on November 23, 2006
(continued from part I)When you are nearing the fort, you will notice its massive 2.5km long red sandstone walls, extending next to the Yamuna river. To see the size of the fort, Google maps features a satellite view of it. There are two entrance gates in the walls, the grand Delhi gate and the smaller but still magnificent red sandstone Lahore gate, facing towards the cities they refer to. The western Delhi gate is currently owned by the Indian military and thus off limits to the general public. The foreigners entrance ticket to the fort costs currently Rs 250 (around 4€), 12 times the Indian price. If you visit the Taj Mahal on the same day you can get a Rs 50 discount however! The first thing you will see when you go inside the fort through the Lahore gate, is an inclining pathway leading towards the partly ruined but nevertheless magnificent Jehangiri Mahal. This palace for Akbar's son Salim, nicknamed Jehangir or "World Conqueror" in the Persian language of the court, is constructed with red sandstone and white marble, characteristic of many Mughal edifices. Behind the palace is the magnificent Khas Mahal, completely clad in splendid white marble, with a small fish pond and a beautiful view on the Taj Mahal.If you go north through the Anjun Bagh garden you will come to another marble jewel, the Mussaman Burj. This is the presumed residence of Shah Jahan where he was kept under house arrest by his cruel third son Aurangzeb, who disposed of or even killed his other brothers to be the only heir to the Mughal throne. Aurangzeb's extremely harsh regime, especially for the Hindu majority, finally led to the crumbling of the great Mughal empire under his son and successor Muazzam Bahadur Shah. One can think of worse places to be exiled to in their old days. Imagine the wonderful marble house to be filled with servants all complying with your wishes. And last but not least, Shah Jahan had a first-class view on the mausoleum he built for his favourite wife Mumtaz, better known as the Taj Mahal, a vista you can still enjoy today.East of Mussaman Burj are the large Diwan-i-Am or Hall of Public Audience where the emperor could receive the general public and the much smaller, but more exquisite marble Diwan-i-Khas or Hall of Private Audience, for officials and honoured guests. Inside the Diwan-i-Am one can see a small domed mosque, the Mina Masjid, which is closed to the public. North of it, the last part of the fort that can be visited, were the private quarters of the emperor. It includes the emperor's own mosque, the domed Moti Masjid or Pearl Mosque, but unfortunately this was off limits during my visit due to restoration works.
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