At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom…’ This historic speech marked India’s independence from British rule and simultaneously made the Red Fort in Delhi a politically significant monument, which now acts as the setting for the independence day celebrations each year.
Converted into a barracks by the British, this massive fort is a sandstone carcass of its former self, but it still conjures a picture of the splendour of Mughal Delhi.
Protected by a dramatic 18m-high wall, the marble and sandstone monuments here were constructed at the peak of the dynasty’s power, when the empire was flush with gold and precious stones. Shah Jahan founded the fortress between 1638 and 1648 to protect his new capital city of Shahjahanabad, but he never took up full residence, after his disloyal son, Aurangzeb, imprisoned him in Agra Fort.
The last Mughal emperor of Delhi, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was flushed from the Red Fort in 1857 and exiled to Burma for his role in the First War of Independence. The new conquerors cleared out most of the buildings inside the fortress walls and replaced them with ugly barrack blocks for the colonial army.
Every evening, except Monday, the fort is the setting for a bombastic sound and light show , with coloured spotlights and a portentous voice over, highlighting key events in the history of the Red Fort.
The ticket for foreigners covers the museums inside the fort. The audio tour is worthwhile to bring the site to life.
Picture location – Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, India.
Post courtesy – Lonely Planet.