The Fort, introduced
The Red Fort was called ‘Qila e Moalla’, when it was built (the ‘High Fort’) and was created as a central point of the new capital city of Shahjahanabad (which is now Old Delhi), planned and established by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in the mid-17th century. The Fort was designed by the architect Ustad Ahmed; its construction began in 1639 and ended in 1648, though it saw significant additions.
The elongated, irregular octagon-shaped the Red Fort has a perimeter of 2.41 km and has two main gates, the Lahore Gate and the Delhi Gate. Today only a small proportion of the Red Fort’s original buildings remain; the rest were destroyed after 1857 when British troops occupied the Fort.
Testimony to many a ruler
Red Fort oversaw many emperors and phases in time, which added or destructed parts of the Fort and are the reasons why the Fort exists in its present form and did so because the Red Fort was strategically crucial to their motives in the region, it has remained vital, just not for political gain, but as a symbol of the democracy of the country.
- Under Shah Jahan- Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, Shah Jahan’s architect, designed the Fort he planned and constructed it on the bank of the river Yamuna, whose waters filled the moat of the Fort which presently can be seen in a dry condition.
- Under Aurangzeb- Aurangzeb who succeeded Shah Jahan who added Pearl Mosque or Moti Masjid in the Fort.
- Red Fort under the British: In 1803, Marathas were defeated by the British East India Company in the battle of Delhi which was fought in 1803. They took over Mughal territories and the Red Fort. At that time Bahadur Shah Zafar II was the Mughal Emperor. During the mutiny of 1857, Bahadur Shah left the Fort. He was later caught and brought to the Fort as a prisoner. British sent him to Rangoon where he died and this ended the Mughal rule. After this, the British plundered and robbed of the wealth of the Red Fort and other forts and palaces.
- Red Fort after Independence- Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, hoisted the national flag at the Lahori Gate of the Fort in 1947, a practice which has since continued. After independence, the Fort was used as an army cantonment till 2003. After that it was given to Archaeological Survey of India. Today the Fort is used to hoist the flags on 15th August and 26th January.