Day 16, Ranthambhore to Agra
An early 5:15 am morning because of a 6:15 am pick up to the train station. The hotel was very accommodating, fixing us an early breakfast box to go. Fortunately our guide to Ranthambhore met us to shepherd us through a very confusing train station to the correct platform and carriage. Our car was 1st class (not kidding) as you can see below.
We had a 2.5 hour trip through the countryside. We munched on our breakfast and marveled at some early morning chatterboxes. Suzanne and I do well together in the mornings, without too much talk before coffee and tea.
Off the train in Bharatpur, Paramjeet was standing on the platform to greet us.
We are stopping here to Fatehpur Sikri, a beautiful, deserted city, built in 1571 by the third Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great.
Akbar was the first Mughal born in India and he felt himself to be Indian. The people also felt he was their Emperor rather than an invader like his forefathers. They gave him the title ‘the Great’. He instituted many changes for the good, such as banning Suttee, the practice of widow immolation. It took until 1988 for Suttee to start disappearing, due to criminalization of the practice. Akbar had 3 wives, a Hindu, a Muslim and a Portuguese Catholic wife. He felt there was one god and all his wives were able to practice their own religion. The three religions of his wives were incorporated into the architecture of Fatehpur Sikri. In the column below, there are church windows and doors towards the top of the photo, then Islamic arches, followed by lotus flowers of the Hindus.
Unable to father a son to continue his dynasty, Akbar was given a prophecy by a Sufi saint when he stopped to rest in this small village. The Sufi told him not to worry, he would have sons and within 2 years the Hindu wife had gave birth to a son. She ended up giving birth to 3 sons. Akbar moved the capital of India from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri to be near the Sufi saint with his wives. They resided there for 14 years, until the small lake that supplied water to the city dried up. At that point the royal court moved back to Agra. The emperor sat in the elevated dias of this room with his advisors on the balconies and the people below following the proceedings.
On to Agra to celebrate Suzanne’s birthday and get ready for the Taj Mahal tomorrow. Paramjeet took me to a wine shop for champagne, Mr. Deepak with Indo Asia Tours arranged cake, Paramjeet bought flowers and I took Suzanne for a Chinese dinner. Everyone in the hotel seemed to know it was her birthday, so birthday wishes were expressed by reception, housekeeping, waiters and Mr. Deepak himself. I think it was a success. Here is Suzanne’s birthday shrine.