The Red Fort

The Red Fort in Delhi, India is a World Heritage Site. The palace complex of the Red Fort is among the best examples of the Mughal (Muslim rulers of India) style. The palace is based on Islamic prototypes and is a synthesis of Persian, European and Indian art. It is one of the most popular tourist spots in Old Delhi, attracting thousands of visitors annually. The fort is also where the Indian Prime Minister addresses the nation on Independence Day.

The Red Fort was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (who also built the Taj Mahal) as the palace for his new capital (now called Old Delhi). Construction began in 1638 and was complete by 1648. At one point, 3,000 people lived within the complex. It houses the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) built in 1659 for Aurangzeb, Shah Jahan's successor. The Red Fort gets its name from its massive walls of red sandstone. The wall is 2.5 km long, and varies in height from 16m to 33m. To its north lies a large garden which is cut through by two bisecting channels of water.

After the War of Independence of 1857, the fort was captured by the British and many fine residential palaces destroyed. It was made the headquarters of the British Indian Army. The last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was tried there by the British. When India gained independence in 1947, the Indian Army took control over the fort. In 2003, the Army handed it over to the tourist authorities. At its height the Red Fort court of the Mughals would have easily outshone its contemporary European rival, Louis XIV's palace at Versailles, and it covered twice the area of the largest European palace, the Escorial.