Gumbo was visiting one of the most popular attractions in the sprawling city of Delhi, its Red Fort. Congratulations to Professor Abe, George G, PortMoresby and Bob Cranwell, who recognized where we were.
A Brief History of the Red Fort
Emperor Shah Jahan (of Taj Mahal fame) commissioned construction of the Red Fort in 1638 when he decided to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi; it was built between 1639 - 1648 and was to become the heart of Old Delhi. The Red Fort is named for the color of sandstone used to construct its walls, as is apparent from these photos. The property was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007.
The Fort’s walls are 75 feet (23 meters) high and enclosed a royal community in their 1.5 mile (2.3 km) length (encompassing 254 acres). The complex includes palaces, meeting halls, baths and indoor canals, gardens, a market and a mosque. The architecture is a mixture of Persian and Hindu styles.
The Red Fort contained the court and the private residence of the Mughal Emperors and their families, and court officials. Many of the treasures of India were stored here, including gold, art, and gems.
After 1700 AD the Mughals declined. In 1747, Nadir Shah, the Shah of Iran , sacked Delhi and looted the Red Fort. When the British captured Delhi, they used the Fort as an administration center and military base.
Visiting the Red Fort
There are three gates that enter the fortress, two remaining open today. You'll likely enter the main Lahore Gate, so named because it faces the city of Lahore in Pakistan.
Adjacent to the Lahore Gate is the Chhatta Chowk, a roofed market where silk, jewellery and other items for were sold to the wealthy during the Mughal period. Today you'll find this space mostly occupied by souvenir shops.
Nearby are buildings and grounds used to house and train soldiers of the British and later the Indian armies.
The most famous structure in the Red Fort complex is the Diwan-i-Aam, the royal audience hall where everyday people were received by the Mughal emperor. It's a truly impressive structure with 60 red sandstone pillars support a lofty roof.
The southern most pavilions in the fort were home to the Imperial harem These buildings are known as Mumtaz Mahal and Rang Mahal. Today the Mumtaz Mahal holds an archaeological museum with artifacts of the Mughal period. The Rang Mahal was used as a mess hall for a brief time when the British occupied the fort in the mid-19th century.
The Khas Mahal was the Mughal Emperor's private residence. The interior is decorated with carved white marble displaying floral decorations. The ceiling was also partially gilded. It is an elegant structure.
The Moti Masjid is a white marble mosque within the Red Fort, not far from the Khas Mahal.
The Hayat Bakhsh is a large garden in the northeast part of the complex. At each end is a white marble pavilion and in the center is a red sandstone building. The gardens are spacious but not anywhere near their old state of beauty, and there are plans to restore them.
The Red Fort is open every day except Monday, from 7 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. It takes a half day to explore the entire place -- longer if you like to linger. Every evening, a popular sound and light show is conducted inside the fort which explains the history of Mughals and their era.
This complex is very similar to Agra's Red Fort, but is certainly worth the time to visit and explore.