Salim Chishti (1478 – 1572) (Hindi: सलीम चिश्ती, Urdu: سلیم چشتی ) was a Sufi saint of the Chishti Order during the Mughal Empire in South Asia.
Saleemuddin Chishti, popularly known as Salim Chisti, lead his Shaikzada division in the Battle of Haldighati on the side of Akbar against Maharana Pratap.
It was thought by many that Chishti could perform wonders. The Mughal Emperor Akbar-e-Azam went to the shrine of Ashraf Jahangir Semnani, but on his travels he also felt inspired to see Chishti. Akbar came to Chishti’s home, deep in the desert, seeking a male heir to his throne. Chishti blessed Akbar, and soon the first of three sons was born to him. He named his first son Salim (later emperor Jahangir) in honor of Chishti. A daughter of Sheikh Salim Chishti, was the foster mother of Emperor Jahangir. The emperor was deeply attached to his foster mother, as reflected in the Jahangirnama and he was extremely close to her son Qutb-ud-din Khan Koka whose was made the governor of Bengal and his descendants are still to be found in Sheikhupur, Badaun.
Akbar held the Sufi in such high regard that he had a great city Fatehpur Sikri built around his camp. His Mughal Court and Courtiers were then relocated there. A shortage of water is said to be the main reason that the city was abandoned and it now sits in remarkably good condition as a mostly deserted city. Now it is one of the main tourist attractions of India.
Chishti’s tomb was originally built with red sandstone but later converted into a beautiful marble mausoleum. Salim Chishti’s Mazar (tomb) is in the middle of the Emperor’s Courtyard at Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, India. Childless women, particularly those without a male heir, still continue to pray on bended knees before his tomb.
The mausoleum was constructed by Akbar as a mark of his respect for the Sufi saint, who foretold the birth of his son, who was named Prince Salim after him and later succeeded Akbar to the throne of the Mughal Empire, as Jahangir.
It is believed that by offering prayers at this mazar whatever one wishes will definitely be fulfilled. There is also a ritual of tying a thread at the marble windows of this Dargah to in order to have one’s wishes fulfilled and, consequently, many threads can be seen to be tied there.
The ancestral house of Shaikh Salim Chishti has a large Sun motif at its main door and inside has a beautiful array of impressive stone screen and exquisitely carved herring bone roof it is attached to the first building built in Fatehpur Sikri, which is known as "Sangtarash mosque" or Stone Cutter’s mosque. One of the oldest buildings in Fatehpur Sikri, Stone Cutter’s mosque is situated to the west of the Jami Masjid, which was built by the local stone cutters in honor of Chishti. It has some beautiful architectural features, marking the incorporation of indigenous architectural styles in the construction.
Salim Chishti’s mazar is one of the most notable accomplishments of Mughal architecture, surpassed only in reputation, and is flanked by the massive Buland Darwaza or Victory gate on the southern side, the Badshahi darwaza or Emperor’s gate on eastern side, and a grand mosque Jama masjid on western side, as well as by courtyards, a reflecting pool, and other tombs. Construction commenced in 1571 and the work was completed fifteen years later.
Fatehpur Sikri bears exceptional testimony to the Mughal civilization at the end of the 16th century. It offers a unique example of architectural ensembles of very high quality constructed between 1571 and 1585. Its form and layout strongly influenced the evolution of Indian town planning, notably at Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi).
The ‘City of Victory’ had only an ephemeral existence as the capital of the Mughal empire. The Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) decided to construct it in 1571, on the same site where the birth of his son, the future Jahangir, was predicted by the wise Shaikh Salim Chisti (1480-1572). The work, supervised by the great Mughal himself, was completed in 1573. In 1585, however, Akbar abandoned Fatehpur Sikri to fight against the Afghan tribes and choose a new capital, Lahore. Fatehpur Sikri was to be the seat of the great Mughal court only once more for three months in 1619, when Jahangir sought refuge there from the plague that devastated Agra. The site was then finally abandoned, until its archaeological exploration in 1892.
This capital without a future, some 40 km from Agra was, however, considerably more than the fancy of a sovereign during the 14 years of its existence. The city, which the English traveller Ralph Fitch considered in 1585 as ‘considerably larger than London and more populous’, comprised a series of palaces, public buildings and mosques, as well as living areas for the court, the army, servants of the king and for an entire population whose history has not been recorded.
Only one tiny part of the city (where the large buildings are concentrated) has been until now, studied, visited and relatively well preserved. Fatehpur Sikri, constructed on a rocky plateau, south-east of an artificial lake, created for the occasion and today partially dried up, is bounded on three sides by a 6 km wall, fortified by towers and pierced by seven gates (the best preserved is the Gate of Agra, the second from the north). This spacious enclosure defines the limits of the new foundation rather than assuring its defence.
The majority of the important monuments are found to the north of the road from Gaza to Agra; constructed of red sandstone, they form a homogeneous group, even if the eclecticism of their style is evident and is based on borrowings from Hindu, Persian and Indo-Muslim traditions. Among the numerous palaces, gazebos, pavilions, etc., may be cited in particular:
Diwan-i-Am, the Hall of Public Audience, is encircled by a series of porticos which are broken up by the insertion of the imperial box where Akbar, surrounded by his ministers and officers meted out justice. This box communicates directly with Daulat Khana (Imperial Palace), flanked to the north by Diwan-i-Kas (Hall of Private Audience), called the ‘Jewel House’, a monument known for its central plan, which comprises an extraordinary capital surmounted by a circular balcony: the ‘throne’.
Other monuments of exceptional quality are the Ranch Mahal, whose elevation of four recessed storeys recalls certain Buddhist temples, the pavilion of Anup Talao, or the Turkish Sultana, the palace of Jodh Bai, the palace of Birbal, the caravanserai and the problematic ‘stables’.
Owing to the piety of Akbar, many religious and votive monuments were constructed at Fatehpur Sikri. The great mosque (Jama Masjid), one of the most spacious in India (165 m by 133 m) could accommodate some 10,000 faithful; it was completed in 1571-72 and according to the dedicatory inscription deserves no less respect than Mecca. It incorporates, in the centre of the court, the tomb of Shaikh Salim, an extraordinary Christian masterpiece of sculpted decoration, further embellished under the reign of Jahangir.
To the south of the court, the Buland Darwaza, completed in 1575, commemorating the victories (the taking of Gujarat in 1572) to which the city, their monumental symbol, owes its existence and its name.
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