Inside New Delhi’s Red Fort Complex is a group of structures in beautiful Mughal architecture. One of such structures is the prominent Rang Mahal. The Rang Mahal is part of the apartment complex called zenana which are known to be women’s quarters. The Rang Mahal is the largest amongst these zenanas.
The Rang Mahal is also called the ‘Palace of Colours’. However, visitors may be puzzled to find out about its colorless exterior with its stark white color. Due to decades of failed maintenance work, the colors have unfortunately faded. All that is left are interiors with chipped paint. Hints of a colorful past can still be seen however from the elaborate flower inlays and vaulted ceilings. The intricate details in the inlays may still show the beautiful craftsmanship of the Mughal period. During the time of Shah Jahan, the emperor who built this complex, the interiors were covered with colorful paintings and other rich trimmings of gold and silver. This was originally a part of the Imperial seraglio which was the secluded living quarters of the wives and concubines of the palace. Thus, the interiors were further divided into smaller enclosures. Some of these enclosures even have ceilings decorated with tiny mirrors such as the hall called Shish-Mahal.
Upon closer look at the interiors, one would notice the repeated scallop design on the arched ceilings. At the entrance, visitors will be able to see the wide archways that face the garden area.
The Rang Mahal is also part of a water system called Nahr-i-Behisht or also known as the Stream of Paradise. One feature of the Rang Mahal is an ivory fountain found in the center. The Nahr-i-Behisht carries Yamuna River’s water into its canals that run through the length of Rang Mahal. The borders of the water fountain were also laid with colorful stones. As the water flows, the reflection shimmers and creates a colorful effect on the walls. The water from the fountain is also said to be distributed to other structures with perfumed scent.
The Rang Mahal has also been witness to some of India’s tumultuous periods. During the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, the Rang Mahal was used by the British colony as a guard post. Over the years, its original glory was diminished by the different political uproars that have passed.
Today, the Rang Mahal is part of the Red Fort Complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. India acknowledges its national significance by declaring the entire complex a monument of national importance by virtue of the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958. The law protects heritage sites like this from further deterioration by undergoing conservation and rehabilitation programs and ensuring that other elements would not contribute to its wear and tear. It is the Archaeological Survey of India that protects all heritage sites and other cultural objects of India.
Tourists can learn a lot about India’s history by visiting the different structures inside the Red Fort complex like the Rang Mahal. Visitors can see this tourist destination all days of the week except Monday from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Fees will be collected from tourists at the entrance to the Fort.