Right next to the Delhi Zoo, lies the glorious Purana Quila (Old Fort) - an evidence to the glory of the Mughal art. One of the most popular and eye catching sites in Delhi, Purana Quila was raised in 1538 by then Mughal Emperor Humayun. One of the oldest monuments in Delhi, Purana Quila was built to safeguard Delhi. Unlike other Mughal monuments, it was not built to serve the purpose of luxury. It is revealed, on the basis of recent archeological excavations, that the fort was built on the site of the ancient city of Indraprastha (the capital of Pandavas).
After defeating Humayun in 1539-1540, Sher Shah Suri conquered Delhi. He erected the Qala-I-Kunha Masjid (mosque) in its premises along with the Sher Mandal. The fort went through several renovations during Sher Shah Suri's rule. Later in 1545, after Sher Shah's death, Delhi and this fort were recaptured by Humayun with the help of the Persians. Humayun modified Sher Mandal into an observatory and library. Qala-I-Kunha Masjid was the double-storeyed octagonal-towered mosque from where Emperor Humayun accidentally fell to his death.
The rectangular fort with a circuit of nearly two km was raised on the bank of the river Yamuna but later the river changed its course. Known as Dinpanah ('refuge of the faithful'), the Purana Quila has a small lake at the foothills of the fort. The fort features three gates: Humayun Darwaza, Talaqi Darwaza and Bara Darwaza. All the three gates are made of red sandstone. Only the Humayun Darwaza and the Bara Darwaza were open for entry inside the old fort. As the name suggests, Talaqi Darwaza (meaning 'forbidden') was not used for entry. Even today, only Bara Darwaza is open for the public.
Talaqi Darwaza has beautiful Islamic pointed arches with Hindu chhattris and brackets. Humayun Darwaza is in the South direction of the Old Fort. Qila-I-Kuhna Masjid was built by Sher Shah Suri in 1541. Sher mandal, an octagonal observatory, is also known for impressive Mughal architecture. People believe that the Sher mandal was built for entertainment purposes. There is a huge arch at the entrance of the fort made of marble and red sandstone. The columns at the entrance are also made of black and white marble. One can visit the small archaeological museum at the gate of the Purana Quila in the charm of several artifacts belonging to the Mughal period.
Enjoy boating in the small lake here. The remnants of the fort provide great opportunities for photography. The above portions of the gates provide wonderful views of the city. A sound-and-light show is held every evening for the entertainment the guests and tourists.