Friday, June 23, 2017

Akbar's Resting Place. Sikandra.

We kicked off the afternoon with a visit to Sikandra, the resting spot of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. I had also visited this site on my 2007 visit to Agra.  After visiting Fathepur Sikri yesterday afternoon and Agra Fort this morning and feeling like we had been shortchanged because parts of both sites were closed for renovations, I had low expectations for Sikandra.  In the end, it was exactly the opposite!  I actually saw more of Sikandra on this visit than in 2007 so I left very happy today!

After we paid our lunch bill, we headed back to the parking lot to meet back up with Dinesh.  Saeed had gone off to noon time prayer so we would pick him up on the way to Sikandra.

It wasn't a long ride to Sikandra.  When we got out of the car, I made Saeed pose for me.   I jokingly told him that he finally looked like a proper Muslim - dressed in his white abaya.  Of course, the orange sunglasses were a definite modern touch!  After I took this shot, I told him something was missing.

Out came the kufi and atop his head it went.  Now....he's truly looking like a proper Muslim....on this last Friday of Ramadan!

Saeed got our entry tickets and off we went. 

The parking lot is situated adjacent a path that cut through a lovely garden.  We were entering Sikandra from the south. 

I think I entered I must have entered the complex from a different direction last time because I don't remember this walk at all. In a way it's nice to not remember; I feel like I'm seeing the place for the very first time!

On the way, we passed the Lodi Tomb, an anonymous tomb because there is no historical record to identify the Prince or Noble who was buried here along with his consort. Though, stylistically, the tomb can be assigned to the reign of Ibrahim Lodi (1517-26 AD).

A few steps away from the Lodi Tomb is Kanch Mahal. Originally surrrounded by a garden, it was the harem quarter and was also used as the Royal Shikargah (hunting lodge) by the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir, the son of Akbar.

A short distance past Kanch Mahal and you turn left.  Walk a few more steps and this is the view you see - the first sight of the entrance gate to Sikandra.  Yes, this is just the entrance gate!

Jaw drop.  This facade is gorgeous beyond words.  And this is just the entrance gate!

What exquisite design!  The degree of workmanship is simply incomparable!

You really have to look up close to admire the work of the artisans.  There's white carved marble.  There's inlaid white marble and then there is inlaid red sandstone.  

Pretty much every inch of space is decorated.

Pass through the entrance gate and far off in the distance sits the building that houses Akbar's tomb - it's his mausoleum.  The path is criss crossed with shallow channels through which water flows.  Today, they along with the central pool, were dry.   On either side of the wide path are gardens.

I remember seeing deer here on my last visit and they were here today.  These are blackbuck deer, also known as Indian antelope (Antilope cervicapra).  I don't know how they got here or why you don't see them in any of the gardens in the other sites.

They do have very beautiful antlers.

When I reached what I thought was the middle distance between the entrance gate and the mausoleum, I positioned myself dead center and took photos of both buildings.  I still cannot get over the beauty of the gate.

Entrance gate.

The mausoleum

Although Akbar himself planned his tomb and selected a suitable site for it, it was his son Jahangir who actually constructed it.  It  took eight years to complete -  from 1605 to 1613.  I have to say, it's a very peaceful spot here for a mausoleum, surrounded by nature.  Much nicer than being buried at Fathepur Sikri.

There were barely any tourists here today and the ones that were took notice of us.  Again, there were requests for us to pose in photos and as often happens, requests for us to take photos of them....using our cameras.  I always wonder about why someone would ask you to do this.  Perhaps they think they'll look better if shot with a fancy camera??

I'm never too keen on taking photos like this.  Somehow, they just feel so posed and well, they are.  I  much prefer taking photos of people when they are just at ease and being themselves.  Oh well. I have done my tourist deed here.  Time to go inside.

One step inside and I flashed back to 2007. I remember this room like I had just been here yesterday.  It is a glorious as I remember it to be.  One big difference is that I took far more photos today than all those years ago!  I want to have a better record of my time here just in case I don't ever get to come back!

From the entry room, a door leads to a ramp that goes down to the floor below.

The ramp ends in a cavernous room that was devoid of any decoration except for a hanging lamp that hovered over Akbar's cenotaph.  Per Islamic tradition, his actual tomb sits below the cenotaph.

After viewing the cenotaph, we headed back outside.

Saeed led us around to the back of the mausoleum.

In the side garden, we spotted peacocks and heard someone shouting, "Arc, arc, arc". He sounded like a seal.

Chantale was curious so she found a way down the platform, through a thicket of bushes and followed the voice.  As he shouted, "Arc, arc, arc", Chantale repeated his call, simply mimicking him.  She really didn't have a clue what she was shouting out.  She just wanted to get a better shot of the peacock!  Later, we found out from Saeed that the man was just imitating the call of a peacock, presumably trying to lure one to come closer to Chantale.

Making her way through the bushes and trying to get back up on the platform.  Only Chantale :-)

We continued our walk around the back of the mausoleum.  I let Saeed walk ahead just so I could take his photo from behind.  The arches provide such a lovely frame.

Once we completed our full circle, it was time to leave.  Back to that magnificent entrance gate.  I had to pause to take one last photo before passing through. places I've not visited.