Red fort, also popularly known as Lal Quila, was constructed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century. The construction happened when the emperor decided to shift the capital from Agra to the new city of Delhi, which was earlier known as Shahjahanabad. Here in this essay, we will discuss a few aspects associated with the structure of the Red Fort.
Long Essay on Red Fort in English for Students
Red Fort was designed by the architect Ustad Ahmad Lahauri and Ustad Hamid and served as a residence for Mughal emperors for 200 years, until 1857. Built alongside the Yamuna river in a perimeter of 2.41 km, its construction began in the sacred month of Muharram, on May 13, 1638, and was completed in 1648. The fort is built using red sandstone and is of an oblong octagonal plan. It has two principal gates namely Lahore Drawaza and Delhi Darwaza along its western and southern sides respectively.
Key Features of the Red Fort
The fortress of Red Fort exists in the rectangular dimension of 900m x 500m.
The ramparts of the fort are approximately 34m tall and are enclosed by the moat.
The three-storied structures of the fort are surrounded by the octagonal towers and they form two of five gateways related to the fort. They are known as the Gate of Delhi and the Gate of Lahori.
There are two figures in the shape of giant elephants that are guarding the gates of Delhi. The main entrance for the fort is through the Lahori gate.
There is a covered passage that leads to various places within the fort having shops on either side.
The Architecture of Red Fort
The Red Fort has an area of 254.67 acres (103.06 ha) enclosed by defensive walls of 2.41 kilometres (1.50 mi), interrupted by turrets and bastions and ranging in height from 18 meters (59 ft) on the side of the river to 33 meters (108 ft) on the side of the town.
With the north-south axis longer than the eastern-western axis, the fort is octagonal. The artwork of the fort infuses Persian, European, and Indian art, resulting in a unique style rich in form, expression, and hue in Shahjahani. The public used the Lahori and Delhi Gates, and the Khizrabad Gate was for the emperor.
This helmet-like structure also forms part of the fort's defensive architecture, which is often seen alternating with arrow slits. It's referred to as a damaaga (a 'damaaga' is a ‘nostril'; the name is probably due to the shape similarity). Damaagas were used to pour burning pitches into enemies attempting to scale the wall.
This architectural element was typically placed high up on the fort's outer walls. Arrow slits or loopholes are known as vertical slits in the walls because they allowed soldiers inside the fort to shoot arrows from the shelter of the wall at an outside enemy.
The pishtaq, or niche, was another architectural element that had been in use long before the Mughal period. This is a quadrilateral shelf - like a niche let into a wall. These began as a practical element of architecture (like the kanguras and damaagas): Pishtaqs could be used as a shelf, to store items, and to hold lamps to illuminate a chamber. Pishtaqs retained their functionality, particularly as a receptacle for lamps, unlike kanguras or damages. Pishtaqs, for example, were very prevalent in pre-Mughal Delhi as a form of decoration in mosques.
Another important characteristic of Mughal architecture, the chadar, was also often incorporated into garden pavilions. A chadar is a stone slope that, when it descends from a higher level to a lower one, acts as the bed for a water channel.
The main gate to the Red Fort, named for its orientation towards the city of Lahore, is the Lahori Gate. During the reign of Aurangzeb, the beauty of the gate was spoiled by the addition of bastions. The Delhi Gate is the southern public entrance and is similar to the Lahori Gate in layout and appearance. Two life-size stone elephants face each other on either side of the gate. After their previous demolition by Aurangzeb, these were renewed by Lord Curzon in 1903.
It is adjacent to the Lahori Gate. Silk, jewellery, and other items for the imperial household were sold here during the Mughal period. The bazaar leads to an open outer court, where it crosses the large north-south street that originally split the military functions of the fort (to the west) from the palaces(to the east). (to the east). The southern end of the street is the Gate of Delhi.
The now-isolated Naubat Khana (also known as Nakkar Khana), the drum house, stands on the eastern wall of the court. Music was played daily at scheduled times next to a large gate, where everyone except royalty needed to dismount.
Short Red Fort Essay in English
It was originally referred to as 'Qila-i-Mubarak' (the blessed fort) because it was the royal family’s residence. Its layout was designed to retain and integrate this site with the Salimgarh Fort. Another similar fort was built facing the Taj Mahal, on the opposite side of the river, known as Agra Fort.
Structures Within the Red Fort
Some of the prominent structures within the red fort are as follows.
Diwan-e-Azam: This is the public audience hall having engraved arches and columns which display fine craftsmanship. The hall was initially decorated using white Chunam stucco. The emperor addressed the audience in the marble balcony in the back of the elevated recess. This was also used for holding state functions.
Rang Mahal and Mumtaz Mahal: These two are situated in the southernmost pavilions in the palace. The Mumtaz Mahal has an Archaeological museum of the fort. The Rang Mahal used to house the mistresses and wives of the emperor. It was brightly decorated and painted with the mosaic of mirrors and the meaning of its name is “Palace of colours”.
Khas Mahal: The Khas Mahal was the apartment that was designated for the emperor. The Muthamman Burj, is the octagonal tower where the emperor made the appearance before the people that used to wait on the river bank, and it is connected to it. The majority of the kings during those times used to do this.
Diwan-i-Khas: The gate that leads to the innermost court of the palace and Diwan-i-Khas, known as the hall of private audience, on the northern side of the Diwan-i-Alam.It is made using white marble and is embossed with precious stones. It had a silver ceiling which was later restored to timber. There is a presence of an inscription by Persian poet Amir Khusrow which can be found at either end of the hall, across two outer arches.
Hammam: The imperial baths were known as Hammam, and they consisted of three doomed rooms having white marble flooring.
Indian history is closely associated with this fort. It was here that the final Mughal ruler named Bahadur Shah Zafar was deposed by the British thereby marking the end of 3 centuries of Mughal rule in India. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, hoisted the national flag of India above Lahori gate on the 15th of August, 1947.