As the name suggests, Purana Quila is one of the oldest forts in Delhi which was built under the Mughal emperor Humayun and the Afghan emperor Sher Shah Suri, though in different times. The monument’s impeccable architectural style and the incredible history attached to it, makes it as one of the must-see place in Delhi.
Extending across 1.5 km, the thick ramparts of the fort rises up to a height of 18 meters and have three embowed gateways. First is the Bara Darwaza ‘Big Gate’ that faces the west, second gate is the Humayun Darwaza from where one can see Humayun’s Tomb. Both the gates are used for the entry inside the fort except for the third gate i.e Talaqi Darwaza which literally means ‘the forbidden gate’. All the gates are double storied provided with huge bastions ornamented with colorful marbles. The fort is an interesting fusion of both Mughal and the Indian architectural style; which can be seen in the overhanging balconies ‘Jharokhas’ topped by pillared pavilions ‘Chattris’ that reminds of the rajasthani architecture. All these are still restored including few of the interior structures like Qila-i-kuhna mosque and Sher mandal.
Built by Sher Shah Suri, Qila-i-kuhna is a single domed prayer hall which seems to be the replica of Jami Mosque. The monument has five-pointed horseshoe shaped arches on the doorway that shows an influence of the pre-Mughal architectural design. Whereas, Sher Mandal
is an octagonal double-storeyed tower made of red sandstone, which is topped by an octagonal shaped pavilion. As per the records, it is one of the first observatories of Delhi. And the remnants of the stone shelves adorned with ornamental plasterwork proves it to be a library of the Emperor’s once upon a time.
History of the Attraction
Marked by many interesting historical tales, Purana Qila is one of the best places to visit for an avid history lover’s. Before, the fort was the inner citadel of the city of Din Panah which was renovated during Humayun’s rule in 1533 and converted into a beautiful fort. But in 1540, Sher Shah Suri; the founder of Suri Dynasty defeated Humayun, demolished most of the structure inside to customize the fort as per his own taste and then named it as Shergarh. Once again when Humayun took back the hold of the fort from Sher Shah Suri’s son, he finished what he had started and resumed the glory of the old fort. Sher Mandal which was named after the Afghan ruler was originally conceptualised by Babur that was to be used as his son Humayun’s library and personal observatory, the construction of which only got completed when Humayun recaptured the fort from Sher Shah Suri. Ironically, Humayun took his last breath on the steep footsteps of Sher Mandal while he was hurrying for to attend his daily prayer. It is also said that the site where the old fort is located considered to be guarding the ruins of the legendary city of Indraprastha mentioned in Mahabharata. As far as the history of the Purana Qila goes, it also became the site for Muslim refugee camps, during the Partition of India in August 1947.
Pragati Maidan is the nearest metro station to reach Purana Qila. From where one has to take rickshaw to cover 3.3 km to finally reach there.
Things to do in and around
Standing amidst lush greenery, the fort was surrounded by an extensive moat on its eastern side that was connected to the river yamuna. Though with time, the moat that had become dry after the river changed its way, has now been turned alive by converting it into a boating lake for the tourists recreation. Hence, catering to the growing tourism in Delhi. The light and sound show in the evening on the history of ‘Seven cities of Delhi’ also add as another attraction for the tourists to visit this incredible monument on their sightseeing tour in Delhi. Apart from this, there are several other monuments like Kairul Manzil; a mosque built by Akbar’s foster-mother Maham Anga, Sher Shah Suri Gate or the Lal Darwaza that also lie around the Purana Qila complex, a visit there can make the Delhi holiday tour fulfilling.
Opening and closing time
The Purana Quila is open for the visitors all day between 7am till 5pm.
The entry for Indian tourists is Rs. 20 and for the foreigners is Rs. 200.
Best Time to Visit:
Delhi’s heat is not too forgiving during summers, so if one is planning for a sightseeing tour in Delhi then the months of December till March is considered to be the best time to visit this magnificent heritage.