Red Fort also known as Lal Qila, located in Delhi, India is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the palace for Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s new capital, Shahjahanabad, the seventh Muslim city in the Delhi site. He moved his capital from Agra in a move designed to bring prestige to his reign and to provide ample opportunity to apply his ambitious building schemes and interests. The Red Fort stands at the eastern edge of Shahjahanabad, and gets its name from the massive wall of red sandstone that defines its four sides. The wall is 1.5 miles (2.5 km) long, and varies in height from 60ft (16m) on the river side to 110 ft (33 m) towards the city. Measurements have shown that the plan was generated using a square grid of 82 m.
It first occurred to the omniscient mind that he should select on the banks of the aforesaid river some pleasant site, distinguished by its genial climate, where he might found a splendid fort and delightful edifices, agreeably to the promptings of his generous heart, through which streams of water should be made to flow, and the terraces of which should overlook the river.’ Muhammad Tahir, Inayat Khan Shahjahan-nama, 1657-58.
Such worthy thoughts, according to the royal librarian, prompted the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to found a fresh city at Delhi in the mid-seventeenth century. He called it Shahjahanabad, meaning City of Shah Jahan. At its centre stood the Red Fort, a vast walled complex of beautiful palaces and meeting halls from which the Emperor ruled with unmatched public pomp and ceremony. Today, the surviving Fort buildings stand silently amid the still bustling city, now called Old Delhi.
To the dead of the Indian armies who fell honoured in France and Flanders Mesopotamia and Persia East Africa Gallipoli and elsewhere in the near and the far-east and in sacred memory also of those whose names are recorded and who fell in India or the north-west frontier and during the Third Afgan War.
The shrine itself is a black marble cenotaph with a rifle placed on its barrel, crested by a soldier’s helmet. Each face of the cenotaph has inscribed in gold the words “Amar Jawan” (Immortal Warrior). This cenotaph is itself placed on an edifice which has on its four corners four flames that are perpetually kept alive.
The 42 metre tall India Gate is situated such that many important roads spread out from it. Traffic passing around India Gate used to be continuous till the roads were closed to the public due to terrorist threats. The lawns around Rajpath are thronged by people during the night, when the India Gate is lit up.
The world famous towering Qutub Minar, started in 1192 by Qutub-ud-din Aibak (1192-98), breathes down the neck of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. There is a slight difference of opinion as to its purpose: it probably was a tower of victory, but then again it could have been built to be a minar (tower), attached to the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, for the muezzin (priest) to climb up top for a prayer.
Humayun- The Mughal Emperor Constructed The Fort. When the second Mughal emperor Humayun decided to make a city of his own he decided on the site of the ancient city of Indraprastha. Humayun was quite a scholar with a fine grasp on such matters and so it is certain that the site was chosen deliberately. When his Sher Shah Suri overthrew him, he destroyed most of Dinpanah (refuge of the faithful) as the city of Humayun was called to make way for his own Dilli Sher Shahi or Shergarh. Incidentally, Humayun was probably the only emperor in history who built a city in Delhi and did not give it his own name – this was typical of Humayun’s rather sophisticated and dreamy character. The Layout of The Massive Colossal – In plan the Old fort, now simply called Purana Qila by Delhites, is irregularly orbital. The walls of the immense Qila tower down on the road that takes one to Pragati Maidan from the height of 18m, and run on for about 2 km. It has three main gates – the Humayun darwaza, Talaqi darwaza and Bara darwaza (which one uses to enter the fort today). The double-storeyed gates are quite huge and are built with red sandstone. of all the gates entry was forbidden from Talaqi (forbidden) darwaza, the northern gate. It is not clear why this was so.
Other Attractions of The Fort – Sher Shah Suri and his successor could not complete the city, and when Humayun defeated Sher Shah’s son to take back his city, he did not deal with Dilli Sher shahi as the latter had done with Dinpanah. In fact the Mughal emperor very handsomely completed the city and even used several of the buildings like the Sher Mandal, a rather pretty two-storeyed octagonal building. Humayun used this as his library and, then tripped to his death from its steps.
Bahai Temple (Lotus Temple)
It is a very recent architectural marvel of the Bahai faith, located in Kalkaji, South Delhi. Shaped like a Lotus flower, this temple is made of marble, cement, dolomite and sand. It is open to all faiths and is an ideal place for meditation and obtaining peace and tranquility. Bahai’s Temple is a marvel of modern architecture, which is visible from several spots in south Delhi. The lotus flower signifies purity and peace, a representation of the Manifestation of God, to the people of India. This ancient symbol has been given a modern and contemporary form in the structure of the Bahai House of Worship drawing into its sanctum sanctorum people from all races, religious backgrounds and culture from around the globe. It represents the Bahai faith, – an independent world religion; divine in origin, all embracing in scope, broad in its outlook, scientific in its method, humanitarian in its principles, and dynamic in the influence.
Fariborz Sahba, Canadian architect of Iranian origin, spent 10 years in designing and project management, and with the help of a team of about 800 engineers, technicians, artisans and workers brought to realization one of the most complicated constructions in the world. The structure of the House is composed of three ranks of nine petals; each springing from a podium elevating the building above the surrounding plain. The first two ranks curve inward, embracing the inner dome; the third layer curves outward to form canopies over the nine entrances. The petals, constructed of reinforced white concrete cast in place, are clad in white marble panels, performed to surface profiles and patterns related to the geometry. Nine arches that provide the main support for the superstructure ring the central hall. Nine reflecting pools surround the building on the outside, their form suggesting the green leaves of the lotus flower. Translating the geometry of the design, in which there are virtually no straight lines, into the actual structure presented particular challenges in designing and erecting the framework.
Not only was it difficult to align, so as to produce accurately the complex double-curved surfaces and their intersections, but also the closeness of the petals severely restricted workspace. Nevertheless the task was carried out entirely by the local laborers. Thanks to each one who contributed in its construction. To avoid construction joints, petals were concreted in a continuous operation for approximately 48 hours. Concrete was carried up the staging by women bearing 50-pound loads in baskets balanced on their heads. All the steel reinforcing for the shells of the lotus petals was galvanized to avoid rust stains on the white concrete in the prevailing humid conditions, guaranteeing the life of the delicate shell structure of 6 to 18 cm thick shells of the petals. India is well endowed with human resources.
Maharajah Jai Singh II of Jaipur incidentally, constructed five astronomical observatories in west and central India between 1727 and 1734. The observatories, or “Jantar Mantars” comprise of multiple buildings, each with a particular function for astronomical measurement. Jantar Mantar in Delhi-with a collection of structures inside it, was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in 1725. This observatory in New Delhi is located to the east of Hanuman Mandir in Sansad Marg. The Mughal emperor, Muhammad Shah gave the famous astronomer Maharaja the responsibility to revise the calendar and correct astronomical tables used by the then priests. So even before the construction began, astral observations were made daily for years.
The observatory of Jantar Mantar in Delhi is a camouflage of modern art. ‘Samrat Yantra’ or the sun dial is the most imposing instrument in the observatory. The sun dial is a huge structure in yellow with a 27m long arm placed at an angle of 27 degrees. The sun dial calculates the time of a day accurately. There are two pillars that record the longest and shortest day in the year. This instrument is known as the ‘Mishra Yantra’ the other instruments are used to trace astronomical phenomena from other planets and stars. The observatory is a fascinating sight with huge instruments of masonry.
Safdarjung’s Tomb is a garden tomb in a marble mausoleum in Delhi, India. It was built in 1754 in the style of late Mughal architecture. The top story of the edifice houses the Archaeological Survey of India. The garden, in the style evolved by the Mughal Empire that is now known as the Mughal gardens style known as a charbagh, is entered through an ornate gate. Its facade is decorated with elaborate plaster carvings.
The tomb was built for Safdarjung, the powerful prime minister of Muhammad Shah who was the weak Mughal emperor from 1719 to 1748. The central tomb has a huge dome. There are four water canals leading to four buildings. One has an ornately decorated gateway while the other three are pavilions, with living quarters built into the walls. Octagonal towers are in the corners. The canals are four oblong tanks, one on each side of the tomb.
This is one of the landmarks in New Delhi. It was built in the 20th century by the Birla family of industrialists known for its many other temples in India. It is modern in concept and construction. It attracts several devotees and international tourists. The presiding deity here is Lakshmi Narain (Vishnu).
This temple was built over a six year period (1933 – 1939) and was opened by Mahatma Gandhi. The highest tower in the temple reaches a height of 165 feet while the ancillary towers reach 116 feet. The Geeta Bhavan, a hall is adorned with beautiful paintings depicting scenes from Indian mythology. There is also a temple dedicated to Buddha in this complex with fresco paintings describing his life and work. The entire complex, especially the walls and the upper gallery are full of paintings carried out by artists from Jaipur in Rajasthan. The rear of the temple has been developed as an artificial mountainous landscape with fountains and waterfalls.
Other Tourist Places
The National Museum
The Railway Museum