October 29, 2013
Before the British came the Mughuls left behind a spectacular assortment of tombs, structures and sites. Here are a few of our favourite Delhi monuments”¦
Open every day and easily accessible from the Pragati Maidan Metro station, the Old Fort, or Purana Quila, is certainly worth a visit. Surviving the test of time, its crumbling ramparts, numerous gateways and huge walls make it ripe for photographic exploration and it also provides some respite from the busy city.
Built by Afghan ruler Sher Shah, who took control of the Mughal Empire in 1540, before the emperor Humayun, it’s believed by many to be the oldest remaining structure in Delhi.
There is also a more recent, and tragic, historical relevance to the Old Fort, as it was here that many Muslims gathered in refugee camps to await their transfer to newly formed Pakistan during the 1947 Partition of India. Many never made it and were slaughtered.
Many tourists visit the famous Qutub Minar, but fewer make it to the nearby 17th century tomb of Muhammed Quli Khan. One of Emporer Akbar’s courtiers, the tomb is situated just 150 metres southeast of Qutub Minar. The history of this tomb is particularly curious as Sir Thomas Metcalfe (agent of Governor General of India at the imperial court of the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar) used the space as a country house of sorts, complete with dining hall, stables and staff quarters. Today, Quli Khan’s Tomb is crumbling, but is still well-known for its stucco and tile work.
At the northern gate to the walled city of Delhi, the Dara Shikoh Library Building is named after the eldest son of the fifth Mughal emporer Shah Jahan, who famously erected the Taj Mahal and many other famous Mughal buildings. Designed and used as a library by the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh, it existed as the residence of Ali Mardan Khan, Mughal Viceroy of Punjab, and was later expanded and used as residency of Sir David Octherlony during the late 1800s. Today it is run as an archaeological museum by the Archaeological Survey of India.
One of the most famous sights of Delhi and an exquisite example of Mughal architecture, no visit to Delhi is complete without a tour of the Red Fort. Close to Chandi Chowk in Old Delhi, the red sandstone walls, built in 1638, are much photographed and rise 33 metres above the city, serving to drill home to all the power and splendour of the Mughal emperors. The main gate, Lahore Gate, is one of the most iconic places of not only Delhi, but India as a whole, and is a hub for the annual Independence Day celebrations.
Header photo: The Red Fort, Delhi © Angelo Giampiccolo, 2013. Used under license from shutterstock.com
Written by Caroline Eden
Have you visited any of these Delhi monuments? Which was the most impressive?