The mysterious boulevard of Purana Qila spreading over 300 acres of land with an archaic aura and manifold alleys clutches the ancient and medieval legacy of all the major Kingdoms of Indian sub-continent as well as mythical Indraprastha (capital city of Pandavas) dating back to 1500 B.C in a nutshell. It is been said that Purana Qila was the first ground that seeded the art of civilization in Delhi. Chronologically from the mighty Mauryans to majestic Mughals and in between imperious kingdoms of Guptas, Kushans, Slaves, Rajputs and Afghan Surs all had their citadels rooted in the arena, thus flagging the atavism of the land.
Coming to the present scenario, the lasting fort inside the area was built by Sher Shah Suri, the greatest Afghan ruler of India who founded the invincible Sur empire in 15th century. Soon after his death the citadel and the adjacent erections were constructed by his successor, Islam Shah.
Before Sur empire, the area formed an important part of Din Pannah, the vibrant town founded by Mughal Emperor Humayun. After 1540, when Emperor Humayun was defeated and forced to exile, Sher Shah renamed the area to Shergarh.
After British India was split into India and Pakistan as a political ramification of Independence, many families were dislocated and sought shelter in Purana Qila and Humayun’s tomb which housed approx 120000 Muslim immigrants for 10 months till 1948 who were willing to move to new Islamic republic of Pakistan. In the late 20th century many renowned Indian theater schools like NSD , RV Media House started shooting historical short films inside the area.
The most striking feature of the fort is the wall which encloses the entire area, wrapping it away from the modern spectrum of civilization. It has a height of 18 meters and a length of 1.5 km. There are three ingress gateways on different side of the wall namely – Bara Darwaza , Humayun’s Gate (South) & Talaqi Gate (Forbidden gate). The wall is made up of red stone with a cubic finish like a brick , the gates are multi storeyed with huge towers on either side of the apex, designed with blue tiles and marbles.The balconies and pillars are resemblances of Rajput edifices of Jaipur.
Below are the few forts that are still standing tall inside the antique premises :
This mosque was built by Sher Shah Suri in 1541 and it is an epitome of pre mughal architecture which is an almost extinct exemplar on North Indian soil. It was designed as a Jumma Masjid (for the purpose of friday prayers). The mosque has a single large prayer hall measuring 51 m x 15 m which multiple minarets and five arched prayer alcove on the inner craved wall. The four sides of the wall are filled with marble calligraphic inscriptions of different color signifying different times of the day. The second storey cater for the needs of female worshipers who used to pray on every friday and religious days. On the left side of the wall , a narrow passage leads to a small hall which was reserved for Sher Shah’s courtiers and members of royal family.
Inside of Qila-i-Kuhna Mosque
This is another example of stupendous Mughal architecture, which is of turkish origin. The construction was started during Babur’s reign but after his death and abrupt exile of Humayun, it remained incomplete until in late 16th century when Humayun again took over Delhi from Sur Empire. It is a multi storeyed octagonal tower of red sandstone built for the purpose of Humayun’s private library and observatory. The book selves inside the hall was of stone and marble finish decorated by Arabic inscriptions. This is the same place where Humayun’s fell off the stairs and died of internal injury.
HOW TO REACH
Purana Qila is situated on Mathura road, just south of Pragati Maidan and beside the Delhi Zoo. One can take the metro rail up to Pragati Maidan or Khan Market. Auto ricksaw service is available from either of the metro stations. Ticket charges are Rs 5/- for Indians and an additional Rs 5/- for archaeological museum while tourists from different country are charged Rs 100 /-.
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