Saturday, May 25, 2024

Tears of Red Fort – 2 : Red fort -Descended with Wings of dreams

In 1628, Jahangir’s son Khurram became the possessor of India’s lush green plains, uninterrupted rivers and high rising mountains, killing 18 of his brothers and uncles.  He was the fourth descendant of Babur, also known as Shah Jahan in the history of India.  By this time, the generations of Babur had ruled India for over a hundred years.
Shah Jahan had a rich empire of his father and grandfathers.  Therefore, the challenges before him were few.  The vast armies of the Sultanate fought on the fronts of Afghanistan, China, Bengal, and South India and they continuously increased the boundaries of the Sultanate. Due to this, gold, silver and diamond jewels were piled up in the treasury of the Sultanate. The Mughal emperor used to earn crores of rupees every year due to the tax paid by the Indian farmers.
Using this money, Shah Jahan built a huge throne for himself called Takht-e-Taus which meant Mayur throne.  The thrones was built like a beautiful dancing peacock.  The plankton was 3.5 yards long, 2 yards wide and 5 yards high.  The entire throne was made of solid gold with 424 kg of precious gems in it.  Several hundred artisans worked continuously for 7 years in the minakari and mosaic of these gems.  The cost of the throne came to Rs 2 crore 14 lakh and 50 thousand.  European historian Tavernier has written that Kohinoor, world’s most precious diamond, was also installed in this throne.
After sitting on the throne, Shah Jahan didn’t like the clumsy design of forts built during Akbar’s rule in Agra and Fatehpur Sikri so he decided to build a new fort for himself in Delhi,  the capital of Hindus for thousands of years  which was situated on the banks of river Yamuna . Even before Shah Jahan, Delhi had been the capital of Turkish and Afghan Muslims for nearly three and a quarter hundred years.
Shah Jahan appointed a erudite engineer named Ustad Ahmad Lahori to build the Red Fort as he had expertise in building Mughal-style buildings.  The same Ahmad Lahori had also built the Taj Mahal of Agra.
On 12 May 1638, the Red Fort’s foundation stone was laid on the banks of  Yamuna in Delhi.  By the time the Red Fort was ready, Shah Jahan stayed in the Salimgarh fort.
Shah Jahan would stand on the banks of the Yamuna for hours and watch the construction of this new fort, and would see the shadows of the rapidly rising fort walls moving in the dark waves of the Yamuna.
Shah Jahan built this fort with red and white stones of his choice.  Both these colors were very dear to Shah Jahan.  Shah Jahan then didn’t knew that these walls of the Red Fort would continue to be washed with the red blood of his descendants until the last descendant of Babur would be chained and sent to Rangoon.
The area in Delhi where the Red Fort was built was called Shahjahanabad.  The huge royal palace was built in the middle of the Red Fort where Shah Jahan himself and his future generations were to live.  Several small canals were built from the Yamuna river to the Red Fort, through which the holy water of the Yamuna was drawn and brought to the palaces of the Red Fort.
These canals were so beautiful that they were called “Neher-e-Bahisht”. After soaking the water from these canals, many beautiful flowers bloomed in the gardens which seemed as If they were flowers from heaven.  However later, the walls of Red Fort saw the blood of Shah Jahan’s descendants flowing in these canals.
Hindus believe that Shah Jahan didn’t build any new fort in the form of Red Fort as according to them, there was already an old fort in which the Hindu rulers resided for hundreds of years.  Shah Jahan rebuilt the same fort.
Whatever may have been the truth, but it cannot be denied that the red fort built by Shah Jahan looked like a red chariot descended from heaven and landed on earth with the wings of dreams.  It’s grandeur was inevitable.  It was true that the Red Fort was not built by Vishwakarma, but the architectural plan of the Red Fort was unmatched and the palaces built in it embodied the imagination of the palaces built by the colossal demons described in the Indian Puranas.Shah Jahan spent one crore rupee on its construction, out of which half of the money was spent on building its rampart and half of it was spent on building the palaces inscribed within the red fort.
After a full nine years of strenuous construction, the Red Fort was completed on 6 April 1648 and Shah Jahan entered the fort with his huge harem.  From the day itself, the walls of the Red Fort started getting wet with human red blood.

Article by Dr. Mohan Lal Gupta, English Translation By Er. Ayush Dadhich, Video Presentation by Er. Dipti Tayal

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