One of the most spectacular pieces of Mughal
Architecture is the Lal Quila or the Red
Fort. Built by the Mughal emperor, Shah
Jahan between 1638 and 1648, the Red Fort
extending up to 2 kms. in length with the
height varying from 18 mts. on the river
side to 33 mts. on the city side.
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.
The 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 Emperor's 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 Shahjahan's 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 summer season begins from April and
ends in the month of June. During the summers
the average maximum temperature is 40°C
and minimum temperature is 25ºC. The
monsoon arrives the city in early July and
continues till the end of September. The
winter extends from late November to February.
The temperature in winters varies between
21°C to 5°C. January is the coldest
month when the temerature drops to a minimum
of 0 °C.
- Air: Delhi is the main
gateway city for northern India with a
modern airport. All major international
airlines in the world fly through Delhi.
Indira Gandhi International Airport is
located at 23km southwest of Central Delhi
and the domestic terminal at Palam is
5km away from the international terminal.
Taxi and coach transfer is available from
both International and Domestic Arrivals.
Pre-paid Taxi (a service with journey
fare paid at the booking counter), air-conditioned
and non- air-conditioned coach counters
are located immediately outside the customs
Hall in International Terminal and outside
Baggage Claim area in Domestic Arrivals.
Airport Coach (non-airconditioned) is
operated by Delhi Transport Corporation
(via Connaught Place and Railway Stations)
to Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT), Kashmiri
Gate and by Ex- Servicemen's Airlink Transport
Service to Connaught Place. The coach
covers all major hotels enroute.
- Train: Delhi is the
hub of the Indian Railways network with
Express trains to all parts of the country.
The city has two major railway stations
in New Delhi and Old Delhi. New Delhi
station is within walking distance of
Connaught Place and Main Delhi station
is about 7km from Connaught Place. Delhi
offers Express trains to all parts of
the country. For the foreigners, tickets
are available at the International Tourist
Bureau (Ph: 011-3346804), located at New
Delhi station. The main ticket office
is at the IRCA building on Chelmsford
Road, Pahar Ganj, between New Delhi station
and Connaught Place.
Shatabdi Express air-conditioned fast
tourist train operates to Bhopal (via
Agra, Gwalior, Jhansi), Lucknow (via Kanpur)
and Chandigarh, provides access to some
of the neighboring tourist centres.
- Bus: Buses from all
the major places in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab,
Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh
and Rajasthan are available for getting
to Delhi. During the summer months, air-conditioned
coaches are recommended. Delhi Transport
Corporation (DTC) operates special services
from railway stations to different parts
of the city.