This fortified palace was built in the seventeenth century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, he of Taj Mahal fame (we’ll be coming on to that in a few posts time) when he moved his capital here to Delhi from Agra. The name derives from the two and a half kilometres of red sandstone defensive walls, that were once surrounded by a moat, fed by the adjacent Yamuna river.
Once inside the main gate you find yourself in a covered bazaar (now full of souvenir shops) where items the royal household might like to buy, such as silk and jewellery, were sold. Which I suppose is rather like having a branch of Harrods just inside Buckingham Palace.
Having shaken off the hawkers you get to a large gateway building, in the upper level of which musicians would once play, and this in turn leads to the impressive public audience hall, the Diwan-i-Aam, reached through a garden.
The hall has a raised marble throne that is shrouded in anti-pigeon netting which, along with the endless procession of people having their photograph taken in front of it (I still fail to understand this almost universal urge), make it hard to appreciate the fine carving and inlay work.
Behind the public audience hall are the private apartments, a line of pavilions on a raised platform looking out over the river (or at least, where the river used to be) and connected together by a marble water channel known as the “Stream of Paradise”.
Continuing the metaphysical theme, the palace is blessed with extensive gardens, filled with water features and pavilions, the whole intended to evoke the Quran’s description of Paradise. Indeed there is an inscription of a verse of thirteenth century Sufi poetry on one building that essentially says “If there is a paradise on earth, it is here”.
These buildings are in white marble with carved, gilded and inlaid decoration. The palace is considered, according to the UNESCO listing, “to represent the zenith of Mughal creativity”. It really is gloriously ornate.
Unfortunately much of the wealth of the palace, that which had not already been plundered by the Persians (their haul included the emperor’s Peacock Throne, adorned with the Koh-i-Noor diamond) in the eighteenth century, was taken by the British who also added some uninspiring buildings of their own to the fort. So while the palace looks marvellous, it is empty and gives only a hint of its former lavish glory.
For the Lego model I chose the Diwan-i-Khas, the private audience hall. The view I’ve built is the narrower facade, on the right in this picture.
Allegorical symbols of Paradise not shown.
Here’s a bonus photograph of a squirrel eating almonds from the hand of a German lady I chatted to. She said she’d found these were their favourite.