Sultanate Remains at Fathpur Sikri

In popular perception Fathpur Sikri was a wild jungle before Akbar. Reality check however tells us that the area was inhabited ever since pre-historic times. Painted Grey Ware (PGW) sherds and beads have been found besides the lake.

For Medieval period the first textual reference comes from Tārīkh-i Mubārakshāhi dating from the reign of Sultan Mubarak Shah (1421-34)

According to Sultanate sources by the end 12th Century the area was taken over from Sikarwar Rajputs. In 1196 AD it passed into the hands of Malik Bahauddin, governor of Muizzuddin bin Sām. The survival of structural remains prove the written sources.

At least seven structures – 6 mosques and a tomb – were erected at Sikri between the conquest of this region by Muizuddin bin Sām (c. 1200) and the Tughluq period. A gravestone near the Tomb of Salim Chishti is also dated 15 Ziqåda AH 719 / AD 1319….

The earliest Medieval structure at Fathpur Sikri is a mosque which was probably constructed in or around AH 512 / AD 1118.

Like the Qubbatul Islam and Arhai Din Ka Jhoñpra the prayer chamber of this mosque is raised with shafts of temple pillars. Requisite height is attained by placing two or three shafts one on top of the other. But unlike them, it lacks in an arched screen. The trabeate roof is of simple stone slabs while the mihrab is of white marble with Quranic verses inscribed in Kufic script. It was constructed probably soon after the first few years of continuous Muslim occupation of Sikri.

Carvings of fish and other animals can still be seen on these pillar shafts.

One of the Khalji period mosque, today known as Masjid-i Anbiya (Prophets Mosque) survives almost intact. Two or three other Khalji period mosques survive too. All these mosques testify to a sizeable town that Sikri was during the period.

• Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi