Spiritual abode at Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri has all three flavors- Rajsik, Tamsik and Satvik. I covered Rajsik (Royal) attributes of it in my first article, there were shades of Tamsik attributes in the second article; this last and final article is devoted to the Satvik flavor of Sikri.

Moving away from Lower Haramsara, we also moved out of the Royal complex. After removing our shoes we entered the Mosque complex through Shahi Darwaza; this was the same door which Akbar used to join the congregational prayers.

Tourists need to pay entrance fee for Royal and Public complex, but the Mosque complex is free. We passed through “Zenana Rauza”- tomb of royal family and then were shown a small tunnel and our guide claimed that tunnel was going till Agra & was used by Akbar in case of emergencies. As there was no official notice, that claim fell on deaf ears. In most of the forts and Palaces there are such claims, whose authenticity is difficult to prove.

The Mosque Complex is located on the highest point on the ridge of Fatehpur Sikri. Jami Masjid is the most conspicuous structure of this vast complex. It is also the largest structure in the complex and took around five years to build. This mosque is also known as Dargah mosque, as both the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti and the mosque are in same mosque complex.

The elegant superb white marble Dargah of Sheikh Salim Chisti is in the north side of the mosque complex. After having an eyeful of the vast cloistered courtyard of the Mosque Complex, we entered the Dargah wearing skull-caps provided at the entrance.

Courtyard of Mosque Complex

Courtyard of the Mosque Complex

The lattice screens in this tomb are among the most beautiful and intricate in the world with striking designs done on marble. The Dargah still attracts many childless women, who come here to pray for offspring, tying threads of hope on to the marble screens, just like Akbar who came to the saint praying for a son four centuries ago.

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Latticed Screens of the Mosque

The complex still resonates with the profound reverence to the Sufi Saint, before whom the mighty Mughals also bowed and prayed along with simple peasants. Sheikh Salimuddin Chisti belonged to the influential Chisti sect of Sufis. Sufism was introduced in India by the arrival of much revered saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti to Ajmer in tenth century. His charity and generosity won him many disciples among both Hindu and Muslim population, and they lovingly started to call him – Khwaja Gareeb Nawaz.

While crossing Ajmer, during my onward journies to Udaipur (my hometown) in train, I have heard people singing devotional songs praising Khwaja Gareebnawaj with such faith and fervor that it is difficult to take your eyes and ears away from their soulful recital.

Lexicographers believe that the word Sufi is derived from either of the two words – Safa (pure) or Suf (wool). A scholar has well summarized Sufism as the divine path or religious philosophy guided by mendicants with pure soul often wearing flowing woolen robes. The teachings of Sufism are based on knowledge imparted by Prophet Mohammed himself, as Ilm-i-Batin. It believes in seeking divine experience by absolute absorption in the contemplation of God, purging out evil traits of the character, making ones inner self as pure as possible. Sufism has strong emphasis on Guru-Shishya bond. It believes that true knowledge could be attained or experienced only in the company of a true teacher. The Guru directs his disciple to gain humbleness and tolerance by working for and helping weak and needy for many years.

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Latticed screen in the mosque

This tomb is raised at the site of saint’s meditation chamber, his khanqah. Earlier the saint had his khanqah near stone cutter’s mosque. When the construction of Jami Masjid was complete, he was persuaded by Akbar to shift here. The ceremonies of Sama, musical rendition honoring God and reaching peaks of musical ecstasy, were carried at the back of his khanqah, in what is today the Zenana Rauza. It is believed that on special occasions Akbar with his wives joined and listened to these samas.

The rays of the setting-sun wandering in from the lattice screen, eager to pay last obeisance to the revered saint, fragrance of the incense sticks and the tender red-threaded hope of many, were adding a mystic dimension to the whole atmosphere, well suited to Sufism.

Threads of Hope

Threads of Hope

The main approach (in addition to the Shahi Darwaja) to this complex is through 54 m high Buland Darwajah. The Mosque complex can be approached through this gate after climbing an impressive flight of steps. This gate was constructed to commemorate Akbar’s triumphant victory in Gujarat, where his expedition to quell dissidence met with unexpected immediate success. This is probably the only monument that reflects flamboyant style that was constructed during Akbar’s reign.

Buland Darwaja

Buland Darwaja

The rear facade of Buland Darwaja is adorned with domed kiosks. It was noted by Jahangir that on special occasions these kiosks were covered with colorful papers and the lamps were lit under them, giving dazzling view of the complex.

"Buland Darwaja"- viewed from Sheikh Salim Chisti's Tomb

“Buland Darwaja”- viewed from Sheikh Salim Chisti’s Tomb

It was time to return. For around 4 hours we were living in the bygone era – getting glimpses of Akbar’s life. We moved from the Royal complex to the Mosque complex and it was like moving from imperial grandeur to spiritual simplicity. The courtyard was live with devotees, tourists, vendors and guides. Even with so many people around us there was serenity, peace and a general feeling of joy and happiness. An effect that could be contributed to the prayers in the air, the setting sun that always leaves one in philosophical mood or maybe it was due to our satisfaction to see and enjoy this beautiful place. We slowed our pace, started to relax and left the place in tranquil mood.

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In this quietude state of mind, I would like to end this post with the beautiful and soul-stirring message inscribed in calligraphy on Buland Darwazah –
” The World is a Bridge, pass over it, but build no houses upon it. He who hopes for a day may hope for eternity; but the World endures but an hour. Spend it in prayer, for the rest is unseen.”

Series Navigation<< The Imperial Harem Complex, Fatehpur Sikri

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