April 14, 2012

Purana Qila, Delhi

Site Name: Purana Qila
Site Type: Historical, Fort, monument, heritage, masjid
Location:  Delhi, India
Highlights: An important heritage symbol in Delhi; one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city
Nearest Railway Station: Delhi
Nearest Airport: Delhi
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: A lot of options are available within Delhi city
Restaurants: Many options and varieties across the city

Purana Qila is one of the greatest heritage sites of Delhi city, the capital of India. Purana Qila, meaning "Old Fort" was built by Sher Shah Sur (1538 - 45 CE), the first Afghan Emperor of India. He destroyed the city of Dinpanah, the city constructed by Humayun, the second Mughal Emperor, to build this citadel. It is believed that the area of Purana Qila is the original site of Indraprastha city, the city where Pancha Pandavas of Mahabharatha ruled.

Purana Qila has three main gates on the north, south and west. The last one serves as the main entrance today. All the gates are double storeyed, built with red sandstone and surmounted by chhatris. Its ramparts cover a perimeter of about 2 kms. The northern gate is called as Talaqi-Darwaza (forbidden gate). The southern gate is called as Humayun Darwaza. It was originally on the Yamuna river. Today, a lake is found around the fort where boating facility is available for tourists. It appears that Sher Shah couldn't complete the fort; it was later completed by Humayun.

Qila-i-Kuhna Masjid:

Qila-i-Kuhna Masjid is one of the very few structures that exist today inside the fort. It was built by Sher Shah in 1541 CE. Its prayer halls has five opening with horse shoe shaped arches. The central arch is higher than the other arches and is flanked by pilasters. The central bay of this two storey structure is surmounted by a beautiful dome.

Sher Mandal:

Sher Mandal is a double storeyed octagonal tower of red sandstone which stands to the south of the Qila-i-Kuhna Masjid. The purpose of the structure, which was perhaps built by Sher Shah, is not known. Once the fort was captured by Humayun, it was used as a library by him. It is believed that he fell down from the steps of the library and met his end.

Khairu'l-Manazil Masjid:

Khairu'l-Manzil Masjid is an impressive masjid stands on the other side of Mathura Road in front of Purana Qila. The double storeyed structure has five arched openings, with a dome on top of the central bay of the prayer hall. It was built by Maham Anga with the assistance of Shiha-bud-Din Ahmad Khan in 1561 CEduring the reign of Akbar, the great Mughal ruler. Maham Anga was one of the wet-nurses of Akbar who held considerable influence on him. Ahmad Khan was a relation of Maha Anga; he served as Governor of Delhi once.

Sher Shah Gate:

By the side of the above masjid to its north lies the gate named as Sher Shah Gate. It is built with red sandstone and also called as Lal Darwaza. It is believed to be an entrance to the extensive city of Delhi built by Sher Shah sprawlig in front of Purana Qila.

Happy travelling.

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