I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Delhi. I’ve lived most of my life in this city and I’ve had my issues with it. But the city seems to have grown up alongside me, and I’ve been on the mend – trying to mend my broken relationship with the city. Rediscovering places, trying new things, and most of all, going to places I’ve never been to. This weekend I finally got an opportunity to visit a place I haven’t been to ever – Purana Qila (the literal English translation is Old Fort). I joined a morning heritage walk to this beautiful fort built in the 16th Century.
The group met at 8AM and spent the next two hours rediscovering the history attached to this beautiful fort.
Some key historical points:
- The spot that the fort stands on is supposedly the spot at which the ancient city of Indraprastha stood from the famous Indian mythology – Mahabharat
- This fort area has been continuously inhabited since the Mauryan Empire i.e. 3rd century BC
- This fort was originally built by the Mughal king, Humayan, to be his capital – Din Panah. It is also the place where Humayun died.
- The fort was completed by King Sher Shah Suri
- The famed Mughal Emperor, Akbar, spent his childhood in this fort. The Mosque opposite the Qila was commissioned by his wet nurse.
- Post-partition, it acted as a refugee camp first for the Muslims heading to Pakistan and later for the Hindus who arrived from Pakistan
Places to see inside the fort –
1. Qila-I-Kuhna Mosque: this Mosque blew my mind off. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited in Delhi. After the walk was over, I had to go back to spend some alone time there just to absorb the beauty of the structure.
2. Sher Mandal – the fabled library where the Mughal King Humayun fell down the stairs while rushing for evening prayers, injured himself, and eventually succumbed to those injuries.
3. Humayun Gate – Although the gate was built by Sher Shah, the gate bears the name of the Mughal king probably because the king’s tomb is visible from here.
4. Talaqi Gate – Translating to the ‘forbidden gate’ – the tale attached to this gate tells the story of a king who went out for battle and asked those who remained in the fort to only open the gate on his return. Unfortunately, the king died in the battle and the gate was never opened again. Which king, which year, which battle, and a lot of other details are missing from this story.
5. The Museum – There is a small museum inside the complex that holds artifacts dating back to the 3rd BC.
After spending a bit longer inside the fort, I headed out to the lake outside the fort. This lake originally used to be a moat that surrounded the entire fort for an extra layer of protection. The only way to enter the fort was through a drawbridge. I spent 15-20 minutes just relaxing in the shade of some trees by the lake. It was extremely peaceful more so cause there was only one other person chilling by the lake.
After finishing off the walk at the fort, I walked across to the Mosque on the other side of the road and spent some time reveling in the history of the place. I would have spent more time exploring the Mosque but since it was completely empty, I felt kind of eerie roaming around alone.
I loved that I made it for this walk. I was supposed to go with my best friend who had to drop out last minute and I was unsure if I should go by myself. But I convinced myself to do it and I loved the experience.
I am going to try and do more posts sharing details about my city, Dilli, as I set about rediscovering it. Would you like to see more places around Delhi? Have you been to Delhi? Which are your favourite places in Delhi?
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PPS: Looking for offbeat things to do in Delhi – check out my recommendations here.
PPPS: OMG, I’m back to scheduled posts life :’)
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