The Red Fort is one of the grandest buildings in India and tourists; backpackers, families and honeymooners alike flock to the old imperial palace. Dating back to the Mughal Empire, the fort symbolizes a bridge from today, stretching over colonial India and to the country’s own imperial past.
The entirety of the fort sprawls over 254 acres, with multiple domes, turrets and towers cast in blood-red sandstone. The Red Fort is a foreboding building, provoking a fusion of beauty and wonder. It has sat at the heart of the Mughal Empire in India since it was built in 1648. Originally it was a palace for the Mughal capital city Shahjahanabad, designed by the then emperor Shah Jahan. As well as a palace for the family it was also the political and administrative center of the country until the fall of the Empire in 1857.
The history of the fort and the Mughal Empire is narrated to eager visitors most evenings at the Fort through a charming light and sound show. In the day, most of the fort is open for the public to explore at their own will.
The Diwan-i-Aam is the old meeting hall where the emperor would give audience from an ornate marble balcony. Spread before the balcony is the hall in a dusty sand-red with marble columns and arches.
Outside one can visit the former apartments of what you might call the ‘court.’ These are each on a raised platform that runs along the east side of the Red Fort looking over the Yamuna, the largest tributary river to the Ganges. These elegant apartments are still connected by a canal which is called Nahr-i-Behisht or ‘Stream of Paradise.’ Indeed, the entire fort was designed so to give the impression of paradise as it is described in the Quran.
Unfortunately the water features inside the Red Fort now run dry. The flowers carved out of marble in much of the floor were looted long ago and much of the old building has already succumbed to crumble and cracks. However many visitors to the fort believe that this only adds to the place’s charm and the strong sense of walking within history.
When tired out from walking about the Red Fort, those with a penchant for spicy food can take refuge in one of the many restaurants and tea rooms found inside. There are also museums situated within the fort where you can escape from the heat. In these you can view some of the art salvaged from the Red Fort and other pieces that have been brought in. The art found is extensive and eclectic, spanning not only Indian culture but also that of Persia and Europe.
When travelling to the Red Fort you will need to alight at Chandni Chowk metro station. From here there will be adequate signing guiding you to the old palace. For those wanting to avoid the rush and heat of public transport, this company here offers a chauffeured limousine service around the city, as well as transport to and from the international airport. The Fort is usually open Tuesday to Sunday, but be sure to double-check before you head off.