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Damascus, Dimashq, Syria
May 3, 2005
From this central pillar, Akbar would hold discussions with leaders of various religions within his kingdom. The carvings around the base of the pillar are all symbols taken from Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jain, and Hindu beliefs. Set into the slabs of the courtyard outside this building is the outline of an enormous boardgame known as pachisi. Not unlike ludo, except that Akbar used slavegirls as the pieces for the game, which can't have been much fun for them, as some of the games lasted for months.
It is actually impossible to describe each building in detail, as all have their own merits and superb attention to detail, regardless of the architectural derivation. Even the functional buildings, such as the caravanserai and the mint have not been neglected in terms of craftsmanship. And this tradition of high-quality stonework continues today, as in many areas of the complex, local artisans were at work carving and restoring delicate lattice work or, when the boss wasn't looking, producing swift but skillful pieces of stone carved with elephants and peacocks at R10 for the tourists. Most visitors to Fatehpur Sikri usually stay for a day, but with so much to see then, another day would not be time wasted.
From journal Fatehpur Sikri
London, United Kingdom
November 30, 2001
The Hindu Queen’s palace is built around an open courtyard, some 30 by 20 feet big. It has the most intricate entrance, with a pathway that twists and turns so that the square in the centre can’t be seen from the outside. Our guide told us that the 4 corners of the building were inhabited by the Queen’s highest-ranking maidservants, so that whichever side of the building the Queen happened to be on she had a servant easily to hand.
The right hand-side of the courtyard is the Queen’s summer bedroom, with carved stone lattice walls and spaces in the floor, to create the maximum breeze possible. The left-hand side, more closed in with smaller windows, was the winter quarters. The head Queen also had her own passageway to the lake so that she could bathe in private.
The other two Queen’s palaces are nearby – but smaller and less elaborate. The Christian Queen’s building has some beautiful stone crosses carved discretely in the interior, and is a cool, relaxing place. The Muslim Queen’s building is the least interesting now, although the guide said that when she lived there, it was apparently very richly decorated with tapestries and carvings, that are no longer in the city.
From journal Fatehpur Sikri - the 16th century city