Our valiant tour guide came along for the first part of the drive so that he could show us the Fatehpur Sikri (also known as that Palace on the road to Jaipur).
This palatial city was built by the Mughal emperor in the 16th century. It took 15 years to build, served for 14 years as the capital of the empire, and then was abandoned because the water supply was unable to sustain the growing population.
The city is surrounded by a 5 mile long wall. But most of the city is barren ruins except, of course, for the imperial buildings at the top of the hill.
The palace is built of red sand stone and has all of the elements of a, well, ancient palace. It has the outer court for parades and more public meetings/events. Then an inner court for palace officials to meet with the emperor. Then a super-secret, no men allowed, private living quarters for the emperor and his harem.
The outer courts are nice.
The inner courts are pretty.
But the palace really comes alive in the harem.
Since the women weren’t allowed to leave – ever – the harem was set up to provide entertainment. There were pools. And places for singing and dancing. There were even large board games installed in the floors. But instead of game pieces, the emperor used girls from the harem. A little like the scene in Harry Potter where Harry has to beat a chess game with pieces that battle. Except the only battles here were probably hair pulling and pinching.
Moving on, the emperor had three wives and built a different “palace” within the harem in the style of her homeland.
The Hindu (and supposedly favorite wife) got a massive and magnificent palace. The Portuguese second wife got a palace with beautiful paintings. And the third wife, a Muslim, got a small palace with the most intricate carvings and details.
And the emperor built himself a gigantic stone bed. Because that’s just how he rolled.