RED FORT, DELHI - FEBRUARY 2008
Forts are buildings specially constructed for the military defence of an area. They usually have a lot of stories to tell, be it of honour, treachery or cowardice. On the top of a hill, near the water or in arid deserts, they witnessed great battles as well as stories of love and intrigue. Some of them played an important role in the development of villages and cities. That is the case of the Red Fort, around which the Mughal Delhi flourished. But the forts in India, unlike many medieval castles in Europe for example, are portholes for the most outstanding ornamental arts you may imagine. The Red Fort is just a start!
"LAHORE GATE - Our first tourist destination in Delhi was «Lal Quila» - the «Red Fort». Constructed along the Yamuna River in 1639 by the fifth Mughal Emperor of India - Shah Jahan - as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad (his new capital), it was originally the residence of the royal family. The main entrance to the Fort is the Lahore Gate, which can be seen here. The Fort gets its name from colour of the 2.5 km long walls, which vary in height from 16m on the river side to 33 m on the town side. The Fort was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List on June 29th, 2007"
"CHATTA CHOWK is the covered bazaar street immediately after the Lahore Gate"
"DRUM HOUSE - On the main axis coming from the Lahore Gate and the Chatta Chowk, on the eastern side of the palace garden, we find the Naqqar Khana or Naubat Khana the site of a drum house or orchestra pit during ceremonies). A distinct sign of Mughal architecture, the «drum house» in the Red Fort is also the main gate for the palace itself"
"THE EMPEROR'S THRONE - In the Diwan-i-Aam - the large pavilion for public imperial audiences - the magnificent ornate throne-balcony for the emperor can be seen"
"THE PRIVATE APARTMENTS - Behind the throne, a row of pavilions with a view to the river Yamuna, are connected by a continuous water channel, known as the «Stream of Paradise», that runs through the centre of each pavilion. The palace is designed as an imitation of paradise as described in the Koran"
"DIWAN-I-KHAS - The hall of private audience, used for ministerial and court gatherings, is probably the finest of the pavilions in the palace, and is ornamented with floral pietra dura patterns on the columns, with precious stones and gilding"
"WALLS AND CEILINGS - A painted wooden ceiling has replaced the original one, of silver inlaid with gold"
"THE PEARL MOSQUE was built in 1659 as a private mosque for Aurangzeb, Shah Jahan's successor"
"THE MUSSAMAN BURJ is a tower built against the fortress walls, from which the emperor would show himself to the people in a daily ceremony"
"ZAFAR MAHAL is a large tank with a red stone pavilion in its middle, built in 1842. It was originally connected by a causeway with the garden"
"PALACE PAVILIONS AND THE PIGEONS"
"STUDENTS - Suddenly, the courtyard became very busy..."