Saturday, December 24, 2011

Monument of Delhi - Purana Quila

Purana Quila
(Most ancient fort of Delhi)

Panoramic view of Purana Quila

The main entry gate

Panoramic view from inside the fort
Purana Quila is one of the lesser known historical monuments of Delhi.The genesis of Purana Quila can be traced back to almost a 1000 years.In the Ain-e- Akbari by Abdul Fazal, this place was referred to as the Indraprastha capital of the Pandavas from the Mahabharata times.Subsequently, during the excavations held during the 1950s & 1960s many artifacts were discovered dating back to early 4th century B.C. The houses dating back to this period were mainly made of sun-dried bricks as well as some bricks baked in kilns. Houses had drains which carried waste water into soak pits dug deep into the ground reflecting typical Harrapan architecture style. Many terracotta figurines of humans and animals were found. So was a special kind of shiny pottery that archaeologists call Northern Black Polished Ware (NBP for short). People had started using copper coins for buying and selling things. Traders used seals to mark their bales of merchandise.There was a gradual increase in the business activity and related settlement in the area from the 2nd Century B.C to the 3rd Century A.D, as the establishment grew into a major business centre.The houses belonging to this period were now made of stone set in mud. House floors were usually made of pressed earth, but were sometimes paved with mud bricks. Plenty of pottery and terracotta figurines and plaques of this period were found. Some may have been toys, others may have had a religious significance. Lots of seals and coins were also discovered from this site during the excavations.The site started dwindling the losing its significance as can be assumed on basis of the excavations made as it was noticed that houses were made out of reused bricks of earlier buildings. Many centuries later, in the tenth century, a fortification wall was built around the settlement. Others finds of this later period include the remains of houses made out of brick and rubble, pottery. An interesting find was a jug containing bells, ghunghroos (anklets with bells), and various objects of copper.The discovery of anklets provides another insight to the later day existence of the complex, which may have been a place discarded in outskirts for the citys night life.
Quila-i-Khuna masjid facade

Interior of the Masjid

Another ornate Interior view

Nothing much of significance occurred in this place during the intervening period until the advent of Sher Shah Suri during the 16th Century A.D who defeated the Mughals and built this fort to protect Delhi from them.If you go to visit the fort, you will find that as you walk towards the main entrance gate, you are climbing upwards. This is because the fort is built on a mound.Although this fort did not face any of the perceived attack from the Mughals till Sher Shah Suri ruled.But after his demise, the mughals with the help of Persians, under the leadership of Humayun attacked the fort in 1545 and re-annexed it.Humayun added to the outer fortifications of the fort and made good use of the octagonal red sandstone tower known asSher Mandal as his library and observatory. Some Mughal historical documents indicate that Humayun died as a result of the injuries he suffered after falling down from the steps of theSher Mandal. Rumours exist that after the death of Humayun, the Mughals, considering the fort to be cursed, vacated the structure. As a consequence, the Mughals had to construct a new fort, known as Lal Quila.
This historical fort has seen its ups & down over the centuries.However, the mixture of Indo-Persian architecture is a treat to watch and one should spend a few hours exploring the nooks & corners of the fort in order to imbibe the visual treat.

Sher mandal
Close-up view of one of the ornate windows
The outer facade

Another view of the burj

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