Also known as Lal Quila (in Hindi), Red Fort is not only a significant historical monument which served the Moghuls for over 200 years in India, but also an iconic landmark of New Delhi as it is from here that every 15th August, on India’s Independence Day, the Prime Minister of the country addresses the entire nation after a ceremonial flag-hoisting ceremony and the entire event is broadcasted nationally.
Red Fost was built by Shah Jahan in 1648 as the fortified palace of Shahajahanbad – the capital of Shah Jahan. The monument got its name from the massive fenced walls, surrounding the actual building, which are made of red sandstone. Along with its adjacent monument, the Salimgarh Fort, built in 1546 by Salim Shah Suri, Red Fort was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. The fort was originally known as Quila-i-Mubarak (the Blessed Fort). The orders for building this fort were passed by Shah Jahan in 1638 when he decided to move his capital from Agra to Delhi. The main architect on the project was Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, who is also accredited as the chief architect in the construction of the Taj Mahal (Agra). Shah Jahan’s successor Aurangzeb added the Pearl Mosque to the vicinity. However, after Aurangzeb’s reign ended, the fort was almost in ruins and without an emperor for almost 30 years before Jahandar Shah took over in 1712. The last emperor to rule from the fort was Bahadur Shah II who participated in the 1857 rebel against the British which the Moghuls lost. The fort was massively destructed time and again during the British Rule which finally stopped after India’s independence in 1947. A larger chunk of the fort served as a military cantonment and stayed under the rule of the Indian army until December 2003 when it was handed over to Archaeological Survey of India for repairs and restoration.
While the restoration process of the fort is in progress, some parts of the fort still remain destructed and damaged from the endless harm caused to it by various Moghul and British rulers plus looters who often attacked the fort in order to rob it off its precious metals and embellishments. The tea house, though not in its original state anymore, serves as a restaurant. Most fountains have dried up. The Hamam and mosque are not open to public anymore, however, if you are interested to take a peek through the windows, you may do so. The main gate of the fort is known as Lahori Gate due to its bearings towards Lahore, however, the beauty of the gate was spoiled when Aurangzeb ordered the addition of bastions. The south public gate is called the Delhi Gate which bears a resemblance to Lahori Gate, and has two gigantic stone elephants facing each other on either side of the gate. Other important parts of the fort include but are not limited to the Diwan-i-Aam (the inner main court and the Public Audience Hall), Naubat Khana (the drum house), Nahr-i-Behisht (a canal known as “Stream of Paradise), Mumtaz Mahal (the women quarters and now the site of Red Fort Archaeological MuseumMuseum), Khas Mahal (the emperor’s apartment), Diwan-i-Khaas (Hall of Private Audience), and Hayat Baksh Bagh (the “Life-Bestowing” gardens).
Red Fort is the largest monument in Delhi and has the reputation of attracting thousands of tourists every year. It is definitely worth a visit.
The nearest metro station to Red Fort is Chandni Chowk. You can also take the bus, an auto-rickshaw, or a cab/taxi to Red Fort. Try to go for the metered auto rickshaws or taxis if at all you have to, but the most preferred and economical mode of transport in Delhi is the metro.