The Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb, Old Delhi

Well it’s about time I continue on with the Delhi sights, isn’t it? Our very first afternoon in India, we headed off to explore The Red Fort, or Lal Qila.

The red sandstone walls of the fort rise up to 33 metres above the bustle of Old Delhi and are an impressive sight.  Built in 1638, The Red Fort  is one of many built throughout northern India to keep out invaders. We would, in time, become a little fort-ed out, especially when on guided tours, but we were still fresh and eager on this our first day.

Obligatory couple shot in front of the magnificent complex:

The fort was once circled by a moat, now filled with verdant grass and noisy cicadas in lieu of water and crocodiles. The entry, however, remains as grand as ever:

Red Fort, Delhi Red Fort Delhi

Entry and exit is through the Lahore Gate, and once inside you sashay past a cornucopia of bazaar stalls selling tourist trinkets, before setting eyes on the architecture.  This sign below shows you the various halls, gardens, masjids and pavilions that can be explored once fully inside:

Red Fort in garden

First you walk towards the Hall of Public Audiences or Diwan- I-Am, also constructed of red sandstone.  The Hall of Private Audiences, or Diwan-I-Khas, is made of beautiful white marble, and gives a sense of serenity as you pass through its pillared portico.  It was also marvellously cool and offered respite from the heat. (No, hubby Dom didn’t wear Indian garb as I did).

Red Fort Diwan-i-Khas

You can easily see the Mughal style, not only in the graceful archways and onion domes, but also in the delicate designs inlaid in the marble of the interior halls.  In Islam it is not allowed to use human form, and so geometric and other patterns are designed, using inspiration from nature, such as flowers and stars. Unfortunately my poor photography does not do the designs justice.

One of the things we most enjoyed, apart from the beautiful design work, was just seeing people having a rest in the gardens. We too decided to sit for a while on the grass, and even cool our feet in the puddle that one of the dripping hoses made in the lawn. Just a simple pleasure on a hot day, that made us feel at one with the others.  Large gothic ravens also stepped gingerly on the grass, sipping at the pools of water, as did the friendly temple dogs:

Another little pleasure was seeing the mega-cute little squirrels that we saw everywhere, including here. They’d just scurry along the grass and climb up the trees, their little bushy tails aquiver.  Leaving the complex by a path that would take us to Chandni Chowk, we looked back to see the sun light up the marble brilliant white.

The next day we travelled south to see another unmissable sight,  Humayun’s Tomb. It is quite a way from the centre of town and the quickest way to get there is to take the metro to Nizamuddin station.  The tomb combines red sandstone and white marble, and can easily be seen as the forerunner of the Taj Mahal in Agra that would come later.

Isa Khan, the architect of the Taj Mahal, was also buried here, and his tomb is an example of Lodi architecture, being octagonal in shape. (You can also just make out my salwar kameez outfit).

And how about a shot of me in action, taking a photo in the gardens, and Dom with gardens and gleaming white Sikh temple beyond (another day, another rock t-shirt!)

After this visit we went to Nizamuddin, near the darga, to have a look for Karim’s – a great Mughal restaurant. Alas, we’d just missed the lunch cutoff time of 3pm – so promptly had lunch at the restaurant right opposite the darga. Absolutely delish!  To round off the day, we went to another suburb in the south Delhi area.  Having heard from my friend the night before that Lajpat Nagar was good for buying ladies fashions, we then high-tailed it there, being close by.  But I think that buying spree can wait for another post!

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