Did you know that Delhi’s Chandini Chowk got its name because of a pool in the densely populated market that reflected the moonlight? Or that Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal emperor, decided to move the capital from Agra to Delhi and named it Shahjahanabad?
These snippets from the pages of history will now be a part of your visit to the Red Fort — a Mughal-era monument, where the national flag is hoisted by the prime minister on Independence day every year.
The Dalmia Bharat Group, under the central government’s Adopt A Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan scheme, is now showcasing the history of the 17th-century monument to visitors.
The scheme, proposed by the Ministry of Tourism, along with the Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological Survey of India, was launched on World Tourism Day in 2017 by the then President Ram Nath Kovind. It aims to develop monuments, heritage, and tourist sites across India by inviting corporate entities, public sector companies or individuals to ‘adopt’ them for a period of five years.
On April 24, 2018, the Dalmia Bharat Group announced that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding under which it committed ₹25 crore over a five-year period for the upkeep of the Red Fort. The initiative by the conglomerate comprises three projects: a walk through a museum presenting the entire story of the construction of the fort; a light-and-sound show, named Jai Hind, on India’s history from the time the monument was built to 1947 when the country became independent, narrated by actor Amitabh Bachchan; and a projection-mapping show capturing the journey of Indian culture over 5,000 years.
Explore the museum
The museum is housed in a barrack, which was once used by the British Army in the 19th century. Now renovated as a multi-storeyed Red Fort Centre, it takes visitors through the history of Delhi through 3D installations. The museum gives us a glimpse of Delhi during the reign of Alauddin Khilji and other rulers before the 17th century when the Red Fort was built through maps.
Accompanying the tourists is a guide throwing light on the history of the fort, which was built over a period of nine years and considered a pinnacle of the Mughal architecture. A projection in the museum shows the map of the fort, including the halls of public and private audience (‘ Diwan-e-Aam’ and ‘ Diwan-e-Khas’), and a virtual projection of Kohinoor diamond which decorated the Peacock Throne of the emperor.
Another key attraction is the depiction of Chatta Bazaar, which was the first of its kind roofed bazaar, and even features an actor dressed as a shopkeeper from the 17th Century. The museum also has replicas of clothes of the Mughal emperors and a menu of their food platter which lists items like yakhni pulao, paneer chutney, hiran ka korma and piste ka halwa.
The walk through the museum ends at the “unity room” where Ashok Chakras demonstrate innumerable sacrifices made by the freedom fighters.
Discussing the renovation, Anand Bharadwaj, CEO of events and heritage, Dalmia Group, said they worked with a team of researchers vetted by the Ministry of Culture. For the sound and light show the consulting historian was Kapil Kumar, head of the history department at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).
“We had a team of historians who had doctorates in history. For the sound and light show the consulting historian was Dr. Kapil Kumar. He was the person we worked very closely with on the script. And we worked with team of historians for the panels,“ he says.
By 7pm, the fort is illuminated and ready for the newly launched light and sound show, Jai Hind. A dramatic presentation of the history of India from the 17th century to 1947, when the country gained Independence, it was inaugurated by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and opened to public in January.
The show, priced between ₹500 and ₹1,500, is a fusion of dance performances, projection mapping and puppets. It is a walkthrough experience staged at three prominent locations at the Red Fort — Naubat Khana (Music Gallery), Diwan-E-Aam (the Hall of Public Audience where Shah Jahan heard grievances of the public) and Diwan-E-Khas (the Hall of private audience where the emperor received guests).
From welcoming emperor Shah Jahan to the fort with drums and trumpets, to portraying the battle of power between the Mughals and the rise of the Marathas, this immersive experience features 60 dancers and actors. The hour-long show is open to visitors six days a week, from Tuesday to Sunday.