Jalal al-Din Akbar was the third Mughal Emperor of India, and one of the most influential rulers of that dynasty. He was born Abu al-Fath Muhammad in 1542/949 AH in Sind (lower Indus River Valley). When he assumed the throne he took the regnal title Akbar ("Great"). His honorific name (laqab) Jalal al-Din means "Glory of the Faith." Upon his death he was given the epithet 'arsh-ashyani ("he who nests at the divine throne").
Akbar inherited the small kingdom in northwestern Hindustan surrounding Delhi that his father Humayun had reunited just before his untimely death in 1556/963 AH. Under his leadership, this kingdom would greatly expand, and by the end of his reign, Afghanistan, Sind, and Hindustan were united for the first time under Mughal rule.1
Aside from uniting a large geographic area, Akbar also achieved a major feat in facilitating the integration of Central
Asian and Indic courtly culture.2Unlike previous Muslim rulers in India, Akbar actively forged alliances by orchestrating marriages between members of the Muslim Timurid nobility and the indigenous Hindu Rajput clans, as well as allowing Rajput elites to advance in the bureaucracy and take active part in the administration of the empire.3
Similarly, Akbar was interested in
facilitating dialogue between the various religious groups in India, including
Christian, Jain, Hindu, and Muslim. Religious tolerance was encoded through imperial policy, and interfaith contact was encouraged through
the dual institutions of the 'ibadat-khana (house of worship) and
maktab-khana (translation bureau).4 The former was a space in
which all faiths were welcomed to discuss religious ideas. The
latter was an organization dedicated to scholarship where Hindu texts were
translated to Persian.
Akbar was a dedicated patron of architecture and literature, and Mughal India flourished as a cultural capital during his reign.In the architectural sphere, he is most famous for constructing
the city Fatehpur Sikri to commemorate his conquest of Rajputana. Initiation of
construction on the Red Fort at Agra (Lal Qil’a) and Lahore Fort (Shahi Qil’a) also
began during his reign.
Thackston, History of
S. Inayat A. Zaidi, “Akbar and the Rajput Principalities: Integration into Empire,” in Habib, Akbar, 15-24.
This 48’ high gateway served as the southern entrance of the Arab Serai - built to accommodate the 300 Persian craftsmen whom Hamida Banu Begum, had brought with her on her return from pilgrimage to Mecca. These craftsmen were involved in the building of Humayun’s Garden-Tomb. The integrity of the whole complex is now disturbed as the major portion of the Arab Serai is today the Industrial Training Institute and is inaccessible to visitors. Over the last century the portions of this lofty gateway had collapsed including the domed entrance chamber thus severely compromising the structural stability of the remaining structure like front façade, portions on the upper levels etc. The collapsed portions of the gateway suggest that half of the entrance chamber was not able to bear the load of the dome which should be uniformly transferred to the piers. Conservation works includes conservation of the main wooden doorway, conservation of the stone façade, reconstruction of the partially collapsed entrance chamber, conservation of the chambers at ground floor, reconstruction of the upper chambers and providing adequate flooring.
In keeping with the conservation policy of the Historic Cities Programme’s Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Project, master craftsmen, using traditional materials, tools and building techniques are undertaking conservation works to significantly enhance the historic character of the World Heritage Site.