Jewels of Northern India Tour 2014
February 19th - March 3rd, 2014



Fatehpur Sikri, a city built in red sandstone by Emperor Akbar to commemorate the birth of his son.

Perched a top a rocky ridge 37 km west of Agra, Fatehpur Sikri came into being four centuries ago when the Emperor Akbar, not yet 28 years old, created the first planned city in Indo-Islamic style. The city was actualized with great energy, but was completely abandoned a little more than a decade later. A shortage of water is believed to be the reason. Today it is a ghost city, its architecture is in a perfect state of preservation, and wandering through the palaces it is easy to imagine that this was once a royal residence and a dynamic cultural centre. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In 1568, Akbar was secure and powerful but he had no son and heir. His search for blessing for the birth of a successor brought him to the Sufi mystic Shaikh Salim Chisti, who lived in Sikri village. The saint prophesied the birth of three sons and soon after was born Prince Salim, later to become Emperor Jehangir. In gratitude for the blessing Akbar decided to create imperial residences in Sikri, which would function as a joint capital with Agra. As a mark of his faith and his recent victories, he named his new city Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar was a keen builder and the plan of Fatehpur Sikri reveals an architectural mastermind at work. Research has proved that it was planned on a definite mathematical grid.

The siting of the Jama Masjid marked the actual beginning of the city, which came up around it. The palace courts were laid out parallel to the cardinally aligned mosque and the sequential order of the palaces were emphasized by changes in level. The most public space was at the lowest level, while the royal harem was at the highest. The Jama Masjid of Delhi, is the principal mosque of Old Delhi in India. Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal, and completed in the year 1656 AD, it is one of the largest and best-known mosques in India. It houses a copy of the Qur'an written on deer skin.

We will arrive at the hotel, check in, have lunch and relax for a while before our visit to one of the finest bird parks in the world, the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (Keoladeo Ghana National Park). It is a reserve that offers both flora and fauna species as well as birds. We will have with us a Professional Naturalist. It is also a major tourist centre with scores of ornithologists arriving here in the hibernal season. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971. It is also a declared World Heritage Site. We should be there during the migration season.

Laxmi Vilas Palace at Bharatpur. Set amidst sprawling 50 acres, and surrounded by undulating, yellow mustard fields, the Laxmi Vilas Palace is an eclectic and lively fusion of Rajput and Mughal architecture. Laxmi Vilas Palace was built in 1887 for Raja Raghunath Singh, the younger brother of the then ruler of Bharatpur, Maharaja Ram Singh.

In 1994 their family home was converted into a hotel. Here at Laxmi Vilas Palace you may relive the history of Bharatpur, feel the warm hospitality extended to you by their present generation living in the Palace. The Inner Courtyard and garden makes a peaceful and serine Summer's evening memorable and delightful. Swimming Pool and Jacuzzi. There is also a museum in the central wing with a few exhibits dating to the 2nd century AD.


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