Places To See - Red Fort


Sadly, only drawings and memories remain of the days when the mighty Yamuna used to flow by the side of this imposing fort. Today, the moats around the fort have dried up and the river flows about a kilometre away from the fort. Like most monuments of its time, this fort was built in red sandstone and so, gets the name Red Fort. Its walls range from 18m to 30m in different places. The eastern section of the fort was kept apart for the emperor and his family. The western part was the public area, full of bazaars, workshops and stables. In the north was where the emperor carried out his public duties and meetings. The zenana (women’s quarters) was located to the south.

There are three major gates – Lahori, Delhi and Kashmiri – that leads to the fort. The main entrance is the Lahori Gate. Atop this gate you’ll find the Indian Tricolour fluttering. On every Independence Day the Prime Minister addresses the people from here. This gate opens out onto the road leading to Lahore, and is still in use. The Delhi gate, facing Delhi was used by the army for their offices and depots.

Go through the gate and walk a little further to reach a bazaar. During the Mughal era, this area was called Meena Bazaar, and was open only to the King’s harem of women. And now, it sells everything from saris and salwars to jewellery and accessories. This shopping arcade leads to the Naubat Khana or the drum house. This was the place from where musicians used to play drums on the arrival of emperors and princes. And just above the Naubat Khana is the Indian War Memorial Museum, which exhibits armours, guns, swords, and other war-related items.

Diwan-i-Aim or the Place of Public Hearing is a gracious area that had a wall paneled with marble and inlaid with precious stones. They were removed during the mutiny of 1857. This was one area between the emperor’s private quarters and public places such as the markets and stalls. The jharokha in the Diwan-i-Aim has heavy influence of European art and architecture. It might be seen only upon close inspection, though.
The Diwan-i-Khas or the Place for Special Hearing was the area where the emperor used to hold meetings with his ministers. Next to it are the royal baths or the Hammams, and Shahi Burj. They are now closed for public viewing. The white-marbled Moti Masjid (pearl mosque) was the private mosque used by Aurangzeb, which he himself had built.

The Hayat Baksh is the sole garden that’s left today. Bahadur Shah II built the pavilion in the centre of the pool. He also built the Hira Mahal. The Shah Burj and the water canals carried water towards various sections, and it cooled down the palace in the summers. The Khass Mahal, or Special Palace is where the emperor slept. This gave out onto the Diwan-i-Aim on one side and the zenana on another. In order to provide privacy there were many ornate alcoves and marble jali screens.

By the time the British arrived the fort was already degrading. Their occupation only made it worse, leaving only a few structures intact now. For the tourists, the Delhi Tourism organises a light and sound show, narrating the history of Delhi with reference to the Red Fort. The Mutiny Museum is based on the 1857 Mutiny.