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Purana Quila

Purana Quila in Delhi

Besides the Delhi Zoo, lies the majestic Purana Quila (Old Fort) - an evidence to the glory of the Mughal art. One of the most captivating tourist sites in Delhi, the Purana Quila was built in 1538 by then Mughal Emperor Humayun. One of the oldest monuments in Delhi, Purana Quila was built to protect the city of Delhi created by Emperor Humayun. Unlike other Mughal monuments, it was not built to serve the purpose of luxury. It is revealed, on the basis of recent archeological excavations, that the fort was built on the site of the ancient city of Indraprastha (the capital of Pandavas).


After defeating Humayun in 1539-1540, Sher Shah Suri captured the whole city. He erected the Qal’a-I-Kunha Masjid (mosque) in its premises along with the Sher Mandal. The fort witnessed several renovations during Sher Shah Suri's rule. Later in 1545, after Sher Shah's death, the city and the fort were recaptured by Humayun with the help of the Persians. Humayun converted Sher Mandal into an observatory and library. Qal’a-I-Kunha Masjid was the double-storeyed octagonal-towered mosque from where Emperor Humayun accidentally fell to his death.


The rectangular fort with a circuit of nearly two km, was established on the bank of the river Yamuna but later the river changed its course. Known as Dinpanah ('refuge of the faithful'), the Purana Quila has a small lake at the foothills of the fort. The fort has three gates: Humayun Darwaza, Talaqi Darwaza and Bara Darwaza. All the three gates are built with red sandstone. Only the Humayun Darwaza and the Bara Darwaza were open for entry inside the old fort. As the name suggests, Talaqi Darwaza (meaning 'forbidden') was not used for entry. Even today, only Bara Darwaza is open to the public.

Talaqi Darwaza has typically Islamic pointed arches with Hindu chhattris and brackets. Humayun Darwaza is the southern gateway of the Old Fort. Qila-I-Kuhna Masjid was built by Sher Shah Suri in 1541 in the fort. Sher mandal, an octagonal observatory, is also known for extraordinary Mughal architecture. People believe that the Sher mandal was built for entertainment purposes. There is a huge arch at the entrance of the fort, which is made of marble and red sandstone. The columns at the entrance are also made of black and white marble. One can visit the small archaeological museum at the gate of the Purana Quila in the charm of several artifacts belonging to the Mughal period.

Other Features

The small lake offers boating facilities. The remnants of the fort provide great opportunities for photography. The above portions of the gates provide wonderful views of the city. A sound-and-light show is held every evening for the entertainment the guests and tourists.


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