Around the Red Fort

Nigambodh Gate

The aim was to find the fifth gate of the old city – Nigambodh Gate. The first four gates – Kashmiri, Delhi, Ajmeri and Turkman were easier to find. For Nigambodh, I studied the pre-1857 Delhi Maps and tried to figure out where the gate would be today. It’s easy theoretically but after searching around I could not find the actual gate. I may be wrong but there is not gate at all. What is left are two walls and the road that divides them. This is probably the same road that led out of Shahjanabad eastwards onto the boat of bridges over the river Yamuna and further ahead to Meerut. Presently it leads to the Ring road that too under a flyover.

Walking on the water

Turn right after emerging out of the city and you are walking where Yamuna used to flow once. There are 2 bridges over the ring road. One which was built much later is for the trains coming out of old Delhi railway station. The other one is the one which originally connects Red fort to Salimgarh Fort. In the old photos of Delhi, one can see a branch of Yamuna flowing under this bridge where today the flow now consists of a stream of cars and buses.

The bridge to Salimgarh fort

Red Fort – the Prajja Point of view.

If you visit the red fort, you get to be a Mughal emperor in your imagination. Come out to the ring road and you get to see what the residents of Delhi saw. The king used to come out on the terrace and wave at the audience every day. It is said that if he missed out on this ritual, it used to create an anxiety among the populace and set rumors about his health or being getting overthrown. There is nothing red about this view of red fort as you see the personal chambers of the king in pure marble white.

Red Fort - the King's chambers

Gumshuda Talash Kendra

The Gumshuda Talash Kendra of Daryaganj’s nayi kotwali is a historical place in itself for the Doordarshan generation. Walking on the ring road, turn to the right on reaching the Southern wall of the red fort. A few meters of walk brings you to this piece of modern history.

Gumshuda Talash Kendra

Sunheri Masjid

The royal mosque which was built by wife of Mughal king, Ahmad Shah in 1751 had domes gilded with copper giving it the name. Later they were repaired and replaced with Sandstone by Bahadur Shah Zafar – the last Mughal. The mosque, fortunately survived the onslaught of soldiers and the British.

Sunheri Masjid

Turn right from the Sunheri Masjid and you are back facing the Lahore Gate of the Red Fort.

Red Fort

Red Fort

The 'Oval Office' of the Mughal king - Diwan-i-KhasA shadow of its glorious past

The phrase, “If there is paradise on earth, it is here, it is here“, is often quoted in reference to Kashmir.
It was originally said by the father of Qawwali, Amir Khusrau, in praise of Delhi.
The same can also be seen written in persian, embedded on two pillars at the Diwan-i-Khas at Red fort. Diwan-i-Khas was a special court room, akin to the Oval office of USA where the Mughal emperors used to meet their advisors and take important decisions apart from normal chit-chat with close friends.

Red fort was the jewel of the new town of Shahjanabad. It took 9 years, 3 months to be built and cost 60 lakh rupees. The now ruined but still beautiful marble buildings inside the fort could easily have rivalled the Taj Mahal had they not been destroyed by the British in 1857. Even in the condition they are now, the mirrors of the Rang Mahal do reflect the glory of the exorbitantly rich past.

The whole fort meanwhile is a juxtaposition of the British and Indian architecture. After 1857, many buildings inside were broken down and 4 huge buildings – the barracks – all distinctly British were constructed. They are an eye sore as they overshadow the beautiful gardens.

The most beautiful part of the palace, though I could only imagine it was a stream of water flowing throughout the line of the royal buildings – the Diwan-i-Khas, Khas Mahal, Rang Mahal. Imagine a drawing room completely built from Marble with a stream of water throughout with a huge beautiful fountain in the middle, a peacock throne to sit on, silk curtains, persian carpets. Now how could a person who lived there ever doubt about him living in a paradise.

“If there is a heaven on earth”

“It is here. It is here.”