Old Delhi II – The Walled City and the Red Fort

1 - Red Fort

Entrance to the Red Fort today is by the Lahore Gate, facing Chandni Chowk.

Old Delhi – meaning the former Walled City that sits by the banks of the River Jamuna, was once Shajahanabad, having been established by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1639, when he moved the capital of the Mughal Empire here from Agra.

The city became known as Old Delhi after New Delhi – or Lutyens’ Delhi – was built in the 1930s. Here, in the walls of the Old City, is the beating heart of Delhi itself: the Delhi of the Mughals.

2 - Shahjahanabad_or_Modern_Delhi_1911_map

Delhi in 1911, with the walled city, or Shahjahanabad in red. Note that the walls of the city still stand in this map. Shahjahanabad is ironically marked here as “Modern Delhi.” New Delhi would later be built in the area marked out as “Firozabad or Ancient Delhi” [Public Domain.]

Jami Masjid

We begin our ramble at the Jami Masjid, or Friday Mosque of the City. This majestic structure too, was built by Emperor Shah Jahan and completed in 1656. Between then till the end of the Mughal Empire, this was the Royal Mosque of the Mughals.

Once known as Masjid-i-jahan-numa, or “Mosque with a view of the World” in Persian, the mosque is certainly the largest in Delhi and one of India’s largest mosques.

3 - Jami Masjid Entrance

Entrance to the Jami Masjid, through Gate No. 1.

4 - Jami Masjid

The startling and beautiful (Mughal) symmetry of the Jami Masjid.

5 - Jami Masjid Details

Close-up of the arcades.

6 - Entrance to Mosque

Close-up of the entrance, noting the Persian-style decorative elements on the sides of the entrance alcove.

7 - View outwards

From the mosque looking out into the courtyard.

8 - Internal View

View through the main structure, with its repeated archways.

Chandni Chowk

North of Jami Masjid runs Old Delhi’s main commercial thoroughfare – the historic Chandni Chowk, or “Square of Moonlight”, also a major bazaar.

Chandni Chowk runs right through the middle of Old Delhi, from the entrance to the Red Fort to the East to Fatehpuri Masjid to the West. Along the street lie many different places of worship, as well as historic havelis, or private residences.

Chandni Chowk was also the main processional thoroughfare in Old Delhi, down which the Mughal Emperors would march with their elephants and their Grand Imperial Retinue. The British would continue this tradition with King Edward VII and his consort proceeding down Chandni Chowk during the Delhi Durbar of 1903.

Today, unfortunately, many of the structures on Chandni Chowk are in urgent need of repair, though the Chowk itself, is still bursting with life and commercial activity and well worth a wander, if only to get a flavour of the city.

9 - ES PEarey Lal Building

ES Pearey Lal Building, Chandni Chowk.

10 - Allahabad Bank

Allahabad Bank.

11 - CEntral Baptist Church

Central Baptist Church.

12 Sikh TEmple

The Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib (1783) is a historic Sikh Temple. It marks the site where the 9th Sikh Guru was beheaded on the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb for refusing to convert to Islam.

13 - Art Deco Building

Art deco architecture off the main thoroughfare.

14 - Beautiful Rajput style building

A beautiful marble structure – possibly a haveli?

15 - Gothic Balconies

Gothic-style balconies of (possibly) a haveli.

16 - Crumbling Majesty

Crumbling main street architecture.

17 - Old Town Hall

Old Delhi Town Hall (1863).

18 - Masjid Fatehpuri

Masjid Fatehpuri was built in 1650 by one of Shah Jahan’s wives, Fatehpuri Begum, who hailed from Fatehpuri Sikri. It sits at the western end of Chandni Chowk.

19 - St Stephens Church

Around the corner sits St Stephen’s Church, built in 1862 in the Gothic style.

Red Fort (Lal Qila)

From Chandni Chowk, we enter the Red Fort through Lahore Gate. The Fort was constructed by Shah Jahan in 1639. It was the Royal Palace to his Capital City of Shahjahanabad, and remained the Royal Palace of the Mughals till the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah was ejected and exiled by the British in 1857.

The name of the Fort comes from the use of red sandstone in its fortifications. Its architecture was eclectic, incorporating Persian, Indian and European styles in the design. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is considered one of the finest examples of Mughal Architecture.

Much of the Fort was actually plundered and demolished in the aftermath of 1857. The British erected a large military garrison within the walls of the Fort, using the Fort as a military base. The buildings that remain today constitute about a third of what originally stood.

They are still beautiful and timeless reminders of Delhi’s great past.

20 - Lahore Gate

Lahore Gate, Lal Qila.

21 - Bazaar Chhata Chowk

Chhata Chowk, the bazaar at the Red Fort.

22 - Drum Gate Naubat Khana

Naubat Khana (Drum Gate).

23 - Detail of Gate

Detail of alcove, Drum Gate. Note the Mughal fascination with flora as a decorative element.

24 - Diwan-i-am

Diwan-i-am, the Public Audience Hall, with its many arches.

25 - Diwan-i-am Detail

View laterally through the Diwan-i-am.

26 - Detail Diwan-i-am

Detail of floral

27 - Throne Audience

The marble jharokha where the Mughal Emperor would give his audience. Note again, the extensive floral decoration.

28 - Mumtaz Mahal

The Mumtaz Mahal, which were the womens’ quarters.

29 - Diwan i Khas and Khas Mahal

The Diwan-i-khas (Hall of Private Audience) and the Khas Mahal (Emperor’s Apartments) behind it.

30 - Diwan-i-khas

Marble Screen with the Scales of Justice – indicating the Mughal Emperor’s justice.

31 - Red Fort Detail

Detail of the floral decoration.

32 - Barracks

British-era military barracks in the Hayat Baksh Bagh (“Life Bestowing Gardens”). Much of the gardens were destroyed by the British and turned into a military garrison. 

33 - Sawon Bhadon

One of the Sawon and Bhadon Pavilions in the Hayat Baksh Bagh.

34 - Zafar Mahal

The red sandstone Zafar Mahal was built in 1842, during the reign of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar.

35 - Lutyens Style Bungalow

Lutyens’ style bungalow in the military garrison area.

36 - Exit

One exits the Red Fort today by way of the Delhi Gate.

37 - Red Fort

Backward Glance at the Red Fort.

About Kennie Ting

I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.
This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, Cities & Regions, Culture & Lifestyle, Heritage, India, Landmarks & History, Photography, Travel & Mobility and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s