Delhi,19 June:India is witnessing encouraging trends in the tourism sector with foreign tourist inflows touching five million mark in the year 2007. Domestic tourism is also a key driver. The “Incredible India” campaign has led to immense interest and awareness. Red Fort, Delhi, popularly known as Lal Qila, constructed between A.D. 1639 and 1648 by Mughal emperor Shahjahan, was a part of the Shahjahanabad. It provides a glimpse of the wonder and the Charm of India that is timeless and eternal and show-cases the very high level of art form and ornamental work. The art work in the Fort is a synthesis of Persian, European and Indian art which resulted in the development of unique Shahjahani style, which is rich in form, expression and colour. Red Fort, Delhi is one of the important building complexes of India which encapsulates a long period of Indian history and its arts. Its significance has transcended time and space. It is relevant as a symbol of architectural brilliance and power.
The fort, located on the west bank of the river Yamuna, is octagonal in plan, with two longer sides on east and west and is provided with four gates viz. Lahori, Delhi, Yamuna and Salimgarh gate. The ramparts, covering a perimeter of 2.41 km. have a moat all along on the outside, which originally was connected with the river Yamuna. On the north, the Red fort is connected with the Salimgarh Fort by a bridge. Lahori gate, a magnificent three-storeyed structure, later screened by a barbican by Aurangzeb, served as the main entrance. Palaces, lying on the eastern side of the Fort, are approached from the Lahori gate through a roofed passage, flanked by double-storeyed arcaded apartments called Chhatta-Chowk and being used as shops. The Delhi gate is flanked on the outside by two elephants, commissioned in 1903 by Lord Curzon in place of the original ones demolished by Aurangzeb.
A study of some of the old site plans, paintings and photographs, available at different places, shows that within the fort, a large number of the old enchanting buildings were demolished and replaced with military barracks and other modern constructions by the British after 1857. The British Army had occupied the Red Fort in 1857 and converted it into an army stronghold. They demolished a number of buildings to accommodate construction of barracks for their use. The fortress palace is an important focal point of the medieval city of the Shahjahanabad. The planning and aesthetics of the Red Fort represent the zenith of Mughal creativity which prevailed during the reign of the emperor Shahjahan. The fort has seen many layers of development after its construction by emperor Shahjahan. The significant phases of development were under Aurangzeb and later Mughal rulers. Important physical changes were carried out in the overall settings of the site after the First War of Independence during British Rule in 1857. After independence, the site experience, a few changes in terms of addition/ alteration to the structures.
Salimgarh, with its thick rubble-built ramparts and circular bastions, which have undergone considerable repairs, is roughly triangular on plan and stands to the north-east of the Red Fort on the bank of the Yamuna. It is believed to have been built by Islam Shah Sur (1545-54), also known as Salim Shah, son and successor of Sher Shar Sur.
The inscription of the Red Fort Complex is also significant for the country since it was from the ramparts of the Red Fort that the country’s Independence was declared . The Independence Day Celebrations, every year, are organized at the ramparts of the Red Fort and the Prime Minister unfurls the National Flag.
The monument was first referred for inscription on World Heritage List in the year 1992 but was deferred due to multi-administrative control of the Red Fort. The nomination was re-submitted by the Archaeological Survey of India to UNESCO in 2006. The World Heritage Committee in its meeting held on 23rd to 27th June, 2007 at Christchurch, New Zealand accepted the nomination of the Red Fort Complex, Delhi for inscription on the World Heritage List.
The nominated property ( Red Fort Complex) has a total area of 92.6 hectare. The core zone of about 50 hectares includes the Red Fort and Salimgarh Fort while the buffer zone measuring over 40 hectares includes the immediate surroundings of the two forts.
The Red Fort Complex, Delhi is classified as a cultural property with an outstanding universal value. It has been inscribed in the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ii), (iii) and (vi).
Criterion (ii): The final flourishing of Mughal architecture built upon local traditions but enlivened them with imported ideas, techniques, craftsmanship and designs to provide a fusion of Islamic, Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions. The Red Fort demonstrates the outstanding results this fusion achieved in planning and architecture. Criterion (iii): The innovative planning arrangements and architectural style of building components and garden design developed in the Red Fort strongly influenced later buildings and gardens in Rajasthan, Delhi, Agra and further afield. The Red Fort Complex also reflects the phase of British military occupation, introducing new buildings and functions over the earlier Mughal structures.
Criterion (vi): The Red Fort has been a symbol of power since the reign of Shah Jahan, has witnessed the changes in Indian history up to British rule, and was the place where Indian independence was first declared, and is still celebrated today. The Red Fort Complex has thus been the setting of events critical to the shaping of regional identity, and which have had a wide impact on the geo-cultural region.
The inscription of the Red Fort on the World Heritage List does not provide it with any extra formal international legal protection. However, inscription on the list does place an obligation on the Archaeological Survey of India to provide for careful protection and management of the site, to prevent any further damage to the built fabric and historic gardens in the fort and its setting and to ensure its survival for future generations.
It is not just the grandeur of the Red Fort as a monument which attracts the visitors. Inside it are located three museums. 1. Indian War Memorial Museum which houses mainly the weapons/arms, antiquities related to the First World War; 2. Archaeological Museum in which objects antiquities of Mughal and later Mughal period are displayed and 3. Swatantrata Sangram Sangrahalaya, which is located in a colonial barrack and displays dioramas, photographs, documents etc. related to India’s freedom struggle.
In the year 1992 on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Non-Cooperation Movement – 1942, the barracks located on the northern half of Salimgarh Fort were dedicated to the Nation considering that the
Indian National Army Heroes were detained in these barracks at the time of their trial which took place in the Red Fort. The Salimgarh Fort and the barracks were then under the control of the Indian Army. The Army had handed over these barracks and the open area of this part of fort to the Archaeological Survey of India in 1992. These barracks were, however, converted into the Indian National Army Memorial in 1995 by putting on display copies of photographs, badges, uniforms, etc. The excavated finds of Salimgarh Fort are also on display there. The exhibition in these barracks were kept open for a short duration in 1995 as Salimgarh Fort was not connected directly from the Red Fort because of the railway line passing between the two forts.
Although the barracks and the northern part of the Salimgarh Fort were handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India by the Army in 1992, the Salimgarh Fort was declared as a monument of national importance in 2002. It was immediately thereafter that the railway authorities were persuaded to construct a foot bridge over the railway line to provide accessibility to the Indian National Army Memorial from the Red Fort so that the visitors to the Red Fort may visit the Salimgarh Fort. This bridge is now complete and the Archaeological Survey of India has now opened the Memorial for the public on daily basis.
The inscription of the Red Fort on the World Heritage List is very significant for Delhi since the Red Fort Complex would be the third World Heritage Site in the city, an honour that no other single location in the country can boast of.