The history of the Red Fort in Delhi goes back to the year 1639 when the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan laid the foundations of this nearly 255 acres complex. This complex is on the bank of the river Yamuna. The emperor constructed this complex when he moved his capital from Agra to New Delhi. He named his new capital Shahjahanabad.
The Red Fort Complex in Delhi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And the most visited tourist destination in Delhi. The architectural style of the red fort in Delhi is similar to Agra Fort.
This complex is a marvel of the Mughal architecture.
The Entrance and The Market
The entrance to the Delhi Red Fort is Lahori or Lahore Gate. This gate got its name due to its orientation towards Lahore, a city in Pakistan. Once you pass through the gate, you enter the market, named as Chatta Chowk.
The Chatta Chowk Market has been operational since the days of its glory. People visited this market to buy and sell silk, jewellery and other household goods. Shopkeepers still sell some of those goods here.
Naubat Khana (Naqqar Khana or the Drum House)
Once you pass through the Chatta Chowk Market, you step in the outer court. And the structure that you see is the Drum House or Naubat Khana.
This building got its name as the musicians used to announce the arrival of the emperor and others who were in a higher place at the court of the public audience inside the Red Fort.
Now, this building stands isolated with so many stories buried within it.
As you enter the drum house, you see the inlay floral designs on the walls, however, not much of these is left now. Though the restoration is underway.
However, on the back of this edifice, there are still some well-preserved carved floral designs.
Diwan-i-Aam (Hall of Public Audience)
From Naubat Khana, the next building, you see is the Diwan-i-Aam or the Hall of Public Audience. Here, the emperor interacted with the public to listen to their matters and grievances. He used to sit on a white throne made of white marbles inlaid with precious stones.
Now, people cannot go near it and it is within the glass walls. The ceiling of the throne is full of green and red floral designs. There is a door behind it where the emperor entered this hall. When I was there, I imagined him sitting there on the throne interacting with his public.
Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience)
Moving to the north of Diwan-i-Aam, you reach Diwan-i-Khas or the Hall of Private Audience. Here, the emperor had discussions with the chiefs and other courtiers. He also received his guests here.
During his meetings, the emperor sat on his famous Peacock Throne. It is said to have been covered with gold and jewels. Nadir Shah took this throne to Persia after an invasion in 1739.
Similar to Diwan-i-Aam, this hall was also built using white marbles and precious stones. The ceiling of this hall was once inlaid with gold and jewels during the Mughal empire.
As renovation is in progress, visitors cannot enter this part of the complex.
Rang Mahal and Khas Mahal
Adjecant to Diwan-i-Khas is Rang Mahaland Khas Mahal.
The emperor resided at Khas Mahal. It is of white marbles and decorated with colourful floral designs.
However, Rang Mahal was for the wives of the emperor. It is decorated in different colours giving this palace its name.
As one of his wives was special to him, the emperor built another palace Mumtaz Mahal and named it after her. This palace now serves as Red Fort Archaeological museum.
Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque)
Next, you see the hammam, a place to bath. And to the west of it, is Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque.
Moti Masjid is a white marble structure.
Emperor Aurangzeb built this mosque close to his chambers so he could offer prayers at the different time of the day.
A bronze door is at the entrance of the Moti Masjid which has carved floral designs.
Other Building Structures
Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II named it after himself and used red sandstone to build this structure. A sandstone bridge connected the palace to the tank periphery but it collapsed with time.
The last emperor also built another palace called Hira Mahal, however, he used white marble instead of red sandstone.
The emperor Aurangzeb built Shah Burj or the Emperor’s Tower to feed Nahr-i-Bihisht (Stream of Paradise). There was a dome which was destroyed during an invasion and then in an earthquake.
Princes’ Quarters (Tea House)
To the north of the Shah Burj, were the Princes’ Quarters. These quarters were destroyed and converted to Tea House during the British rule.
Nahr-i-Bihisht (Stream of Paradise)
A stream that ran through the gardens and the palaces ensuring the water supply through Shah Burj was Nahr-i-Bihisht or the Stream of Paradise. It drew water from the Yamuna river for this purpose. This channel also helped in keeping the interiors of the Red Fort cool.
This part of the fort is not accessible due to restoration.
Though many parts of the fort are under restoration, it still takes around two and a half hours to three hours to see the entire complex.
A Little More About Past
These structures take us back to the time when the royal families lived here. It makes us realize that India in ancient times too was a great nation and these structures prove it. She was so famous that she drew the attention of the British and the rulers from the other countries.
The British and other rulers invaded the nation and in the process, India lost many artefacts (like the Peacock Throne and the Kohinoor diamond). The invaders demolished many religious artefacts as well.
From the ramparts of the Red Fort, the Prime Minister of India delivers a speech to the nation on the Independence Day and hoists the Indian national flag. August 15, 1947, was the day when India got independence from 200 years of British rule.
Delhi Tourism organizes Sound and Light Show at the fort in Hindi and English.
Getting to the Red Fort Complex
By Delhi Metro
You can reach this magnificent sight through Delhi Metro. You can get the fare information on their website.
It is the best option to get to the fort complex because not only you pay less but also avoid the traffic jam. Though you might have to walk a little to get to the interchange station.
Almost all of the tourist places are now connected through metro. It becomes easier for a visitor to reach there.
You can get there by an auto-rickshaw as well only if you want to get stuck in the traffic jam. As a resident of Delhi, I would not recommend this option to anyone as they charge whatever they want. And apart from this, you have to pass through the crowded roads as well.
The Delhi Metro is the best option to travel around Delhi if there is a connectivity. It saves time and money both.
If New Delhi is on your destination list, I strongly recommend you to visit this fort complex as well. Otherwise, your visit to the national capital of India will be incomplete.
Tips for visiting the Red Fort Complex
- The ticket cost is Rs. 35 per person for the Indians, SAARC and BIMSTEC visitors and Rs. 550 per person for foreign visitors. If you are planning a trip to the complex, you can book your tickets on bookmyshow.com, it helps you avoid long queues.
- The complex opens from 9:00 AM till 6:00 PM. However, the ticket counter closes at 5:30 PM.
- No luggage room is available for larger bags, however, you can use the cloakroom for the smaller ones.
- The nearest metro station is Lal Quila (Red Fort) station.
- You can use an audio guide available in Hindi and English at the fort. It costs around Rs. 100 per head.
- The edibles are not allowed at the fort complex.
Other places to visit near the Fort Complex
- Gurudwara Sees Ganj Sahib
- Shri Digambar Jain Temple
- Gauri Shankar Temple
These places are just opposite to the fort in Chandni Chowk. You can try and visit these places as well when you plan your visit to the Red Fort in Delhi.
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