Purana Qila

Built on a small hill on the banks of river Yamuna, Purana Qila stands on the relics of the mythological city ‘Indraprastha’, the capital city of Pandavas.

In the year 1538 AD, Emperor Humayun, son of the first Mughal Emperor Babur, laid the foundation of a city he named ‘Dinpanah’ (The Refuge of the Faithful). The inner citadel of this city is today known as Purana Qila or The Old Fort.

Humayun was conquered and sent to 15 year exile by Sher Shah Suri, the founder of Suri dynasty. Sher Shah suri, after defeating Humayun named the city ‘Shergarh’ and added several more structures in the complex during his reign.

The Old Fort is roughly rectangular in shape having a circuit of nearly two kilometres. The ramparts of the fort have three gateways – Humayun Darwaza, Talaqi Darwaza and Bara Darwaza – with bastions on either side.

Bara Darwaza is still in use as the main entrance to the fort. The South Gate is known as Humayun Darwaza, interestingly not because it was built by him but because one can see Humayun’s Tomb through it. The Talaqi Darwaza, known as the forbidden gate for some reason, combines the typical Islamic pointed arch with renowned Hindu ‘chhatris’ and brackets.

Earlier the fort had a wide moat which was filled by the perennial river Yamuna flowing on the east.

Walls of the fort reach as high as 18 metres in places and bear interesting hole patterns which were apparently meant to be nesting spaces for birds. Hundreds of parrots and pigeons continue to reside here.

Of the once numerous internal structures, only a couple have survived, Qila-i-Kuhna Mosque and Shermandal.



Qila-i-Kuhna Masjid

Qila-i-Kuhna Mosque was built during the reign of Sultan Sher Shah Suri in 1541. A single domed mosque, Qila-i-Kuhna mosque is an excellent example of a pre-Mughal design.

The mosque was built as a ‘Jami Masjid’, that is, a Friday mosque for the Sultan and his courtiers.

The prayer hall has five arched prayer niches or ‘mirhabs’. The second storey provided space for female courtiers to pray while the arched doorway framed by ornate ‘jharokhas’ leads to the ‘mirhab’ reserved for members of the royal family.

Apparently, the idea was to build the whole structure with white marble but builders probably fell short on it and completed the mosque using red sandstone.

An inscription on a marble slab within the mosque translates into ‘As long as there are people on this earth, may this edifice be frequented and people be happy and cheerful in it.’


Entry Ticket Fee for Purana Qila

INR 5 for citizens of India and SAARC and BIMSTEC countries.

INR 100 for citizens of other countries.

Free for children upto 15 years of age.

INR 25 for video filming


Nearest Metro Station: Pragati Maidan

Open: Daily



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