Pooja Datta, Primary Teacher
After tolerating the chaos of Delhi roads on a daily basis, one longs for some quiet time in a serene place. What does one do in such a situation? Head for a place out of Delhi? Not quite. For there are places in Delhi, where once you enter, you will forget the noise and buzz of the city. Old Fort, also known as Purana Qila, is one such place.
My experience with the 75 Heritage walk enthusiasts to the Old Fort was overwhelmingly positive. The Heritage Club of G D Salwan Public School undertook the responsibility of sensitising children about our rich cultural heritage and how to protect it. The visit to the Old Fort , which was a The Indian Express initiative, was one such step towards our aim. One of the striking features of the Old Fort is its scenery. The lush green lawns and trees provide a serene environment. There are birds chirping on trees, the air is fresh and the whole visit is invigorating. The monuments and ruins here are like pieces of art — timeless in their beauty. The monuments were built mainly from sandstone and one can only marvel at the size and strength of the construction, which has withstood the test of time. The craftsmen who built these monuments must have planned, designed and built with meticulous care.
Seema Goyal, Heritage Club Incharge
Purana Qila was built by Sher Shah Suri in 1541. There are many structures inside the Qila — Buland Darwaza, Qila-i-Kuhna Masjid, Sher Mandal Library, Hammam, Humayun Darwaza and Talaqi Darwaza.The Buland Darwaza is the main entrance of the Qila. It is a triple-storey structure made of sandstone in front of the Bada Darwaza.Our eyes and ears were glued to capture whatever history we could revisit through this trip. It felt like a déjà-vu to me. The structures seemed to be telling us about the grandeur of the era in which they were built. There were many inscriptions on the structures. We were lucky to meet a visitor who could read and translate Arabic. He explained to us the significance of these inscriptions.
The students were thrilled to visit Old Fort and we came closer to our heritage.
Daniyal Quereshi, VII B
We were very excited to visit Old Fort, also known as Purana Qila. Built by the great ruler Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century, the legendary Old Fort today lies in ruins. The gateway of Purana Qila is best described as a fusion of Islamic and Hindu architecture. The ‘Mehrab’ — a decorated wall looking towards Mecca — was built using tiles made by Persian craftsmen. There was also the mosque, located in the centre of the fort. It has a number of canopies. Even Humayun’s Tomb is visible from these canopies. The fort boasts of awe-inspiring arches and domes along with three double-storied main gates sporting ‘chhatris’ on rooftops, one in each direction. We visited Old Fort to know more about our history. We learnt a lot about our heritage and trip was indeed fun.
Anshaj Sharma, VII A
We had visited the Old Fort to learn more about our culture and heritage. I initially thought it would just another picnic with my friends. But the moment we entered the park, I felt I was not part of a group, but all alone in a different era.
I could hear our SST teacher explaining the significance of Old Fort. I began imagining how things would have been in that era.
The various monuments inside the park are connected by pathways. The Fort is build using sandstone, with marbles dotting some of the structures. The walls of the fort are 18 metres high. The Purana Qila has three majestic gates — The Humayun Darwaza, the Bada Darwaza and the Talaqi Darwaza. The three gates are double-storied and built in sandstone. The Humayun Darwaza and the Bada Darwaza were the two gates meant for entering the fort. Today, only the Bada Darwaza is open for entry. The Talaqi Darwaza is located to the northern side of the fort. Entry through this gate is forbidden, as the name suggests. In the end, I must say that the government has preserved these monuments very well. Now it’s our time and turn to preserve them for posterity.
Divyanshi Kumar , VII A
Old Fort is the only place in Delhi that survives from the 16th century. Its specialties are domes and arches and has floral and geometrical patterns. The Old Fort houses a number of amazing buildings within it such as the Qila Kuhna Masjid and the Sher Mandal. Both were built by Sher Shah Suri. The masjid is a fusion of marble and sandstone. There is a prayer hall in the masjid and has five doorways with horse-shoe shaped arches.
The Sher Mandal is now an observatory. It was designed for entertainment purposes. The structure and style of the building is a testimony of architectural magnificence. Once upon a time, the Sher Mahal was used by Sher Shah Suri as his personal library.
There is a museum near the gate of the Purana Qila, which houses important artifacts belonging to the pre Mughal era.
The visit was a great experience. We got a lot of information about a bygone era. It was an educational trip.
It made us conscious of the need for conservation. I now know how important monuments are to our culture.
These monuments are India’s pride. They tell us about our culture and history. I thank The Indian Express for such an enriching experience.
Neha Bhargava, VIIA
We were thrilled to know that our class was going to visit the Old Fort.
The fort is a fine example of our ancient heritage. We were quite impressed to notice the lifestyle during the rule of Sher Shah Suri to the British period.
We were amazed to see the huge gate — the Bada Darwaza — which is the entry point to the fort. The floral patterns on some of the monuments were just immaculate.
The doors and window frames were beautifully decorated with geometrical patterns. It also had a Mehrab looking towards the Mecca. The exquisite tiles which were used for its construction were brought from Southern Asia. Most of the buildings had arches, which were used strategically. The Old Fort is located on the ancient site of Indraprastha, the kingdom of Pandavas as mentioned in the Mahabharata. Potteries have also been found here which dates back to the days of Mahabharata. The Archeological excavation of the site is proof of the fact that civilization existed here even as early as 1,000 BC.
This old yet wonderful fort has been a witness to some of the greatest events in the history of India. It was truly a magnificent and memorable visit. I have realised the importance of these monuments and was surprised to know that there are people who put in their heart and soul to protect them.
Shubh Bhardwaj, VIIA
I always had a feeling that all historical monuments belong to history books. But when I visited the Old Fort, I realised that I was wrong.We entered the fort through a huge gate — the Bada Darwaza. The fort is spread over 100 acres. The gate is a testimony of Islamic architecture and speciality was domes. I liked the beautiful sandstones and white and black marble used for building some of the monuments inside the fort.
The visit made me aware of the need to preserve such monuments as they are a part of our cultural heritage. I thank The Indian Express for organising this trip. It has enriched my knowledge about our history.
Mayank Hotchandani, VIIB
Our school organised a Heritage walk at Purana Qila November 22. During the walk, we were apprised about the history of the fort. We saw beautiful carvings and inscriptions in Arabic.We also noticed a defining feature of Islamic Architecture, the blue Persian tiles. As one move towards the serene zoological park, you will find a colossal stone fort to your left. Legend has it that the fort nestles on the ruins of the princely state of Indraprastha, the kingdom of the Pandavas. Today, every stone in the fort tells a story of a bygone era. Although the construction was started by Humayun, the Afgan ruler, Sher Shah — who briefly punctured the Mughal reign by defeating Humayun — completed it during his rule in 1538-45, before Humayun regained control of India. Interestingly, the fort offers an impeccable blend of Mughal, Hindu and Afgan architecture, which helps to create an impressive sight. There is also a shimmering lake where tourists can enjoy boating in the afternoon, cruising on tranquil waters under the shadow of history.We clicked many photographs of the place. It was an awe-inspiring experience. We enjoyed a lot and gained a lot of knowledge. I feel it is important to preserve monuments as they are the pride of India.
Swati Chowdhary, VIIB