Lal Quila or Red Fort is one of the most beautiful and famous buildings in the world, situated in the center of Indian National Capital, Delhi. The fort was commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who was believed to be the richest man of his time, which is also evident from the riches and grandeur of the fort. The fort was the residence of Mughal Emperors in India since the time of Shah Jahan in 1639 till the revolt of 1857, nearly for 200 years. The red fort is considered as one of the great example of Mughal architecture under Shah Jahan. It is adjacent to the Shalimar Fort, which was built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546. Red Fort along with the Shalimar Fort were included in world Heritage Sites in 2007.
When Shah Jahan became the Mughal emperor in 1927 , he wanted to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi. After discussion with his minister, a place on the bank of river Yamuna was chosen for the construction of the fort. The construction started in 1939 and after 9 years of hardwork this beautiful structure of red sandstone was made. City with the name of Shahjahanabad was established in front of the fort, which we today know as Delhi. The fort was named after its massive enclosing walls made of red sandstone . Famous as Qila-e-mubarak the red fort was a dazzling city within a city replete with beautiful palaces , gardens, water channels, mosque and pavilions.
Main structures within the fort
Red Fort has bought testimony to the immense riches of India at the time of Mughals. Shah Jahan spear no expense or effort to build this fort. During the reign of Shah Jahan the red fort was acclaimed as a jewel in the crown of the imperial capital.
Strong walls and gates were built to protect the fort. A mot was dug on three sides running along the ramparts and on the fourth side River Yamuna served the same purpose. There were 5 gates in the fort. Delhi gate was situated on the south which opened to Jama Masjid. The entrance of the gate were decorated with fine stone carvings. On the western side was grand and beautiful Lahori gate which opens to the famous Chandani Chowk market. Today tourists enter into the fort through Lahori gate. When Aurangzeb usurped the throne from his father he erected a small tower in front of this gate to further fortify it. This was described by Shah Jahan as putting a veil across the face of a bride.
After entering from Lahori gate one enters into a market known as “Chatta Bazar”, which is very famous among tourists. All sort of goods were available in this mrket at the time of glory. After crossing the Chatta Bazar, one enters into Naubat or Naqqar Khana , the drum house, from where musicians used to announce the arrival of the king or other prominent dignitaries. Music was played here five times a day at chosen hours.
Right in front of Naqqar Khana is Diwan-e-Aam, a pillared pavilion opened on three sides where the Mughal emperor gave ordinance to his subjects. The throne for the emperor was placed on the platform about ten feet high. There is beautiful inlay work above the throne and on the walls. Gems and precious stones were used for the inlay work. The designs include pictures of animal, birds and flower.
Diwan-e-Khas is the place where the royals met their ministers and nobles. The walls of Diwan-e-khas are made of marbles. The ceiling was covered with silver. A stream called Naher-e-bahisht used to flow right through the mid of Diwane-e-khas. There is a marble platform in Diwan-e-khas , where the throne made of solid gold “takht-e-taus” was placed. On the interior walls of Diwane-Khas the famous line by Amir Khusro are inscribed “Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast” which means “If there is paradise on earth it is here, it is here, it is here”. Considering the dazzling beauty of the place, this would not be an exaggeration. The beauty of Diwan-e-khas has been mentioned in travelogue of many foreign visitors.
Takh-e-taus was a throne embezzled with gems and precious stones with fine gold work. Diwan-e-khas is the place where Nader Shah the afghan minister met Mughal king Muhammad Shah. Nader Shah treacherously looted Delhi later in a war and took away takht-e-taus and Kohinoor Diamond.
Towards the north of Diwane-e-khas are royal Hamams. Like his ancestors from central Asia , Shah Jahan was very fond of water. The Hamams in Mughal palace served not merely as bathrooms they provided space for royal family to play with water. The Hamams has large hall like rooms and stone tubs and platforms. The Hamams had very interesting water systems. There were provisions for hot and cold water and dressing room. All these places had very interesting inlay work with semi precious stone.
Towards the south of Diwan-e-khas is khas Mahal. The Khas mahal is a very beautiful building. An impressive exhibition of inlay work is on display here. The scales of justice is depicted on the walls of Khas Mahal to project the image of the ruler as an impartial judge. Delicately carved stone screens served as curtains. Residential apartments for the ruler and other members of the royal family were located here. The palace also contained a number of small and large sitting rooms.
There were provision of recreation and entertainment in Rang Mahal. Naher-e-bahisht running right through the middle kept the residential apartments naturally cool. Water supply in the fort was efficiently managed through the Naher-e-bahist . It was a grand scheme of water flowing through the palaces all time of the year. Through a canal the Yamuna water entered into the fort at shah Bhurj and moved along creating a number of miniature waterfalls along the way.
Beautiful Moti Mahal was constructed by Aurangzeb where the royal family could do prayers within the fort.. The mosque and its domes were all made of white marble. The minarets of the mosque are slim and delicated and the dome is also not very large.
What we see today is less than one fourth of the edifices erected by Shah Jahan and his successors. The beautiful monument was invaded , ransacked and looted by not only its invaders , but also by its weak rulers . Shah Jahan’s successor Aurangzeb spent most of his life in the Deccan. He didn’t attach any significance to the red fort and other successors were weak who cannot maintain the glory of the fort.
Revolt of 1857 and its impact on Red Fort
Red fort holds a great significance in the revolt of 1857, India’s first freedom struggle. 1857 was the time when the spark of freedom was initiated in India. Bahadur Shah Zafar the last Mughal king who was then residing in red fort took over the command. When the British restored order, they punished the king by banishing him to Burma.
Not all the buildings that we see in red fort today were erected by the Mughals some buildings like the barracks were erected y the British after the revolt of 1857. After much struggle the British occupied the fort . The royal palace was transformed into a soldiers garrison by them. They caused a lot of destruction in the fort. The charbagh gardens and major part of fort were destroyed. Structures were raised to house the large number of British soilders.
Red Fort, independent India’s identity.
Ironically the red fort has witnessed the riches and glory of its rulers and also suffered fury and pain of ravage and destruction. Since the revolt of 1957 , Red fort became a powerful source of inspiration for all freedom fighters. This pride of nation in the heart of nation is the identity of Independent India. On Independence Day, every year the prime minister of the nation, hoists the national flag at the main gate of the fort and delivers a nationally-broadcast speech from its ramparts.
Unfortunately major part of the fort are closed for the visitor and one can see these structures only from outside. Over the time overcrowding, illegal encroachment, disfigurement etc has caused a lot of damage to this historically significant monument. It is our duty to preserve this priceless heritage for future generation.
• The fort remains open from sunrise to sunset all days of week.
• Entry tickets are requied for entry in the fort, one cn book the tickets online at
• The nearest metro station is Chandani Chowk metro station
• One can also visit red fort by booking HOHO Delhi , tourist bust by Delhi Tourism.
• The fort is grand , hence take your time to visit an enjoy the riches of the monument
• Do not forget to visit the bustling Chandani Chowk market, situated right in front of Lahori gate to get the feel of Old Delhi
• Give you taste buds a treat at famous Natraj Dahi Bhalla corner and Parathe wali Gali in Chandani chowk