The Red Fort is one of the top Tourist Places in Delhi
Getting to the Red Fort
You’ll find Delhi’s imposing Red Fort, also called Lal Qila, in the centre of the city. Indeed, it’s very easy to get to. The nearest metro station is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Lal Qila on the violet line. Exit through gate 4 and you can’t miss the fort, it’s on your left. You can also take the yellow metro line to Chandni Chowk but then you need to walk through the busy market area. Although it’s only 10 minutes, you can easily get lost. I’d recommend going to Lal Qila station instead.
If you choose to arrive by taxi then they’ll park in the large parking area. It’s a 10-15 minute walk along the walkway outside the main wall to get from the parking lot to the ticket booth and entrance. You can take an electric tuk-tuk if you don’t want to walk but it’s an uncrowded walkway so not an unpleasant walk.
Red Fort Tickets and Opening Hours
Delhi’s Red Fort is open every day except Mondays. Opening hours are from 6 am to 9 pm. For foreigners, tickets cost 600 Rupees if bought at the cash desk or 550 if bought in advance. Note that children under 15 are free. When you arrive at the main gate, Lahore Gate, look for steps going down as the ticket kiosks are below ground level. You’ll likely find this area very crowded. Unless you are from India or one of its neighbouring countries, then you need to find the foreigners ticket booth. As you can see in the photo below, it is clearly marked. However, it’s also in the middle of all the kiosks so you must push through the crowds waiting in the other queues. In fact, once you make it to the foreigners’ queue it won’t take you long to get served. It’s usually the shortest line.
Once, you have your ticket, push back through the crowds and head up the stairs again. Now, you need to walk around to the entrance turnstiles. Again, there are separate queues for foreigners so look to the left side of the turnstiles. Of course, you’ll find plenty of staff to help you if you get confused.
If you want to buy an audio tour or organise a guide for your trip inside the fort, you can do it before you go through the entrance turnstiles. Audio guides are available from a desk near the ticket booths and you’ll not be short of offers for guided tours.
A note on bags. You can take a small bag into the fort but not larger backpacks. There is nowhere obvious to store bags so you need to plan ahead and leave them at your hotel. You go through a security check where handbags etc may be searched. So, don’t take large bags as you’ll be turned away.
What is the Red Fort?
The Red Fort or Lal Qila was home to the Mughal Emperors for 200 years. A symbol of the strength of the Mughal Empire, building started around 1638 and took 10 years. This striking red sandstone building was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. If you’re also visiting Agra during your tour of India, then be sure to visit the Agra Red Fort as well. Both were built to house Mughal emperors although Agra was built first and the one in Delhi was modelled on it. However, Dehli’s Red Fort is bigger, designed to be more imposing and symbolic of the growing success of the empire.
Shopping Inside the Red Fort
Firstly, walk through the impressive entrance archway and you’ll find yourself in a covered bazaar. I was quite surprised at this as I didn’t expect the archway entrance to be so long. In fact, it’s a really nice little shopping area so take time to browse. The prices are government regulated so no haggling but I found them very reasonable.
I spent a lot of time shopping for scarves while we were in India. They are so beautiful. Such vibrant colours. Sadly, I was travelling with limited luggage space or I’d have bought more. In the photo above you can see some of the gorgeous scarves. I bought two from this shop for less than £5 each. Amazing value and lovely to wear. They really brighten up any outfit.
Buildings within the Red Fort
Once inside the walls, you’ll find a number of different buildings to explore. In front of you as you enter the main fort you can see the Hall of Public Audience, a red sandstone building with many pillars. Here, the Mughal Emperor would meet and listen to his subjects. The Emperor also used this hall for public functions.
As you walk further into the fort, you’ll also see Diwan-i-Khas, the private Audience Hall. This beautifully decorated white marble building was where the emperor would greet more important visitors such as state guests and courtiers. Within this more private area, you can also see a Hammam and what remains of the private Royal apartments.
Between these inner and outer areas, you’ll find Naubat Khana or the Drum House. Although it is also constructed in red sandstone, parts are covered in white plaster. Here is where musicians played for the Mughal rulers and their guests. Now, you can see displays of weapons and armoury in its War Memorial Museum.
Inside the Red Fort, you can visit a number of different museums. You need a separate ticket for these museums which costs 350 Rupees for foreigners. You can buy this extra ticket at the kiosk where you buy your normal entry ticket.
These museums, also called, Kranti Mandir, are dedicated to Indian Freedom Fighters involved in securing Independence. You can get a comprehensive overview of Indian history, including the First War of Independence (1857) if you visit all four separate museums.
Expect to spend at least a couple of hours exploring the site. It’s a pleasant site to wander around especially as it covers a large area so crowds are well spread around. You won’t feel overcrowded here. In summer, it gets very hot around midday so take advantage of the long opening hours and visit in the morning or early evening.