Purana Qila is a Hindu term which when translated in English, means Old Fort. True to its name, Purana Qila is a fort built in the banks of Yamuna River by Mughal Emperor Humayun. It was originally erected as a military structure meant to protect the city from invaders.
When the great architect and planner of New Delhi, Sir Edwin Lutyen designed the city, he aligned the Rajpath or the boulevard leading to the India Gate with the Purana Qila. Purana Qila covers a 2-kilometer perimeter of colossal walls that are all 18 meters high fully equipped with spy holes. The Purana Qila also has three huge gates. The south gate is called Humayon Darwaza where the tomb of Emperor Humayon can be seen. The north gate on the other hand, called Talaqi Darwaza or the Forbidden Gate has carvings of a combat between a man and a lion. Lastly, the west gate is called Bara Darwaza which is the main entrance to Purana Qila. All there three gates are made of red sandstone which is a prominent material used in various architectural wonders in India. On the northern and western side of the fortress reveals a moat and causeway that connects the fort to the main land. In addition, excavations near the Old Fort show relics and remnants of the glorious past with polished wares, coins and terracotta figurines.
Various structures can be found inside the Purana Qila such as the Qila-i-Kuhna Mosque. South of the mosque is the Sher Mandal which is an octagon-shaped tower built by Sher Shah as an observatory. Sher Shah was very much interested in astronomy thus the reason for building the tower. Visitors can find books shelving inside the structure which indicates that it may have housed a library in the old day. This is also the place where Humayon was said to have fallen and died.
Another interesting feature of the Purana Qila is the large pristine lake found outside its walls. In fact, there are a variety of water activities visitors can get involved in such as boating and the recently introduced water zorb. Another popular attraction during night is the lights and sounds show. Because of the massive wall at Purana Qila, it makes an excellent backdrop for a spectacular show. Water fountains and colorful lights projected on the walls bring to life the stories of India’s rich cultural and historical heritage. Shows are presented in English and Hindi and are scheduled from six to nine in the evening depending on the month’s schedule.
Purana Qila is accessible though different modes of transportation in the city. It is strategically located near other tourist sites such as the India Gate. It is open all year round but the best time to visit is during early mornings when the temperature is cooler or late at night to experience the light show. There are also many shopping opportunities near Purana Qila making it a tourist haven for those looking for souvenirs to bring a little bit of India back home.
Purina Qila is definitely rich in cultural and historical significance. Just by looking at the wonderfully carved and artistically-built gates, it never ceases to amaze anyone who marvels at its glory. Tourists then flock to the site year after year to enjoy the beauty that Indian architecture has to offer.