The main entrance is through the 54-meter-high
Buland Darwaza, the Gate of Victory, constructed to commemorate
Akbar's victory in Gujarat. This impressive gateway is reached
by an equally impressive flight of steps. A Koranic inscription
inside the archway includes the useful thought: 'The world
is a bridge, pass over it but build no house upon it. He who
hopes for an hour may hope for eternity'. Just outside the
gateway is a deep well and, when there is a sufficient number
of tourists assembled, local daredevils leap from the top
of the entrance into the water.
The courtyard of the mosque has a capacity of 25,000 people.
For Rs 5 it’s possible to climb the southern minaret, and
the views in all directions are superb Old Delhi, the Red
Fort, and New Delhi to the south. You can also see one of
the features that the architect Lutyens incorporated into
his design of New Delhi the Jama Masjid, Connaught Place and
Sansad Bhavan are in direct line. There’s also a fine view
of the Red Fort from the east side of the mosque.
Delhi is also a major center for domestic
travel. A soaring tower of early Muslim vintage, the Qutub
Minar attracts many visitors from all across the world. Work
on the minar was started by Qutub-ud-din Aibak in 1199, celebrating
the advent of Muslim dominance in Delhi, but the construction
was completed by his successors in the 13th century. The Qutub
Minar is covered with intricate carvings and deeply inscribed
verses from the Koran. Beautiful calligraphy adorns the adjacent
The Minar rises over 230 feet and can be ascended by a circular
stairway for a view that is breathtaking. The monument tapers
from a 15-meter diameter base to just 2˝ metres at the top
The tower has five distinct storeys, each marked by a projecting
balcony. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone,
the fourth and fifth of marble and sandstone.. It was also
a minaret, from which the muezzin called the devout to prayer.
Today, this impressively ornate tower has a slight tilt, but
has otherwise remained remarkably well preserved over the
The Lal Quila lies in the northeast corner
of the original city of shahjahanabad. Entrance to the fort
is through the imposing Lahore Gate, which as its name suggests
faces Lahore, now in Pakistan. This gate has a special significance
for India, since the first war of independence, and has been
the venue of many an important speech, delivered by freedom
fighters and national leaders of India.
The main entrance opens on to the Chatta Chowk, a covered
street flanked with arched cells, that used to house Delhi's
most skilful jewellers, carpet makers, weavers and goldsmiths.
This arcade was also known as the Meena Bazaar, the shopping
centre for the ladies of the court. Just beyond the Chhata
Chowk, is the heart of the fort called Naubat Khana, or the
Drum House. Musicians used to play for the emperor from the
Naubat Khana, and the arrival of princes and royalty was heralded
from here. The Fort also houses the Diwan-i-Am or the Hall
of Public Audiences, where the Emperor would sit and hear
complaints of the common folk. His alcove in the wall was
marble-paneled, and was set with precious stones, many of
which were looted, after the Mutiny of 1857.
The Diwan-i-Khas is the hall of private audiences, built with
white marble, was the luxurious chamber where the Emperor
held private meetings. The center-piece of the hall used to
be the magnificent Peacock Throne, which was carried away
to Iran by Nadir Shah in 1739. Today, the Diwan-i-Khas is
only a pale shadow of its original glory, yet the famous Persian
couplet inscribed on its wall reminds us of its former magnificence:
&If on earth be an eden on bliss, it is this, it is this,
none but this." Among the other attractions are the hammams
or the Royal Baths three large rooms surmounted by domes,
with a fountain in the center. Then the three storeyed octagonal
tower of Shahi Burj, which used to be Shahjahan's private
working area, and the Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque, built
by Aurangzeb for his personal use.
The ‘Rang Mahal’ or the 'Palace of Colors'
housed the Emperor's wives and mistresses. This palace was
crowned with gilded turrets, delicately painted and decorated
with an intricate mosaics of mirrors, and a ceiling overlaid
with gold and silver, that was wonderfully reflected in a
central pool in the marble floor. Even today, the Lal Quila
is an eloquent reminder of the glory of the Mughal era, and
its magnificence simply leaves one awestruck. It is still
a calm haven of peace, which helps one to break away, from
the frantic pace of life outside the walls of the Fort, and
transports the visitor to another realm of existence.