Purana Qila (Old Fort)

Purana Qila
Vital Information for Visitors

Mathura Rd, Pragati Maidan,Near Delhi Zoo, New Delhi - 110003

Open & Close:

Open on all days : From 07:00 AM to 05:00 PM

Entry Fees:

Foreigner – INR 200 Per person
Indian – INR 20 per person


Approx 2 Hours

Situated on what was once a hillock the construction of this fort was begun by Humayun in A. D. 1530 and was completed by Sher Shah, the Afghan ruler who had wrested the Delhi throne from him in 1541. Magnificent in its ruins, the fort, evidently, was a gigantic and excellently planned structure. Inside, the two monuments which claim one’s attention are Sher Shah's Qila-i-Kuhna mosque, symbolizing the highest development in Indo-Afghan architecture, and Sher Manzil, an octagonal building, made of red sandstone, used by Humayun as his library. It was while coming down the stairs of this building that Humayun met with an accident (1556) which proved fatal. Behind the Sher Manzi! is a platform from which the visitor can view archaeological excavations revealing the remains of various layers of the past. This is the place which is believed to have been Indraprastha, the capital of the Pandavas.

Facing the Bhairon Marg entrance to the crafts Museum is the Purana Qila complex, entered from Mathura Road. The Purana Qila (Old Fort) was the citadel of Delhi's seventh city, Dinapanah (Shelter of the Faith), founded by Humayun in 1534. Humayun's rule as an emperor (1530-56) was interrupted between 1540 and 1555 by his defeat at the hands of Sher Shah Suri. Most of the surviving 1 mile (2km) stretch of the Purana Qila's wall was probably built by Humayun but this is not certain. The mosque and Sher Mandal tower, all that remains within, are undoubtedly the work of his deposer.

Best observed from Mathura Road is the north-west gateway, Talaqi Darwaza (Forbidden Gate). A moat, fed by the River Yamuna, surrounded the entire wall of the Old Fort of Delhi. Public access is by Bara Darwaza (Great Gate), the monumental south-west entrance. A part from the truncation of a flanking tower, this is in remarkably good condition. The delicacy of its Hindu chattris and jarokha are in sharp contrast to the structure's predominating Muslim vigour. Lutyens intended that the Purana Qila should serve as the impressive termination point of Raj's east vista when he laid out New Delhi, but the National Stadium was eventually built in front of it-a town planning disaster permitted by Lord Willingdon, who was encouraged, it is said, by his philistine wife. Within the enclosure, double arcades built against the wall provided temporary shelter for Hindus who had migrated to India from Pakistan at the time of partition in 1947.

When Shah Sher Sur defeated Humayun in 1540, he demolished everything within the walls of the citadel, replacing them with new structures designed in Indo-Afghan style. He also extended Dinapanah northward from the Purana Qila, re-naming the city Shergarh, and enclosing it with a wall. Sher Shah Suri died in 1545 and was replaced by his son, Islam, a much weaker ruler, who reigned for 9 years. Disputes on the succession gave Humayun his chance to return a year later and regain his empire for the Mughals. Once again, the palaces within the fortress were demolished. Even when known in advance, it still surprises visitors to discover that the extensive walls guard just two relatively small buildings set within an expanse of garden.

O the left is Sher Shah Suri's delightful Qila - i - Khuna mosque, built in 1541, and spared by Humayun on religious grounds. Although its builder was not a Mughal, the mosque is regarded as marking an important stage in the development of the Mughal style, its simplicity of from pointing to the forthcoming Akbar period. As is usual in Indian mosques, the screen is of greatest interest; pointed inner arches are recessed within outer arches, and typically Hindu sloping eaves extend protectively. White marble is combined with red sandstone, all enlivened by carving and exquisite mosaics. It appears that the design of the mosque was influenced by the Jamali Kalali Masjid, near the Qutub Minar, completed 5 years earlier. The domed interior may be entered to view its prayer wall which retains much original decoration. Facing the mosque, the original paved courtyard with a central ablutions tank has been converted to a garden. To the south is the small octagonal pavilion, known as the Sher Mandal.

Sher Shah Suri built the Sher Mandal around 1541, presumably taking the air beneath its chattri on hot summer evenings. Humayun must have found the pavilion pleasing as, alone of the Purana Qila's secular buildings he did not destroy it, but is believed to have installed his library within. By tradition, Humayun, a superstitious believer in astrology, was observing the planets when the muezzin called from the adjacent mosque; turning sharply to bow, he tripped on his robe, fell headlong down the steps, dying from his injuries 3 days later. He had only re-conquered Delhi a few months previously and apparently had not begun to rebuild the Purana Qila. Akbar, Humayun's teenage son, who succeeded his father, soon moved to Agra before building his new capital, Fatehpur Sikri. The citadel of Delhi's seventh city was henceforth deserted.

Most of the tower's white marble inlay has been lost and the original delicacy of the pavilion thereby impaired. The building may no longer be entered due to structural instability and there is, therefore, no danger of visitors repeating Humayun's accident. Further south, the Humayun Darwaza provides the third entrance to the citadel. From this gate are gained distant views of Humayun's splendid tomb, possibly the reason why the gate is so named.

Returning to the main gate to its left, a small museum exhibits archaeological discoveries made during excavations within the complex in 1955.

Delhi Tour Packages

Celebrating International Yoga Day in Rishikesh Tour

Celebrating International Yoga Day in Rishikesh Tour

11 Nights / 12 Days
Destination : Delhi - Rishikesh - Agra - Jaipur - Delhi

Leisure Tour of Delhi

Leisure Tour of Delhi

3 Nights / 4 Days
Destination : Delhi

Pushkar Fair Group Tour

Pushkar Fair Group Tour

8 Nights / 9 Days
Destination : Delhi-Mandawa-Bikaner- pushkar-Jaipur-Abhaneri-Agra

Cultural North India Tour

Cultural North India Tour

8 Nights / 9 Days
Destination : Delhi-jaipur-Agra-Khajuraho-Varanasi

View All