If the poet Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib is to be believed, Delhi’s personality was formed and defined by the Lal Qila or Red Fort, constructed in 1657-8. Once called the ‘Qila Mubarak’ (Auspicious
Fortress), the palace-fortress of Emperor Shahjahan is today a World Heritage site. Appropriately enough, N.L. Batra, formerly in the Archaeological Survey of India and author of a similar book on Delhi’s Juma Masjid, has produced an illustrated book on the Red Fort. The pictures bring alive some of the most elegant structures within the Fort. ‘Verily if there is Paradise on earth; It is this, it is this, it this.’
If you don’t already know it, turn to Batra’s text for a bird’s eye view of the history of Shahjahanabad, the site of not only some other magnificent buildings and mosques but also the home of a Delhi Renaissance. The Urdu poet wrote:
It’s this city that was
Man’s and djinn’s heart;
Its this city that was all India’s heart;
It’s this city that was the whole world’s heart...