Old Fort or the ‘Purana Qila’ is situated in Old Delhi and one km towards the south east of India Gate, near Pragati Maiden in Delhi and can be reached by Metro Link with Connaught Place as the nearest Metro Station. It was built by Emperor Humayun in 1533 and completed by 1538 over the second city of Delhi named by the Mughal dynasty as ‘Dina-Panah’. This is a unique Fort that does not boasts of elaborate Palaces or well decorated administrative offices and recreational centres for the Empire but instead it was constructed with the purpose to form a protective wall or shield for the city against enemy attacks. However, the fort did see a few modifications and addition of some structures within during the reign of Sher Shah Suri, an Afghan Emperor from 1540 up till his death in 1545 who renamed the Old Fort as ‘Shergarh’ or ‘Tiger’s Fort’.
History of Old Fort
Humayun reclaimed his Old Fort in 1555 after he won over the Suri dynasty but unfortunately was killed in 1556 in a tragic accident that occurred within the complex of this very fort that he was so proud of. In 1853 Aqeel constructed a few other monuments within this Fort that forms a significant part of the city. Hence, the fort takes pride in being very strongly built with straight walls and a bold design though seen in a dilapidated state today but one can only admire its stealth and beauty.
Construction of Old Fort
The walls of the Old Fort were built 18 metres high and stretches across 2 km long with three arched gates built in sandstone and measuring 2 stories high named ‘Bara Darwaza’ or the ‘Big Gate’ that lies towards the western end used even today for entry into the fort, the ‘Humayun Gate’ on the south end and the ‘Talaq Gate’ or the ‘Forbidden Gate’ through which entry is prohibited. These gates are well decorated with coloured and white inlays, blue tiles, detailed ornate peep holes or ‘Jharokhas’, overhanging balconies, Pavilions with Pillars and Chhatri all depicting beautiful Rajasthani architecture.
The Old Fort was constructed over Indraprastha Fort and City but however, has been extended to cover a larger area to encompass the entire city. Many excavations revealed ancient relics, terracotta figurines and inscribed seals that may have belonged from the Mauryan era to the early Mughal era. One building that has stood against all odds is the Sher Shah Mosque constructed by Emperor Sher Shah dating back to 1541 depicting Lodi and Mughal architectural style.
The Sher Mandal is another imposing figure measuring at a height of a two-storied octagonal shaped Tower made of red sandstone. It is covered in glazed tiles and inlaid with plasterwork painted on the interiors. This Tower had served as the library of Emperor Humayun which was also responsible for his untimely death as he fell down from this very place.
The main gate of the Old Fort houses a Museum which displays a collection of artefacts belonging to the Mughal era, ancient relics dating back to the Mahabharata era like pottery and handicraft work. Other items are coins belonging to the Gupta era and post that period.
There are a few attractions in the Old Fort for tourists including boating facility and a walk through the Zoological Park. A daily light and sound show is held in the Old Fort for tourists and visitors that tells tales of how the seven cities of Delhi saw changes be it the city name or infrastructure and architectural design that clearly depicts the gradual transformation from the first ancient city named ‘Indraprastha’ to the new and modern ‘New Delhi’ City.
- Open: All Days
- Timing: Morning to Evening (preferred timing: 10am to 5pm)
- Entry Fee: INR 5 (for Indian citizens) and INR 100 (for foreigners)
- Nearest Metro Station: Pragati Maidan
- Photography Charges: Free (Video shoot @ INR 25)