Red Fort Delhi
This 17th century architectural masterpiece is Delhi's most magnificent monument. The Red Fort was raised by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1638 A.D. Originally known as Qila-e-Mualla, the fort was constructed by the Mughal Emperor after he transferred his capital to Shahjahanabad (Delhi) from Agra in 1638. The monument is called Red Fort because due to the use of red sandstone in its walls. Shah Jahan laid the foundation stone of this imperial fort in 1639 and it was completed after nine years. Ustad Hamid and Ahmad, two expert Mughal architects took charge of the construction of Red Fort.
Popularly called “Lal Quila”, the monument is visited for:
- Diwan-e-am: The grand hall meant for public audiences. It is built of red sandstone and is set atop an impressive plinth.
- Diwan-e-Khas: The hall of private audiences is designed using marble and has a 'Peacock Throne' at the centre. The throne is made of gold, embedded with precious stones such as sapphires, rubies, emeralds, pearls and diamonds. The Emperor held private meetings and received important guests in this hall.
- Rang Mahal: The water cooled apartment for the royal ladies with painted interiors. In the center of the main hall is a beautifully carved marble lotus, which was originally surrounded by fountains. The ceiling above this lotus pool was made with silver and decorated with golden flowers, which reflected in the pool, making it a wonderful sight.
- Chatta Chowk: A broad passage after the entrance; also known as Meena Baazar. This was one of the first covered bazaars (markets) of the 17th century comprisiong the shops of pure silks, jewellery, gems, silver ware and other artistic objects.
- Shahi Burj: This Royal Pavilion is a three storied octagonal tower, situated on the northeastern edge of the fort. Shahi Burj was the private working place of the emperor.
The War Memorial Museum is on the first floor, which is a delight to visitors. The southern end hall of the palace is called Mumtaz Mahal, and houses the Museum of Archeology (popular for the artifacts salvaged from the royal palace). The northern and southern sections of Red Fort were called Sheesh Mahal. Apart from all these attractions, the Khas Mahal is a place worth visiting for its extremely beautiful architecture. It was the emperor's palace with special rooms for private worship and for sleeping. The place is decorated with several miniature paintings of Shah Jahan.
The two main gateways are Lahore Gate and Delhi Gate. The entrance is made through the Lahore Gate, constructed of dull pink sandstone.
This 17th century Mughal marvel is one of the 26 Indian sites that are included in UNESCO's list of World Heritages. The Prime Minister of India hoists the national flag, and addresses the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the auspicious day of India's Independance, August the 15th, every year.
The Sound and Light Show
One can witness the age old history associated to the Red Fort in the evening at the sound and light show. The shows are conducted in English and Hindi, and tickets are available at the Fort.