Home | Gallery | Travelogue | Write!
Album: By Country | By Date India | May 2001 < Prev: Tirupathi to New Delhi | Next: Jama Masjid >
Travelogue: By Country | By Date India | May 2001  

May 2001 - The Red Fort and Old Delhi

We are back in a real city after three days in sterile New Delhi

The entrance to the Red Fort.  Indians pay 4 cents; foreigners pay $5.  The Fort, though it served as a military barracks for the British and still does so for the Indian Army, originally enclosed living quarters and gardens for the emperor and the royal court. The Lahore Gate.  You cannot get a sense of it here, but the place is huge.  It was built by Shah Jahan in the 17th century.  Shah Jahan had an almost insatiable passion for building. At his first capital, Agra, he undertook the building of two great mosques, the Moti Masjid and Jami' Masjid (Great Mosque), as well as the superb mausoleum known as the Taj Mahal . The Taj Mahal is the masterpiece of his reign and was erected in memory of the favourite of his three queens, Mumtaz Mahal (the mother of Aurangzeb). At Delhi, Shah Jahan built the Red Fort as well as the Jami' Masjid, the largest mosqe in India. He also built the walls of Delhi.  The greater part of Old Delhi is still confined within the space of Shah Jahan's walls, and several gates built during his rule still stand. Peacock feathers in the bazaar just inside the gate.  The Chatta Chowk used to be the place that the royal household might come to buy upscale goods - gold, jewelry, silks.  Today, of course, it is full of stands catering to tourists.  Detail of an arch in the Naubat Khana, or Drum House, just inside the gate.  Here musicians used to play for the emperor and the arrival of VIPs was heralded from here.  There's now a war museum upstairs featuring some really gruesome Mughal weapons.  They made me cringe and the kids giggle with delight.  (Obviously, they've had a warped upbringing.)
The Diwan-i-Am, or Hall of Public Audiences.  This is where the emperor would sit to hear complaints or disputes from his subjects.  The Diwan-i-Am.  The Diwan-i-Am.  Moti Masjid, a mosque built in 1659 by Aurangzeb, who deposed Shah Jahan.  The walls enclosing the mosque are aligned with the rest of the Red Fort, but the mosque inside is aligned with Mecca.  Even behind its walls, the mosque has an unusual grace.  Next to the mosque were the royal baths.  All through the grounds, water ran through channels.  It even ran through the royal apartments.
The ground level of the Shahi Burj.  Surmounted by an octagonal tower, this was Shah Jahan's private working area. Detail from the mosque door Looking across what were once fine gardens to the British barracks, horrendously ugly buildings now used by the Indian Army Looking into the Diwan-i-Khas, the Hall of Private Audiences.  The centerpiece of this elegant but modestly scaled hall was the Peacock Throne.  The solid gold throne had figures of peacocks standing behind it, their beautiful colors made from countless inlaid percious stones.  Between the peacocks was a parrot carved from a single emerald.  Carved on the walls is the couplet, "If there is a paradise on earth it is this, it is this, it is this.
The bazaar below is roughly wher the river used to be. Part of the palace complex and seraglio The modest scale and lack of any martial themes is a great contrast to most other palaces we've seen.  Here, there are flowers everywhere. From left to right the mosque, baths, private audience hall, and seraglio.
Shah Jahan's reign was also a period of great literary activity, while the arts of painting and calligraphy were not neglected. His court was one of great pomp and splendour, and his collection of jewels was probably the most splendid in the world. The Indian flag flying over the Lahore Gate.  If one spot could be said to be the emotional and symbolic heart of modern India, it is the Lahore Gate.  During the struggle for independence, one of the nationalists' declarations was that they would see the Indian flag flying over the Red Fort.  After independence, Nehru and Indira Gandhi addressed major speeches from here to crowds in the large open space in front of the Fort.  On Independence Day, the prime minister addresses a huge crowd from the gate. This helps give some idea of the size of the Red Fort.  This shows about half of one side.
The Jain Temple across from the Red Fort.  Jainism was founded in the 6th Century BC by Mahavira, a contemporary of Buddha.  Curiously, Mahavira and Buddha both came from the same region in India.  Jainism is virtually non-existent outside India; Buddhism is not widely practiced in India. Seed and nut sellers along Chandi Chowk, the main street of Old Delhi Painting in the Bird Hospital in the Jain Temple.  There were loads of pictures of bloody birds. This illustrates the story of a king who cut off parts of his own flesh to save a pigeon from a hawk.  Turned out the pigeon and the hawk were both demi-gods and the king became a happy man
Most of the birds in the bird hospital were pigeons The Jain temple. Inside of the Jain Temple Red Fort from the Jain Temple
Bird Hospital.  Note the sign showing how birds are harmed by ceiling fans. Vendor selling Colorado Rockies outfit Mashing a drink ingredient Parrots for sale.  Price? $2 to $3.
Rice birds in the market Making sugar cane drink Street scene of rickshaw and the front of an autorickshaw.  We often use auto rickshaws - three wheelers steered with handlebars.  They are open on the sides, so the heat, noise, and exhaust rides along with us.  Whenever we get going very fast, I start getting nervous.  Fortunately, there's rarely a chance to go very fast.