Location: right next to Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi.
Unfurl the past
Derives it's name as it has been made of red sand stone, the Red
Fort is one of the most magnificent palaces in the world. Indian
history is also closely linked with this fort. It was from here that
the British deposed the last Mughal ruler, Bhadur Shah Zafar,
marking the end of the three century long Mughal rule. It was also
from this virtuous place that the first Prime Minister of India,
Pandit Jawharlal Nehru, delivered the famous speech "Tryst with
destiny" at the stroke of midnight hour when India achieved
freedom on 15 Aug 1947.
The mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, after ruling from Agra for eleven
years, decided to shift to Delhi and laid the foundation stone of
the Red Fort in 1618. For its inauguration in 1647, the main halls
of the palace were draped in rich tapestry and covered with the
royal silk from china and velvet from Turkey. With a circumference
of almost one and a half miles, the fort is an irregular octagon and
has two entrances, the Lahore and Delhi Gates.
The grand architecture
It is surrounded by a wall of about 2.4 Kilometers in circumference
and is built of Red Sandstone. The Mughal King Shah Jahan
transferred his capital from Agra to Delhi and the fort was
completed in 1648, nine years after the king shifted to this city.
The fort has two main entrances, the Delhi Gate and the Lahori Gate,
which faces the famed Chandni Chowk market Incidentally, Shah Jahan
was the king who built Taj Mahal.
Entrance to the fort is through the imposing Lahore Gate, which
takes its name from the fact that it faces Lahore, now in Pakistan.
This gate has a special significance for India since the first war
of independence and important speeches have been made here by
freedom fighters and national leaders of India.
The main entrance opens on to the Chatta Chowk, a covered street
flanked with arched cells that used to house Delhi's most talented
jewellers, carpet makers, weavers and goldsmiths. This arcade was
also known as the Meena Bazaar, the shopping centre for the ladies
of the court. Just beyond the Chhata Chowk is the heart of the fort
called Naubat Khana or the Drum House. The musicians used to play
for the emperor from the Naubat Khana and the arrival of princes and
royalty was heralded from here.
Special features of the fort
The fort has the Diwan-e-am, where the king would grant audience to
the public to listen to their problems. The other feature is the
Diwan-e-Khas (khas means special) where the king would grant
audience to important people. Besides this, is the Rang Mahal, the
water-cooled apartment for the royal ladies. In the basement of the
fort is a market where several traditional Indian goods can be
purchased at nominal rates. Another attraction is the Light and
Sound Show held in the evenings.
Areal architectural wonder
The apartments are assured privacy by intricately carved screens
which do not hinder the free flow of fresh air and light. The stream
of paradise flows through the main hall, and is marked in the centre
by a huge lotus shaped marble basin with an ivory fountain.
Constructed by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1662 as his private mosque Moti
Masjid (pearl mosque) is built with highly polished marble. The
mosque is a good example of the Mughal fetish for symmetry with
cusped arches, sinuous decorative designs, carved cornices and
bulbous domes. Other building of interest in the Red Fort complex
are the Musamman Burg (Octagonal tower), Khwabgah (bedroom) and the
Hammam (royal baths).
A relic of the glorious past
Even today, the Red Fort is a splendid reminder of the glory of the
Mughal era and its magnificence leaves many bedazzled and
breathless. It is still an abode of peace which helps one to break
away from the fast pace of life outside the walls of the Fort and
transports the visitor to another era of time.