Travelling and discovering new places is a boon for us millennials, be it a solo trip or one with family and friends. So I also decided to venture out and see what Delhi had to offer. Being an ardent fan of history and historical monuments, I began with “Purana Qila” and roped in my friends into the plan as well. We started off and reached Noida City Center by 10 in the morning. Ever since the advent of Metro, even lazy heads like me gather up enough strength to step out and explore the amazing sights that Delhi has to offer!

In old times, Old Fort was surrounded by a wide moat, connected to river Yamuna, which used to flow on the east side of the fort. It has three gateways provided with bastions on either side The northern gateway was called the Talaqui Darwaza or the ‘forbidden’ gateway, one can admire the fusion of arts as the typically Islamic pointed arch is combined with the Hindu Chhatris and brackets. The southern gateway is called the Humayun Darwaza and has a similar structure, it is called so as it was built by Humayun. The third gateway is called the Bada Darwaza and is the one used as an entrance for the visitors and tourists.

We stepped off at Pragati Maidan and reached Old Fort by auto, convincing the auto drivers to race and we were the first ones to be there (there were twelve of us, hence there were four autos ). All was fun and mockery until we reached the West Gate, commonly known as “Bada Darwaza”, which stood there in all its glory, accompanied with its bastion. And hence began our trip as we gazed at the Purana Qila standing stoically amidst all the wild greenery, completely oblivious to the fast paced life of the capital of the country that had slowly grew and prospered around it. The cameras were out and pictures were being clicked of the awe-inspiring entrance which still reflects the grandeur of the Sur Empire.

We then moved on towards the Qila-i-Kuhna Mosque, which is located inside the premises of the Old Fort. After defeating Humayun, Sher Shah occupied the Purana Qila and built this mosque for his private use and it became the symbol of his ‘royal aspiration’. As we went inside to explore the mosque, we saw the intricate designs and the half domes which display the Mughal association and style. The wall works were mesmerizing and still gave one an idea about the ambience and likes of the rulers in the past. The walls are covered with calligraphy and ornamental structures. There is a shallow space in the center, whereas the eastern and western arcades have semi-domes called ‘nim-gumbads’ which rest on “suspending arches”. There were multiple openings inside the prayer hall for proper ventilation.

After spending some time in the shade of the mosque and resting for a while, we moved towards the Sher Mandal while exploring the ruined yet magnificent structures that lied in the way. The ruins of walls gave us an opportunity to create lifelong memories (and some amazing cover photos for our Facebook profiles). We hopped, climbed, crawled and ran. Those afraid of heights, found their way through the caves to reach to the other end while the ‘brave’ ones tip-toed on the narrow ramparts, holding hands and wishing they made it safely to the other side instead of falling and getting caught into one of these trees lining the wall.

As we all reached the one of the extreme ends of the wall, one of my friends decided to go all ‘monkey’ and climbed up to one of the higher walls, but later realized that coming down was one hell of a task. We managed to move ahead half an hour later when he was safely on the ground (thanks to his climbing skills). And went ahead walking through the ruins and imagining how it would have been in the times back then. The tree and the lush greenery calmed us down and brought out the kids in us as we ran, teased and made fun of each other. The boys went into full action as they enacted scenes from their all-time favourite game, Counter Strike(attracting a few curious onlookers in the process), while others dance to their favourite numbers ranging from English to Punjabi songs(including the trending  "Bol  Na Aunty Auu Kya") . Given the location, the videos shot were quite phenomenal and unique.

We reached Sher Mandal, Humayun’s personal library which was built by Babar and then had a walk through the museum, which taught us more about the history of the Mughals. A walk by the north gate was overpowering as one could only look at its height and imagine the kind of hard work and skill that was invested in building it, it was at this moment when we felt in an entirely different realm of time where one could simply walk by these ruins and imagine how life would have been back in those days. It gave us an opportunity to forget about all our worries and enjoy the moment, take in the immense beauty that time and nature had to offer and escape from the stress and harsh realities of life.

After having a quick bite at one of the food joints whilst basking in the midday sun in the lush green park, we went for boating, which refreshed us and gave us a break from all that walking. Both of these places are a famous point for couples shying away from the curious glances of the people passing by. We had a long, hilarious and awkward walk towards the exit as we passed by the shady areas and outer walls which were flocked by love birds and tried to ignore the random jokes being cracked by our friends which would have resulted into splitting laughter had our self-control been weak!

After spending a day at one of the most mesmerizing tourist attractions that Delhi has to offer, we were tired but filled with thoughts about how times changed and people moved on. The “Old Fort” still stands there, in its majestic demeanor, boasting of its past and glory, inviting people from all over the world to come and experience the aura and explore the ruins of the time that shaped the history of India and made it what it is today. 

Afrah Khan