Show me life.

Daily Prompt: Stranger in a Strange Land.
What’s your favorite part about visiting a new place — the food? The architecture? The people watching?


What draws me to a place is, life. My hometown is a three hours drive from Agra. Any time someone visits us, we often make a small trip to Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. While most people vouch for magnificence of Taj Mahal- a testimony to timeless love, for some reason I have always been more inclined towards Fatehpur Sikri- the Mughal capital during Akbar’s reign. From where I see it, Taj Mahal symbolizes death, tombs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan loomed by ubiquitous obscurity and a queer lull. A disturbing tale of Shah Jahan cutting the wrists of the craftsmen who brought the marvel to existence so that the splendid architecture never be reproduced, doesn’t befit my idea of a perfect tourist location.
Fatehpur Sikri is like a glimpse into Akbar’s life. The architectural splendor reflecting in the Buland Darwaza, Akbar’s homage to his lord standing upright in the from of Moin-ud-din Chisti’s Tomb, Jodhabai’s palace (well I don’t know if there was a Jodhabai or not, but it is every tourist guide’s delight to introduce one, to the kitchen in the palace where apparently she cooked vegetarian delicacies for the emperor or the acclaimed temple where she worshiped), the palatial Panch Mahal, the Pachisi Court where the courtiers gathered to play a game akin to Ludo and Birbal’s palace with large sunshade to which one is acquainted with witty tales of Akbar- Birbal. A striking feature of Fatehpur Sikri is the ingenious techniques for ventilation, water supply and to spread scented air into the library.
My fondness for Fatehpur Sikri can be largely attributed to the fact that life existed there once. It comforts me to know that these are not simply standalone architectures- people have led lives in these structures, formulated strategies, worshiped and often engaged in recreational activities. Where I stand today is perhaps the same spot where Tansen might have played for the courtiers or when I pray in the Dargah, I know that it is an allegory of Akbar’s unwavering faith in the Lord.

So for me, the thrill of visiting a place lies in familiarizing myself with the life that once breathed within the arches, minarets and domes.

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