Incredible India, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
Built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as the palace fort of his capital Shahjahanabad, the Red Fort is famous for its massive enclosing walls. The fort’s construction was completed over a span of ten years, between 1638 and 1648.
The Red Fort’s innovative planning and brilliant architecture has inspired a number of monuments in Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra.
A visit to the historic fort makes for a quintessential Old Delhi experience and offers tourists a chance to appreciate the grandeur of a bygone era.
The Red Fort once overlooked the Yamuna River, which has shrunk over the course of time. Historians also suggest that a tree-lined waterway, which was called Nehr-e-Bihisht or river of paradise, ran out of the fort and its flow was sourced from River Yamuna.
The architecture of the Red Fort reflects a seamless fusion of Islamic, Persian, Timurid and Hindu styles.
Diwan-e-Khas, also known as the Shah Mahal, the Diwan-e-Aam or the Hall of Public Audience (shown here) and the Rang Mahal, also known as the Imtiyaz Mahal, are major attractions.
Not many know that the Red Fort also houses several military barracks raised by the British.
Dating back to 1857, the barracks were built to house the British Army after it had dethroned Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor. Once British reign ended, the barracks were used to house Indian Army personnel, and were vacated in 2003.
The barracks area is now being transformed into a dedicated cultural complex, and features four new museums: on the 1857 War of Independence, on the Jallianwala Bagh, on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, and on the Navratnas - the nine masters of modern Indian art.
Made in red and white sandstone, the barracks stand as fine specimens of colonial architecture and one is instantly drawn to their old world charm. Today, these barracks are being used as museums of art with the support of the Archaeological Survey of India.
Apart from exploring the Red Fort’s interiors, tourists can also visit the shopping area called Chatta Chowk, which can be reached through the Lahore Gate, the main entrance gate of the fort. The market space is lined with stores selling ethnic handicrafts and apparel from different parts of the country.
A major draw for tourists is Son-et-Lumiere, a sound and light show held every evening at the Red Fort. The enchanting one-hour long show traces the Mughal empire’s history in India and offers a glimpse of their glorious past as well as the eventful phases that led to their downfall.
The narration has been recorded by legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan, which makes the show absolutely engaging.
The Red Fort is one of the most significant monuments in the country. India’s Prime Minister hoists the National Flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort each year on Independence Day.
Believed to be a resort for royal women, the Rang Mahal at the Red Fort was a part of the women's quarters or the zenana.
Strolling through the preserved structure, one can almost imagine the former grandeur of the monument. Five broad archways lead you into the mahal. As you enter the hall, you are greeted by a lotus-shaped fountain, whose waters flow into marble channels.
The Khas Mahal at the Red Fort is a palatial pavilion that is believed to have housed the imperial apartments. Divided into four parts, this small structure boasts of a sitting room, called baithak, which comprises a pristine white verandah adorned with gold floral patterns.
Another attraction is the bedroom suite, called khwabgah, or the palace of dreams.
Another attraction is the Moti Masjid, a three-domed structure made of white marble. It was added to the Red Fort in 1659, by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. The entire structure is decorated with beautiful and intricate carvings, and its doors are plated with copper and ornamented with gorgeous motifs.
Located in the Hayat Baksh Bagh, the Zafar Mahal is built in red sandstone and stands in the middle of a pre-existing water tank. Set in the backdrop of British-era barracks, the small structure once served as a summer palace for Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Shahi Burj is believed to be Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's favourite workplace at the Red Fort, and where he developed strategies to steer his empire.
Built three storeys high, this octagonal tower once aided in lifting water from the Yamuna to source to Nehr-e-Bihisht. From the tower, you can see an elegant garden.
Nehr-e-Bihisht was once a pristine waterway lined with lush trees. Fed by River Yamuna, it was popularly called the stream of paradise and ran along the Red Fort and then through Chandni Chowk. This continuous water channel was once connected to a row of pavilions and added to the grandeur of the fort.
Virtual Tour courtesy Archaeological Survey of India