Akbar’s capital city and home in the 1500s. An incredibly well-preserved complex of structures created in the Mughal style of architecture.
A pretty far out place in rural India.
So many centuries-old monuments are dilapidated and crumbling representations of their formerly grand selves. Sadly, pillaging and the wearing effect of time get the best of most. This UNESCO World Heritage site looks like it was mothballed for our later enjoyment in the 21st century. India has done great job at making this place a must-see site today and for the next century to come.
Massive cloister-like open spaces, green grass, human-scale Parcheesi boards, huge wells and ponds, temples, individual homes for all three wives tailor-made to their backgrounds and tastes (Hindi, Muslim, and Portuguese); by golly, just look at the photographs!
I wandered the place with a large-scale roll of toilet paper in my pocket and pulled it out about every minute to allow air to pass through my faucet of a nose. And the sore attitude that usually comes with this sort of discomfort remained hidden until I left the old city. Outside of this complex at Fatehpur Sikri, it seemed people just wanted us there to shell out hundreds in the breeze. Buying these little trinkets for 300% more than they bought it; it seemed a front for the real transaction. Some people actually sidestepped the process of supply and demand altogether and simply asked for foreign money, claiming they collected it. I know this is part of understood Indian culture, but I refuse to like it.
It wouldn’t have been so bad if this occurred only on the outskirts of a tourist or special attraction and not amongst them. Upon entering the nearby mosque, people used any reason to demand pay, everything from postcards and jewelry to merely being cute or talking to you. I found it disappointing that even inside a venerable tomb, the high holy man tried guilting us into paying for glancing.
I am so sensitive and worried when it comes to being a part of someone’s intimate culture, almost to the point that I don’t like visiting these sorts of religious or locally special sights. But it’s part of an experience that most tours and travelers find legitimate, necessary, and acceptable. Why then are we sometimes treated as such outsiders and exploited in a place where people worship? Are we also exploiting them and their destinations for our own scrapbooks and memories? I really don’t know (…and would love some feedback on this). In the meantime, I’ll balls up and love what I’m seeing, because it is truly wonderful.