Chahar Suq
Fatehpur Sikri, India
The public functional zone of the Fatehpur Sikri complex comprises the transition from the Agra Gate to the Public Audience Hall, and includes the Chahar Suq, the Mint ad the Treasury.

Visitors approaching the palace complex from the east, following the way that connects Sikri to the town of Agra, first traverse the Agra Gate. The eastern approach to the complex through the Agra Gate ran along a linear bazaar, approximately 970 meters long, with workshops lining the road on both sides. This bazaar terminated in an arrival court located northeast of the Diwan-i 'Am. The angle formed by the junction of the road and the Diwan-i 'Am, which is aligned exactly north-south, is about 35 degrees east of north.

Along the former bazaar road is a structure called the Chahar Suq, (lit."market place"), found approximately 680 meters from the Agra Gate and 290 meters from the Diwan-i 'Am. The Chahar Suq served as the focal place of the bazaar and provided a monumental entrance to the palatial complex. On festive occasions, the entire bazaar area would be decorated to honor important guests. The Chahar Suq is also referred to as the "Naqqar Khana," (drum house), a structure used by the imperial band at certain times of day. Music from the naqqar khana heralded the Emperor’s appearances, among other occasions.

The square Chahar Suq structure covered an area of 35 square meters and had a gateway placed at the centre of each of its four sides. Only parts of its exterior wall, as well as traces of partitions in its interior, are still extant today. Its still-extant east and west openings are centered on the axis of the pathway that lead to the palace complex. These entrances formed part of the pathway along the grand bazaar; however, the function of the north and south entrances into the Chahar Suq is more difficult to ascertain. Unless there were paths to and from the north and south in Akbar’s time (perhaps leading to residential quarters for the nobles of the court), it is likely that these entrances were created in the interest of bilateral architectural symmetry.

The east gateway is a double-story, tri-arched structure constructed of red and buff sandstone, measuring in plan 17.30 by 6.10 meters. It is symmetrical along its vertical axis, and the soffits of the arches are ribbed. Its central arch, through which the bazaar pathway passed, is larger than the outer two arches. The entire gateway is covered by a flat roof supported on a row of stone piers and crowned by two chhatris centered above the narrower archways. Its upper floor is a large gallery, open towards the interior of the enclosure but closed off by a wall to the east; this wall is pierced by trabeated openings above each of the three arches. Below these openings, a balcony supported on brackets runs along the entire elevation. The upper level is accessed by a staircase on the east side. Within the upper-floor gallery, a stone seat runs along one wall.

The western gateway is smaller than its eastern counterpart, composed of a single story with one central arch. Its north and south elevations are pierced by two identical smaller gateways of trabeated construction, each measuring 7.5 by 8 meters. Centered within the elevation, these entrances employ stone slabs to create a corbelled arch, whereby brackets support spanning lintels. The gateway roof is flat and accessed by side staircases. The gate was closed by massive doors that swung in (still-extant) stone eyes-and-sockets.

Continuing west, the bazaar pathway passes two independent structures bordering the Diwan-i 'Am. These are called the Mint (Taksal) and the Treasury, and their walls intersect to form an angular transitional space before entering a flat-roofed gateway on the east side of the Diwan-i 'Am.

Sources:

Kulbhushan, Jain. Fatehpur Sikri: Where Spaces Touch Perfection, 32. Weimar: VDG, 2003.

Nath, R. Architecture of Fatehpur Sikri: Forms, Techniques & Concepts, 66-69. Jaipur: Historical Research Documentation Programme, 1988.

Nath, R. Fatehpur Sikri and its Monuments, 99. Agra: The Historical Research Documentation Programme, 2000.

Rizvi, Saiyid Athar Abbas. Fathpur-Sikri, 18-19.. Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala Sons, 1975.

Smith, Edmund W. The Moghul Architecture of Fathpur-Sikri, 57. Delhi: Caxton, 1985.
Location
Fatehpur Sikri, Fatehpur Sikri, India
Images & Videos
Documents
Associated Names
Part of Site
Events
1569-1574/976-982 AH
Style Periods
1526-1858
Variant Names
Chahar Suq
Naqqar Khana
Variant
Naubat Khana
Variant
Chahar Suk
Variant
Chaqar Suq
Variant
Building Usages
market
commercial