Red Fort is one of the most popular tourist places in New Delhi. It is a World Heritage Monument. Called Lal Qila or Lal Qil'ah locally, it is an icon for the city. Visiting Red Fort is a fascinating experience in looking at craftsmanship of 17th century and also reliving a part of medieval Indian history.
Red Fort was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan during 1639-48. The Mughals used Agra as their capital till the year 1649. Shah Jahan developed the seventh city of Delhi and called it Shahjahanabad, the present-day Old Delhi and made it his capital in 1649. The Red Fort was the royal residence of the emperor.
How to reach
Read Fort is a five minute walk from Old Delhi Railway and Chandni Chowk Metro Stations.
VISITING RED FORT
The main entrance to Red Fort is through the Lahore Gate.
Just after the Lahore Gate, there is a corridor housing a busy market of handicrafts, called Chhatta Chowk.
The entrance to the fort is through another gate called Naqqar Khana, also known as the
Drum House. There used to be a musician's gallery at Naqqar Khana. The emperor was welcomed with music whenever he came to the fort and wished a happy journey with music when he went away.
Diwan-i-Aam, The Hall of Public Audiences, was the place where the emperor met common men and heard about their problems. As one passes through Naqqar Khana, there is a long passage to Diwan-i-Aam, which lush green lawns on both sides. The Diwan-i-Aam is a big hall, open on three sides. The emperor's throne is a carved marble balcony, or Jharokha.
The royal apartments are situated behind the Diwan-i-Aam. These are Diwan-i-Khas, Khas Mahal and Rang Mahal, located next to one another. These buildings are connected by a continuous water channel known as, Nahr-i-Behisht, or the Stream of Paradise. The water to Nahr-i-Behisht was fed from a tower called Shah Burj located at the northeastern corner of the fort on the banks of the Yamuna river. The Yamuna has since changed its course; so there is a garden at the rear of these buildings.
Diwan-i-Khas, The Hall of Private Audience, was used by the emperor for meeting the courtiers and state guests. The hall is made of white marble. There is a marble platform on which the famous Peacock Throne used to be kept. The emperor would sit on the Peacock Throne and talk to the special visitors. The hall is open on the sides and the ceiling and columns are heavily decorated with floral carvings and inlaid with semi-precious stones.
Khas Mahal, or Private Palace, was the emperor's residence. It comprises of three parts. The first, Tasbih-Khana, Chamber of Telling Beads was used as a private worship place by the emperor. Next, there is Khwabgah, the sleeping chamber. Then there is Tosha-Khana, the Wardrobe, or Bhaitak, the sitting room. There is a beautiful marble screen showing scale of justice over a crescent, with stars and clouds around.
Rang Mahal, or the Palace of Color was a part of Zenana, the ladies quarters. It is also known as Imtiyaz Mahal, the Palace of Distinction. It was richly painted and decorated during the time of Shah Jahan. In some of the apartments in Rang Mahal, the ceiling was decorated with tiny pieces of glass and for this reason, these were called Sheesh Mahal or, the Hall of Mirrors.
The Moti Masjid, or the Pearl Mosque, was built by Aurangzeb during 1659-60 for his private use. The three domes are said to have been originally copper-plated. The mosque was also used by the ladies in the palace.
The Mumtaz Mahal, was a part of Zenana, the ladies quarters. This was the palace for Shah Jahan’s wife, Arjumand Banu Begum, also known famously as Mumtaz Mahal. It is now used as Museum, displaying relics from the Mughal era like the paintings, weapons, chess sets, hookahs, textiles, carpets, etc.