Purana Qila

Location: On the eastern side of India Gate and north of Humayun's tomb on Mathura Road
Time to Visit: Open on all days from sunrise to sunset
Preferred timings: early morning or evening
Admission Fee: INR 5 for citizen/ INR 100 for foreigners
Photography charges: INR 25
How to Reach: Tourists can either take local buses from various points within the city to reach this monument, which is located on the Mathura Road or they can hire auto-rickshaws and taxis or metro rail.
Nearest Railway Station: New Delhi Railway Station
Nearest Metro Station: Connaught Place
Functional Metro Station: Connaught Place
Nearest International Airport: Indira Gandhi International Airport
Time required for sightseeing: 2½ hours

Jaigarh fort Special Attraction: Delhi Tourism at Old Fort organizes a sound and light show every evening. There are two shows that are organized - one in Hindi and another in English. The timings are generally after 5 pm and before 9pm. Charges need to be checked with local authorities.

Boating/Shikara rides/Water scooter rides: (Rs 40 for 30 minutes/Rs 100 for two rounds/Rs 50 for two rounds) in the lake adjacent to the Qila. It has a separate entry just before the main entrance of Purana Qila if you come from the Pragati Maidan exhibition grounds. The timings are summer: 12pm to 7 pm and winter: 11am to 6pm.

Located on the eastern side of India Gate and north of Humayun's tomb, the Purana Qila occupies the ancient mound, which perhaps conceals the ruins of the city of Indraprastha of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Emperor Humayun laid the foundations of a city named Dinpanah or 'Refuge of the Faithful' here, in 1534, and the inner citadel of this city is the Purana Qila. He conceived Dinpanah as 'a southern Samarkand' or refuge for learned men of all Islamic sects who could discuss theology at leisure under the patronage of their emperor. However, in 1540, Sher Shah Suri captured the city and renamed it Delhi Shershahi or Shergarh and built many buildings in it. In 1555, Humayun recaptured it and lived here until his death.

A good example of medieval military architecture, Purana Qila originally lay on the bank of the Yamuna River. The ramparts of the Qila cover a perimeter of nearly 2 kilometers. Also popularly known as Old Fort, the Qila or citadel has massive and magnificent walls, which are 18 meters in height. Small spy holes in the walls, provide nesting spaces for hundreds of birds. Unlike the later forts of the Mughals, Purana Qila does not have a complex of palaces, administrative or recreational buildings.

The whole citadel has three large gateways in the north, south and west called the Talaqi Darwaza, Humayun Darwaza and the Bara Darwaza respectively, which are double storeyed and built with red sand stone and surmounted by chhatris. Though the reason is not known the Talaqi Darwaza is also known as the 'forbidden gate'. The exterior of the gate was originally decorated with colored tiles and the rooms with incised plasterwork. The gate is said to be either built by Humayun or repaired by him, as his name is inscribed in ink in the recess of the gate. The Humayun Darwaza too has inscriptions but the ruler mentioned here is Sher Shah, which establishes the association with him. Despite this, the gate is known as Humayun Darwaza because Humayun's Tomb is visible through it. On the Mathura Road is the western or Bara Darwaza, which is used by the visitors to enter the Purana Qila.

Excavations at Purana Qila
The present site of the Purana Qila is referred to in the Hindu epic the Mahabharata, which states that the Pandavas founded a city named Indraprastha beside the Yamuna River. It is the first city of Delhi and was the capital of the Pandavas in the great war of Mahabharata. It is believed that Purana Qila was probably the palace or citadel of Indraprastha and the city extended over the plain in a radius of 0.25 kilometers. Pieces of pottery known as Painted Grey Ware and relics dated to around 1000 B.C. were found in this location. Excavations in 1955 in the southern area of Purana Qila supports the above claim, as these characteristics have been noticed at several sites associated with the story of the Mahabharata. Another strong reason to believe that Purana Qila is built on the remains of Indraprastha is the fact that till 1913 there was a village named Indrapat within the fort walls.

Apart from these, continuous stratifications were found in the area from the Mauryan to Early Mughal period in the excavations in 1969-1973. The small archaeological museum in the main gate gives you the brief history of Delhi and Purana Qila. It also houses objects of different periods found during the excavation at this site.

Nearby Tourist Attractions: Walking distance: Nila Gumbad on southeastern side, Purana Qila, Delhi Zoo, Sabz Burz, Nili Chhatri; In 3 km radius: India Gate, Ashokan Rock Edict, Nizam-ud-din's Shrine, Khairul Manzil Masjid.

Nearby Places to Eat: Sweet Corner, Nathu's (both in Sunder Nagar Market), Hotel Oberoi, Flavors of Defence colony, Indian Habitat Center in Lodi Road, Karim's at Nizamuddin and roadside food stalls.

Nearby Shopping Venues: Sunder Nagar Market (antiques, jewelry, brassware), Connaught Place (jewelry, books, art galleries, leather goods and more) Central Cottage Industries Emporium (handicrafts and curios), Janpath (clothes and low priced gifts) and Palika Bazaar (electronic items).

Last Updated On: 2011/07/01