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Monday, May 21, 2012

Red Fort

Wow, it’s been a couple of weeks since we went to the Red Fort. I’ve been meaning to write about it here but things keep cropping up and I haven’t had a chance to do that. So before I forget again or something else bumps it off my plate, here’s a quick description of the fort and our visit.

Red Fort is located in Old Delhi and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It gets its name from the red sandstone used in its construction. It was built between 1638 and 1648 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (the same one that had the Taj Mahal built for his favorite wife) when he decided to move his capital from Agra to a new city called (very creatively) Shahjahanabad (present-day Old Delhi). Inside the fort there are a covered bazaar, a mosque, residences for the emperor and his wives and mistresses as well as a couple of audience halls – one for regular folks (Diwan-i-Aam) to have their problems heard by the emperor and another one (Diwan-i-Khas) where the emperor entertained his relatives, courtiers and state guests. The latter is also where the famous Peacock Throne, studded with Koh-i-Noor (a famous, large diamond) and other precious stones, used to be before it was stolen by the Persians in 1783.

The architecture is really amazing with lots of marble and floral marble inlays, scalloped and non-scalloped (for lack of a better term) arches, lattice windows typical of Mughal architecture. The buildings are surrounded by lavish Mughal gardens. Gardens were a favorite pastime for Mughal emperors and they believed their gardens to be paradise on earth, so they refined their design into an art adhering to geometrical design rules and featuring canals, pools and fountains. In the Red Fort, Shah Jahan created a night garden filled with night blooming jasmine and other pale flowers, which together with the marble buildings would glow in the moonlight. 

Today, the Red Fort is the site from which the Prime Minister addresses the nation each August 15, India’s Independence Day. There is also a sound and light show at the fort at night and we are planning on going back to see it.

Some of us (Paul and I) had more fun than others (Nia) at the fort mostly because it was incredibly hot. May and June are the hottest months in Delhi and it’s been consistently above 100 F (40 C). The heat just makes our sight-seeing trips less-than-perfect because we are not used to 100+ F weather and Nia, especially, doesn’t enjoy anything when it’s this hot. We have gone on a couple of other sight-seeing trips and after each one we keep telling ourselves we won’t do any more until the weather cools off (Octoberish). But it’s so hard when we know we live in this amazing city and its wonders are a short car ride away beckoning us to go out and explore. Surprisingly, Chutney doesn’t complain about the heat. He seems so interested in this new world around him that he refuses to nap when we are out. It seems like he doesn’t want to miss anything.
 

5 comments:

  1. Poor Nia. My kids would be miserable too, especially after having spent the past two years in the world's most perfect climate. Unhappy kids are no fun for anyone. Can you get her one of those fans that squirts water to help her keep cool? It might distract her a little anyway.

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    1. Oooh, good idea, Lisa! I'll have to see if I can get my hands on one of those here. Thanks!

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  2. As someone born and raised in India, a small word of advice: please don't go out sightseeing in the summer heat there, particularly not if you are going out during peak daytime hours (i.e. 10-3:00). Heat exhaustion can set in very rapidly, especially for young children. Summer is the season when everyone slows down and stays mostly indoors from 9:00-6:00. Think winter in Chicago, but in reverse. Stay indoors, take that afternoon siesta, drink lots of cooling things like watermelon juice, or head for the hills (literally) if you want a more active schedule. And keep saying to yourself: "just a few more weeks till the monsoon, just a few more weeks till the...."

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    1. You are absolutely right and we are going to do just that...

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  3. Gorgeous photos! How fun to explore your new country! My girls would have been the same way. When it's too hot-it's just no fun.

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