Purana Qila

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Purana Qila

India's sixth capital was the scene of a fierce power struggle between the Afghan Sher Shah and Humayun, son of the first Mughal emperor, Babur, in the 16th century. When Humayun started to build his own capital, Dinpanah, on these grounds in the 1530s, Sher Shah forced the emperor to flee for his life to Persia. Sher Shah destroyed what existed of Dinpanah to create his own capital, Shergarh. Fifteen years later, in 1555, Humayun returned and seized control, but he died the following year, leaving Sher Shah's city for others to destroy.

Unfortunately, once you enter the massive Bara Darwaza (Main Gate), only two buildings are intact. The Qila-i-Kuhna Masjid, Sher Shah's private mosque, is an excellent example of Indo-Afghan architecture in red sandstone with decorative marble touches—walk around to the "back" to see the beautiful front of the building. The nearby Sher Mandal, a two-story octagonal tower of red sandstone and white marble, became Humayun's library and ultimately his death trap: hearing the call to prayer, Humayun started down the steep steps, slipped, and fell to his death. On pleasant afternoons, seemingly every bush on these grounds hides a pair of young lovers in search of a little privacy.

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