Old Delhi & The Reddest of Forts

olddelhiAfter slipping on our tenacious t-shirts, putting on our confidence caps, and tightening our bravery belts, we started a fifty min walk through the streets of Delhi, towards the Red Fort. We didn’t see a single foreigner until we arrived and could tell the locals were surprised to see us in the non-touristy areas of the city. As much as this took a little gust o, we would not have attempted such a trek without our newly acquired data plan and Google map.  We weren’t hassled until we got closer to the Fort. Everyone told us we were going the wrong way. We weren’t.
I can clearly remember looking at “eye witness” books on castles when I was a boy. The different parts of the castle and the ingenuity that went into building them fascinated me. I tried to imagine myself, walking up to the Red Fort’s outer moat, 500 years in the past. The grandeur of the Fort must have been even more breath stealing at such a time.  We paid the entrance fees, which were $5 CAD each and went inside. The inflated tourist prices are around four times more expensive, but go towards maintaining the Fort and are worth it just to avoid the super long line up.

redfortmoatIn 1638 the fifth Mughal emporer, Shahjahan, moved his capital from Agra to Delhi. Built by the same man who built the Taj Mahal, Ustad Ahmad Lahouri, the capital is surrounded by a stone wall, with defensive bastions and fourteen gates at intervals. It was home to the Mughal emperor for almost two hundred years. Now, a major tourist attraction, it is full of domestic and international travelers, gardens and a few museums. The walls and gates are built out of red sandstone while the inner palaces are of mostly marble.

We passed through some meager security and entered the Fort.  We were immediately hit with the immensity and beauty of this architectural wonder. There were many signs explaining the history of Red Fort. As we walked in, we were met with the Chhatta-Chowk or covered bazaar, selling touristy trinkets and learned that the market functioned much in the same way when it was first built. At its time, a covered market was a rare and amazing thing.

Hall of public audienceNext we saw the beautiful Naqqar-Khana or Drum House, which is where music was played for ceremonies and past it, the Diwan-i-‘ Am (Hall of Public Audience) which at its read, hold the royal throne. Aside from these beautiful buildings, the fort housed many glamorous apartments. One of the coolest things I found in the fort was the Nahr-i-Bihisht or Stream of Paradise; connected to the Yamuna River, this stream of water flowed through the entire complex and into many of the buildings, providing a natural air conditioning.

After walking through the grounds and some of the museums, which took a couple hours, we exited the Red Fort. We made our way through the streets of Chandni Chowk, a major market area, where you can buy everything from spices to Nike shoes. We ate at a Indian fast-food restaurant, where we enjoyed a great masala dosa. We also had an olive pizza, which was a welcomed treat. After eating, we walked back to our temporary home in Paharganj and settled in to a relaxing night.

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