The Red Fort in Delhi is the second most magnificent creation of Shah Jahan after The Taj Mahal. This 17th century Fort of the Mughal Kings reflects the zenith of creativity prevalent in architecture during the Mughal Era. The Red Fort is a fusion of Indian, Persian and European Art. It is also famous for being the venue of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s “Freedom at Mid Night” speech on 15th Aug 1947 after India’s Independence. The sound and light show organized in the Red Fort in the evenings is a great way to experience its history and magnificence.
The most convenient way of reaching Red Fort is my Delhi Metro. The Red Fort is closest to the Metro station of Chandni Chowk. It falls in the Yellow line of Delhi Metro running between Jahangirpuri and Huda city. Another option is to take the Delhi Transport Corporations Tourist Bus to Red Fort from Scindia House. This tour operates every day except Mondays and costs Rs 200.
The Red Fort is open from 9 am to 5 pm on all days except Mondays. The timings for the English version of the Sound & Light show are as follows
Feb- Apr: 830pm-930pm, May- Aug 9pm-10pm, Sep-Oct 830pm-930pm, Nov-Jan 730pm-830pm.
Visit Buspapa for online bus booking to Delhi.
The Sound and Light show of Red Fort is a spectacular way of living through the 5000 year old history of Delhi. The stories start from the Mahabharata times when Kauravas gifted a barren Hastinapura to the Pandavas who converted it into a Paradise. The great escape of Prithviraj Chauhan with Samyogita on Horseback and killing of Sher Shah Suri by a stray Cannon make for gripping Tales. Other stories are about the famous Queen Razia Sultan, Humayun’s fall from the Library steps and Bahadur Shah Zafar’s surrender to the British.
The Red Fort is spread over 250 acres and lies beside the River Yamuna which feeds its moat. Some of the interesting structures with Red Fort that are a must visit are as follows
Diwan-I Aam was the hall for Public Audience. It is a rectangular hall with a façade of nine arches. The Throne used to be kept under a Marble Canopy in an alcove. Austin de Bordeaux, a Florentine artist had decorated the wall behind the throne with Pietra Dura work. The columns were painted in gold. There was a railing made of gold and silver that separated the throne from the public.
Diwan-I- Khas was the hall of Private Audience. It was used by the Emperor to deal with Courtiers and Statesmen. The Halls has a rectangular central chamber which is surrounded by arches rising from piers. The lower parts of the piers are inlaid with floral designs, while the upper portions are gilded and painted. It is here that the world’s most famous throne, The Peacock Throne, was kept. The Peacock Throne was embellished by 108 large Rubies and 116 Emeralds. Precious Pearls adorned the twelve columns that supported the canopy of the Throne. One of the most famous Diamonds of all time, The Kohinoor, was placed on the Peacock Throne by Shah Jahan. Both the Peacock Throne as well as the Kohinoor diamond was taken away by the Iranian raider Nadir Shah in 1739 when his forces defeated the Mughals.
Nahr-i-Behisht is the water channel that connected the Pavilions hosting the residential quarters of the Royal family. Shah Burj is a tower that is located at the north-eastern corner of the fort and it draws water from the Yamuna to feed the Nahr-i-Behisht.
Rang Mahal is the most colorful structure within the Red Fort. It is a large hall very colorfully painted in the interiors. In fact the Rang Mahal was part of The Zenana or the women's quarters. At the center of the Rang Mahal is a lotus shaped fountain that empties out to marble channels. The ceiling used to be covered by intricate mirror work.
Hamam was the Royal Bath house. This structure is fully made of marble with colorful stones adorning the walls. Both Hot and Cold water used to flow from the fountains. Infact one of the fountains was also supposed to spurt out rose water.
Moti Masjid was not part of the original Red Fort built by Shah Jahan. It is a three-domed structure carved in white marble built by Shah Jahan’s successor and Son Aurangzeb as his private Mosque.
In the year 1638, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan started building his new capital Shah Jahanabad in Old Delhi. The Red Fort was built here over 10 years as the residence for the Mughal Emperors. It served as the Capital of the Mughal Empire till 1857 when Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled by The British. The Red Fort served as the headquarters for the British Indian Army till 1947. Following the tradition set by India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who gave the first Independence Day speech at the Red Fort, successive Prime Ministers have addressed the Nation every year at the Red Fort on 15th August. Today the Red Fort is one of the most popular Tourist attractions of Delhi.
Excavations carried out by the Archeological Survey of India have thrown up 3 surprising discoveries. A Mughal Garden replica has been discovered a few feet below the Red Fort. It was supposed to have been the private garden for the ladies of the Royal House.
A Secret Gate is the other discovery. This gate has been found on the rear side of the Red Fort adjacent to the River Yamuna. It is supposed to have been an escape route for the Royal Family in case of an attack. This has made it possible to enter the Red Fort from the West or Chandni Chowk side and leave from the East, the Rajghat side through this tunnel.
A ceramic pipeline for potable water has also been discovered. This pipeline is supposed to have delivered water to the Rang Mahal from a far off source.
The Red Fort was a masterpiece from Shah Jahan. For a travelogue on Shah Jahan's greatest creation, visit Taj Mahal.
For other weekend getaways from Delhi, visit Holiday ideas near Delhi
For weekend getaways from Chandigarh, visit Holiday Ideas near Chandigarh