( Red Fort
called because of the red stone with which it is built, the Red
Fort is one of the most magnificent palaces in the world. India's
history is also closely linked with this fort. It was forth here that the British deposed the last Mughal
ruler, Bhadur Shah Zafar, marking the end of the three century long
Mughal rule. It was also from its ramparts that the first Prime
Minister of India, Pandit Jawharlal Nehru, announced to the nation
that India was free form colonial rule.
Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, after ruling from Agra for eleven years,
decided to shift to Delhi and laid the foundation stone of the Red
Fort in 1618. For its inauguration in 1647, the main halls of the
palace were draped in rich tapestry and covered with silk from china
and velvet from Turkey. With a circumference of almost one and a
half miles, the fort is an irregular octagon and has two entrances,
the Lahore and Delhi Gates.
the Lahore Gate, a visitor has access to the Chatta Chowk (vaulted
arcade) which as once a royal market and housed court jewelers,
miniature painters carpet manufacturers, workers in enamel, silk
weavers and families of specialized craftsmen. The road from the
royal market leads to the Nawabarkhana (band house) where the royal
band played five times a day. The band house also marks the entry
into the main palace and all visitors, except royalty had to dismount
here. The Diwan-I-Am is the Red Fort's hall of public audience.
of sandstone covered with shell plaster polished to look like ivory,
the 80 x 40 feet hall is sub-divided by columns. The Mughal emperors
would hold court here and meet dignitaries and foreign emissaries.
The most imposing feature of the Diwqani-I-Am is the alcove in the
back wall where the emperor sat in state on a richly carved and
inlaid marble platform. In the recess behind the platform are fine
examples of Italian pietra-dura work. The piece de resistance of
the fort, the Diwan-I-Khas was the hall of private audience.
most highly ornamented of all Shah Jahan's buildings, the 90 x 67
feet Diwan-I-Khas is a pavilion of white marble supported by intricately
carved pillars. So enamoured was the emperor by the beauty of this
pavilion that he engraved on it the following words: If there is
paradise on the face of this earth, it is this, it is this."
Richly decorated with flowers of inlaid mosaic work of cornelian
and other stones, the Diwan-I-Khas once housed the famous Peacock
Throne, which when it was plundered by Nadir Shah in 1739, was valued
at six million sterling. Residence of the senior queens, the Rang
Mahal (hall of colours) has a central hall surrounded by six apartments.
apartments are assured privacy by intricately carved screens which
do not hinder the free flow of fresh air and light. The stream of
paradise flows through the main hall, and is marked in the centre
by a huge lotus shaped marble basin with an ivory fountain. Constructed
by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1662 as his private mosque Moti Masjid (pearl
mosque) is built with highly polished marble. The mosque is a good
example of the Mughal fetish for symmetry with cusped arches, sinuous
decorative designs, carved cornices and bulbous domes. Other building
of interest in the Red Fort complex are the Musamman Burg (Octagonal
tower), Khwabgah (bedroom) and the Hammam (royal baths).