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Published: October 2nd 2018
Where Ghandi was cremated following his assassination in 1948
This morning we headed over to the Red Fort to have a look around. Built from red sandstone between 1638 and 1648 by Shah Jahan (same man who built the Taj Mahal) to protect his new city of ShahJahanabad (ie Delhi) this magnificent fort was later converted into barracks by the British. Unfortunately it has been ransacked multiple times over its history and so the semi-precious stones that inlaid the marble halls have all gone, as have the gold and silver ceilings, copper doors & fittings and the ornate Peacock Throne.
Today is a bank holiday in Delhi and so the crowds were huge (they got much bigger by the time we left). Slightly strangely tourists don’t have to queue and after buying a ticket at the separate tourist counter you can walk past the long line of locals and walk straight in. I have to admit this made Stephen and I feel a little uncomfortable - in other places they’ve had separate entrances or lines for tourists so we haven’t felt quite so much like we’re jumping the queue.
Inside the fort is interesting due, in part, to the presence of multiple British built barracks. The fort itself
Ruined mosque in site of Salimgarh
is very similar to Agra fort but less ornate having being plundered by Persian and Afghan invaders and then used (and abused) by British soldiers. The audio guide was invaluable as there wasn’t much information available. Frustratingly it’s undergoing ‘renovations’ so we were unable to go into most of the buildings and the museum and armoury were shut.
Despite the fact the audio guide tells you it’s no longer used by the military there are still barracks in use on the site. If you go and see the step well, or cross the road to the Salimargh (a 16th century fort built on what was an island in the Yamuna river) you can see the soldiers and military buildings.
On leaving the Red Fort we walked straight down Chadni Chowk - the main road in front of the fort. This road used to have a canal down the centre and is still a busy bazaar. At the far end of the road is Fatehpuri Masjid - a mosque built by one of Shah Jahans wives. Through this is the spice bazaar.
Heading back up the road we looked above the shop fronts at all the different buildings. It
was interesting to see that they have built on top of what was already there - with buildings built on and around fairly weak looking balconies.
The town hall is along this road and a stunning colonial building, although somewhat neglected these days. The park land behind is well kept but not open to the public.
Back at the fort we walked towards our hostel, past the Jama Masjid - India’s largest mosque and an imposing building surrounded by market stalls. The pushy tuk tuk drivers got very irritating - one cycle rickshaw driver joined us on the pavement as we were trying to walk away warning us the there were too many people and it was dangerous for us to walk!
Continuing our walk we enter the gardens where there are numerous memorials to important Indians. We entered at Shanti Varna - where India’s first prime minister, Nehru, was cremated and walked down to where Ghandi was cremated. Whilst the north of the park was relatively peaceful we were surprised to find queues of people waiting to get in the gate by Ghandi’s memorial - they only had to walk to the next gate and there were
Diwan-I-Khas (private audience hall)
Tired we headed back to the hostel. There’s so much to see in Delhi and it was a particular shame that we didn’t have time to see the Lodi gardens or arrange a tour of the presidents house.
Our Delhi stay has been spoilt slightly by our last evening. Walking round the corner from our hostel towards a family restaurant for dinner a group of 3 young men walked past. Whilst one distracted Stephen the other 2 decided to pick on me - the first grabbing my bottom and the second my crotch. As I swore at them (in language that surprised myself) they at least had the courtesy to run off full pelt. I was wearing baggy trousers, a loose, high cut, sleeved t-shirt and was with my husband on a busy street.
Delhi has been the first place in India I’ve felt threatened by the number of men leering at me at it turns out with good reason.
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