Fatehpur Sikri, an example of Mughal architecture in Northern India, has some lessons and reminders for modern architects, writes Indian trained Bay Area architect, artist, and planner Ayub Patel.
On a recent trip to Northern India, Bay Area architect, artist, and planner Ayub Patel visited Fatehpur Sikri, a hilltop fortress and palace built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great. Akbar was a 16th century Indian ruler from the Islamic Mughal dynasty who conquered and united far flung parts of India, including Hindu and Muslim kingdoms. Patel writes of Fatehpur Sikri:
“The drama of movement to and within the complex is heightened by shifting axes, both major and minor, coupled with the courtyard planning principles of the Persians and local Hindus. These amalgamate very well in response to both climate, privacy, and multiple vistas. As one circulates within the ensemble and it’s cleverly designed level changes, one realizes that each building within is different yet somehow extremely well connected to the rest. The ever so subtle yet powerful changes in level that separate forecourt or hind court from building or elevated plinths (that just slightly raise each building above its apron) provide boundaries of definition in a vast continuum of spatial interweave and spatial locks, allowing the onlooker to take in vistas from various vantage points. The dynamics of space within is aided by shifting axes that in some respects provide practical adjustments to the contoured terrain for each piece of the ensemble while gesturing the eye to move on to another potential vista or vantage point. Studies have revealed that the entire complex is planned with proportion based on the Golden Rectangle ratio.”1