1 . Red fort
One of the most spectacular pieces of Mughal Architecture is the Lal Quila or the Red Fort. Built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan between 1638 and 1648, the Red Fort has walls extending up to 2 kms. in length with the height varying from 18 mts. on the river side to 33 mts. on the city side.
The entry to this splendid fort is from the Lahori Gate or the Chatta Chowk. Lal Quila is now a busy market place called the Meena Bazaar. This bazaar has an excellent collection of antiques, miniature paintings and skillfully crafted fake ivory jewellery. The bazaar also sells some fabulous carpets beautifully woven. Just beyond the Chhata Chowk, is the heart of the fort called Naubat Khana, or the Drum House. Musicians used to play for the emperor from the Naubat Khana, and the arrival of princes and royalty was heralded from here.
The Fort sports all the obvious trappings befitting a vital centre of Mughal governance halls of public and private audiences, domed and arched marble palaces, plush private apartments, a mosque, and elaborately designed gardens. Even today, the Fort remains an impressive testimony to Mughal grandeur, despite being attacked by the Persian Emperor Nadir Shah in 1739, and by the British soldiers, during the war of independence in 1857.
Red FortThe Fort also houses the Diwan i Am or the Hall of Public Audiences, where the Emperor would sit on a marbled paneled alcove, studded with gems, and hear complaints of the common people. The Diwan i Khas is the hall of Private Audiences, where the Emperor held private meetings. This hall is made of marble, and its centre piece used to be the Peacock Throne, which was studded with rubies and gems and was carried away to Iran by Nadir Shah in 1739. Today, although the Diwan i Khas is only a pale shadow of its original glory, yet the verse of Amir Khusro If there is Paradise on the face of earth, it is here, it is here, it is here reminds us of its former glory.
The Rang Mahal or the Palace of Colours as it is known, holds a spectacular Lotus shaped fountain, made out of a single piece of marble, and housed the Emperors wives and mistresses. The palace was decorated with excellent paintings, gold bordered projections, mosaics of mirrors and the ceiling was made with gold and silver which wonderfully reflected in a central pool in the marble floor. The other attractions enclosed within this monument are the hammams or the Royal Baths, the Shahi Burj, which used to be Shahjahans private working area, and the Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque, built by Aurangzeb for his personal use.
Even today, the Lal Quila is an eloquent reminder of the glory of the Mughal era, and its magnificence simply leaves one awestruck. It is still a calm haven of peace, which helps one to break away, from noisy and busy life outside the walls of the Fort, and transports the visitor to another realm of existence. Sound and light shows or son et lumiere as it is better known, highlighting particular phases of history are held here. The shows are in Hindi and English with tickets costing Rs. 20, available at the Fort. The English seasons are from November to January at 7.30 p.m., in January to April and September to October at 8.30 p.m. and from May to August at 9 p.m.
2 . Location
Red fort is located at the bank of the Yamuna river in Delhi. We know that it is known as old Delhi.
3 . The fort today
Every year on the Independence Day of India 15 August, the Prime Minister of India hoists the national flag at the Red Fort and delivers a nationally broadcast speech from its ramparts.The Red Fort, the largest monument in Delhi,is one of its most popular tourist destinations and attracts thousands of visitors every year.
The jali of the Diwan i Aam in the Red Fort
A sound and light show describing Mughal history is a tourist attraction in the evenings. The major architectural features are in mixed condition; the extensive water features are dry. Some buildings are in fairly good condition, with their decorative elements undisturbed; in others, the marble inlaid flowers have been removed by looters. The tea house, although not in its historical state, is a working restaurant. The mosque and hamam are closed to the public, although visitors can peer through their glass windows or marble latticework. Walkways are crumbling, and public toilets are available at the entrance and inside the park.
The Lahore Gate entrance leads to a mall with jewellery and craft stores. There are a museum of blood paintings, depicting young 20th century Indian martyrs and their stories, an archaeological museum and an Indian war memorial museum. Nevertheless, Red Fort is still one of the most beautiful and well designed forts in the world.
4 . Security
To prevent terrorist attacks, security is especially tight around the Red Fort on the eve of Indian Independence Day. Delhi Police and paramilitary personnel keep watch on neighbourhoods around the fort, and National Security Guard sharpshooters are deployed on high rises near the fort.The airspace around the fort is a designated no fly zone during the celebration to prevent air attacks,and safe houses exist in nearby areas to which the Prime Minister and other Indian leaders may retreat in the event of an attack.The fort was the site of a terrorist attack on 22 December 2000, carried out by six Lashkar e Toiba members. Two soldiers and a civilian were killed in what the news media described as an attempt to derail India Pakistan peace talks.
5 . Lahori gate
The Lahori Gate is the main gate to the Red Fort, named for its orientation towards the city of Lahore. During Aurangzebs reign, the beauty of the gate was spoiled by the addition of bastions, Shahjahan described this as a veil drawn across the face of a beautiful woman.Every Indian Independence Day since 1947, the national flag has flown and the Prime Minister has made a speech from its ramparts.
6 . Delhi gate
The Delhi Gate is the southern public gate, in layout and appearance similar to the Lahori Gate. Two life size stone elephants, on either side of the gate, face each other.
7 . Water gate
A minor gate, the Water Gate is at the southeastern end of the walls. It was formerly on the riverbank; although the river has changed course since the forts construction, the name has remained.
8 . Chhatta chowk
Adjacent to the Lahori Gate is the Chhatta Chowk, where silk, jewellery and other items for the imperial household were sold during the Mughal period. The bazaar leads to an open outer court, where it crosses the large north south street which originally divided the forts military functions to the west from the palaces to the east. The southern end of the street is the Delhi Gate.
9 . Naubat khana
The vaulted arcade of the Chhatta Chowk ends in the centre of the outer court, which measured 540 by 360 feet 160 m ? 110 m.The side arcades and central tank were destroyed after the 1857 rebellion.
In the east wall of the court stands the now isolated Naubat Khana also known as Nakkar Khana, the drum house. Music was played at scheduled times daily next to a large gate, where everyone except royalty was required to dismount.
10 . Diwan i Aam
The inner main court to which the Nakkar Khana led was 540 feet 160 m wide and 420 feet 130 m deep, surrounded by guarded galleries.On the far side is the Diwan i Aam, the Public Audience Hall.
The halls columns and engrailed arches exhibit fine craftsmanship, and the hall was originally decorated with white chunam stucco.In the back in the raised recess the emperor gave his audience in the marble balcony jharokha.
The Diwan i Aam was also used for state functions.The courtyard mardana behind it leads to the imperial apartments.