Diwan-i-Am at Delhi's Red Fort.

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Red Fort

Top choice in Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad)

Founded by Emperor Shah Jahan and surrounded by a magnificent 18m-high wall, this fort took 10 years to construct (1638–48) and is rumoured to have had the decapitated bodies of prisoners built into the foundations for luck. It once overlooked the Yamuna River, which has now shrunk to some distance away. A tree-lined waterway, known as nahr-i-bihisht (river of paradise), once ran out of the fort and along Chandni Chowk, fed by the Yamuna.

Shah Jahan never took up full residence here, after his disloyal son, Aurangzeb, imprisoned him in Agra Fort.

The last Mughal emperor of Delhi, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was flushed from the Red Fort in 1857 and exiled to Burma (Myanmar) for his role in the First War of Independence. The British destroyed buildings and gardens inside the fortress walls and replaced them with barrack blocks for the colonial army.

The audio guide tour, by acclaimed company Narrowcasters, is worthwhile as it brings the site to life.

Controversially, in 2018 the government leased out the job of maintaining the fort to a private firm, the Dalmia Bharat Group, prompting accusations from conservationists that it had sold the country's heritage. Dalmia soon began wholesale renovations, including laying new red-sandstone pathways over some of the existing quartzite stone paths.

The "Light and Sound" show in the evening offers an educational history of the fort, offered in both English and Hindi.

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Nearby Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad) attractions

1. Naubat Khana

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At the eastern end of Chatta Chowk in the Red Fort, the arched 'Drum House' once accommodated royal musicians and served as parking for royal horses and…

2. Indian War Memorial Museum

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Closed for renovations at the time of research, this museum upstairs at Naubat Khana in the Red Fort used to display ferocious-looking and fascinating…

4. Diwan-i-Am

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In the Red Fort, this arcade of sandstone columns was the hall of public audience, where the emperor greeted guests and dignitaries from a throne on the…

5. Chatta Chowk

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In the Red Fort, this imperial bazaar used to cater to royal women and glitter with silk and jewels for sale. Today's wares are rather more mundane…

6. Moti Masjid

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This small white mosque in the Red Fort was built by Aurangzeb as his private place of worship. The outer walls align with the fort walls, while the inner…

7. Rang Mahal

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So-named because its exterior was once a riot of colour, Rang Mahal in the Red Fort was the home of the emperor's chief wife. Like the other Red Fort…

8. Khas Mahal

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South of the public area of the Diwan-i-Khas in the Red Fort is the Khas Mahal, where the emperor lived and slept, shielded from prying eyes by lace-like…