As one enters through Amar Singh Gate and comes out of it, one can notice this building on the right side at the end of a spacious lawn. Akbar built it for his favorite son Jahangir. It’s the only building which survives among all his original buildings. It was built of stone and is decorated on the outer walls. Its ornamental stone brackets are the most important features of this edifice. There is a large stone bowl in front that they might have probably used for containing fragrant rose water. Ornamental Persian verses have been carved along the external rim. These verses say that it was constructed in 1611 A.D.
Palace of Jodha Bai:
Jodha Bai was the favorite queen of Akbar. She was the daughter of Rajput King, Raja Bharmal of Amer or Amber Empire. Akbar built this palace to the right of Jahangir Mahal. Jodha Bai’s palace is rather very simple compared to other palaces. One can see Taj Mahal through the slits in the wall of Jodha Bai’s palace. This has the distinctive architectural features of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Shah Jahan built Garden of Grapes or Anguri Bagh in 1637. It was the principal square of Zenana apartments or living area of royal ladies with red sandstones on three sides and Khaas Mahal on the east. This garden has a marble paved platform and has a fountain in the center. It was divided into compartments in intricate geometrical pattern. As the name suggests, this garden was popular for harvesting superior quality grapes and flowers. It was designed like a paradise or pleasant retreat for royal ladies. Imperial bathhouses or hammams are adorned with beautiful wall paintings in gold and royal blue were located to northeast. Water supply to the ponds and baths came from the tanks adjacent to the Jahangir Mahal.
Khaas Mahal is located in between the Golden Pavilions. It was built completely with marble. This Mahal shows distinctive Islamic-Persian features. Khaas Mahal was built with an impressive Hindu features like chhatries (meaning kiosks). This palace is a sleeping room or Aramgah of the emperor.
The chala roofs of Golden Pavilions are in the curved shape and are based on the roof shape of Bengali village huts made of curved bamboos. These are constructed to keep off heavy rains. Initially, Bengal sultans constructed them in stone. Originally, these were the bedrooms for ladies to hide their jewelry in the walls. These were associated with Shah Jahan’s daughters, Jahanara Begum and Roshara Begum.
Shah Jahan built Musamman Burj on the left side of Khaas Mahal. This is a beautiful octagonal tower. It is an open pavilion. It could have been the sleeping room of Emperor because of its openness and with the cool breezes of river Yamuna blowing in. It is said that Shah Jahan was imprisoned along with his favorite daughter Jahanara Begum in this palace by his son Aurangazeb. Shah Jahan lay on his death bed staring at Taj Mahal from this palace.
Sheesh Mahal is also called Glass Palace. This is just below the Diwan-E-khas and opposite to Mussaman Burj. It is said that it could have been the harem dressing room. The walls of this palace are inlaid with many small mirrors. It is the best example of glass mosaic decoration in India.
It was the hall of private audience which was built by Shah Jahan in 1635. It is divided into 2 rooms and the interior hall is called Tambi Khana. It had a flat wooden ceiling covered with silver and gold leaves in roof for imitating the sunrays. It is open on 3 sides and one can enter through 5 arched openings supported on double columns. It had no chhatris on the parapet like any other monuments during Shah Jahan’s time. The Persian inscriptions in the interior hall were laid in black stone and dated 1636-37. The room can be compared to the heaven and emperor to the sun. The chambers were decorated with an extremely refined inlay work in floral designs on borders of dados and elegant carvings in the middle of the roof. This work was done judiciously on the selected places carefully to present the work in the best way.
Hamam-i-Shahi is also known as Shah Burj. Diwan-i-Khaas is right to this building. Foreign tourists who visited Red fort during Jahangir’s and Shah Jahan’s reign described them as Ghusal Khana (meaning bathrooms). It wasn’t a Turkish bathroom, but was mistaken them to be restrooms. These were air conditioned rooms which were attached to the residential quarters. This was used like a summer retreat. Highly confidential business deals were done in this quarter.
Macchi Bhawan or Fish Enclosure is opposite to the Diwan-E-Khaas. It is believed that this was used for rearing golden fishes for the emperor. It was strewn with marble fountains and tanks. However, Badshahnama refers this as the treasury for imperial jewels and ornaments. This is a two-storied building. It is said to be the place where Golden Throne of emperor placed to allow him to have the entire view of the court. Jat Raja Surajmal took away the marble fountains and pools to his palace at Deeg.
Diwan-e-Am was the result of earliest manifestation of Shah Jahan’s love towards marble. The emperor addressed the general public from Diwan-e-Am or hall of general public. It was built between 1631- 40. It is near Macchi Bhawan. This is a very huge hall measuring 201 feet by 67 feet. It has flat roof and two arched red sandstone gateways to north and south. There are 9 bold arches to the facade. The hall was partitioned into three aisles. This building resembles a white marble even though it was built with red sandstone as it was plastered with white shell plaster.
The Gem Mosque or Nagina masjid is made up of pure white marble. This was built during 1631–40 in the north-west corner of the Macchi Bhawan and was meant for emperor’s personal use. It is enclosed by walls on north, south and east and a prayer chamber on the west. It has 3 domes on the top and is made of marble. The bangladar feature of this mosque is the unique feature. These three domes are crowned by inverted lotus and finials. The central dome is larger compared to other two domes.
The Pearl Mosque or Moti Masjid was built by Shah Jahan during 1648-54. Because of its pearly white marble interiors, it is called so. The exteriors of Masjid are made of brick. The most impressive structures of Moti Masjid are sundial made up of an octagonal marble pillar and marble tank in the center. This is the prettiest structure of Lal Qila. Now it is closed for visitors.
Mina Masjid was built by Shah Jahan during 1631-40 close to the Diwan-i-Khaas. This Masjid was used by the royal ladies and the emperor. Hence it was constructed near to the imperial women palaces. It is said that Shah Jahan used this in his last days when Aurangzeb imprisoned him in Musamman Burj.
Jahangir Mahal has many other apartments accompanying in its superstructure like chaukhandis or rectangular pavilions and Mayura Mandapa or Peacock hall. This Mandapa was built with red sandstone and has an open central courtyard. The peacock shaped brackets support the chajjas, hence the name. Sometimes, the white marble is mistaken to be ivory. It is said that the chambers were gilded originally with a thick layer of pure gold which was scrapped off by the plunderers later.
Amar Singh Gate:
The Amar Singh Gateway or the southern gateway was originally called Akbar Darwaza. It was reserved for Akbar and for his personal entourage. Shah Jahan renamed it after the brave man Amar Singh of Jodhpur. According to an interesting anecdote, Amar Singh slew Salabat Khan, Chief Treasurer of Shah Jahan in front of the emperor. Later he jumped over the high walls of fort along with his horse. Due to the fatal jump, Amar Singh’s horse died and he was caught and sentenced to death. The emperor was impressed with his courage and renamed the gate as Amar Singh Gate in his honor. The red sandstone statue of his horse was built at the very spot where he died.
Akbari Mahal is set between the Bengali Burj and Jahangir Mahal. Once it was a big palace complex and was used for residential purpose. It was built during 1565-69 and had a large stone paved courtyard enclosed by chambers and suites on all sides. This is a testimony to the presence of huge imperial courts surrounded by a series of spacious chambers.
Bengali Burj is situated to the south-east corner of the Akbari Mahal. It has a spacious square hall along with arched aisles. There is a well called Akbari Baoli near the Burj. It has five rows of rooms around it and steps leading to water. This was built with red sandstone.