Delhi was and still is one of the most happening cities in India, being the capital of the largest democracy in the world. It was the Mughals’ favorite city. Each ruler left his imprint behind in the form of monuments and forts which till date stand as glorious as ever. When it comes to forts, Delhi is certainly leads the camp as most of the forts here stand as strong and proud symbols of the country’s historical and cultural heritage. With splendid and marvelous architecture, these forts also serve as testimony to the brilliant craftsmanship of the days of yore.
Here are the five most popular forts in Delhi.
1. Red Fort
Imagine strolling around a great structure, circling its shadows, marveling at its strong foundations and meticulous planning, and yet not being exhausted. That is the magic of the Red fort. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1638. It is said that it took 10 years to piece together the sprawling edifice. Walls shooting up to 33 m were meant to protect the fort and its occupants from any possible attack. It was a fortress that stamped the glory of the Mughal rule and their craftsmanship. Even today, it stands proudly displaying its architectural brilliance and mesmerizing visitors. Every evening, a light and sound show is held at the fort that recreates for visitors the historical events associated with Red fort. It is here that the Prime Minister of India addresses the nation every year on Independence Day.
2. Purana Qila
Also known as the Old fort, it was one of the seats of power of the ruling regime in the past. Purana Qila is also one of the oldest forts in Delhi and is spread over 2 km. It is believed that the fort was built at the site where Indraprastha, the ancient capital city of Pandavas, was located. Today, the fort is in ruins but the ramparts and the gateways remain intact. It was Emperor Humayun who built the walls and gateways and he wanted to build a massive structure for his new capital, Dinpanah. Sher Shah Suri demolished Dinpanaha and built a fort here but it is said that he was unable to complete the construction. Here also, a sound and light show depicting historical events is held every evening.
3. Tughlaqabad Fort
Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughlaq, the founder of Tughlaq dynasty built the Tughlaqabad fort. It is situated on a hill and was built in an octagonal shape. It was built in 1321 and is a gigantic stone structure. It has huge walls that stand 15 m high. It is believed that there were 52 gates in all to the fort but only 13 can be seen now. It was set up as a historic city but just after few years, it was abandoned. There is a legend about the fort – ‘ya rahey hissar, ya bassey gujjar’ – this was said by one of the discontented labourers of the fort as a curse. It means that ‘let the fort be unoccupied or may be home to herdsmen’. The curse worked and the empire lost its power, and the fort remained in gloom.
4. Siri Fort
There are two important aspects of Siri fort, one that it was the second city to be built in Delhi and the other that it was never conquered by any ruler. Built by Ala-ud-Din Khilji in 1303, Siri fort housed a flourishing city at one time. Today, only ruins are left but even they point out to the glorious past it once had.
5. Salimgarh Fort
It was built by Salim Shah Suri, the son of Sher Shah Suri and hence the name, which means ‘Salim’s fort’. Located in the famous Chandni Chowk area of Delhi, Salimgarh fort was built in 1564 AD. It is built in triangular shape and the walls were erected in rubble masonry. The fort has undergone many renovation works ever since. There is an arch bridge that connects Salimgarh fort with the Red fort. During Aurangzeb’s time, Salimgarh fort was used as a prison where he imprisoned his brother Murad Baksh.
Today, the fort is in ruins but the ramparts and gates look strong and defiant.