National Capital Territory
of India - Delhi
Places To Interest :
Red Fort or lal qila as it is more popularly
known is a masterpiece of architecture and one of the most haunting spots
for tourists from both India and abroad.Before the mutiny of 1857, the fort
presented an altogether different picture from what it presents today
because only about one-fourth of the imposing structure is accessible to
visitors with the rest of the area being under the control of the Indian
Army, which continues the occupation begun after the uprising of 1857 was
suppressed. In 1858, a large number of palaces in the fort were demolished,
many of the taikhanas ( basement rooms) sealed and massive barracks
constructed for the soldiers.
Before 1857, the fort was a mini-city with palaces, offices, workshops and
halls of audience where about 3,000 people lived, yet today more than 10,000
visitors come to savour the magnificence of the building everyday.
There are 15 distinct structures within the fort with the first being the
Lahore Gate and the last one the Moti Masjid.The Lahore Gate of the palace
is veiled by the barbican added by Aurangzeb, a Mughal emperor.The gate is
from where the Prime Minister addresses the nation and unfruls the National
Flag on August 15, Independence Day.
The entrance of the Gate leads through a long covered bazaar called the
Chatta Chowk.From Chatta Chowk follows the Naqqar Khana(Drum Room) also
called Naubat Khana or the Welcome Room, which earlier formed part of a
square enclosure with apartments for the umrah (Nobles) on duty. It was at
this point that everyone other than the Emperor had to dismount from their
elephants and walk towards the magnificent Diwan-e-Am(hall of public
audience) where the Emperor used to listen to the grievances of the common
The Naqqar Khana is 49 feet high with an open arched hall at the top which
served as a music gallery from where the strains of music filtered down to
welcome the Emperor or to bid him a safe journey.The War Memorial Museum is
housed on the first floor.The Diwan-e-Am is built of red sandstone and is
set atop an impressive plinth.The southwest and northwest corners of the
pavilion are articulated by small chhattris.
After 1857, an ornamental panel depicting Orpheus was dismantled, but it was
restored at Lord Curzon's initiative at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Diwan-e-Am was originally gilded with elaborate stucco work.
However,today only the shell of the magnificent structure can be seen. Along
the eastern wall of the fort and commanding a scenic view of the Yamuna
river was spaced out the private realm of the Emperor.
The Yamuna in those days flowed past the walls.The remains of the palaces
exist today in the form of Mumtaz Mahal, Rang Mahal, Khas Mahal,
Diwan-e-Khas, the hammam and the Shah Burj from where originated the
Nahar-e-Bishisht ( Canal of Paradise) which flowed in a channel through
The Museum of Archaeology, which has artefacts salvaged from the royal
palace, is housed in the Mumtaz Mahal. Rang Mahal (Palace of Colours) gets
its name from its painted interior.The northern and southern sections were
called Sheesh Mahal( Sheesh-mirrors and mahal- palace).Embedded in the
ceiling which reflected lights in fascinating multiplicity, were embedded in
the ceiling. This, with its basement, was the palace of the royal ladies.
Khas Mahal( Emperor's Palace) has special rooms for private worship and for
sleeping. It was small and elegant and had a fine marble screen at the north
end which carried a motif of the scales of justice which are seen in many
miniature paintings of Shahjahan's time.
A marble balcony, which once projected over the banks of the Yamuna and once
the river changed its course it was from this place that the Emperors used
to present themselves for public appearance.Perhaps the most elegant part of
the fort is the Diwan-e-Khas (hall of private audience) and it is almost
like an undetachable part of the history of the Mughal Empire.
In 1739 the hall witnessed Nadir Shah receiving the submission of Emperor
Mohammed Shah, and depriving him of his most valuable treasures including
the famed Peacock Throne. It was again here in May 1857 that Indian soldiers
declared Bahadur Shah Zafar, the Emperor of Hindustan. The throne was set on
a high impressive plinth along the rear wall and its flat ceiling supported
by a series of engrailed arches, was gilded in sliver and had some of the
finest pietra dura work and paintings.
Over the corner arches is inscribed the couplet of Firdaus, the poet in
Shahjahan's court which when translated from Urdu means:" If there is a
paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here". The hammam (bathing
area) has three chambers with a fountain in the middle of the one in the
centre. It also has pietra dura work on the walls. Shah Burj was a place
where the emperors held private conclaves and it is in a secluded point.
Besides the conclaves, the emperors would also relax in privacy pondering
over various issues. Moti Masjid( Pearl Mosque) was a private masjid and was
added by the emperor Aurangzeb. The masjid , with three domes in perfect
proportion give it a rare look of elegance. To the north of this masjid is
the Hayat baksh,a Mughal garden built by Shahjahan. While at the southern
and northern ends are the Sawan Bhadon pavilions in the centre of the garden
is the grand Zafar Mahal.
A sound and light show is held every evening giving
an idea of the Mughal history, both in Hindi and English. The timings for
summer Hindi 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and English 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., and for the
winter they are in Hindi 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and English 7 p.m. to 8 p.m