Thursday Doors

Here are some fine doors from the Red Fort or Lal Quila, in Delhi, about which I must blog when I get time. The fort was designed by the same architect who built the Taj Mahal. It took 10 years to construct and the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan moved his court there from Agra in 1648. It was originally called Lal Mubarak, meaning “blessed” or “auspicious”. But it wasn’t really. Several kings were bumped off in the fort. Most of the treasures of the empire were looted from the fort by the Persian Emperor, Nadir Shah, in 1739, including the Peacock Throne with the Koh-i-Noor diamond. In 1760, the Marathas took down the silver ceiling of the Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audiences) and melted it into ingots. During the Indian Mutiny, Delhi was besieged by the British. When the sepoys were driven out of Delhi, the Red Fort was abandoned. The Brits plundered the fort and destroyed some beautiful gardens and buildings. In their place, the Public Works Department erected a dull set of Victorian barracks to house the occupying troops.

There are two doors (ok, they are really gates) to the fort in current use. This is the Delhi Gate. The doors are massive, over six metres high. The spikes have been removed below two metres to prevent tourists from impaling themselves.

In the words of my grandfather, “How the hell did they hang them doors?” Not surprisingly, they don’t move now.

The road to the bastion gate is parallel to the fort’s southern wall, exposing an invading force to fire from above. Beyond this gate there is a courtyard, which would have been a death trap for invaders. Then the road turns through 90 degrees to pass through the fort walls. This would have made it difficult for soldiers with a battering ram (or an elephant) to get up momentum to bash in the gate.

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This is Delhi Gate from inside the Red Fort.
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This is the other main gateway, the Lahori Gate. It leads to a covered market, hence the “Subhash gift corner” sign. The towering red sandstone walls are almost 400 years old.

It gets really hot in Delhi in summer, so most of the palaces within the fort are pavilions, without doors. This is the door to the Moti Masjid, one of the mosques. I like the way the marble has worn away on the right side of the doorstep. And there is a gap in the doorstep to allow water to run away.

It is disappointing to see the way the door has been secured, with a naff chain and cheap padlock. Surely the Archeological Survey of India (AIS), which is responsible for all the ancient monuments in India, could have come up with something more appropriate for this wonderful door?

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This is a carved marble screen, in the Diwan-i-Khas, where the Mughal Emperor would give judgement under the scales of justice. Well, it is almost a doorway…

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This impressive set of doors leads to the zenana or women’s quarters. I am taken with the elephant & mahout door knobs, but it is sad that the metal covering has been prised away by souvenir hunters. Neither do I like the bits of paper stuck to the door. This is a Wonder of the World, yet many areas are in a sad state of disrepair.

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This is almost a cheat. The white marble throne of the Moghul Emperor has been protected from the public by a glass wall, presumably to stop the inlaid semi-precious stones from being gouged out. But the photograph does have a door beneath the wonderfully carved window.

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Two more doors, one just an opening, with a sleeping dog guarding the entrance.

Finally, the Red Fort was used as a prison for the leaders of the Indian National Army, who fought with the Japanese during the Second World War. These are the doors of their prison block, in Salimgarh Fort. This was built on an island in the Yamuna River, but it is now connected to the Red Fort by a bridge.

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12 Replies to “Thursday Doors”

  1. The Delhi Gate is really something, Ian, but the whole thing is quite something! Plundering has much to answer for, as does raping and pillaging, other ancient and, unfortunately, not so ancient, pastimes.

    janet

  2. This is a treasure! Each of the doors are works of art and like you, I’m taken with the wear on the marble. It gives you an idea of how many people have passed this way over the years!!

    The spiky door is magnificent. Am I correct that there appears to be a door within the door?

  3. Wow these are amazing. Spikey door certainly gets its share of the attention but the carved marble screen and the one with the padlock are equally impressive. Great collection this week Ian 🙂

  4. Oh, lovely post,Ian, some wonderful doors. I have some spiky, murderous doors for a future post found last weekend 🙂 I fell in love with India, warts and all, Dehli is on the future agenda !

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