Red Fort in Delhi

Red fort is one of the largest monument and popular tourist destination of Old Delhi. It is one of the spectacular masterpiece of Mughal architecture was started by the emperor Shah jahan during his reign in 1638, when he transferred his capital from Agra to Delhi and completed in 1648. Lal Quilla is located at the town’s northern end on the right bank of the Yamuna and south of Salimgarh. Due to its architectural brilliance, Red fort has been notified as a monument of national importance in the year 1913. Again in the year 2007, Lal Quilla has been declared as a World Heritage site by the UNESCO.

Even today, the Fort remains an impressive testimony to India’s grandeur and power. This fort serves as the main venue for Prime Minster of India’s address to the nation on 15th August celebrated as Independence day.

Architectural significance:

Red fort is an perfect example of high level of art form and ornamental work of the Mughal dynasty.

The art work in the Red fort belongs to the Shahjahani style, which is a blend of Persian, European and Indian art work. This kind of style is rich in form, color and expression. The fort is surrounded by strong stone walls extending up to 2kms in length with the height varying from 18 mts. on the river side to 33 mts. on the city side. At regular intervals the fort wall has bastions, gates and wickets. There are all total 14 gates among which, the important ones are the Mori, Lahori, Ajmeri, Turkman, Kashmiri and Delhi gates, some of which have already been demolished. The walls, gates and few other structures of the fort are built of red sand stone whereas the palaces within the fort are made up of marble. The entrance to this splendid fort is from the Lahori Gate which got its name because its direction towards Lahore in Pakistan.

Things to See:

This beautiful edifice has endless array of spectacular palaces which will at once behold your eyes. The center of the fort is known as the Naubat Khana or the Drum House. It was built in front of the Chhata Chowk. In the erstwhile era, the musicians of the court used to play music for the emperors and the announcement of arrival of the royalties has been done from here. The fort has some other beautiful palaces, halls, elaborately designed gardens and a mosque.

Diwan-i-am or the hall of public audiences served as a place to listen complaints of the common people. In contrast to it Diwan-i-khas was the hall of private audiences where the emperor meets with the private audiences. This hall is made up of marble and the centre of attraction of this hall was the Peacock throne studded with rubies and gems.

Another spectacular attraction of Red Fort is the Zenanas or the women’s quarter. It is comprised of the Rang mahal and the Mumtaz mahal. Rang mahal or the palace of colors, which was the home to the royal ladies. The main attraction of this building is the lotus shaped fountain which is made out of a single piece of marble. It was decorated with excellent paintings, gold bordered projections and mosaics of mirrors. The ceiling was made with gold and silver which wonderfully reflected in a central pool in the marble floor. The other attractions enclosed within this monument are the hammams or the Royal Baths, the Shahi Burj which used to be Shahjahan’s private working area, and the Mumtaz mahal has now been transformed into a museum.

The Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque, built by Aurangzeb in 1659 for his personal use. It is located to the west of the hammam and is a three domed mosque carved in white marble.

Nahr-i-behisht or the stream of paradise are the continuous source of which runs through the center of each pavilion of the imperial private apartments which lie behind the throne. The Shah Burj, a tower situated at the northeastern corner of the fort helps to draw water from the Yamuna river for this stream.

Khas Mahal has the imperial chambers. It is the third pavilion from the south and contains a suite of bedrooms, prayer rooms, a veranda and a tower named Mussaman Burj built against the fortress walls.

Last but not the least, a large formal garden known as the Hayat Bakhsh Bagh or the “Life-Bestowing Garden” lies to the north of the mosque. Some later modification and reconstruction were made to enhance the beauty of the garden.

Pruning and Planting on Tap for Gardeners in November

Cooler November weather in Southern California makes it the ideal time to plant over a dozen varieties vegetables while also pruning trees for a healthier, fuller look in spring.

Plant A Cool Weather Garden: A fall vegetable garden can be just as rewarding as a summer garden. Vegetable seeds to plant in November include beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, collards, endive, favas, Kale, lettuce, mustard, parsley, parsnip, peas, radish, rutabaga, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips. Onion varieties that do well in cool weather are Grano, Granex, Imperial Sweet and Crystal Wax. The onion stalk with grow in winter with the bulb growing when the weather warms.

Strawberries in Winter: Check with your local nursery for available strawberry plants. Make sure the plants get plenty of sun and are located in well-draining soil, ideally in raised beds. Place them about one foot apart. Lay mulch around the plants to prevent weeds from sprouting after winter rains.

Break Up Perennials: Now is the time to divide and plant perennials so their offshoots will have time to establish themselves for spring flowers. Perennials can look unkempt with dead areas in the middle if they are not divided. They also produce fewer flowers when left to grow wild. Dig up the roots and divide them. Perennials are hardy plants and can withstand the trauma. Chrysanthemums can also be broken up and divided once they stop flowering and are trimmed back. They will flower again in March.

Prune Trees: Start pruning a tree by first removing dead or damaged branches. Remove smaller branches that are overlapping larger branches. Also remove stems that grow straight up from the trunk or large branches. Cut lower stems that grow from the base of the tree and any stems that appear to be growing next to the tree. When cutting healthy stems or branches, save branches that are growing the straightest and highest up the trunk Make pruning cuts as close to the trunk as possible. This helps the tree close the exposed area and reduces the chance of disease or attracting bugs. Never leave a portion of the cut stem or branch on the tree.

Plant Spring-Flowering Bulbs: Plant spring-flowering bulbs that don’t require chilling throughout November. These bulbs include daffodils, grape hyacinth, Dutch Iris, ornamental onions, Spanish bluebells, ranuculus, gladiolus and freesias. Plant bulbs with the pointy end down in soil three times the depth of the bulb. Water right after planting. If we have a dry winter, water as needed.

Plant Native Plants and Wildflowers: November is the time to plant native plants and wildflowers. Although drought resistant, they will need water to help get started. Wildflowers include California poppies, larkspur, linaeria and gypsophila. California native plants that do well are Mariposa lily, California Morning Glory, White Bark California Lilac, California Juniper, California Evening Primrose, Purple Sage and California Holly.

Preserving the Heritage of an Imperial City – Hue

Hue, the imperial capital of Vietnam until 1945, when the last emperor, Bao Dai abdicated, is a city steeped in traditionalism, culture and art. Hue and its surroundings feature impressive monuments, ornate temples and pagodas and foremost, the imperial palace.

Renowned for its heritage, Hue’s residents are known throughout Vietnam for upholding local customs, traditional dress and the local cuisine, undoubtedly some of the best in Vietnam, as special delicacies were created here for emperors. Divided by the Perfume River, with the imperial city to the north and the newer center to the south, Hue remains relatively small. Getting around is easy by bike, cyclo or motorbike, though motorized vehicles are forbidden inside the imperial city.

The imperial city, built in the 19th century by the Nguyen Dynasty emperor Gia Long and commonly known as the “Citadel” is a remarkable place. Built in 3 circles of ramparts, the Citadel encompasses 3 “courts, covering a total area of 6 km, with open courtyards, beautiful gardens and private apartments. A 10 km. moat and thick stone walls created the citadel’s outer perimeter. The second circle enclosed the imperial city, the country’s administrative center, which was built along the same lines as Beijing’s Forbidden City. At the heart of the imperial city, a smaller moat and thick walls bounded the third circle of the Forbidden Purple City. A sole entry gate led to the Forbidden City where various palaces and the emperor’s private apartments lay, and where only members of the royal family were allowed.

Near the citadel, royal tombs dot the banks along the Perfume River and include the burial places of Nguyen Dynasty rulers Minh Mang, Khai Dinh and Tu Doc. Built in traditional Vietnamese fashion designed to comply with a certain directional orientation, straight lines and supernatural forces, these tombs are walled compounds each containing temples, palaces and lakes. A boat ride up the Perfume River is a “must-do” not only to view some of these spectacular sights, but also to enjoy the sculptured beauty surrounding Hue. Made all the more magical for its sites, the countryside around Hue is stunning.

Among its architectural wonders, a multitude of Pagodas dot Hue’s landscape, among them the Tu Dam Pagoda, the Tu Hieu Pagoda and the Dieu Du Pagoda, each with its own unique history and architectural features. The symbol of Hue and its best known pagoda is the Thien Mu Pagoda, a seven story structure started originally at the beginning of the 19th century and built upon thereon by subsequent rulers.

Steeped in the culture and traditions of Vietnam, imperial Hue offers not only a glimpse into Vietnam’s history and heritage, but a step into the adventure and romance of travel through its awesome surroundings.