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>> Delhi Travel    >>   Sightseeing in New Delhi ( India )
RED FORT (LAL QILA )
 

The Delhi Fort, also known as the Red Fort, is one of the popular tourist destinations in Delhi. The Delhi Fort is located in Delhi, India. It is also known as Lal Qil'ah and the Red Fort.


History

Front View The Red Fort was the palace for Muslim Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's new capital, Shahjahanabad, the seventh Muslim city in the Delhi site. He moved his capital from Agra in a move designed to bring prestige to his reign, and to provide ample opportunity to apply his ambitious building schemes and interests. The Red Fort stands at the eastern edge of Shahjahanabad, and gets its name from the massive wall of red sandstone that defines its eight sides. The wall is 1.5 miles (2.5 km) long, and varies in height from 60ft (16m) on the river side to 110 ft (33 m) towards the city. Measurements have shown that the plan was generated using a square grid of 82 m.


The fort lies along the Yamuna River, that fed the moats that surround most of the wall. The wall at its northeastern corner is adjacent to an older fort, the Salimgarh, a defense built by Islam Shah Sur in 1546.

The Red Fort was conceived as a whole, and subsequent modifications have not taken away from the overall unity of the scheme. In the 18th century, however, occupiers and looters damaged some sections of the palace. After the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, when the Fort was used as a headquarters, the British army occupied and destroyed many of its pavilions and gardens. A program for restoring the surviving parts of the fort began in 1903.

Architectural design
The Diwan I Khas, or Hall of Private Audiences. The walls of the fort are smoothly dressed, articulated by heavy string-courses along the upper section. They open at two major gates, the Delhi and the Lahore gates. The Lahore Gate is the main entrance; it leads to a long covered bazaar street, the Chatta Chowk, whose walls are lined with stalls for shops. The Chatta Chowk leads to a large open space where it crosses the large north-south street that was originally the division between the fort's military functions, to its west, and the palaces, to its east. The southern end of this street is the Delhi Gate. On axis with the Lahore gate and the Chatta Chowk, on the eastern side of the open space, is the Naqqar Khana ("drum house"), the main gate for the palace, named for the musicians' gallery above it. Beyond this gate is another, larger open space, which originally served as the courtyard of the Diwan-i-Am, the large pavilion for public imperial audiences. An ornate throne-balcony for the emperor stands at the center of the eastern wall of the Diwan, conceived as a copy of the throne of Solomon.

The imperial private apartments lie behind the throne. The apartments consist of a row of pavilions that sits on a raised platform along the eastern edge of the fort, looking out onto the river Yamuna. The pavilions are connected by a continuous water channel, known as the Nahr-i-Behisht, or the Stream of Paradise, that runs through the center of each pavilion. The water is drawn from the river Yamuna, from a tower, the Shah Burj, at the northeastern corner of the fort. The palace is designed as an imitation of paradise as it is described in the Koran; a couplet repeatedly inscribed in the palace reads, "If there be a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here". The planning of the palace is based on Islamic prototypes, but each pavilion reveals in its architectural elements the Hindu influences typical of Mughal building. The palace complex of the Red Fort is counted among the best examples of the Mughal style at its Shah Jahani peak.
 


The Red Fort by night. The two southernmost pavilions of the palace are zenanas, or women's quarters: the Mumtaz Mahal (now a museum), and the larger, lavish Rang Mahal, which has been remarked for its gilded, decorated ceiling and marble pool, fed by the Nahr-i-Behisht. The third pavilion from the south, the Khas Mahal, contains the imperial chambers. These include a suite of bedrooms, prayer rooms, a veranda, and the Mussaman Burj, a tower built against the fortress walls, from which the emperor would show himself to the people in a daily ceremony. The next pavilion is the Diwan-i-Khas, the lavishly decorated hall of private audience, used for ministerial and court gatherings. This finest of the pavilions is ornamented with floral pietra dura patterns on the columns, with precious stones and gilding. A painted wooden ceiling has replaced the original one, of silver inlaid with gold.

The next pavilion contains the hammam, or baths, in the Turkish style, with Mughal ornamentation in marble and colored stones. To the west of the hammam is the Moti Masjid, the Pearl Mosque. This was a later addition, built in 1659 as a private mosque for Aurangzeb, Shah Jahan's successor. It is a small, three-domed mosque in carved white marble, with a three-arched screen which steps down to the courtyard.

To its north lies a large formal garden, the Hayat Bakhsh Bagh, or 'Life-Bestowing Garden', which is cut through by two bisecting channels of water. A pavilion stands at either end of the north-south channel, and a third, built in 1842 by the last emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, stands at the center of the pool where the two channels meet.

Modern day significance

The Red Fort is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Delhi, attracting millions of tourists every year. The fort is also the site from which the Prime Minister of India addresses the nation on August 15, the day India achieved independence from United Kingdom.

At one point of time, more than 3000 people lived within the premises of the Delhi Fort complex. But after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the fort was captured by Britain and was made the headquarters of the British Indian Army. After India achieved independence in 1947, the Indian Army took control over the fort. However, in December 2003, the Indian Army handed the fort over to the Indian tourist authorities


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