Shaikh Salim Chishti (1478-1572) is one of the most revered Sufi saints of the Mughal period in India. This khanqah, or hospice, was his original home and is located near the present-day World Heritage site of Fatehpur Sikri. Emperor Akbar-e-Azam Akbar, who ruled the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585, believed the saint’s powers so great that he built an imperial palace complex next to the khanqah and relocated his court and courtiers to Fatehpur Sikri. It was in Shaikh Salim Chishti’s khanqah that the saint blessed Emperor Akbar, and where Emperor Jehangir was born. For these reasons it is a site of great religious and cultural significance and, in conjunction with the palace complex, it could reflect the influence of Sufism on the politics and day-to-day life of sixteenth-century Mughal India. However, by the time the house was included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch its built fabric was degraded and there was little public knowledge of its significance.
Formal plans and interventions protect religious and cultural heritage
Subsequent to the announcement of the Watch, we received support for the development of an integrated management and conservation plan. Implementation of the plan will improve the site’s visibility and viability and will promote conservation interventions that could readily improve the conditions of the site for both visitors and the local population of Fatehpur Sikri. In partnership with the Archaeological Survey of India, we launched a program of comprehensive research, emergency repairs, and site clearance at Shaikh Salim Chishti in May 2015. Later in the year the Indian government provided a grant to assist with the cleaning and stabilization work at the building. A topographical survey and a formal analysis of archival resources relating to the site was completed in January 2016, and the documentation process commenced soon afterwards.