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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Purana Qila: The Old Fort

Delhi has a major fort that is very popular, the Red Fort in Old Delhi, where the Prime Minister unfurls the national flag on Indian Independence Day (August 15th). But the Red Fort was constructed by the 5th Mughal, Shah Jehan. What was there before that ?
Well, the answer is the Purana Qila (Old Fort). Located on Mathura Road, very centrally, right next to the Delhi Zoo, next to Pragati Maidan, and connected by a short road to India Gate. This looks much more of a ruin, as compared to the Red Fort. The Old Fort has a chequered history, having been completed by the Afghan ruler, Sher Shah Suri who had managed to over-throw the second Mughal, Humayun. The idea of the fort was to defend the city against invaders, and this worked till Sher Shah died 5 years later.
Humayun was able to win his way back over the throne, and occupied the fort. However, the reign was short, and he died in a fall from the steep steps of the library. After his death, the Mughals considered the fort as cursed, and eventually started the construction of a new fort, the Red Fort. The Purnana Qila is a wonderful garrison, with its walls being very high, as high as 20 meters in some places, and with a circumference of around 2.5 kilometers. The fort introduced the concept of spy holes in the walls, something which was copied by other forts.
The Old fort also has a way to show tourists about the history of the city through an incredible sound and light show, run by Delhi Tourism.

Tickets available at - DTTDC Office, N-36, Connaught Place, New Delhi, India 110001.
Phone : +91-11-3315322

Connaught Place Coffee Home, New Delhi, India 110001.
Phone : +91-11-3363607

The Old Fort is supposed to have been built on the site of the historic Indraprastha, the capital of the Pandavas. In some excavation at the site of the Old Fort, pottery dating back to 1000 BC has been found; and in addition, coins and such relating to the Gupta and post-Gupta dynasties (4th century AD onwards) have also been found.

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