Delhi :: The Red Fort – Lal Qila


On the last day in Delhi, before leaving to Gwalior, we took the afternoon after Mark’s meeetings were over to go sightseeing.  We decided, of all the things to visit, we’d go to the Red Fort and Jami Masjid, the largest mosque in India.  Both built by Sha Jahan.

The Red Fort was mentioned in the Magic Tree House, and Sha Jahan is someone who comes up in conversations at meal times or the amazing story about his life with his wife and the building of the Taj Mahal.  The Red Fort has been in our list of places we want to visit while we are here.  So we did.

The first thing was to figure out how to get to these places.  We talked to the conciergierie at the hotel and they could set us up with a car for about Rs 3,000 (Rupees) for 4 hours.   We then talked to our new friend we had met the night before at a dinner party, and she told us of the taxi she uses for some of her errands.   So, we went to talk to them.  They could take us to the two places we wanted to go, for the same 4 hours, for Rs 350.  So we scheduled it for that afternoon.

The taxi driver picked us up at the hotel at 3pm.  That by itself was a challenge.  We didn’t know the driver or his name, or the taxi or car color.  But the hotel people figured out and let him up the hotel to pick us up.  We get in and we realized he didn’t know what we wanted to do and he spoke no English.  We hadn’t taken our Hindi phrase book either.  Oh my!  But luckily I had packed away a small map of Delhi that had both places we wanted to see.  We circled it big and hoped we were taken to the right place.   It all worked out just fine.

“Welcome to our new adventure!”

We arrived to the Red Fort, through crazy traffic, cars honking all the time, bikers riding all over, motorcycles zooming by on both sides, all shapes and colors of cars, buses, trucks.  And NO ONE staying in the right lane.   An experience all on itself.

The Red Fort is one of the most maginificent fort palaces in India.  In 2007 it was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.  Its name comes from the beautiful red sandstone they used to built it.  This is an example of a Mughal architecture and beauty during the time of Shah Jahan starting to be built on 1638 and taking 10 years to finish.   He moved the capital to here from Agra, naming it Shahjahanabad, by the Yamuna river.

The fort went through many alterations on the many rulers after it was built by other Mughal emperors and Bristish occupations.  The fort was occupied by the Indian Army until 2004, which was then protected and has been under supervision and conservation of the Archaelogical Survey of India.


You see the fortress from the outside, beautiful and immense.  It makes you feel so small standing next to it.

Today, you go through the main gates (after you pay– foreigners pay Rs 200 and locals pay Rs 10 per person.)  You then go through the gates (one of the 14 gates) and make two lines, to be checked by police officers.  This is where we are going in.  The Lahori Gate.

You go through this beautiful arch and building to walk through the bazaar, where today, as well as back then, had small shops selling things.  Meena Bazar.

Back then, craftsmen and traders from across the world brought the best and most beautiful articles for the ladies of royal household.  Such as precious stones and ornate jewellery, silks, gold and silver utensils, intricate wood and ivory carvings, brass and copper wares, arms and armaments, and exotic spices.

The Fort with its gardens has many palaces:  Diwan-i-Am, Mumtaz-Mahal, Rang-Mahal, Khas-Mahal and Diwan-i-Khas.

Diwan-I-Am.  The Hall of Public Audience.  Built on red sandstone with nine arches supported on pillars.

This was constructed by the British after 1857.

Sawan Pavillion.

Zafar-Mahal stands in the middle of this large tank in the center of the garden in line with two other pavillions (Bhadon pictured in the back here.)

Bhadon is identical to Sawan (in the north).  Both named after the two months of the rainy season i the Hindu calendar.

Done without any wind!

Siena and Lucas get to go up to see this palace, even though it’s closed to the public.  But the guard invited them to come up and go over the ropes to get up there.  Not their parents! just them.

Diwani-i-Khas also known as Shah Mahal(Royal Palace) was the emperor’s private audience hall.  Was built entirely of white marble, overlooking the river.

“If not the most beautiful, Diwan-i-Khas is certainly the most highly ornamented of all Shahjahan’s buildings.”                                                                                                        — James Fergusson

This is where Shah Jahan sat on his famed Peacock Throne, cooled by the breeze from the river, and also mentioned in the Magic Tree House book.

With hand signs and words in Hindi and English (still not understanding each other) we agreed some how to be picked up at the same place 2 hours later.  Our driver was there. And we were there.

Next. To our next stop.


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