.” they say “I sell for my sister. I buy food for family”

“Just ignore them.” says the guide.

“No thank you.” I say, steadfastly not looking at either the man or his goods. In India, the merest glance makes every seller assume that you want to buy.

“Please, M’am,” says one guy, “you look my face and tell me.”

It’s the least I can do, human to human. I look him straight in the eye.

“No thank you.”

He moves on to sombody else. Oh God I feel guilty.

This fort seems even grander than the others we’ve seen but, maybe that’s because it was founded by Akbar the Great. Akbar was the Emperor who, in the late 1500’s, through sensible rule, diplomacy and encouraging trade, extended the Moghul Empire to cover almost all of the land north of the Godavari river. He made Fatepur Sikri his capital city. Akbar with his cavalry

It has all the usual courtyards, mosques, meeting halls, private and public audience halls, wives’ quarters and also the white marble tomb of the Sufi saint, Salim Chisti. You have to take off your shoes to go in and cover your head. Inside there’s the tomb itself and you walk around it to see the fabulous lattice work window screens. Each one is carved in a different pattern. Then somebody asks you for a donation.

Tomb of Sufi saint, Salim Chisti
5308 Fatepur Sikri, India
Laticework in the tomb of the Sufi Saint

The Emperor went to the Saint to ask for a son and heir. The Saint gave his blessing and afterwards Akbar had three sons.

Here we are in one of the rooms

Back in the main part of the fort, one of the courtyards is marked out for a game, our guide said it was a version of Chess, but I heard another guide say it was a version of Ludo. In the center there is a stone dais where the players sat. Servants, dressed in the relevant costumes, acted as board pieces, and stood in place until told where to move by the players .

Here we are without any servants to play with!

Another courtyard called Anup Talao, was devoted to entertainments. There’s a place for the emperor and his guests to sit, a place for officials and windows above where the Emperor’s wives and ladies of the court could watch the entertainments without being seen by the men.

Anup Talao

Musicians sat in the middle and, to ensure that the sound carried to the dancers, entertainers and all of the audience, they poured oil on the water and the sound reflected off this.

We left imagining the wonders and the splendour of the Moghul courts, amazed by their technical know how. Then we came across these lovely pigs.

And somehow the pigs, rootling around in the mud, brought us right down to earth once again.


Leave a Comment
  1. Cherryl / Apr 4 2020 4:14 pm

    Gosh, the keyring and purse sellers were the worst lol – I’ve never experienced such extreme persistence 😜


  2. catherinebwrites / Apr 5 2020 10:48 am

    Yeah, I had to keep reminding myself that these were very poor people just trying to feed their families… it’s easy to forget how easy our lives are in comparison… even with Covid 19!


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