Red Fort (Lal Qila) is one of the most important monuments in the history of India. Today, it is the prominent landmarks of the capital city, Delhi. This red stone monument was built as a residence for the Mughal emperor Shahjahan on this date, i.e., on May 13, 1648. Ustad Hamid and Ustad Hira were the principal masons.
When in 1638, Shahjahan shifted his working capital from Agra to Delhi, he founded the seventh city called as Shahjahanabad. Today, it is known as old Delhi or Dilli-6. The entire city was encircled with stone walls, bastions and gates. Of its 14 gates, Moti, Lahori, Kashmiri, Turkman, Ajmeri and Dilli gates are the most famous ones. Shahjahan’s dream citadel, Lal-Qila, or the Red Fort, is lying at the town’s northern end on the right bank of the Yamuna river.
While the main gates and a number of other structures of the fort are built with red stone, white marble can be spotted in prominence within the premises. Maybe it was Shahjahan’s love for white marble. Emperor Shah Jahan’s royal seat stood in Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience), made of solid gold frame and studded with precious stones such as rubies, emeralds, pearls and diamonds including the world’s largest, the Kohinoor.
Satiate your hunger for information with some equally important events that happened on May 13 in past years:
• 535 – St Agapitus I begins his reign as Catholic Pope.
• 1644 – Construction of Jama Masjid at Delhi was started.
• 1717 – Maria Theresa was born in Vienna. She later became Archduchess of Austria, a Queen of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, and a Holy Roman Empress.
• 1880 – Thomas Edison tests his electric railway for the first time.
• 1913 – 1st four-engined aircraft built and flown (Igor Sikorsky, Russia).
• 1940 – Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands safely arrived in England as a refuge from the invading Nazi Germany.
• 1943 – During WWII in North Africa, over 250,000 Germans and Italians surrendered and British victory was declared which further re-opened Allied shipping lanes in the Mediterranean.
• 1952 – The Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India, holds its first sitting.
• 1958 – Jordan and Iraq form Arab Federation.
• 1991 – Apple releases Macintosh System 7.0.
• 1998 – India carries out two nuclear tests at Pokhran, in addition to the three conducted on May 11.
• 2014 – Christopher Columbus’s flagship, the Santa María, is discovered off the northern coast of Haiti.
Birthday wishes for May 13
Alphonse Daudet, French novelist and poet (1897); Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, spiritual leader (1956); Robert Pattinson, actor (1986); Yaya Toure, soccer player (1983)
Text by Supriya Aggarwal