The Red Fort is a historical fortification in the national capital of New Delhi. Located in the center of the city, it was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty. It was constructed by Shah Jahan in the year 1939 as a result of a capital shift from Agra to Delhi. This imposing piece of architecture derives its name from its impregnable red sandstone walls. In addition to accommodating the emperors and their households, it was the ceremonial and political center of the Mughal state and the setting for events critically impacting the region. Today, this monument is home to a number of museums that have an assortment of precious artifacts on display. Every year, the Indian Prime Minister unfurls the national flag here on the Independence Day.
Formerly known as Quila-e-Mubarak or the Blessed Fort, the Red Fort lies along the banks of the river Yamuna, whose waters fed the moats surrounding the fort. It was a part of the medieval city of Shahjahanabad, popularly known today as 'Old Delhi'. The entire fort complex is said to represent the architectural creativity and brilliance of Mughal architecture. With so much history and heritage associated with it, the Red Fort is one of the most popular monuments in India and a major tourist attraction in Delhi. It became a UNESCO world heritage site in 2007. The Archaeological Survey of India is at present responsible for the security and preservation of this magnificent monument.
The construction of Red Fort began in the holy month of Muharram, on 13 May 1638. It took nine years to build, and under the supervision of Shahjahan, the Fort was completed on 6 April 1648. To contain the older Salimgarh Fort inside its boundaries, the walls were built asymmetrical, unlike any other Mughal buildings.
It remained the seat of Imperial Mughal Rule till 1857 when the Great Revolt took place. It consists of several other structures which were built during Shah Jahan's life, and some which were added by the later rulers. His son and successor Aurangzeb, added the Pearl Mosque or the Moti Masjid to the fort complex when he took over as the emperor after a fierce War of succession between him and his three brothers.
The Fort saw its degradation after the Aurungzeb rule was over. In 1712, another ruler Farrukhsiyar replaced silver ceiling with copper. In 1739, the Persian Emperor Nadir Shah invaded Delhi and looted the Red Fort, taking away with himself the precious Peacock throne. The Fort was captured, plundered and attacked several times between 1739 and 1857 by Ahmad Shah, Marathas, Sikhs and the British. To raise funds for the defence of armies from Ahmad Shah Durrani, Marathas sold the silver ceiling of Diwan-e-Khas in 1760. The Fort was the seat of Mughals for 200 years, but after the revolt of 1857, the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah II was exiled to Rangoon. He was the last Mughal resident of the Fort and the symbol of 1857 rebellion against the British in which Shahjahanbad residents participated. This marked the end of the Mughals.
The fort was then occupied by the British Colonial Rulers, who invaded a lot of precious artifacts such as the Kohinoor diamond, the Jade Wine Cup of Shah Jahan and the crown of Bahadur Shah II. They planned a systematic destruction of the Fort which included destroying of furniture, gardens, harem apartments and servant quarters. Except for the white marble buildings, almost all of the inner structure was destroyed. Later in 1899, when Lord Curzon became the Viceroy of India, he ordered reconstruction of the building and gardens were also restored.
After the British left India, the first Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru raised the National Flag from Lahori Gate and since then, every Independence and Republic day witnesses the Prime Minister unfurling the National Flag and giving his ceremonial speech at the Red Fort.
Combining features of Indian, Persian and Timurid forms of architecture, the Red Fort is truly a monument par excellence. The architect of the Red Fort was Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, who also designed the Taj Mahal. It is surrounded by a 2 km perimeter wall which acted as an effective defensive measure. The structure of the fort is octagonal, and it has several gates, the prominent ones being Lahori, Ajmeri, Kashmiri, Mori, Turkman and Delhi gates.
The Red Fort houses several structures inside its premises. The most well known among all these are the Diwan-i-Aam, the Diwan-i-Khaas, the Moti Masjid and the Nahr-i-Bashisht (stream of paradise).
The 'Diwan-i-Am' also known as 'Hall of Public Audience' is a rectangular hall consisting of three aisles, with a façade of nine arches. Originally there were six marble palaces along the eastern water front. A water-channel, called the Nahr-i-Bihisht ('Stream of Paradise') runs through it, with an ivory fountain fitted with a central marble basin. The Mumtaz-Mahal now houses the Delhi Fort Museum. The Diwan-i-Khas ('Hall of Private Audience') is a beautifully decorated pillared hall, with a flat ceiling supported by engrailed arches. Peacock Throne is said to be kept here before being taken away by Nadir Shah. The Hammam ('Bath') consists of three prime sections divided by corridors. The complete interior and the floor is built of marble and inlaid with coloured stones. Moti-Masjid ('Pearl Mosque') which was added later by Aurangzeb is to the west of the Hamman. The red-stone pavilion in the middle of the tank in the centre of the Hayat-Bakhsh-Bagh is called Zafar-Mahal and was built by Bahadur Shah II in about 1842.
Most of these buildings were inlaid with precious stones and intricate floral motives. The unique cusped arches, highly intricate ornamentation and the double domes are the most important features of the Red Fort's architecture, something which became a trademark of Shahjahani architecture.
Red Fort is visited by many tourists for the significant historical relevance that it holds. But other than the red sandstone and the mighty building of the medieval times, there is another attraction that brings the tourists to the Blessed Fort - Light and Sound Show.
The show, held every evening except Mondays, is a one hour fest of lights and sounds which takes place inside the premises of the Fort. There's no better way to learn about the history of the Fort. The shows are both in English and Hindi at different timings:
Hindi- 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
English- 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Tickets: Weekdays - INR 60 for adults and INR 20 for children
Weekends and Government Holidays - INR 80 for adults and INR 30 for children
The best time to visit this destination is during the months of September- March, when the weather is pleasant.
Being the capital city of India, Delhi is well connected viaa dense network of local transport. The nearest Metro Station is Chandini Chowk on the Yellow Line. You can hire an autorickshaw or a taxi from the metro station. Also, you can reach Red Fort from any part of the city through the DTC buses that ply regularly on this route.
If you are planning to stay near the Red Fort, you can get a plush accomodation at Hotel G.D International, Tara Palace, Hotel Annapoorna and Hotel Red Fort Heritage.
Restaurants near Red Fort include Soul Club and Lounge, Rajdhani Restaurant, Aap Ki Pasand, Amber Restaurant, Mini Punjab and Captain's Kebab among others.
1. Videography is permitted. You have to pay INR 25 per camcorder.
2. The Red Fort remains closed on Sundays.