We’re moving upstream against a river of humanity, as we drive eastward toward Agra. We’ve just left Rajasthan and entered Uttar Pradesh. On the other side of the road is a steady flow of Hindus, walking 200km or more on their pilgrimage into Rajasthan. On Monday there is a huge 9-day holy festival (Navratri, I believe), which we’re told will attract 100,000 pilgrims on foot and 100,000 more by train, plane, or car. Along the roadside, individuals and organizations have set up tents, chairs, water stations, and food, as a charitable service to the pilgrims. The people are cheerful, waving colorful red banners and chatting among themselves. A few children ride on bicycle carts, but most folks balance their few travel needs on their head.
Today began before dawn, so we could catch an early morning train from Ranthambore to Bharatpur; our driver picked us up there for the two-hour trip to Agra. Along the way we visited Fatehpur Sikri, the capital of the empire of India from 1571 until 1585 [location]. This impressive city, made almost entirely of red sandstone, was built by the Mughal emperor Akbar, son of Humayan (see blog entry about Delhi) and grandfather to Shah Jahan (who built the Red Fort in Delhi and the Taj Mahal, among other things). “Fatehpur Sikri is regarded as Emperor Akbar’s crowning architectural legacy” [Wikipedia]. Akbar, a Muslim like all the Mughal emperors, was remarkably cross-religious, marrying a Hindu princess from Amber (Jaipur, which we visited a few days ago) as well as Muslim queens. He is a fascinating and deep character, though; read his Wikipedia page for much more.
The patio of one courtyard embeds a huge game board, on which members of his harem were the ‘pieces’ that could be moved about the game board.
See photos of our journey and of Fatehpur Sikri.
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