If the Red Fort is an architectural panorama, Akbar’s tomb at Sikandara is a single picture frame, in which may be seen something even more extraordinary – the refined aestheticism of his son, Jahangir. Sikandara is about 7 Kms from Agra city on the Agra-Mathura road. It later became the capital of the famous Sikandar dynasty under the powerful king, Sikandar Lodi. An Indian astrologer had prophesied for Akbar, the Great that he would live to be 120 years. Plans were hence laid by Akbar himself to build his cenotaph here in 1602 A.D. but, the astrologer’s prophecy was proved wrong, when the Emperor in 1605A.D. Later, Jahangir completed its construction. Thus, the conception and basic structure remains Akbari while the, embellishments were executed by his son in 1613 A.D. at the cost of 15 lakhs.
The main buildings are the entrance gate, the mausoleum and the Sheesh Mahal.
Set in extensive grounds, attention is immediately arrested by the Gateway to the walled ‘Charbagh’. It is made of red sandstone standing at height of 74 feet, having 4 minarets of white marble, each 85 feet in height from the roof on its four corners. Each minaret has 92 minarets to reach the top. The central apse (arch) rises above the aiwans (recesses) on either side, one above the other and is surmounted by two finely proportioned oblong ‘Chhatris’. The Jats took the tops of these ‘Chhatris’ away, when they occupied Agra in 1764 A.D. The upper-storey has a ‘Naubat Khana’. The roof has four copulas, which is surrounded by beautiful ‘Kangura’ work. The exteriors are profusely decorated with inlays of white marble.
As the visitor passes through the exceptionally striking entrance to the tomb, the conviction grows that its creator was none other than the Great Emperor buried within. The tomb’s main building is square-shaped having four-storeys and is 100-feet in height. The whole structure will be seen as complete, gives a resemblance of a kind of funerary counterpart to Akbar’s five-storied Panch Mahal in Fatehpur and a Buddhist Vihar. The cenotaph lies in the center. There is a marble pedestal on the top of the cenotaph where the famous great diamond ‘Kohinoor’ was placed. There is an inscription on the 2 faces of the marble cenotaph, at the head and the foot. The phrase is in praise of Allah. Adorned with 99 names of the Allah, they emphasize Akbar’s strong belief in the greatness of GOD, which all men could acknowledge.
Near the main gate of Akbar’s tomb towards southeast side is a beautiful building called ‘Sheesh Mahal’ or the ‘Palace of Mirrors’, built by Jahangir for his beloved consort, Noor Jahan.
Before the visitor leaves Sikandara, they must surely spare sometime to appreciate the irrigation systems in the garden. This garden covers an area of 150 acres. Animals like deer and ‘Langurs’ are also a rare sight.
Akbar’s tomb reflects a combination of the most remarkable cultural development of Mughal Era, with Akbar’s distinctive style and Jahangir’s noble edifice. Though all the glorious signs of the then Sikandara are no more now, except a beautiful Baradari, it holds a lot of tourist value even today.
Some more buildings, which find mention, though not very famous, are as below:
5. Mariam’s Tomb:
There is a wonderful building towards the west of Sikandara, named as Mariam’s Tomb or Mariam Zammani’s tomb. It was constructed in the memory of his mother, Mariam Zammani, a title bestowed on her by Akbar himself. Akbar’s secularism is well depicted by this monument. It is said that the emperor constructed it in the memory of his late Christian wife. Though this building is in ruins today, there is a Christian Mission School and Church in its vicinity.
6. Dayal Bagh or Radha Swami’s Samadhi:
Radha Swami, the popular religious sect of Northern India, the East and the West, today sees its followers visiting Dayal Bagh or Radha Swami Samadhi. This religion was founded by Swami Shiv Dayalji in 1861 A.D.
The main attraction of Dayal Bagh is the samadhi of ‘Sat Guru Maharaj’ in white marble with inlay work of semi-precious stones. It is a piece of artistic work on the pattern of the Taj, with floral designs in other colored stones. Those Radha Swami followers, who have not seen it, must definitely visit it whenever they are in Agra.
One can also find a fascinating European Cemetery, which is on the Dayal Bagh road, nearby the present Bhagwan Theatre.
Next, I continue to write about Fatehpur Sikri which would them complete my study on the famous city of AGRA.