Red Fort

There was a very long queue for tickets at the Red Fort in Delhi, but we noticed that there was a sign above the desk that read ‘Gentlemen’. It turned out that there was another queue designated ‘Ladies’ with only two people in it, so Bronwyn nipped over to get our tickets.

The Indian flag flies above the entrance to Red Fort

The Indian flag flies above the Lahani Gate

Entering the Lahari Gate

Entering the Lahari Gate

Although the fort is essentially a series of ruins containing a small museum and some tourist shops, it is guarded by soldiers in sand-bagged machine-gun nests. Once we were past the security check at the Lahari Gate, we found ourselves in a covered courtyard which once housed a silk and jewellery bazaar for the royal household of the Mughal era, but which now holds somewhat more prosaic emporia.

The slightly unglorious Chhatta Chawk bazaar

The slightly unglorious Chhatta Chawk bazaar

Entrance tunnel

The entrance to the Chhatta Chowk arcade

The Diwan-i-Aam, or public audience hall

The Diwan-i-Aam, or public audience hall

An impressively scalloped audience hall led us out into the main body of the fort, and through another gate under the Drum House, an impressively sculpted building – now a museum – where musicians used to play. Only royalty are allowed to ride through the gate, but luckily we had neglected to bring our horses with us.

The Naubat Khana, or Drum House

The gate under the Naubat Khana. Only royalty were allowed to ride through.

The gate under the Naubat Khana.

Inside the main fort complex are a scattering of harem and palace buildings, all beautifully decorated with carved marble, along with numerous ponds, fountains and channels, one of which runs right through the harem. Although these are currently dry (and now provide seating for security guards), it must have been quite a paradise in its day. In fact a pair of archways to the Hall of Private Audience are inscribed “If heaven can be on the face of the earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.”

Inlaid mosaics in the Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience)

Inlaid mosaics in the Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience)

Diwan-i-Khas interior

Cooling water would have run through the Rang Mahal

Hanging out with Ankur, outside the harem

Hanging out with Ankur while they renovate the harem (this could take some time)

The centre of the fort is taken up by the ‘Life-Bestowing Garden’, originally 200 square feet of gardens, but these were destroyed during the aftermath of the 1857 rebellion. All that is left is a dry reservoir with a marble pavilion at each end and a red sandstone building, the Zafar Mahal, in the middle.

The Zafar Mahal, a late addition to the Hayat Bakhsh Bagh (Life-Bestowing Garden)

The Zafar Mahal, a late addition to the central reservoir of the Hayat Bakhsh Bagh (Life-Bestowing Garden)

We were beginning to gasp in the unrelenting dry heat surrounded by all these memories of cool running water, so we retraced our steps through the bazaar, and headed out into Old Delhi for lunch.

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