About Red Fort
The Red Fort (Lal Quila) remains one of the most popular tourist sites in Delhi and is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage historic sites.
History of the Red Fort
Originally built by the fifth Emperor of India’s Mughal Dynasty, Shah Jahan in 1639, when he moved India’s capital from Agra to Delhi, the Red Fort was built as Shah Jahan’s new palace as well as being a defensive structure. Its name derives from the red sandstone bricks which make up its protective walls. The walls of the Red Fort are an imposing sight, rising up to 33 metres in places, with ornate carvings, domes and minarets. Shah Jahan never ended up living here properly: his son,, Aurangzeb, had him imprisoned in Agra Fort.
In addition to the Red Fort itself, the historic Red Fort Complex is made up of palaces, gardens, halls, monuments, mosques and even another fort, Salimgarh. The complex took almost a decade to complete and covers a staggering 120 acres, at one time holding a population of 3,000 people. Its architecture is considered to be a testament to the creativity of the Mughals, enriched by Persian, European and Indian imagery.
The Red Fort Complex consists of numerous impressive structures, including the Diwan-i-Am or Hall of Public Audience, once the home of the royal throne and the private apartments along the Stream of Paradise or ‘Nahr-i-Behisht’ as well as several other palaces and even the Chhatta Chowk or palace market. All of these are placed within strict geometrical lines within the Red Fort Complex’s distinctive octagonal shape.
Over time, the Red Fort has been subject to change and is now a shadow of its original grandeur, particularly following the destruction of many of its buildings and gardens after 1857 by British colonialists, who filled much of the complex with barrack blocks.
The Red Fort today
The Red Fort remains one of Delhi’s most popular attractions so it’s worth going early or you may well end up waiting for a ticket. The Red Fort and surrounding area can be a site for protests so keep one eye on the news. You’ll have to pass security before entering.
The complex takes several hours to walk round fully, and is an oasis of (relative) peace and calm in central Delhi. The gardens and step wells are pleasant to explore, and the arcades remain in excellent condition, although you cannot enter them.
The museums are currently closed for renovations.
Getting to the Red Fort
The Red Fort is located in the heart of Old Delhi. The metro station Lal Qila (Violet Line) is just outside the entrance, and Chandni Chowk is a short walk away. Tuks tuks and taxis will easily get you here from anywhere else in the city.
With a history dating back to the 10th century, and the 3rd largest city in the world today, Delhi remains a popular starting or finishing point for travellers exploring Northern India. Beyond the chaos and the smog, Delhi is crammed with rich and varied historic sites which help tell the story of this remarkable city.