A complete travel guide for visiting Fatehpur Sikri – how to get there, timings & other insider tips

What is the best way to reach Fatehpur Sikri from Agra?
Can I do a day trip from Delhi to Fatehpur Sikri? And even visit Taj Mahal?
Where do I hire a Fatehpur Sikri tourist guide and what are his charges?

This Fatehpur Sikri travel guide not just gives you answers to these questions but is filled with insider tips that will help you plan a perfect trip to this ghost town – from Agra, Delhi or even Jaipur. Get to know the timings, entrance fees, day trip options and tourist guide charges (also, the common scams) 

Akbar did choose the perfect location for his capital – Fatehpur Sikri! The place is just one hour away from Agra, and almost the same distance from Delhi and Jaipur. In short, it is a perfect stop-over for anyone exploring the Golden Triangle in India. The erstwhile capital of the Mughals and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ghost town is filled with wonderful sights and stories. For me, visiting Fatehpur Sikri was akin to finding the missing piece in the Mughal jigsaw – especially after the Agra fort, the Taj Mahal and Humayun’s tomb.

Visiting Fatehpur Sikri needs a bit of planning
Visiting Fatehpur Sikri needs a bit of planning

When I was planning a visit to Fatehpur Sikri from Agra, I found myself confused with the scattered information on the internet. Not only are there multiple ways of getting to Fatehpur Sikri, but conflicting rate cards for tourist guides, taxi fares and even timings of the place. However, when I visited Fatehpur Sikri, I realized that visiting it was not complex at all. All one needed was clear and a single source of information.

Well, I have it all here for you. I have designed this travel guide to help you plan a trip to Fatehpur Sikri and even combine it with other places around this ghost town. There are tips on the best ways to get to Fatehpur Sikri from all the Golden Triangle cities – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. I have also, included basic information on timings, entrance fees, where to hire Fatehpur Sikri tourist guides and what their charges are.

In short, I have put together a complete do-it-yourself trip guide to Fatehpur Sikri.

Quick links for your trip to Fatehpur Sikri

Here are some useful links that you can use when you are planning a visit to Fatehpur Sikri.

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.

Introduction to Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh

The tomb of Salim Chisti in Fatehpur Sikri, UP
The tomb of Salim Chisti in Fatehpur Sikri, UP

Fatehpur Sikri was originally a small hamlet and was just called Sikri. In the 16th century, this small village was home to a Sufi saint – Shaikh Salim Chisti, who was renowned for his blessings. It was believed that if he prayed for you, your wish would come true.

Despite his many wives, Emperor Akbar was childless for a very long time. When he heard of Sheikh Salim Chisti, he visited him in Sikri and requested him to pray for his heir. Within a few months, his first son was born to his third wife – Rani Jodhabai. Overjoyed, Akbar not only named his son Salim after the saint but over time, began to develop Sikri as his new capital.

Buland Darwaza - one of the key attractions in Fatehpur Sikri
Buland Darwaza – one of the key attractions in Fatehpur Sikri

Sikri became Fatehpur Sikri after Akbar became victorious in his siege against Gujarat. Fateh means victory and Akbar believed that the good things were happening to him after moving to Sikri – thus the new name. This is when he built a grand entrance to his capital called Buland Darwaza – which today is the World’s highest gate.

Unfortunately, the scarcity of potable water and strategic wars elsewhere forced Akbar to abandon his grand city. Fatehpur Sikri fell into shambles and was barely used – even by the British who later took over the Mughal kingdom. However, its grandeur could not be hidden. Eventually, this ghost city became an important historical site in India and was finally granted a UNESCO World Heritage status in 1986.

Today Fatehpur Sikri falls well within the Golden Triangle tourist circuit. It is a destination combined with a visit to Delhi, Agra or even Jaipur. However, there are a few other destinations that can be combined with a visit here – all of which I will be sharing in this Fatehpur Sikri travel guide.

What to see in Fatehpur Sikri?

The Pachisi court in Fatehpur Sikri
The Pachisi court in Fatehpur Sikri

Built in red sandstone, Fatehpur Sikri is distinctly divided into two parts. While Sikri includes the residential buildings and the court of Emperor Akbar, Fatehpur is a religious hub consisting of a grand mosque and Salim Chisti’s tomb. Between these two sections, there are over 20 things to see in Fatehpur Sikri – all of which have been documented by me in my earlier post.

I have also, covered the various stories attached to these attractions in this post as well the details on the Mughal architecture. Thus, for this section of my Fatehpur Sikri travel guide, I will only be sharing a shorter list of the key tourist attractions.

  1. Buland Darwaza – this is the highest gateway in the World and the entrance to the city from the Fatehpur side of the ghost town.
  2. Jama Masjid – one of the largest mosques in India and the earliest of the structures built in Fatehpur Sikri
  3. Tomb of Salim Chisti – the marble tomb of the patron saint who was the original resident of Fatehpur Sikri
  4. Diwan-i-aam – the hall of common audience whose walls echo with the tales of jest and justice meted out by Akbar and his minister – Birbal
  5. Diwan -I – Khas – the hall of private audience with its stunning central pillar that is a testament to the new religion Din-i-illahi, introduced by Akbar
  6. Ankh Micholi Mahal – its original purpose was to serve as a treasury but it got this name of Hide and seek palace for a different reason. An interesting story explained in this post.
  7. Panch Mahal – this is an iconic monument that served as a pleasure palace to take in views and enjoy the cool evenings
  8. Pachisi court  – a giant chess board
  9. The zenana – With its three important palaces – the Turkish sultana’s palace, Jodha Bai Palace and the Golden palace.
  10. Anup Talao – the place where Tansen used to exhibit his musical prowess.
  11. Khwabgah of Akbar – his personal bedroom
  12. Birbal Mahal – the unfinished home of Birbal

Besides these, there are many more places like the Elephant stables, the offices and Hiran Minar that I have included in this ultimate Fatehpur Sikri sightseeing list. These monuments are quite well preserved and have so many stories attached to them. You should definitely consider adding them to your Fatehpur Sikri itinerary.

While you do that, let’s get on to the tips that you will need to know before you visit Fatehpur Sikri.

Tips for visiting Fatehpur Sikri

1) Do Fatehpur Sikri as a day trip

Agra Fort  can be done on the same day as your visit to Fatehpur Sikri
Agra Fort can be done on the same day as your visit to Fatehpur Sikri

One of the main reasons I recommend doing Fatehpur Sikri as a day trip is that there are not many hotels here. Fatehpur Sikri is conveniently located from the three major cities of the Golden triangle tourist circuit – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.  Among these three, Agra is the closest. Agra to Fatehpur Sikri distance is just 35 km.

While it is common to visit Fatehpur Sikri enroute between these cities, you can also, add Mathura or Bharatpur to your itinerary. Here is a quick gist of what you can expect to see in these two cities.

Mathura & Vrindavan

Located just 65 km from Fatehpur Sikri, these twin towns are the childhood abode of Lord Krishna. They are well known for its temples and holy ghats. The Hindu architecture and culture is quite different from what you will see in Agra or Delhi. It adds a different element to your travel itinerary.

Bharatpur

Just 25 km from Fatehpur Sikri, this can be easily combined in your day trip itinerary. Both these towns fall on the highway from Agra to Jaipur, making them a perfect road trip stop. Bharatpur has gorgeous cenotaphs and is known for its bird sanctuary. If you love bird-watching, then you might even want to spend the night here. There are some good Bharatpur hotels that you can book online.

2) Take the road or rail – the best way to reach Fatehpur Sikri from various cities

Fatehpur Sikri is well connected by road and rail to all the key cities that I have mentioned above. The Fatehpur Railway station and the bus stand is located just 800 meters from the Buland Darwaza entrance of the Fatehpur Sikri Fort. Besides the bus and train option, you can even hire an intercity cab to get to Fatehpur Sikri.  Here are some specifics from the main cities –

Fatehpur Sikri tour from Agra

The pink hues of Taj Mahal at Sunrise
The pink hues of Taj Mahal at Sunrise

Most visitors prefer visiting Fatehpur Sikri from Agra. I too, opted to visit after my Sunrise tour of Taj Mahal. I was on the road by 9 am and back in Agra by 3 pm – with enough time to spare for the Red Fort or any of the other Agra attractions.

There are three ways to do this trip to Fatehpur Sikri from Agra

Hire a cab

If you go to the Agra Idgah bus stand, you will find many local cabs ready for a round trip to Fatehpur Sikri. On an average, a Agra to Fatehpur Sikri cab fare ranges from INR 1500 to INR 2000 for a round trip. This also, includes the waiting charges at Fatehpur Sikri and the parking fees there.

I chose to book a cab through my Agra hotel transport desk which cost me the same. You can also, book a taxi from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri through the Uber and Ola apps. The charges for the same are displayed when you start booking. I found them a little pricier than the options available locally.

Another option to book a taxi online. The rates are quite comparable and the user ratings give you confidence about the services. Here is one option that includes a tourist guide for Fatehpur Sikri.

One of the biggest advantages of hiring a private cab is that your time spent in Fatehpur Sikri is flexible. Also, if you have a tight schedule like I did, then you might feel a little rushed to catch a bus or a train. The taxi option gave me enough time to see the Taj Mahal at Sunrise, have breakfast and then set off for a visit to Fatehpur Sikri.

By Bus

Idgah bus station near Agra Cantt has numerous buses to Fatehpur Sikri at regular intervals. The service starts at 6 am and the last bus out is at 7 pm. Depending on the type of bus, your fare would be between INR 75 – INR 100 for a one-way journey. You can check the Agra Fatehpur Sikri bus schedule and book a ticket online through the UP state transport website. (Note the destination name has been misspelt as Fatehpur Sikari).

There are several private tour operators and tourist buses available Agra fort bus stand as well as Agra Cantt to Fatehpur Sikri. The tickets for these are priced a little higher – INR 300 -400 per person for a one way ticket. You can book these Agra to Fatehpur Sikri buses through various travel apps like Redbus or Abhibus.

Average time to travel from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri by bus is 2 hours.

By train

There are at least 5 – 7 Agra to Fatehpur Sikri train options available for your visit. These can be viewed through the Indian Railway website and even booked through the site. The journey time is a little over 2 hours. The trains are available at both the Agra Fort as well as Agra Cantt stations.

Personally, I do not recommend a train from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri. The train not only takes a longer time but also, the fixed departures might be a little restricting if you are visiting the Agra monuments.

Trips from Delhi to Fatehpur Sikri

The final resting place of Humayun
The final resting place of Humayun in Delhi

Most people visit Fatehpur Sikri from Delhi along with Agra. However, it is quite possible to just do a Delhi to Fatehpur Sikri day trip without including Agra in your trip plan.

By Cab

There are various cabs that can be booked online for a Fatehpur Sikri visit from Delhi. Some of these options even include a private tour guide. You can even book an intercity Uber or Ola cab from Delhi.  The drive time is around 5 hours for a distance of 240 kms.

By Bus

You have various UPSTC (UP state transport buses) as well as private tourist buses like Zing that will drop you at Fatehpur Sikri. However, the biggest drawback of using these buses is that Fatehpur Sikri is not the end destination but just a stop on the way. Thus, the time taken to travel as well as the duration of the journey is far more than taking a direct cab.

Some of these buses arrive at wee hours and you will find yourself stranded in the ghost town at that time.

By train

Delhi to Fatehpur Sikri train is a good alternative to the cabs, especially for budget travelers. There are many trains from New Delhi that go through Fatehpur Sikri railway station. It is better to opt for an overnight journey that lands you at Fatehpur Sikri around 8 am or later.

The duration of these train journeys from Delhi to Fatehpur Sikri range from 6.5 hours to 8 hours.

Visiting from Jaipur to Fatehpur Sikri

Hawa Mahal - A larger part of the City Palace Jaipur
Hawa Mahal -an iconic building in Jaipur

Most people traveling from Jaipur to Agra, usually stop at Fatehpur Sikri – which falls on the same highway. Compared to Delhi, Jaipur is a little closer to Fatehpur Sikri and hence, as convenient if you just want to do a day trip here and return back to Jaipur.

By Cabs

Most cab services that can be booked online also, offer stops at Chand Baori and Agra. You can however, book an exclusive trip with a guide just to Fatehpur Sikri through various websites or local travel agents. Ola and Uber also, have intercity cabs with a round-trip option available from Jaipur.

By Bus

Most of the Rajasthan state transport buses and UP state transport buses between Agra and Jaipur are likely to stop at Fatehpur Sikri. These buses can be booked online through the respective state transport websites that I have included in this section.

There are many private bus operators that ply on the same route and have a stop at Fatehpur Sikri. Apps like Redbus or Abhi bus can help you booking these.

Important note- There is a town called Fatehpur in Rajasthan which is different from Fatehpur Sikri. So, if you are entering the name Fatehpur, ensure it is Fatehpur Sikri or Fatehpur, UP and not just Fatehpur. The same goes for booking train tickets.

Amer fort - the old capital of Jaipur

Here is a itinerary for 3 days in Jaipur. It covers all the major attractions in the this pink city of India

By train

Trains between Agra and Jaipur are likely to have a stop at Fatehpur Sikri. You can look up the various options of the Jaipur to Fatehpur Sikri trains on this Railways website and book a convenient one.

While it might work out economical, I would recommend a road journey with stops at Bharatpur or Chand Baori from Jaipur to Fatehpur Sikri. That way, you get to see a lot more.

A note on the various Fatehpur Sikri tour packages

There are several tour packages like available for Fatehpur Sikri. If these are day trip options combining two or three monuments, make a note of the total trip duration. With the travel time included, you should have at least 2 hours to see Fatehpur Sikri fully. Otherwise, you might find these tours too rushed.

Group tours in particular will have allocated duration for each monument and you will have to strictly adhere to it. However, they do tend to be a little more economical as compared to private tours.

The other thing that you must keep in mind while evaluating the various tour packages for Fatehpur Sikri is whether entrance tickets and tourist guides are included in the package.

3) Consider visiting Fatehpur Sikri during winters

Winters is a great time to visit Fatehpur Sikri
Winters is a great time to visit Fatehpur Sikri

Exploring Fatehpur Sikri requires quite a bit of walking. It is a place that gets really hot in summers with temperature soaring over 40 degrees. Monsoons can get a little uncomfortable with the showers. The best time to visit Fatehpur Sikri is winters – from October to February when the weather is cooler and perfect for an outdoor experience.

4) Plan to visit Fatehpur Sikri before noon or just after 3 pm

Fatehpur Sikri timings are from 6 am to 6 pm (basically sunrise to sunset). The place is generally not very crowded through the day. To take advantage of the cooler temperature, it is best to visit Fatehpur Sikri either before 11 am or after 3 pm. The sunlight too, is a little less harsh, making the place perfect for photography.

5) Preserve your Fatehpur Sikri CNG bus ticket carefully

All vehicles have to be parked near the ticket counter which is around one kilometer from the main entrances of the Fatehpur Sikri citadel. There is a CNG bus that shuttles visitors from the parking area to the entrance of the fort. It charges INR 30 per person for a round trip. Ensure that you preserve your tickets for the return journey to the parking lot.

If you are arriving by a bus or train to Fatehpur Sikri, you will be able to board the same CNG bus from the station. Besides the CNG bus, you can also, opt to walk to the entrances.

6) Start your tour of Fatehpur Sikri from Diwan-i-Aam (Sikri section)

Diwan-i-aam of Fatehpur Sikri
Diwan-i-aam of Fatehpur Sikri

As explained earlier, there are two parts to the Fatehpur Sikri fort. Sikri is where the residence and courts of Akbar are while Fatehpur is the religious hub. If you have read my detailed post on the places to see in this ghost town, then you will know that most of the attractions are in the Sikri part. From my experience, this is where you will end up spending most of your time. Hence, I recommend you start from here and then proceed to Fatehpur.

Also, the Fatehpur Sikri entry fee is for the Sikri section. Fatehpur section is free to enter. Hence, even from a practical standpoint, it is best to get the tour that you have paid for first and then head to the free section.

7) Book your Fatehpur Sikri tickets online

There is one physical ticket counter at Fatehpur Sikri located near the Diwan-i-Aam gate of Fatehpur Sikri Fort. The Fatehpur Sikri ticket price is INR 35 for Indians and INR 550 for foreign visitors. While you can always buy it at the physical counters, it is better to purchase these online. Having them handy allows you to directly board the CNG bus and start your journey.

Fatehpur Sikri tickets can be bought online through the ASI website. You can even buy skip-the-line tickets along with a guide through this link.

8) Hire a licensed Fatehpur Sikri tourist guide

The UP tourism tour guide counter in the parking area of Fatehpur Sikri
The UP tourism tour guide counter in the parking area of Fatehpur Sikri

There are no clear signs within the fort that you can use for a self-guided tour of the place. Given the expanse of the place, it is better to hire a tourist guide. The moment you arrive at Fatehpur Sikri, you will approached by numerous locals claiming to be tourist guides. However, a lot of these are not licensed Fatehpur Sikri tour guides. Some of them even carry fake ids.

The best way to hire a government licensed guide is to get them at the UP tourism counter or near the ASI guide counter at Diwan-i-Aam. The hiring rates will vary depending on the type of guide you hire.

There are three categories of guides that are available across the main monuments of India –

  • India tourism tour guides

They are the highest category of tourist guides who are licensed to practice across India. They are quite knowledgeable and can be hired through the Incredible India guide website. Their guide rates are usually higher than the other two categories.

  • UP Tourism tour guides 

They can be hired from the UP tourism guide counter in the parking area and are licensed by the UP tourism department. The Fatehpur Sikri guide rates for this category is around INR 1200 – 1500 for a half day tour with a group size of up to 5 people. They will cover Sikri as well as the Fatehpur section of the fort. They can even take you around the village to see the offbeat attractions like Hiran Minar.  However, make sure you first finalize the Fatehpur Sikri itinerary with them before hiring them.

  • ASI tourist guides for Fatehpur Sikri
ASI tourist guide rates in Fatehpur Sikri
ASI tourist guide rates in Fatehpur Sikri

These Fatehpur Sikri tour guides are only licensed to take you through the Sikri part of the ghost town. They give you basic information about the various monuments and charge around INR 450 for 2 hours. The group size for this rate is 1 – 5 people.

Alternatively, you can just book a package online like this one that includes a guide with the skip-the-line tickets or this private tour of Fatehpur Sikri.

Keep aside at least 2 – 3 hours for Fatehpur Sikri

You will need a minimum of this much time to explore the Fatehpur Sikri fort. If you want to explore beyond, at least half-a day is required.

Carry your own water

Drinking water can be refilled at this station near the Jodha Bai Palace in Fatehpur Sikri
Drinking water can be refilled at this station near the Jodha Bai Palace in Fatehpur Sikri

There are no shops once you enter the Fatehpur Sikri fortress. Hence, make sure you are carrying your own water bottles. There are drinking stations near the Jodha Bai palace where you can refill your bottles if required.

You cannot carry any food inside the fort. Only water bottles are allowed.

You will need to remove your shoes when you visit the Fatehpur section

The tomb, the graves and the Khanqah as seen from the Buland Darwaza
The tomb, the graves and the Khanqah as seen from the Buland Darwaza

The Fatehpur section has a living mosque and hence, you are required to leave your footwear outside the entrances. There are two entrances – the Buland Darwaza and the Badshahi Darwaza where you will find shoe stands. You can leave your shoes here for a price of INR 10. Remember though, you will have to use the same gate to exit for your shoe.

Here is one tip that you should make a note of. It is better to leave your shoes at the Badshahi gate of Fatehpur. This gate is what connects to the Sikri part of this fort as well as it is close to the CNG bus stop that you might need to take back to the parking bay.

Beware of touts and scammers

 There are several hawkers and fake guides who roam around the parking area and the CNG bus stops of Fatehpur Sikri. They will try to entice you with various products and will lure you to different shops. Avoid them and if you wish to shop, directly head to the stores near the parking area. You will need to bargain hard here.

Personally, I felt that the products available here were a little pricier than the ones in Agra. Also, I wasn’t very sure of the quality. Hence, I totally avoided shopping in Fatehpur Sikri.

Well, with that last tip, I think you are all set to visit Fatehpur Sikri. With its stories and architectural splendour, you are sure to enjoy this destination.

Common FAQs about planning a trip to Fatehpur Sikri

Is there an audio guide available for Fatehpur Sikri?

There is no official Fatehpur Sikri audio guide available at the fort. You can however, download a third-party app or website.

Can you cover Fatehpur Sikri, Agra Fort and Taj Mahal on the same day?

Yes, it is possible to cover both – Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri on the same day. You can opt for a sunrise tour of Taj Mahal, which you can easily finish by 8 am. After a quick breakfast, you can directly head from Taj Mahal to Fatehpur Sikri. Even with a leisurely tour, you can be back in Agra by 3 pm with enough time to spare for Agra Fort that closes at 6 pm.

Which day is Fatehpur Sikri closed?

Fatehpur Sikri is open on all days.

Before you go, pin this Fatehpur Sikri travel guide

Fatehpur sikri travel guide
tips for visiting fatehpur sikri
Travel tips fatehpur sikri

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