Red Fort or The Lal Qila of Delhi

The earliest memories about Independence Day for me was to see the Prime Minister address the Nation on T.V., standing against the backdrop of an imposing fort. The memory of this iconic backdrop was stagnant even when the person in front of it kept changing. Now settled in Delhi, when we crossed the Red Fort I am always in awe looking at it. So much so that, once while passing by I was so engrossed in its beauty that I didn’t even realize my partners bag getting snatched. So one sunny winter morning when we had nothing to do, the idea of visiting the Red Fort or The Lal Qila of Delhi, came up and I jumped with excitement.

History of the Red Fort or The Lal Qila of Delhi


“At the stroke of today’s midnight our, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom….” This groundbreaking speech by Pandit Nehru was given at this iconic place. Since then it has become the venue for Independence Day celebrations. In 2007 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The construction of the Red Fort was started by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1638. He shifted his capital from Agra to Shahjahanabad (later on it became Delhi) and so he built his new Fort here. It took 10 years to complete. It was the crux and strong hold of the Mughal Empire for 200 years till the Britishers took over.


Also Read: Top 10 Places to Visit with Kids in Delhi


Architecture


It is called the Red Fort as it was constructed with red sandstone. It was built after the Agra Fort which was the previous residence of Shah Jahan hence it is better and much more grand.

The huge walled citadel is along the banks of river Yamuna. Just like every other fort, it comprises of many complexes within the fort walls. The design of the fort is inspired by Mughal architecture which is a mix of Islamic, Persian and Hindu tradition. The interiors of the private chambers were once grand and lavish with silver ceilings, ornate designs and thrones till Nadir Shah, the Persian ruler ransacked it all. The Britishers then tried to conserve the remains while revamping the lawns and demolishing some structures meanwhile using the place as a garrison. Some of the barracks still stand today.

Diwan-i-Am


This was the place where Emperor Shah Jahan used to address the public. The throne on which he used to sit is exquisite. The carvings are beautiful and you can imagine what lifestyle he lived. This is the only complex that is open for tourists. It consists of many arches and all the arches and ceiling are intricately carved.

Diwan-i-Khas and Khas Mahal


This is the most beautiful and splendid of all the structures here. The Diwan-i-Khas is where Shah Jahan used to address his private audience. His throne here is said to be even more magnificent than the Diwan-i-Am with the Kohinoor Diamond encrusted in it. However, this monument is closed and can be seen from outside only. One can only imagine what the interiors must look like. There are many chambers that go to the basement which once housed elephant fights. There were canals that fed the fountains all year round but it is all dry now. These structures overlook the banks of the Yamuna. In the past it must have been quite a sight.

Lahori Gate


This is the imposing structure you need to enter through first. It was named Lahori gate as the way through it went all the way to Lahore. On this gate the National Flag is hoisted every Independence Day. The other gate is called Delhi Gate.

Chatta Market


This is the market that used to be bustling with people selling their wares in olden times. Now, the people sell souvenirs and other collectibles. This comes right after you cross the Lahori Gate. The market consists of a lane lined with small shops on both sides..

Naubat Khana or Drum House


This is the complex right opposite to the Diwan-i-Am. This was used to announce the arrival of the Emperor or important visitors. And also ceremonial music was played here five times in a day at designated hours to entertain the Royal guests.

Rang Mahal


The Rang Mahal is where the Emperor’s wife used to stay with her maids. It had beautiful and colorful interiors so the name Rang Mahal. Apart from the Emperor no other male was permitted to enter this palace.

Pearl Mosque


This was constructed by Emperor Aurangzeb. The exterior of the Mosque is made of red sandstone and the interiors are of marble. It is closed for tourists.

Hammam


The Hammam or Royal Bath chambers had arrangement for direct water access from Yamuna. The interiors are  intricately decorated with mirror and glass work. However, this complex is also closed for tourists and can only be viewed from outside.

War Museums


The Red Fort is now managed by the Indian Army.  There are newly constructed museum buildings that are dedicated to different periods of the freedom struggle each. Like the 1857 uprising or the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. These museums are very well maintained and very informative.  Make sure you do not miss them.

Hayat Bakhsh


Hayat Bakhsh or the Garden and Pavillion means the Life Bestowing Garden. It was once the most beautiful part of the fort area. The Northern and Southern side garden area has marble pavilion called Badhon and Savan, named after the monsoon months. Between them is a red sandstone pavilion named after Zafar Mahal. The waters of the Yamuna once flowed through canals and came alive in the fountains here.

How To Reach


The easiest way to reach Red Fort is by Delhi Metro. The Nearest metro station is Chandni Chowk. Just alight from gate number 5 and a few minutes walk later you are in the Fort premises.

Where To Stay In Delhi


As the Capital of India, Delhi has no dearth of Hotels. In fact you will be spoilt with options. To help you choose your staying option click here.

Hope you find this post on Delhi of use to you. Have you also visited Red Fort with kids. What was your experience? Do let us know about your experience or if I am missing something, please contact us or comment below and I will update this blog soon. Your comments and/or feedback are most welcome.


In case you found the above read interesting, you might also like the following:

Sariska National Park – Where The Tigers Roar (for few lucky ones)!!

A Guide to Visiting the Taj Mahal

Wildlife Jungle Safari at Kanha National Park

About Manish Samtani

Namaste! A passionate traveller at heart and now a blogger as well. Thanks to my sailing career, travelling has always been an integral part of my professional life. Eternally fascinated by the World of Travelling be it either meeting new people, learning new cultures, experiencing their customs or just trying out some new cuisines. Off late, I’ve been exploring places with my family where my job has not taken me. Mail me at manishsamtani@laidbacktraveller.com

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