Seat of the Mughal Empire since Emperor Shah Jehan, the Red Fort stood for the might of imperial Hindustan. The medieval structure in Delhi holds significance even today as the Prime Minister of India makes his customary Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the fort on August 15. The fort stood at the eastern edge of Shahjahanabad, the new capital of Mughal Empire created by Shah Jehan in 17th century. Shahjahanabad was the seventh Delhi created since Indraprastha, the capital of Pandavas.
Built by Shah Jehan as his residence, the fort gets its name from the massive wall of red sandstone. The Red Fort was called the “Qila-i-Mubarak” or “The blessed fort”; however, it is popularly known as ‘Lal Qila’. Though the Agra fort made of red sandstone is also called Lal Qila, it is the fort at Delhi which is associated with the name.
Architecture of the fort, its planning and beauty showcases the ingenuity of Mughals and their love for creating masterpieces in stone. Though the fort has lost its glory and looks rather forlorn, it was the centre-stage of political happenings. The pomp and power of the fort was on display each Friday, when Emperor Shah Jahan paraded out of the fort at the head of his retinue atop an elephant, to offer prayers at the Jama Masjid.
The fort shot into limelight again and became the epicentre of political developments during the Revolt of 1857. It was the residence of the Mughals till the last royal Bahadur Shah Zafar was arrested for his role in the mutiny. The fort was the scene of an important event associate with the Indian freedom struggle. The joint court-martial of officers of Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army – Colonel Prem Sahgal, Colonel Gurubaksh Singh Dhillon and Major General Shah Nawaz Khan – was held at the Red Fort. The trio was defended by the INA Defence Committee which included legal luminaries like Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhulabhai Desai, Kailashnath Katju and Asaf Ali.
The Red Fort attracts large number of tourists for its architecture, history and for its sheer magnificence. The Red Fort is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Delhi.
The tallest minaret in India, Qutub Minar is among the iconic monuments of Delhi. Known as the ‘Tower of Victory’, the construction of the minaret also marked the beginning of the Muslim rule in India. Located at Mehrauli, around 3.9 million people visit the structure every year. Built from red sandstone and marble, the minaret is known for its history and architectural significance. The minaret and other monuments within the complex have been declared a UNESCO world heritage site.
A classic example of Indo-Islamic architecture, the foundation of the minaret was laid by Qutb-ud-din-Aibak in 1192. It was built to celebrate the victory of Mohammed Ghori over Rajput king Prithviraj Chauhan. However, Qutd-ud-din-Aibak died before completion of the minaret. Iltutmish continued construction and during his time three-storeys were added. Later in 1368, two more storeys were added by Firoz Shah Tughlak.
The minaret is 72.5 meters high and has five-storeys with a projecting balcony. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone, while the remaining two storeys with marble and sandstone. The exterior of the minaret is decorated with fluted columns, which have a 40 cm thick veneer of red sandstone. Another attraction of the minaret is its 397 steps, which leads to the balconies.
Built as a memorial to commemorate the 70,000 India soldiers killed in World War I, India Gate was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and completed in 1931. Built from sandstone, the arch also houses the Eternal Flame, a gesture in memory of the Indian soldiers who laid their lives in the 1971 war with Pakistan.