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Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti

Place : Fathepur Sikri , Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Significance : Tomb of the renowned Sufi Mystic Salim Chishty
Best Season : November to February
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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 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 floral designs, 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.