One of the most visited places in Delhi, the Red Fort or Lal Qila served as the main residence of the Mughal Emperors. This is a very charming and colorful fort that attracts a lot of tourists from throughout the world. The main street in front of the fort is fully-fledged with people taking pics and making videos with the center view of the fort that has Indian Tricolor as an added beauty. Among all the splendid monuments in Delhi, the Red Fort is the largest one.
So, let us explore the fort to a greater extent…
History of the Red Fort-
The construction work of this colossal fort initialized by the orders of Shah Jahan on 12 May 1639 and the work started on 13 May 1639 in the holy Islamic month of Muharram and got completed on 16 April 1648 after a span of 8 years and 10 months.
Jahandar Shah, the successor of Bahadur Shah I ruled the throne of Red Fort in 1712 and was removed from the throne after murdering in 1713 by Farrukhsiyar. Later, in 1719 Muhammad Shah, better known as Rangila, raised to the throne and his reign was weakened by the attacks of Nadir Shah.
The Red Fort witnessed a massive attack by Persian ruler Nadir Shah in 1739 during his invasion on the Mughal Empire and most of the precious stones, artworks including the Peacock Throne and jewels were looted by him.
These weaknesses of the Mughal Empire made a way to the entry of Marathas as protectors of the Delhi throne by a treaty of 1752 and the Mughals became the puppet rulers. Later, Marathas got indulged in conflicts with Ahmad Shah Durrani because of their conquests of Lahore and Peshawar in 1752.
In 1761, Ahmad Shah raided Delhi and the Marathas lost to him in the Third Battle of Panipat. The next ruler was Shah Alam II who came to the throne with the Maratha support in 1771, ten years after Durrani’s rule. Then came Sikh Misl Kirorisinghia led by Baghel Singh Dhaliwal in 1783.
Later, in 1788 Marathas came back to power, and then their rule was finally culminated by the British East India Company in the Battle of Delhi during the Second Anglo-Maratha War in 1803.
Bahadur Shah II was the last Mughal Ruler to occupy the Red Fort and he became the leading face for the people of Shahjahanabad in the Rebellion of 1857 against the Britishers. But the Rebellion failed and Bahadur Shah II escaped the fort on 17 September 1857. Later, he was arrested by the Britishers and was given an exile to Rangoon on 7 October 1858.
After the end of the Mughal Rule in India, the Britishers officially ordered the destructions of the structures in the Red Fort complex, and the palaces, apartments, and quarters were looted with their precious elements sold out to the museums and merchants. Around the two-third complex was plundered by them.
Later, Lord Curzon restored the gardens and reconstructed the walls of the Red Fort Complex. He was the Viceroy of India from 1899-1905.
On 15 August 1947, the Indian National Flag was hoisted for the first time above the Lahore Gate by the first Prime Minister
Red Fort was included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in India in the year 2007 as a part of the whole Red Fort Complex.
The Architecture and the Construction-
The Red Fort is a splendid creation of the Mughal and Indo-Islamic style of architecture and was made by the plans and designs of the chief architect Ustad Ahmad Lahori, the main architect during Shah Jahan’s reign who also designed the Taj Mahal.
The main purpose of the construction of this fort was to fulfill the requirement of a palace for Shah Jahan in his fortified capital Shahjahanabad as he shifted his capital from Agra to Delhi.
The fort is protected by the huge red sandstone walls of 2.41 kilometers that led to its name as Red Fort and has various structures inside it that represent a fusion of Persian, Hindu, and Timurid cultures and made it an exceptional creation of Mughal creativity.
The octagonal Red Fort complex is spread over an area of about 254.67 hectares and encloses various apartments, quarters, palaces with floral and marble decorations, within its boundaries.
There are three main gates to the fort namely Delhi Gate, Lahori Gate, and the Khizrabad Gate. The first two were for the common people while the Khizrabad Gate was used for the entrance of the Emperor.
It was the “Hall of Public Audience”, or a hall dedicated to the common people. In this hall, Shah Jahan received the common public and heard their grievances and issues. The Diwan-i-Am has a front hall of size 100 ft x 60 ft that is open on the three directions. The hall has an opening of nine arches and ornamented with gilded stucco work. In the center of the eastern wall, there is a marble canopy (Jharokha) covered by a ‘Bengal Roof’, under which was placed the Emperor’s Throne. A marble dais below the throne was used by the Wazir for receiving petitions. The wall behind the canopy is decorated with multi-colored stones (Pietra dura work), said to have been executed by Austin de Bordeaux, a Florentine jeweler. The audience ceremony is known as Jharokha Darshan.
It was the “Hall of the Private Audience”, or a hall dedicated to Emperor’s Private Palace. Animal fights were organized below this palace for the entertainment of the royals. The palace consists of three parts. The set of three rooms facing the Diwan-i-Khas was called Tasbin Khana and was used for the Emperor’s private worship. The three rooms behind it were known as ‘Khwabgah’ or the sleeping chamber. It is constructed of white marble, inlaid with precious stones. According to Amir Khusrow, this place was the only possible heaven on Earth.
The Moti Masjid or “Pearl Mosque” was built by Aurangzeb in 1659 for his worship use. The mosque is at a very short distance from his bedroom, so he could go and worship at any time of the day. The mosque is built over a raised platform and is entered through an eastern gateway with a copper door. Exterior decoration is done by Red sandstone while the interior is made up of white marble. The dome is surmounted by three bulbous domes and has a fountain in a tank used for ablution. The hall also contains raised platforms called ‘musallas’ made of black marble, meant for offering prayers.
Chatta Chowk means ‘covered bazaar’, where silk, jewelry and other items for the royal household were sold during the Mughal period and this was unique in the Mughal Architecture of 17th century India. The idea of this came to Shah Jahan when he saw a bazaar in Peshawar in 1646. This bazaar was earlier known as “Bazaar-i-Shaqqaf”, (Shaqqaf means roof).
The Naubat Khana was a place dedicated to music and drums and the musical announcements were made upon the arrivals of the royal family members in the court. It was the place where music was played several times during a single day. It is a large rectangular three-storied building made of red sandstone walls which were originally painted with gold.
This royal apartment is named Mumtaz Mahal after Shah Jahan’s beloved Queen Mumtaz. In its days of glory, it was also called “Chhota Rang Mahal’ or the small colored palace. On its south lies the Asad Burj and to its north at a distance is situated the Rang Mahal. It was used as a military prison by the British after the first Indian Freedom struggle in 1857 owing to which its original appearance has been altered.
Hayat Bakhsh Bagh-
It was the most beautiful and well-planned garden in the entire palace area and has been considerably reconstructed. It has two pavilions named Sawan and Bhadon Pavilions at each end. Zafar Mahal made in red sandstone was added in 1842 by Bahadur Shah Zafar.
The Rang Mahal has a large hall that was painted on the interior, due to which it gets its name of the Palace of Colours. It is divided into six apartments and the Northern and Southern ends of the Rang Mahal are known as ‘Shish Mahal’ and contain marble dados.
There are various other notable architectural structures within the Red Fort complex like Hammam (the royal bath area), Princes’ Quarter (a quarter of the imperial princes), Hira Mahal (a pavilion), Baoli (stepwell for water storage), Delhi Gate (southern public entrance), and Lahori Gate (main gate to the Red Fort).
Location of Red Fort
This iconic Red Fort is located in the National Capital Delhi, on the banks of the second holiest Indian River, Yamuna. This location along the river helped in the filling of boundary canals with the river water outside the walls for safety purposes.
How to Reach the Red Fort-
ADDRESS– Netaji Subhash Marg, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi
- Red Fort is about 20 km away from the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Thus, it can be reached by taxi within 40 minutes via NH 48, the fastest route.
- From New Delhi Railway Station, the destination is about 7 km far and can be reached within 20 minutes through a taxi on a normal day.
- The nearest metro station is Chandni Chowk, about 500 meters from Red Fort. The exit should be done from Gate No. 5 of Metro Station. This metro station lies on the Yellow Line of Delhi Metro.
- Various DTC buses are also available from throughout the city to reach the destination in the cheapest costs of travel.
Indians- INR 35
Foreigners- INR 500
Light and Sound Show- Children- INR 20, Adults- INR 60
Timings of the Fort-
Red Fort can be visited every day except Mondays. The Red Fort timings are from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm.
The best time to visit is from October to February when one can get rid of the exhausting summers and unfavorable monsoons. One should not visit the place during the Independence Day and Republic Day weeks as the fort is sealed due to security reasons. Other places in Delhi like Jama Masjid, Jantar Mantar, Qutub Minar, and Lotus Temple are also worth visiting within proximity. The place is best suitable to visit with family and friends.