Monday, July 15, 2024

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Purana Qila

Place : Delhi
Best Season : October to March
Significance : The fort is the oldest ones in Delhi.
Timing : Sunrise to Sunset everyday
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The Purana Qila (Old Fort) is situated off Mathura Road, near Delhi Zoo. A worthwhile attraction, the fort is the oldest ones in Delhi.

Also called Pandavo ka Qila (The Fort of the Pandavas), the fort occupies the ancient mound which conceals the ruins of the city of Indraprastha of Mahabharata story. It is believed that the construction of the fort was started in 1533 by the emperor Humayun. The fort was called as the inner citadel of the city of Dinpandh during that time. Later, Afghan Emperor Sher Shah Suri, defeated Humayun and demolished the city of Dinpandh. He renamed the fortress Shergarh and continued its construction added several more structures in the complex. But his reign was brief due to his death in 1545, leaving Humayun to recapture the throne. It is believed that Sher Shah left the Puran Qila unfurnished, and it was completed by Humayun.

It is irregularly oblong on plan, with bastion on the corners and in the western wall. Its ramparts cover a perimeter of nearly 2 km. It has three main gates on the north, south and west. The gates are double-storeyed and surrounded by chhatris.

The massive double-storeyed Bara Darwaza (Great Gate) is the main entrance to the fort. The Southern gate is known as Humayun Drawaza. Among the three main gates, the northern one is called the Talaqui - Darwaza (forbidden gate) and entry was prohibited as the name suggests. Talaqi means ‘forbidden'. The exterior of the gate was originally decorated with coloured tiles and the rooms with incised plaster-work.

The fort is a beautiful red sandstone structure along with the contrast of marbles and the walls of the fort are 18 metres high. It houses a number of beautiful monuments which include Quila Kuhna Masjid and the Sher Mandal. Both were built by Sher Shah in 1541. Sher Mandal is an octagonal pavilion within the fort. This double-storeyed pavilion of red sandstone relieved by strips of marble was originally intended to be a tall tower, but its construction was stopped at two floors upon the death of Sher Shah. This pavilion is said to have been used by Humayun as his library where he tragically met his death by falling down the stairs in 1556. Its interior is decorated with glazed tiles and stucco work with beautiful geometric patterns.

Situated amidst in a beautiful landscaped park, this structure is transformed as Sher Mandal Observatory.

The Qila-I-Kuhna Masjid (Mosque within the Old Fort), considered to be a masterpiece of architecture is built in a fusion of marble and sandstone. It is the well preserved and most beautiful structure inside the complex. It has a well decorated facade with five arched door ways with horse shoe shaped arches and oriel windows, a central dome and a spacious prayer hall. It's stunning main mihrab (prayer niche) is surrounded by intricately decorated marble. Inside the mosque, on a marble slab, is an inscription which can be translated as ' as long as there are people on this earth,may this edifice be frequented and people be cheerful and happy in it'.

There is also a museum at the gate of the Purana Quila which houses important artifacts belonging to the Mughal era.

Besides these, there are several other monument also lie around the complex, like Kairul Manzil ( a mosque built by Maham Anga, Akbar's foster-mother), Sher Shah Suri Gate or Lal Darwaza, which was the South Gate to Shergarh, the city he founded, lies opposite the Purana Qila complex.

Another attraction at the fort is a sound and light show. The show presents the history of the fort. The nine pools of water come alive in the light is amazing.

Fort entry fee : Indians - Rs 5, Foreigners - Rs 100; Video- Rs 25
Timings : Sunrise to sunset