The Red Fort
The entry to this splendid fort is from the Lahori Gate or the Chatta Chowk. Lal Quila is now a busy market place called the Meena Bazaar. This bazaar has an excellent collection of antiques, miniature paintings and skillfully crafted fake ivory jewellery. The bazaar also sells some fabulous carpets beautifully woven. Just beyond the Chhata Chowk, is the heart of the fort called Naubat Khana, or the Drum House. Musicians used to play for the emperor from the Naubat Khana, and the arrival of princes and royalty was heralded from here.
The Fort sports all the obvious trappings befitting a vital centre of Mughal governance halls of public and private audiences, domed and arched marble palaces, plush private apartments, a mosque, and elaborately designed gardens. Even today, the Fort remains an impressive testimony to Mughal grandeur, despite being attacked by the Persian Emperor Nadir Shah in 1739, and by the British soldiers, during the war of independence in 1857.
Red FortThe Fort also houses the Diwan i Am or the Hall of Public Audiences, where the Emperor would sit on a marbled paneled alcove, studded with gems, and hear complaints of the common people. The Diwan i Khas is the hall of Private Audiences, where the Emperor held private meetings. This hall is made of marble, and its centre piece used to be the Peacock Throne, which was studded with rubies and gems and was carried away to Iran by Nadir Shah in 1739. Today, although the Diwan i Khas is only a pale shadow of its original glory, yet the verse of Amir Khusro If there is Paradise on the face of earth, it is here, it is here, it is here reminds us of its former glory.
The Rang Mahal or the Palace of Colours as it is known, holds a spectacular Lotus shaped fountain, made out of a single piece of marble, and housed the Emperors wives and mistresses. The palace was decorated with excellent paintings, gold bordered projections, mosaics of mirrors and the ceiling was made with gold and silver which wonderfully reflected in a central pool in the marble floor. The other attractions enclosed within this monument are the hammams or the Royal Baths, the Shahi Burj, which used to be Shahjahans private working area, and the Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque, built by Aurangzeb for his personal use.
Even today, the Lal Quila is an eloquent reminder of the glory of the Mughal era, and its magnificence simply leaves one awestruck. It is still a calm haven of peace, which helps one to break away, from noisy and busy life outside the walls of the Fort, and transports the visitor to another realm of existence. Sound and light shows or son et lumiere as it is better known, highlighting particular phases of history are held here. The shows are in Hindi and English with tickets costing Rs. 20, available at the Fort. The English seasons are from November to January at 7.30 p.m., in January to April and September to October at 8.30 p.m. and from May to August at 9 p.m.
The jali of the Diwan i Aam in the Red Fort A sound and light show describing Mughal history is a tourist attraction in the evenings. The major architectural features are in mixed condition; the extensive water features are dry. Some buildings are in fairly good condition, with their decorative elements undisturbed; in others, the marble inlaid flowers have been removed by looters. The tea house, although not in its historical state, is a working restaurant. The mosque and hamam are closed to the public, although visitors can peer through their glass windows or marble latticework. Walkways are crumbling, and public toilets are available at the entrance and inside the park.
The Lahore Gate entrance leads to a mall with jewellery and craft stores. There are a museum of blood paintings, depicting young 20th century Indian martyrs and their stories, an archaeological museum and an Indian war memorial museum. Nevertheless, Red Fort is still one of the most beautiful and well designed forts in the world.
In the east wall of the court stands the now isolated Naubat Khana also known as Nakkar Khana, the drum house. Music was played at scheduled times daily next to a large gate, where everyone except royalty was required to dismount.