Shaikh Salim Chisti (1418-1572) was one of the famous Sufi saints of the Chishti Order in India. Salim Chisti was the descendant of the famous Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti whose tomb is in Ajmer, Rajasthan. One of the most significant of Sufi shrine, the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti is one of the finest and famous examples of marble work masterpieces in India. It is situated in the north half of the great courtyard of the 'Jami Masjid' (Royal Mosque) in the city of 'Fathehpur Sikri' in Agra. The tomb was built where the renowned Sufi mystic Sheikh Salim Chisti had his hermitage and had sat in meditation during his lifetime. The shrine was built in 1570.
Fathehpur city was founded in Sikri village, 40km from Agra by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in honour of the Saint Sheikh Salim Chishti. Emperor Akbar came to Sikri in search of the saint to ask his blessing for a son when all else had failed. The Sufi saint who was Emperor Akbar's advisor and teacher predicted that the king would have three sons. The prediction came true, and Akbar's son Jahangir was named as Salim after the saint, and raised by the Sufi holy man. The saint passed away in 1571. To perpetuate the memory of the saint, Akbar constructed a charming mosque in the midst of Sikri complex with its palaces, courts, baths and gardens. The white marble mausoleum of Sheikh Salim Chishti with its unusual carvings, has an ethereal quality about it.
The Tomb and Architecture
The entrance has four thin pillars with unusual Gujarati style serpentine struts that curve upwards to the roof which are highly decorative. These brackets are filled with marble inlay work ( jali), containing minute geometrical and foral desings with a moulded pendant at lower end and a half chakra at upper end. Around the arched entrance are inscribed the names of God, the Prophet and the four Caliphs of Islam. Shahjahan added exquisite pietra dura work later as a mark of respect for the saint.
The main hall, which contains the tomb of the saint, is roofed by a single semicircular dome supported on squinches having square base and octagonal drum. This jewel like tomb enclosed within a four-pillared chhhaparkhat of ebony, is inlaid with tiny mother of-pearl. The tomb chamber on all sides is surrounded by marble latticed walls and a verandah, on three sides. It is on these latticed screens that the pilgrims tie threads when they throng the tomb, seeking the fulfillment of their wishes. The interior walls are lined with white marble while pillars are of ivory. The Arabic inscription in relief around the outer wall of the tomb chamber are verses from the Koran, of special significance to the Sufis. The floor of the chamber is paved with white marble, inlaid with stones of different colours.
People of all religion come in thousands to offer flowers and pray at the shrine and tie cotton threads in the belief that their wishes would be fulfilled and they would be blessed with an offspring. The Saint's Urs (death anniversary) is celebrated during winter with great devotion by his followers. Qawwali singers sing sitting in the courtyard next to the dargah.
Over 400 years old, the Fathehpur Sikri complex is immaculately preserved by the conservation work done by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Location and Transport
The Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti in Fatehpur Sikri may be approached from Agra, 37 kilometers away or 18 kilometers from Bharatpur. Most visitors prefer to make a day trip to the fort en route from Agra or from Bharatpur, as it requires at least half a day to explore.
Agra's Kheria airport is situated 6km from the city centre. It is well connected with Delhi (204km-30 minutes flight) and major places in India.
Agra is a major railway Junction and has several railway stations and connects the city to major places in the north as well as the south. Agra Cantonment Railway station is the main terminal, located southwest of the city. Two of the main services are the Taj Express and the Shatabdi which connects Agra to Delhi, Gwalior, Jhansi and Bhopa. Other services are the Karnataka Express (New Delhi-Bengalore), the Jhelum Express (Jammu Tawi -Pune) and the Toofan Express (New Delhi -Calcutta).
Agra Cantonment Railway Station, Enquiry Ph: 131, 132, 2364516, 2364517; Reservation Ph: 2364244; Raja-ki-Mandi Railway Station Ph: 133, 53737; Agra Fort Railway Station, Enquiry Ph: 2364163
Agra is well linked by bus services to other places in the State as well as outside the state and national highways 2, 3 and 11 pass through the city. The state transports have deluxe as well as ordinary buses to Delhi (every hour),Jaiupur(every half an hour),Lucknow, Gwalior, Jhansi etc from Idgah bus station. For local travel, taxis, tempos.auto -rickshaws and cycle rickshaws are available. Bicycles can also be hired on hourly basis.