Red Fort in Delhi

Delhi is a strange mix of modernity and antiquity. Like now it is the capital of India, in ancient times it was the stronghold of the Mughals and changed hands many a times. It has been one of the strongest Islamic centers in Asia. Old Delhi is still reminiscent of that essential Mughal bazaar culture with its hordes of eateries, paratha stall, kababs savories, narrow lanes, and a host of other knick knacks. Standing in the background of this huge human drama of buying and selling is the iconic Red Fort in Delhi also popularly called the Lal Quila by locals. If anything speaks history through its structure it is the Red Fort. Its thick stand stone walls have stood the test of time. Located on a dry moot that was once used for defensive measures, it looks rather large and intimidating. After all the history of it is not quite pleasant and one etched in bloodshed and betrayal.

Emperor Shahjahan started its construction in 1638 and it took ten years to complete it. It had in its complex government: halls, domed and arched marble palaces, sprawling private residence couldn’, a mosque and well set and designed gardens. Persian Emperor Nadir Shah couldn’t but resist attacking such a thing of beauty as is the nature with Persian rulers of that time. Even the British thought that much of Delhi would be paralyzed if the main stronghold of Red fort was attacked. And so they did attack it during the Revolt of 1857.

Red Fort in New Delhi

Red Fort in New Delhi

The main entrance of the Red Fort in Delhi is through the Chatta Chowk which is lined with arched cells. Once it use to house the best of jewelers and  skilled craftsman of Delhi. It is more famously called the Meena Bazar and chances are you might have heard about it in passing songs from old Hindi Films. It was mainly a ladies forte. The core of the Fort was located just beyond that and is called the Naubat Khana. Diwan-i-Amor is the hall of the Public audiences where the emperor would sit and pass his judgment on a particular case or listen to the complaints of the common folk. The alcove where he sat was designed with precious and semi precious stones. The Peacock Throne off the emperor Shah Jahan is without doubt one of the most exquisitely styled craftsmanship in the entire history of humans. Also it is priceless- intrinsically as well as its face value was huge. Maybe that was the reason which prompted Nadir Shah in 1739 to take it in the first place. Today it is merely an empty space echoing its former glory. A two liner inscribed on its wall is apt to describe it. It refers that if in earth there is an eden it is this place.

The Royal Baths or the hammams  is another of the notable features of the fort. Other important areas here are Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque. This was later added by Aurangzeb for his private use. The Rang Mahal used to house the concubines and wives of the emperor. Gilded turrets, an intricate mosaic of mirrors, and a ceiling with exquisite work of gold and silver is the main feature of this palace. When the artwork of silver and gold reflected on the central pool the place really seemed to be an eden. The private apartments are on a raised platform on the Eastern zone of the fort. The pavilions are connected with each other through a network of waterways. Though much of the structure bears strong resemblance to Islamic architectural pattern, Hindu elements are also present as well.

Red Fort Delhi, Inside architecture

Red Fort Delhi, Inside architecture

The Red Fort in Delhi today has political and military bearings as well. The Prime Minister delivers his speech from here on 15th August which the Indian Independence day. At one time about 3000 people stayed within  its premises but the Revolt of 1857 was a big setback for the Fort. After Indian Independence.

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