Red Fort

Red Fort is one of the most visited tourist attractions and clearly the most important historical building in Delhi. Locally known as ‘Lal Qila’, the fort derives its name from red sandstone used extensively to build it.

One of the largest monuments in Old Delhi, Red Fort stands tall with pride as a silent witness to India’s glorious history for centuries.

Red Fort was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan when he decided to move his capital from Agra to Delhi. Planned on a magnificent scale to flaunt the power, glory and creative capabilities of the Mughals, red Fort’s construction took about good long 10 years (1638-1648 AD) to complete. The credit for the splendid architecture goes to Ustad Ahmad.

Situated on the banks of Yamuna which once fed the moats surrounding the fort’s walls, Red Fort reflects grandeur of Mughal architecture and creativity which prevailed during Shah Jahan’s reign.

Later, his son and successor Aurangzeb added the Pearl Mosque, ‘Moti Masjid’, to the emperor’s private quarters and constructed barbicans, a solid evidence of his infamous cruelty.

Enclosed within the fortified walls of the Red Fort are many prominent buildings like Diwan-i-khaas, Diwan-i-aam, Rang Mahal, Moti Masjid.

Unlike most other Mughal forts, the boundary walls of the Red Fort were built asymmetrically to include the pre-existent Salimgarh Fort within its premises.


Red Fort was once a magnificent structure. However, during the downslide of the Mughal Empire after Aurangzeb’s death, Red Fort was plundered of its wealth by Persian ruler Nadir Shah, who even took away the famous Peacock Throne, a jewelled throne that served as the seat of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, as the war trophy.

The peacock throne, amongst other precious jewels, bore the Kohinoor diamond, the 106 carats diamonds which was once the largest diamond in the world. Many of those precious stones ended up becoming part of the Persian crown or were taken later by the British colonialists.

A replacement throne was later constructed which closely resembled the original but was again lost during or after the Indian rebellion of 1857. Time and again, the silver from the ceilings of various sections of the Red Fort was melted to raise funds.

While originally, the Red Fort echoed the might and prowess of the Mughals, it was from here that the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II was deposed by British in 1857 marking the end of three century long Mughal rule.

With the end of the Mughal Rule, the valuables were plundered from the Red Fort systematically by the British. The furniture was disposed, the servant quarters, the apartments built for harems and once-magnificent-gardens were destroyed and a line of stone barracks was built instead. More than two-third of the inner structures was demolished.

After a long freedom struggle, when India finally won independence on 15 Aug 1947, it was from the ramparts of the Red Fort that the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, announced to the nation that India had gained freedom from the Colonial Rule.

After India gained independence, Red Fort was used as a Cantonment. A significant part of Red Fort remained under the control of Indian Army until December 2003, when it handed over to ASI for restoration.



Red Fort Archaeological Museum or Mumtaz Mahal Museum

What was once a palace, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved queen Arjumand Banu Begum, better known as Mumtaz Mahal, the palace Mumtaz Mahal now houses an archaeological museum.

Housed inside Red Fort, the museum displays objects belonging to the Mughal era thematically in six galleries.

On display are a few articles, belonging to Emperor Akbar and successors, like manuscripts, stone inscriptions, paintings and ‘farmaans’ (royal orders) etc. Also displayed are objects which were then used for making astronomical calculations.

A part of the museum is dedicated to Bahadur Shah Zafar where emperor’s personal belongings including his silk robes, a silver hookah, gun powder horns etc. are displayed. Amongst other belongings a photograph of Bahadur Shah Zafar in the prison at Rangoon deserves a special mention. 

Besides, the museum has some beautiful pieces of 19th century embroidered textiles and some unusual decorative blue tiles from the 13th century.


Museum Timings: 10AM to 5PM 

Closed on Mondays


Red Fort, Today

Every year on 15th August, i.e. India’s Independence Day, the Prime Minister of the nation hoists the national flag at the Red Fort and delivers a nationally broadcast speech from its ramparts.

This historical fort stands tall with pride as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Delhi and attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Few buildings within the fort are in fairly good condition while others stand bare and broken, after having been plundered and ruined by the looters.

A few sections of the Fort are closed to the public. Close to Lahore Gate, the western gate of the fort, named for its orientation towards Lahore in Pakistan, is a domed market ‘Chatta Chowk’, with numerous shops selling jewellery, handicrafts and semi-precious stones.

Tight security is observed at and around the Red Fort around Independence Day and Republic Day.


Entry Ticket Fee for Red Fort

INR 10 for citizens of India and SAARC and BIMSTEC countries.

INR 250 for citizens of other countries.

Free for children upto 15 years of age.

INR 25 for video filming


Sound and Light Show at Red Fort

Every day of the week, except Mondays, a Sound and Light Show retracing the history of the Red Fort is held.


Tickets of Sound and Light show

Tickets are available at Red Fort Ticket booth an hour before the show timings.

Else, tickets can be bought from Ashok Travels & Tours counters at Hotel Ashoka, Hotel Samrat & Hotel Janpath between 11 AM and 5 PM.


Ticket price


INR 60 for adults

INR 20 for children (between 3 and 12 years of age)


Saturdays, Sundays and Government holidays:

INR 80 for adults

INR 30 for children (between 3 and 12 years of age)


Sound and Light Show Timings

Feb-Oct:         7:00 PM to 8:00 PM in Hindi

                        8:30 PM to 9:30 PM in English


Nov-Jan:         6:00 PM to 7:00 PM in Hindi

                        7:30 PM to 8:30 PM in English



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