New Delhi’s Red Fort (Lal Quila) — well, ok, actually in Old Delhi — is a large complex consisting of buildings and gardens that date back to the 17th century when it was built as a palace for Emperor Shah Jahan (of Taj Mahal fame). it’s quite clearly fallen from its former glory and many parts are closed off either permanently or for reconstruction. nonetheless, the architecture was like nothing i’ve seen before and thus worth a visit, at least for me (if not also for the fact that it’s a symbol of New Delhi). while the buildings themselves are small and relatively understated (especially since many of the opulent features have been lost to plundering and time), i was fascinated by the multipartite cusped arches that are key elements in their design.
i should add a little bit about what mughal is, since i didn’t know: the Mughal Empire lasted from 1526-1827 and its emperors came from what is now Uzbekistan. the term “mughal” comes from their relationship to the Mongol empire; they claimed that their ancestry can be traced to Genghis Khan. they had an inclusive rule whereby local traditions were not eradicated but synthesized. at the height of their power, the empire stretched over much of the Indian subcontinent.
sidebar: admission it costs 250 rupees (about $4) for foreigners to enter — there’s an additional 5 rupee “museum charge” that was listed at the ticket window but i didn’t pay for it but still managed to get into the museums. your mileage may vary. be sure to count your change and be explicit about what your total is and what you get back. i paid with a 1,000 rupee bill and the guy at first gave me only 250 in change until i pointed out i paid with a thousand at which point he gave me my missing 500. this scam is rampant around here, i’ve heard — and now i’ve seen. just take it for granted that you will lose money here and there (and not by actually losing track of it) — it will somehow just be subsumed into the total in the form of non-returned change. my key advice so far? break large bills in reputable establishments and pay with as close to exact change as possible.
and a bonus: man on an elephant detail on a door
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