India > Forts & Monuments > North India - Delhi
Also called the Lal Qila, the fort is laid out along the river Yamuna as an irregular octagon. It is surrounded by a wall of about 2.4 km in circumference & is built of red sandstone. The Mughal ruler Shah Jahan transferred his capital from Agra to Delhi and, after nine years, the fort was completed in 1648. The fort has two main entrances, the Delhi Gate and the Lahori Gate. The latter faces Chandni Chowk, the city's most crowded but diverse market.
Being one of the landmarks of the walled city (Delhi, India's capital) the city which needs no introduction, has all the facilities as may be required by any of the foreign or domestic tourists with any budget.
The emblem of Delhi, the 72.55 m high Qutab Minar was erected in the 13th century by Qutab-Ud-Din Aibak. Within the complex is an Iron pillar which has never rusted. This five storied tower is visible from several kilometers distance. Hence, when one travels in Delhi, one truly travels through time.
Being one of the landmarks of the walled City (Delhi, India's capital) the city which needs no introduction, has all the facilities as may be required by any of the foreign or domestic tourists with any budget. It is linked with Air, Rail and Road.
Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India was built by Shah Jahan in Delhi. The Masjid, looks across the old markets of the city that are massed around Chandni Chowk and stretches till the great Red fort. This is the area that still retains the old-world charm of markets in Mughal times.
As we take the Delhi-Mathura road to Agra, we come to a structure which is in ruins and is surrounded by greenery. This is the old fort or the Purana Qila of Delhi. Delhi, as we all know is very ancient city. It was created and destroyed seven times and the present day Delhi is the seventh version of the original. Though in the ancient times, though it was not called Delhi, finds mention in many of the ancient texts. The great epic it is called Indraprastha. This was the capital of the Pandavas and it is said that the beauty & splendor of this city was one of the reasons due to which battle of Mahabharata was fought. This was some 5000 years ago. Apart from Indraprastha at various times Delhi was called Lal Kot, Qila Rai Pithora, Siri, Jahanpanah, Tughlakabad, Ferozabad, Dinpanah and Delhi Sher Shah or Shahjahanabad. These versions of Delhi might have not been situated at what today is called the Purana Qila but they certainly intrinsically identified with power and imperial sway.
The tranquility of the splendidly panoramic environs of Old Fort narrates a saga of Delhi's rejuvenation, periods of anarchy and rise & fall of empires. The old ruins proclaim a majestic and imperial past. Not much is left of the fort which has been restored by the Archaeological survey of India. The Majestic walls, which had once withstood the cannon fires, are in a terrible state today. Most of the structures have disappeared, as they could not bear the onslaught of time, the Britishers also pulled down some of them. This royal bastion of power saw its downfall after capital of the Mughals was shifted to Agra and then it was relocated in the Delhi Red fort.
The construction of old fort was taken up by Humayun in 1538. He named it Dinpanah. Humayun was not able to rule from the fort for long and was defeated by the Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri. Sher Shah named the place as Shergarh. It was Sher Shah who added many buildings to the complex. Some of the buildings constructed by him still stand. Sher Shah was killed when a canon misfired and Humayun came back to power. But it seems that the place was not ready to accept Humayun as the ruler and he died while coming down from the library for his Namaz (prayers). This library is known as the Sher Mahal and was constructed by Sher Shah. Originally the structure was to be much higher than it is today but the untimely death of Sher Shah halted any further construction.
There are three Gates to this fort. Today entrance is through the Bara Darwaza. The South Gate is called the Humayun Darwaza, probably because Humayun built it or because the tomb of Humayun is visible from here. The third gate is the Talaqi Darwaza. Recent excavations in the fort has revealed painted grey pottery which date back to 1000 BC. Such and many more findings inside the fort have proved the location to be inhabited since the early civilizations. In fact there was a village inside the fort till 1913 called Indrapat which is very close to Indraprastha adding credibility to the theory of Mahabharata having taken place here.
Inside the fort Qila Kuhna Masjid which is one of the finest example of architectural style being used in those days. The Masjid was built by Sher Shah in 1541 and it seems that there was an attempt to build the whole structure in marble. But the scarcity of marble forced the use of red sandstone. This mixture was accidental forced or intended we do not know, nevertheless the combination adds a different look to the structure. The inner west wall of the masjid has five arched openings and which are richly ornamented in white and black marbles.
The DTDC has taken over the fort and is developing it as one of the tourist attractions in Delhi. There is a light and sound program every evening. This spectacular show narrates the history of Delhi in 62 minutes. The effects generated by the use of light and sound during the show transports the audience to scene which is being depicted. The show is held every day and the ticket is priced Rs 25 per head. Check the timing with fort officials or any tourist office. The Son et Lumiere is organized in Hindi and English. The show is an unforgettable experience.
Close to the Old Fort is a lake which has paddle boating facility. This lake is surrounded by a garden with rows of trees and flower plants. Inside the fort too there are well grafted and maintained lawns which add to the greenery in the fort. The Delhi Zoo is just besides old fort.