Imperial Chhatri
Fatehpur Sikri, India
To the southeast of the Ankh Michauli is a red sandstone domed pavilion, a typical element of Indian architecture that was widely adopted by the Mughals. Called a "chhatri," literally meaning umbrella, the function of this specific chhatri is unknown. Popular legend calls it the "Astrologer’s Seat;" although records state that Akbar used to consult a group of astrologers, philosophers and yogis, there is no surviving source that verifies the assignment of a seat to one of them. It is more likely that this pavilion served as an architectural element, perhaps for the Emperor to use in relation to the distribution of copper coins.

The pavilion is square in plan, 2.74 meters per side, and is situated on an extension of the same plinth (1.07 meters high) that supports the Ankh Michauli. Traces of a stone railing, which once enclosed it, still remain. At each corner is a column, square at the base, with a carved floral motif on all sides. The column shaft is divided into two sections: the lower section is square in section and transitions via a floral design into the upper section, which is shaped into an octagonal section. Serpentine struts (toranas) emerge at a 45 degree angle from a carved stone monster’s head (makara) on the octagonal shaft, rising to meet under the center of each lintel.

Toranas derive from Jain architecture, and are widely used in Hindu architecture to indicate the ceremonial entrances into temples. Although toranas appear to have a structural function, passing the load from the lintel to the columns, they are actually ornamental. Via small pendentives, the lintels carry a pyramidal roof topped with an ornamental carved frieze of interlocking tulips at its base and a sheath of lotus petals (mahapadma). The mahapadma supports a characteristic Mughal kalash finial, which was restored in the 20th century.

Sources:

Brand, Michael and Glenn D. Lowry, editors. Fatehpur-Sikri: A Sourcebook, 190. Cambridge, MA: Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1985.

Nath, R. Fatehpur Sikri and its Monuments, 83. Agra: The Historical Research Documentation Programme, 2000.

Rizvi, Saiyid Athar Abbas. Fathpur-Sikri, 37-38. Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala Sons, 1975.

Smith, Edmund W. The Moghul Architecture of Fathpur-Sikri, 24-25. Delhi: Caxton, 1985.
Location
Fatehpur Sikri, Fatehpur Sikri, India
Images & Videos
Associated Names
Part of Site
Events
1572-1575/980-983 AH
Style Periods
1526-1858
Variant Names
Imperial Chhatri
Astrologer's Seat
Variant
Temple of Magic
Variant
Treasury Kiosk
Variant
Building Usages
pavilion
palatial