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You Are Here » Home : Monuments in India : Red Fort

Red Fort

Majestic and magnificent, the Red Fort or the Lala Qila is a symbol of Mughal architectural excellence. Built by one of the greatest emperors of the Red Fort, DelhiMughal dynasty, Emperor Shahjahan, the Red Fort is an important landmark of Delhi. India's 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 its ramparts that the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawharlal Nehru, unfurled the Indian tricolor on August 15, 1947 marking the end of the British colonial rule. Since then, on every Independence Day (August 15), a grand function is held at Red Fort, where the prime minister of India unfurls the Indian tricolor and makes a speech from its ramparts.

The Red Fort gets its name from the use of red sandstone in its construction. It is situated on the western banks of the Yamuna (which has since changed its course). The fort rises above a wide dry moat, in the northeast corner of the original city of Shahjahanabad, now Old Delhi. 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. The walls of the fort extend for 2 km and vary in height. The height of the walls is 18 m on the riverside, while it is 33 m on the city side. The fort has two important gateways - Lahori Gate and Delhi Gate.

The Lahori Gate is the main entrance to the Red Fort. The gate faces the direction to Lahore (now in Pakistan), hence the name Lahori Gate. The gate forms a part of a massive stone fortification and is made up of dull pink sandstone. The grassy area above this massive gateway and below the tall ramparts of the fort is the place from where the prime minister of India addresses and leads the nation in celebrating the Independence Day.

After shifting the imperial capital back to Delhi from Lahore, Shahjahan, the fifth Mughal emperor started the construction of the massive fort in 1638, and work was completed in 1648. With Shahjahanabad complete with the Red Fort, the city was ready in all its magnificence to receive the Emperor. However, Shahjahan could not enjoy his new city as his son Aurangzeb imprisoned him in the Agra Fort, where he spent the rest of his life.

Red Fort - The Inside Story
As soon as one enters the Lahori Gate, one finds himself in a vaulted arcade - the Chatta Chowk - is full of shops selling souvenirs and gift articles. During the time of the Mughals, the shopkeepers used to sell silk items, jewelry, and gold. This arcade of shops was then known as the Meena Bazaar. The arcade leads to the Naubat Khana (drum house), where musicians played for the emperor and announced the arrival of the royalty and important dignitaries. Passing the Naubat Khana, one comes face to face with the Diwan-I-Aam or the Hall of Public Audiences, where the Emperor would sit and hear complaints of the common folk. His alcove in the wall was marble-panelled, and was set with precious stones, many of which were looted after the Mutiny of 1857. 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 carried away to Iran by Nadir Shah in 1739. Today, the Diwan-i-Khas is only a pale shadow of its original glory, yet the famous Persian couplet inscribed on its wall reminds us of its former magnificence: "If on earth be an Eden on bliss, it is this, it is this, none but this."

The other attractions enclosed within this monument are the hammams - royal baths, the shahi burj - Shahjahan's private working area, and the Moti Masjid - Pearl Mosque, built by Aurangzeb for his personal use. The Rang Mahal or the 'Palace of Colors' housed the Emperor's wives and mistresses. This palace was crowned with gilded turrets, delicately painted and decorated with an intricate mosaics of mirrors, and a ceiling overlaid with gold and silver, that was wonderfully reflected in a central pool in the marble floor.

Even today, the Red Fort's magnificence simply leaves one awestruck. It is still a calm haven of peace, which helps one to break away, from the frantic pace of life outside the walls of the fort, and transports the visitor to another realm of existence.

How to reach
For tourists planning to travel to Delhi, the Red for is a must-see. Tourists can reach the Red Fort in many ways. They can either take local buses from various points within the city, which is located near the Interstate Bus Terminus at Kashmere Gate in the heart of Delhi, or, alternatively, they can hire auto-rickshaws and taxis for the purpose. There are also regular buses from other important bus terminals like the Interstate Bus Terminus at Sarai Kale Khan and Connaught Place to this monument. Local guided tours conducted by Delhi Tourism and private operators covers this important monument.

Jantar Mantar

At first sight, the Jantar Mantar appears like a gallery of modern art. It is, however, an observatory. Sawai Jia Singh II of Jaipur (1699-1743), a keen Jantar Mantar, Delhiastronomer and a noble in the Mughal court, was dissatisfied by the errors of brass and metal astronomical instruments. Under patronage from the emperor, he set on himself the task of correcting the existing astronomical tables and updating the almanac with more reliable instruments. Delhi's Jantar Mantar is the first of the five observatories that he built with large masonary instruments. The observatory has the Samrat Yantra, a simple equal hour sun dial, the Ram yantra for reading altitudinal angles; Jai Prakash for ascertaining the position of the sun and other celestial bodies, and the Misra Yantra which is a combination of four scientific gadgets.

These observatories may have fallen into disuse but they remain an integral part of India's scientific heritage. It presents that the spirit of scientific enquiry was not dead in India and would have yielded rich results if only an opportunity of research and development had been given to it. This monument still remains one of the most intriguing structures of the capital, one of the must-see if you are planning to travel to New Delhi.

How to reach
Tourists can reach the Jantar Mantar in many ways. They can either take local buses from various points within the city to reach this monument, which is located in Connaught Place, the heart of the city, or they can hire auto-rickshaws and taxis for the purpose. One can take buses from the bus termini located at Kashmere Gate and Sarai Kale Khan to reach this monument. Local guided tours conducted by Delhi Tourism and private operators covers this important monument.

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