A 40km day trip by bus from Agra, Fatehpur Sikri was a short-lived late sixteenth century capital of the Mughal empire. It was built by Emperor Akbar on a site foretold to be the birthplace of his son.
What is visible today are a primarily the fortified city wall and a hill-top group of buildings including a palace, a caravanserai, audience halls and a huge mosque (one of the largest in India) that could accommodate 10,000 worshippers. These days the latter seems to be full of people aggressively trying to sell you cheap necklaces.
If you can escape the hawkers’ clutches long enough, you can admire a fabulous white marble tomb of a Sufi saint, Salim Chishti, in the centre of the courtyard, which is the object of a great deal of worshipful attention, including the leaving of offerings.
Fatehpur Sikri was completed in 1573 but abandoned only twelve years later when Akbar moved his capital to Lahore, to be nearer the action as he fought off marauding Afghan tribes. Despite its short life it was still impressive enough for an English traveller in 1585 to describe it as larger and more populous than London (which is hard to credit for such a recently built city, so I rather suspect hyperbole).
The palace included a number of enclosed areas for the women of the court, including a garden.Screened walkways and corridors connected these locations together and also allowed the women to access the Panch Mahal, a five storey building, now only pillars and floors (which diminish at each level), but once fitted with pierced stone screens. This was a pleasure palace for the Emperor and overlooks the main open area of the palace, allowing the women to view the goings on below and enjoy cool breezes.
Nearby, a small pavilion by a pond is gorgeously decorated all over with delicate stone carving. It is called the Turkish Sultana’s House, but is both too small and outside the female areas for that to have been the case.
A particularly interesting building is the Diwan-i-Khas, the Hall of Private Audience.
Inside it has a central pillar, supporting a circular platform at first floor level which is connected by a walkway to each corner of the building.
Sadly one building that no longer exists is the Hall of Worship, where Akbar would invite learned men from other religions to debate with Muslim scholars. His religious tolerance also included appointing court members of other religions. The palace includes the house of his favourite advisor (the Grand Vizier, such a marvellous title), Birbal, who was a Hindu.
For the Lego model, I went with the Diwan-i-Khas. Ideally it would be slightly wider or lower, but there’s only so much room for manoeuvre on proportions at this scale.