Out of all structures in Fatehpur Sikri, the most imposing building is undoubtedly Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque). Completed in 1571, Akbar’s impressive grand mosque houses the white marble tomb of Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chishti, and the spectacular 54m tall Buland Darwaza (Victory Gate). One of the biggest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid of Fatehpur Sikri features a series of chhatris, elevated dome shaped pavilions purely for decoration. We came just in time to make a brief visit at the mosque before sunset.
From the former royal palaces, we entered the mosque via the Shahi Darwaza (King’s Gate). At the gate, we took off our shoes and left them with the shoe keeper along with a small fee.
Beyond the Shahi Darwaza, we arrived at a huge open courtyard.
The gigantic Buland Darwaza (Victoria Gate) was built as a victory arch to commemorate Akbar’s conquest of Gujarat.
At 55m from the outside, the Buland Darwaza (Victoria Gate) is considered the tallest gate in the world.
At the back, the Buland Darwaza stepped down to a more human scale towards the main courtyard.
Opposite to Buland Darwaza stands the elegant white marble tomb of Shaikh Salim Chisti and the red sandstone assembly hall Jamat Khana.
The Tomb of Shaikh Salim Chisti is considered one of the finest example of Mughal architecture.
The marble cenotaph is popular with Islam worshipers. Shaikh Salim Chisti was a Sufi saint who blessed Emperor Akbar with his son before he was born.
Worshipers studied religious text at the outer corridor of the cenotaph. Photography was not allowed inside the cenotaph.
The tomb building is covered all four sides with beautiful lattice.
Showing the direction of Mecca, the central mihrab is covered by a dome.
We paid a brief visit to the interior of the main mosque building.
Splendid marble inlay in geometric patterns cover most of the interior walls.
The principal mihrab situates beneath the great dome of the mosque.
Worshipers gathered at the front porch of the assembly hall Jamat Khana.
There are a number of tombs in the courtyard.
As the sun set below the magnificent sandstone chhatris, it was time for us to return to the parking lot and finished our day’s journey to Agra.
At around 8pm, we finally arrived at Taj Ganj, the district immediately south of majestic Taj Mahal in Agra. After checking in at our simple guesthouse near the West Gate, we headed out for a quick bite. We would need to rest for the night and get up early the next day to line up for the sunrise entry into the Taj Mahal before 6am.
After settling ourselves from a terrifying incident with a stray dog near our hotel in early morning, we were ready to venture out again in Jodhpur for a few more hours before our hired car came pick us up to move on to Jaisalmer. Similar to our visit of Mehrangarh Fort the day before, our tuk tuk took us into the winding lanes north of Pal Haveli and climbed uphill until reaching a bronze equestrian statue of Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur in the 15th century. We soon reached our first destination of the day, the magnificent marble monument of Jaswant Thada. Built in 1899 by Maharaja Sardar Singh, the Jaswant Thada is a cenotaph for Maharaja Jaswant Singh II and the cremation ground for the Marwar royal family.
Standing adjacent to the Deity Pond in Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, Jaswant Thada is surrounded by the arid landscape of Jodhpur.
From the parking lot, we entered into a garden right by Deity Pond. A short flight of steps led us to the main garden terrace.
At the main garden terrace, the first thing we encountered was a beautiful gazebo.
As a delightful example of 19th century Rajasthani temple architecture, the Jaswant Thada is beautiful in many ways, from the finest ornaments to the overall architectural proportion. The row of chhatri (folly domes) on the roof signifies the wealth and status of the royal family.
The mausoleum presents the splendid marble carving, especially the jali work (lattice) of the Indian craftsmen.
Before entering the building, we took our time to examine the beautiful craftsmanship of the stonework and jali (lattice).
Visitors can enter the cenotaph through a side door.
No shoes are allowed in the cenotaph.
We were greatly attracted by the layers of marble carving.
The interior featured photos and illustrations of the Marwar rulers, and memorial altar for Maharaja Jaswant Singh II.
We loved the fine jali work (stone lattice), which looked like paper art made by laser cutting.
Natural light entered the building through the beautiful jali, providing a soft lighting effect for the interior.
Sunlight penetrated through the thin pieces of marble, creating an illumination effect on certain parts of the wall.
A vivid green is applied to the wooden doors and windows, creating a beautiful contrast to the colour palette of the architecture.
On our way back to the parking lot, we passed by a traditional musician once again.
We stopped for a few minutes to admire the Rajasthani folk music before heading back to the parking lot.
From the parking lot of Jaswant Thada, we had a final overview of the majestic Mehrangarh Fort.