The Purana Qila (Old Fort) in Delhi, India, is among the city’s oldest and most historic structures. It was rebuilt during the reigns of the second Mughal Emperor Humayun and the Sur Emperor Sher Shah Suri, however the exact time period of the original structure’s foundation is lost to antiquity. Archaeological evidence points to the pre-Mauryan era of the 3rd century BC. Many people believe that it stands where the ancient city of Indraprastha once stood. Previously situated close to the smaller Dhyanchand Stadium, it is currently situated near the larger Pragati Maidan and is separated from the latter by the Mathura Road in Delhi.
The Purana Qila is a popular tourist destination because of its stunning architecture, as well as its proximity to a lush forest and a lake where visitors can enjoy boating. It is very close to Delhi Zoo, People visiting Delhi’s Zoo also prefer to visit here as well.
History and Architecture of Purana Qila
The construction of Purana Qila was started by the Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri in the mid-16th century. However, it was completed by his successor, Islam Shah. The fort is situated on the banks of the Yamuna River and spreads over an area of 1.5 kilometers. The fort has three gateways and a moat surrounding it.
The architecture of Purana Qila is a blend of Indian, Persian, and Afghan styles. The fort has massive walls made of red sandstone and white marble. The bastions and towers of the fort are typical of Afghan architecture. The main gate of the fort, known as the Talaqi Darwaza, is made of red sandstone and adorned with intricate carvings.
The fort also has a beautiful mosque called the Qila-i-Kuhna Mosque. This mosque was built by Sher Shah Suri and is an excellent example of Afghan architecture. The mosque has three domes, the central one being the largest. The mosque is surrounded by a courtyard with a beautiful garden.
Indraprastha Hypothesis and Pre-Islamic Roots
Archaeological evidence points to the pre-Mauryan era of the 3rd century BC. Painted Grey Ware artifacts had been uncovered in the first two rounds of excavations led by B. B. Lal, director of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), in 1954–55 and 1969–72. Historian Alexander Cunningham compared the fort to Indraprastha, albeit he noted that the current construction had been erected on top of the ancient one by Muslim overlords. Purana Qila was referred to as Pandavon Ka Qila (Pandava’s fort) and the whole complex as Indraprastha hamlet till the early 20th century.
Significance of Purana Qila
Purana Qila has immense historical significance as it has been a witness to several historical events. It is believed that the fort was built on the site of the legendary city of Indraprastha, which was mentioned in the Indian epic Mahabharata. The fort has also seen the rise and fall of several dynasties, including the Mughals, the British, and the Lodhis.
The fort was also the site of the battle of Delhi between the British and Indian forces during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The fort also houses several museums, including the Archaeological Museum, which showcases artifacts from the Mauryan to the Mughal era.
Visiting Purana Qila
Purana Qila is a popular tourist attraction in Delhi and is open to visitors every day from sunrise to sunset. The fort is easily accessible by public transport, and there are several entry gates to the fort. Visitors can explore the various parts of the fort, including the mosque, the museum, and the beautiful gardens.
Old Fort Timings
The visiting hours are from 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 pm.
Purana Qila is not only a significant historical monument but also a cultural and architectural masterpiece. It is a testament to India’s rich and diverse heritage and serves as a window into the country’s glorious past. A visit to Purana Qila is a must for anyone interested in Indian history and architecture.