I have visited quite a few old monuments in India but never have I been so disappointed with any of them as I was with this particular site. And when I say disappointed I do not say it because of the architecture but because of the way it is maintained. When we went to Agra last Sunday, we decided to check out Fatehpur Sikri too as it was some 20 or so kilometers away.
The first leg of the journey wasn’t bad. We enjoyed the ride as it stared pouring midway. But as we neared Fatehpur, the rains stopped and gradually everything started going downhill from there. Even before we had entered the city we were stopped by random men waving badges. We thought it was official by the way they flagged us down from the street. But as soon as the conversation started we realized they were guides trying to make money out of us. The thing was giving Rs 100/- wasn’t an issue, but the constant pestering was. The first one we fended off. Then after a few more minutes another turned up. We turned him down too. Just as we reached the Buland Darwaza, a guy on a motorbike, kept honking at us while following us for at least 5 minutes. Again thinking it might be important, we stopped. Our mistake.
He started off with “I am not a guide sirji. I am a representative of the Dargah. I am here to help you. I will show you around and get you entry without any tickets. No one will pester you. All you have to do is pay me Rs. 100/-”
Our first thought was, if he’s going to show us around and get us entry and charge money for that, doesn’t that make him a guide? What nonsense are we dealing with here? We told him we don’t need one, but he kept at it. Finally one of us had to talk to him rudely to make him leave. He looked at us as if we were making such a big mistake!
At the parking which was 1 km away from the monument, like other ones we had visited, we were stopped by another guide. All of us were starting to get annoyed. We ignored them and started looking for ricks to take us to the actual spot. There we encountered a child not more than 10yrs who wanted to be our guide. He was funny so we humored him.
The rickshaw driver told us we had to pay Rs.30 per person. We agreed on the one way ride and got in. When we reached the dargah the rickshaw guy told us to take his phone number, so that we would call him when we wanted to return. We told him we intended to walk back and not take a rickshaw. That adamant guy started arguing that we have to go by his rick otherwise he won’t take the money. Angrier now we slapped the money on his hand and left without looking back.
From outside, the moment looked nice enough. But on entering it we got to see the real picture. Even though we were not allowed to wear shoes inside, like we did in the Taj Mahal, interestingly we could take food inside. Weird. It was a market-place inside the monument and the premises was dirty with food littering the ground. By this time we were thoroughly uninterested in the monument, but since we had made the trip, we decided to take a cursory look. The place was shabby to say the least.
The Dargah premises is basically a graveyard. We walked around a little and decided it wasn’t worth the trip. This place with its history and architecture could have been so beautiful yet it wasn’t. We left Fatehpur-Sikri sooner than we had planned.
Reading about it in the text-books I had imagined it to be somehow better. But my image of the place was shattered when I was forced to see the truth for myself. We did not even feel like taking picture there. I wouldn’t advice people to expect much from Fatehpur-Sikri Dargah. I know it has it’s fair share of history but be prepared to be attacked by guides who will end up ruining your mood.
Hope this helps.
Lots of Love.