Purana Qila, Delhi
Purana Quila is the supposed site of Indraprastha, an ancient city built by the Pandavas. The site came under the control of the Mughal conqueror Humayun but was seized by Sher Shah Suri, who built and extended the fortifications to its present state and was known as the 6th historic kingdom of Delhi.
The oldest structure in Delhi, Purana Qila means ‘Old Fort’. Located on Mathura Road, the fort was constructed over 5000 years ago in the iconic city of Indraprastha by the Pandavs. However, the ruins of the fort which stand today were believed to have been built by Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri, who overthrew the rule of Mughal Emperor Humayun.
The fort is also known as ‘Qila-i-Kuhna Masjid’ and it is a fine example of the unique Lodi style of architecture with flamboyant arches, domes and three huge gates that have ‘chhatris’ or cenotaphs on it in the north, south and west directions. Also, mixed with the Lodi style of architecture are evident influences of Hindu, Afghani and Mughal style of architecture.
Several excavation efforts over the years by the Archeological Survey of India have unearthed decorated pots and crockery dating back to 1000 BC. It is believed a village named Indrapat existed as early as 1913 in the premises of the walled fort.
The fort is made from red sandstone with marbles on the walls for a contrast. The walls rise to a height of almost 60 feet and it has defended the fort well. There are three gates – Bada Darwaza (Big Door), Talaqi Darwaza (Forbidden Door) and Humayun Darwaza (Humayun’s Door) – which allowed entry into the fort.
All three gates are double storied and are built entirely from red sandstone like the fort itself. When the fort was in use, the Bada Darwaza and the Humayun Darwaza were used to enter the fort but today tourists are allowed entry only from the Bada Darwaza. The Talaqi Darwaza, which was the northern entrance, was always closed even during the time the fort was in use and hence named Talaqi.
A must see show when you visit Purana Qila is the Sound and Light Show which presents the history of Delhi which takes you back 5000 years as jets of water put on a captivating show in the nine pools in front of the steps.
There is a lake near the old fort where boating facilities are available. It also allows to see the fort from water as you gently glide on a boat.
There are a number of exquisite structures within the fort premises like the Kairul Manzil, Qila Kuhna Masjid, Sher Mandal and a museum near the fort that holds many artifacts belonging to the Mughal era. Other attractions near the fort within walking distance are Nila Gumbad, Delhi Zoo, India Gate and Nizamuddin’s Shrine.