40 kilometers west of Agra you find the fortified city and mosque built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in the late 1500s. The palace grounds are worth a spin through if you have the time. Architecturally it is similar to the Red Fort in Agra also built by Emperor Akbar. Of particular interest are the three palaces he built for each of his favorite wives, one Hindu, one Muslim and one Christian.
A visit to the mosque is a lesson in patience, persistence or whatever else gets you through the onslaught of scams. A constant barrage of helpful men dressed in rags claiming to be students or teachers wanting to practice their English and give you a tour of the grounds. They are more likely looking to get you into their cousin’s stone shop at the end of you visit. Then there are the hordes of well-spoken young boys that want your used tickets to make “calendars”. More probably they will re-sell them to unsuspecting tourists. My favorite, however, was the guy that asked our friend Terry to trade the watch he was wearing for a “gift” from the stone shop.
Whatever the hassle the mosque is worth a visit. Walking into the small white tomb in center of the mosque feels like you are entering another time and place. Believers tie red threads on the carved partition for luck. Scarves are laid out on what looks like a pedestal bed covered in silver sequins that fills the small room leaving only a narrow passageway around it.
Be sure to walk outside the Buland Darwaza (Victory Gate) for a view of this imposing structure that looms over the shabby town below.
Lunch at another tourist type place chosen by our driver. You’re not going to get a fabulous authentic meal at one of these establishments. But after our experience in Fatehpur Sakri we were just looking for a cold beer.
October 20, 2012
For links to all the posts in this series see the Northern India page.