Little Bits of History

Red Fort

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 13, 2011

Red Fort (photo by Svnitbharath)

May 13, 1648: Construction on Delhi’s Red Fort is complete. It is also sometimes called Lal Qil’ah or Lal Qila. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the walled city of Old Delhi and served as the home to the Imperial Family of India. It was also the capital of the Mughals until 1857. At that time, the Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, found himself exiled by the British Indian government.

Red Fort is a complex of buildings and is comprised of not only beautiful architecture, but much ornamental work as well. It merges Persian, European, and Indian artistic influences which resulted in a uniquely Shahjahani style. Even before national efforts to maintain the historic site, the buildings were maintained locally leaving them in better condition today than otherwise would have occurred. One enters the compound by the Lahore Gate which leads to a long covered bazaar lined with shops. This street is called Chatta Chowk and it leads to a large open space originally used for the fort’s military functions. The military was on the west and the palace was located in the east. The southern end is the Delhi Gate.

There are several important structures included at the site. The Diwan-i-Aam is a gate. Behind it lies a second open space used for large imperial audiences. The Diwan-i-Khas is a pavilion. It is clad completely in marble and the pillars are beautifully carved and set with semi-precious stones. The Nahr-i-Behisht are the imperial private apartments. Running through all these pavilions is a continuous water channel running to the river Yamuna. Zenana is the women’s quarters and Moti Masjid is the mosque. Hayah Bakhsh Bagh is a large formal garden.

Today, the Red Fort is a tourist attraction with thousands of visitors coming each year. On August 15 each year, the Prime Minister of India addresses the nation and does so from this location. There is a sound and light show describing the Mughal history and is part of the tourist attractions offered each evening. While it is still in great shape overall, some of the features have decayed with time and others have been harmed by vandals and looters. At one point home to 3,000 people, the residential palaces were destroyed by the British after they captured the fort in 1857.

“But nothing in India is identifiable, the mere asking of a question causes it to disappear or to merge in something else.” – E. M. Forster

“Europe is merely powerful; India is beautiful.” – Savitri Devi

“I like the evening in India, the one magic moment when the sun balances on the rim of the world, and the hush descends, and ten thousand civil servants drift homeward on a river of bicycles, brooding on the Lord Krishna and the cost of living.” – James Cameron

“In India, one has to plan according to the monsoons.” – Roland Joffe

Also on this day:
Knork? Spork? – In 1637 Cardinal Richelieu changes table settings.
Star Light, Star Bright – In 1861, the Great Comet was first discovered.

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One Response

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  1. GYSC said, on May 13, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I never knew about that place, thanks!

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