“ City: Agra / Country: India / Region: Asia „
Sikandra is just outside Agra in Utter Pradesh and is the resting place of the Emperor Akbar. Akbar was one of the most successful of the Mogul emperors to have ruled India and was quite cultured in his tastes enjoying beautiful art and all things of beauty. He was interested in philosophy, literature and was a great debater. He was born in 1542 his father being the Emperor Humayun and when his father died he became Emperor at the young age of 13.
Akbar had a very successful reign and controlled most of Northern India. He was a good leader fair but firm. He died in 1605 and is buried in a massive garden mausoleum in the suburbs just over 10 Kilometres from Agra. The Tomb is just off the busy main road from Delhi to Agra and looks quite magnificent and spectacular in all its glory. Despite the road being a very busy major road, once inside the gardens it is surprisingly very peaceful.
The main entrance to Sikandra is via a massive imposing building that is essentially the gateway to the garden tomb to the south side of the Mausoleum. It is square in shape and has four white marble minarets on the top, one in each corner. There were four of these massive gateways on each side of the gardens but today the only entrance used is that through the south one. The building looks quite impressive and is made of Red Sandstone and marble with intricate inlaid designs in Marble.
The gardens are set out traditionally in four symmetrical areas that are known as Charbhag. These are divided by raised walkways with a channel dividing them where water trickles through and a lotus fountain is set in the centre of each walkway. Following each pathway leads you to the vast and magnificent tomb which is set in the centre of the gardens. On either side of the tomb are a massive square shaped mosque and guest accommodation which would have been used for visiting dignitories.
The gardens are a hive of activity with small deer, peacocks and monkey's all living in harmony with each another. The gardens are well maintained and very peaceful. The idea of the Charbhag is that it is supposed to resemble paradise with running water features, flowers, plants and trees. It is surrounded by quite a high wall on all sides.
Approaching the tomb via the pathway from the gateway it looks very imposing with 11 arches the centre one being the main entrance to the tomb it also and has five stories. Entering the tomb itself you are in a reception area which is very ornately designed with inlaid ivory, marble, gold and blue paintings. There are also intricately carved marble and red sandstone screens which help the air circulate keeping it nice and cool inside. There are small rooms on either side containing cenotaphs of close members of his family when they died and two of his daughters are buried here.
To reach the final resting place of Akbar you walk down a fairly darkened corridor and come into a massive high domed chamber with his cenotaph right in the middle of it. Once this massive chamber was encrusted with jewels but they are no longer present having been sadly looted over the years. An air shaft in the dome is very high up in the roof and leads out to the fifth floor area. The echo effects here are outstanding and the tomb curator will demonstrate the effect it leaves when he shouts out echoing around the chamber until it finally dissipates.
The upper levels of the tomb are smaller in height but are still very impressive to look at. There are four cupolas set on the roof at each corner built of red sandstone. It does look very ostentatious and remarkable. Inside the five archways either side are smaller chambers where members of his family are buried.
Would I recommend a visit here?
Absolutely and without hesitation. It is a magnificent structure and very befitting to one of India's greatest rulers. We practically had the whole place to ourselves as there were not that many visitors to the Mausoleum. It is not exactly off the tourist track but I guess most people head for the main attraction in Agra that being the Taj Mahal.
Opening times are between 6AM and 6PM.
Entrance fees to the garden tomb are 110 rupees (£1.40) for Foreigners and 10 rupees for Indians.