The Purana Quila or the old fort was built by Humayun and Sher Shah. The old fort or the Purana Quila is spread over an area of about a mile.

Purana Quila


Fast Facts

Location: New Delhi, Mathura Road

Built In: 1538

Built By: Pandavas

Dynasty: Mughal

Other names: Shergarh

Situated on the banks of Yamuna River, the Purana Ouila is the inner citadel of city of Dina-panah, meaning the ‘refuge of the faithful’ and once was the capital city of the Emporer Humayun. The fort is situated on the ancient site of Indrparstha, founded by the Pandavas as described in the epic, Mahabharata. Unlike his rivals, Humayun did not name the fort after himself. The Purana Quila stands majestically amidst greenery in the heart of the city. Just after the fort was renovated Sher shah Suri of the Sur dynasty defeated Humayun and took over the fort. During his reign till 1545, he constructed a beautiful mosque and a personal library inside the fort complex. He also renamed his fort as Shergarh or Dilli Sher Shahi. Read on to discover many other interesting facts about related to the history and architectural layout of the fort.

Purana Quila Delhi India

History Of The Fort

Said to be built by the Pandavas, the renovation of the fort started in 1533 and was completed 5 years later, in 1538. The founder of Sur dynasty Sher shah Suri captured the fort after he defeated Humayun in 1539. During his reign he added various buildings to the fort-complex like the Qila-i-Kuhna Mosque and Sher Mandal. He died in 1545 and Humayun who was in Kabul came back to re-capture the city of Delhi in 1555. But, unlike his predecessor he did not attempt to ruin or rename the fort. He also completed many of Suri’s incomplete projects.

Architecture/ Layout Of The Fort

The architectural wonder of Purana Quila was renovated by deft Mughal artists and has an 18 meter high wall that runs around the fort spreading across 2 km. There are three gateways in the fort complex Bara Darwaza, the Humayun Darwaza and the Talaqi Darwaza. The fort is surrounded by a moat, which was fed by River Yamuna. The double-storied gates of the Purana Quila are quite massive and were built with red sandstone. The walls of the old fort are said to be built by Humayun while, the buildings inside the old fort are attributed to Sher Shar, the Sur ruler. The Fort has a mixture of Indo-Islamic architectural features combined with Hindu chhatris and brackets. The Qila-i-Kuna Mosque has typical pre-Mughal design with a single dome. There is prayer hall inside the mosque like any other Jami Mosque. The Sher Mandal is double storied octagonal tower which was used as a personal observatory and library by Humayun. Supported by 8 white decorative marble pillars, the Sher Mandal is also the spot where Humayun succumbed to death in 1556.

Events Associated With The Fort

Even though, the fort passed on from Humayun to Sher Shah Suri and then to Hindu king “Hem Chandra Vikramaditya” or “Hemu” there were no battles fought at the fort. Hemu won the battle of Delhi against Akbar and on 7th October 1556, his ‘Rajyabhishake’ or Coronation was held here in which he was given the title of ‘Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya’. But, he was later killed in the Second battle of Panipat in November 1556 and his body was hung outside the fort.

Current Scenario

The modern complex of Purana Quila now comprises the Delhi Zoo, Delhi’s largest zoological park, and a boat club. There is also a small Archaeological Museum that holds the findings from the excavations done by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). There are Painted Grey Ware pottery and coins, from the Gupta period. There are continuous restoration works going on in the fort in an attempt to save the this majestic monument.

Best Time to Visit

The Fort is open daily from morning 8:00 am to 6:30 pm. A very minimal Admission charge of Rs 5 for Indians and Rs. 100 for foreigners is charged. Even though, the fort is open all throughout the year but, it is best to visit during the springs when the lake is filled with water and the garden around the lake is blooming with trees and flowers.

How To Reach

  • By Road: Sarai Kale Khan is the nearest ‘Interstate Bus Terminal’ from where buses for the neighboring states are available.
  • Nearest Railway Station: Nizammudin railway station almost runs parallel to the fort which is connected to may important cities in northern India.
  • Nearest Airport: Palam Airport or Indira Gandhi International Airport situated in west Delhi is one of the largest and busiest airports in the country where you can board flights to all the major cities in India.

Around The Fort

Delhi is filled with ancient monuments which attract hordes of tourist every year. From India Gate to Humayun Tomb to Rashtrapati Bhavan, Delhi harbors many architectural landmarks. Other important places here are Jantar Mantar, Akshardham Temple, Lotus Temple and Rajghat.

 The Purana Quila is one of the most visited places in Delhi. If you are planning to visit this great architectural landmark, read the article above and get all the necessary information.