The Red Fort is a historical fortification in the national capital of New Delhi. Located in the center of the city, it was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty. It was constructed by Shah Jahan in the year 1939 as a result of a capital shift from Agra to Delhi. This imposing piece of architecture derives its name from its impregnable red sandstone walls. In addition to accommodating the emperors and their households, it was the ceremonial and political center of the Mughal state and the setting for events critically impacting the region. which served as the main residence of the Mughal Emperors. Every year on the Independence day of India (15 August), the Prime Minister hoists the Indian “tricolour flag” at the main gate of the fort and delivers a nationally broadcast speech from its ramparts.
The most important surviving structures are the walls and ramparts, the main gates, the audience halls and the imperial apartments on the eastern riverbank.
The two southernmost pavilions of the palace are zenanas (women’s quarters), consisting of the Mumtaz Mahal and the larger Rang Mahal. The Mumtaz Mahal houses the Red Fort Archaeological Museum.
The Rang Mahal housed the emperor’s wives and mistresses. Its name means “Palace of Colours”, since it was brightly painted and decorated with a mosaic of mirrors. The central marble pool is fed by the Nahr-i-Bihisht.
The Khas Mahal was the emperor’s apartment. Connected to it is the Muthamman Burj, an octagonal tower where he appeared before the people waiting on the riverbank. This was done by most kings at the time.
The Lahori Gate is the main gate to the Red Fort, named for its orientation towards the city of Lahore. During Aurangzeb’s reign, the beauty of the gate was spoiled by the addition of bastions, which Shahjahan described as “a veil drawn across the face of a beautiful woman”. Every Indian Independence Day since 1947, the national flag is unfurled and the Prime Minister makes a speech from its ramparts.
The Delhi Gate is the southern public entrance and in layout and appearance similar to the Lahori Gate. Two life-size stone elephants on either side of the gate face each other.
Adjacent to the Lahori Gate is the Chhatta Chowk, where silk, jewelry and other items for the imperial household were sold during the Mughal period. The bazaar leads to an open outer court, where it crosses the large north-south street which originally divided the fort’s military functions (to the west) from the palaces (to the east). The southern end of the street is the Delhi Gate.
West of the hammam is the Moti Masjid, the Pearl Mosque. A later addition, it was built in 1659 as a private mosque for Aurangzeb. It is a small, three-domed mosque carved in white marble, with a three-arched screen leading down to the courtyard.
The Hira Mahal is a pavilion on the southern edge of the fort, built under Bahadur Shah II and at the end of the Hayat Baksh garden. The Moti Mahal on the northern edge, a twin building, was destroyed during (or after) the 1857 rebellion. Shahi Burj and its pavilionThe Shahi Burj was the emperor’s main study of the; its name means “Emperor’s Tower”, and it originally had a chhatri on top. Heavily damaged, the tower is undergoing reconstruction. In front of it is a marble pavilion added by Aurangzeb.
The Red Fort has an area of 254.67 acres (103.06 ha) enclosed by 2.41 kilometers (1.50 mi) of defensive walls, punctuated by turrets and bastions and varying in height from 18 meters (59 ft) on the river side to 33 meters (108 ft) on the city side. The fort is octagonal, with the north-south axis longer than the east-west axis. The marble, floral decorations and double domes in the fort’s buildings exemplify later Mughal architecture.
It showcases a high level of ornamentation, and the Kohinoor diamond was reportedly part of the furnishings. The fort’s artwork synthesizes Persian, European and Indian art, resulting in a unique Shahjahani style rich in form, expression and colour. Red Fort is one of the building complexes of India encapsulating a long period of history and its arts. Even before its 1913 commemoration as a monument of national importance, efforts were made to preserve it for posterity.
The Lahori and Delhi Gates were used by the public, and the Khizrabad Gate was for the emperor. The Lahori Gate is the main entrance, leading to a domed shopping area known as the Chatta Chowk (covered bazaar).
To prevent terrorist attacks, security is especially strict around the Red Fort on the eve of Indian Independence Day. Delhi Police and paramilitary personnel keep a watch on neighborhoods around the fort, and National Security Guard sharpshooters are deployed on high-rises near the fort. The airspace around the fort is a designated no-fly zone during the celebration to prevent air attacks, and safe houses exist in nearby areas to which the Prime Minister and other Indian leaders may retreat in the event of an attack.
The fort was the site of a terrorist attack on 22 December 2000, carried out by six Lashkar-e-Toiba members. Two soldiers and a civilian were killed in what the news media described as an attempt to derail India-Pakistan peace talks.
Every year on India’s Independence Day (15 August), the Prime Minister of India hoists the national flag at the Red Fort and delivers a nationally broadcast speech from its ramparts. The Red Fort, the largest monument in Delhi, is one of its most popular tourist destinations and attracts thousands of visitors every year. A sound and light show describing Mughal history is a tourist attraction in the evenings.
Time & Fees of Red fort
Best time to visit: November to February
Location: Netaji Subhash Marg
Metro Station: Chandni Chowk, Red Fort Metro station
Weekly holiday: Monday
Entry fee: Rs. 10 (Indians), Rs. 250 (foreigners) (No fees for children below the age of 15)
Special events: Sound and light show, 6pm onwards in Hindi and English at Rs. 80 for adults and Rs. 30 for children