On my recent trip to India I had a free afternoon and decided to tour the Red Fort. Quite a tourist attraction now, the fort originally served as the capital of the Mughals when it was finished in 1648 until 1857. The fort also served as the home of the ruling family and at its peaked housed over 3000 people. Quite an impressive group of structures to roam through I can only imagine the grandeur when everything was clad in marble and bedazzled to the nines.
There was an extensive network of shallow reflecting channels that connected the buildings. They flowed from a central fountain and through many of the buildings. At some points the water poured down walls, through rooms and then dropped down through foundations and out into the gardens again. I was really impressed at the modernity of these channels. The proportions and angles were great and the white marble in the hot sun conjured images of the water around Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion of 1929...I do wonder if ol' Ludwig ever made it to the Red Fort.
There is a beautiful amount of surface work throughout the fort. There are lovely floral reliefs carved into the walls that rise several stories high. I think my favorite reliefs, though, were the very detailed and deeply carved filigree designs with lettering framing the work - it somehow looks very graphic today.
The gardens were all very simple and I'm sure had seen better days. There were a few details that were interesting. Many paths were lined with the same stone lanterns that we've all seen reproduced in garden and import shops everywhere - great to see the originals. Another really nice feature were the paving stones that we cut to create beautifully patterned beds down the center of the wide walkways. Now, barely planted, they added a very nice sculptural element.
The thing that surprised me the most I saw on the way out. The beautiful Red Fort, made of red sandstone, was kept red by... buckets of red paint.