Old Fort of Delhi is one the oldest forts located in the State of Delhi. Historians believe that the map of modified fort was the handiwork of emperor Sher Shah Suri. Sher Shah raised the citadel of Purana Qila with an extensive city-area sprawling around it. It is believed that the Purana Qila was still incomplete at Sher Shah’s death in 1545, and was perhaps completed by his son Islam Shah, although it is not certain. The site of the Old Fort was perhaps that of Indraprastha, the then capital of the Pandavas.
History of Old Fort of Delhi
Excavations carried out by Archaeological Survey of India at Purana Quila in 1954-55 and in 1969-1973 have unearthed some utility items such as utensils dating to 1000 B.C., and with a cultural sequence from Mauryan to Mughal through Shunga, Kushana, Gupta, Rajput and Sultanate periods It confirms the antique value of the site. Some historians hold the view that the site of the Purana Qila was perhaps that of Indraprastha, the capital city of the Pandavas.
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Even if the ancient origin of the Old Fort is disputed, every one agrees that its current form was built by Sher Shah Suri. Sher Shah raised the citadel of Purana Qila with an extensive city-area sprawling around it. It is said that the Purana Qila was still incomplete at Sher Shah’s death in 1545, and was perhaps completed by his son Islam Shah , although it is not certain which parts were built by whom.
When the great architect of contemporary times, Edwin Lutyens designed the capital of British India, New Delhi, in the 1920s, he aligned the central vista, now Rajpath, with Purana Qila. During the Partition of India, in August 1947 the Purana Qila along with the neighbouring Humayun’s Tomb, became the site for refuge camps for Muslims migrating to newly founded Pakistan. This included government employees who had opted for service in Pakistan, and between 150,000–200,000 Muslim refugees, who inhabitated Purana Qila by September 1947, when Indian government took over the management of the two camps. The Purana Qila camp remained functional till early 1948, as the trains to Pakistan waited till October 1947 to start.
The Architecture of Old Fort at Delhi
The walls of the Fort are at a height of 18 metres. It has three arched gateways: the Big Gate, facing west, which is still in use today; the south gate, also popularly known as the ‘Humayun Gate’ (probably so known because it was constructed by Humayun, or perhaps because Humayun’s Tomb is visible from there); and lastly, the ‘Talaqi Gate’, often known as the “forbidden gate”.
All the gates of Old Fort are double-storeyed sandstone structures which are accompanied by two huge semi-circular bastion towers, decorated with white and coloured-marble inlays and blue tiles. They are replete with detailing, including ornate overhanging balconies, or screens, and are topped by pillared pavilions, all features that known in Rajasthani architecture. Despite the grandeurs of the exterior, few of interior structures have survived except the Qila-i Kuhna Mosque and the Shermandal, both credited to Sher Shah.
Timings and Ticket
Located near Delhi Zoo, on Mathura Road, Delhi, the Old Fort is usually opens from sunrise to sunset. Entry to Indian resident is for Rs. 20, while foreigners are charged Rs.200. Although photography is free, but if you are interested in video shooting, you will need to shell out Rs 25 extra.
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