February 2nd, 2013| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


Most ancient forts in India have a Diwan-i-Khas, the Hall of Private Audiences, the place where the ruler conducted meetings with royal courtiers and state guests.

So also in the Red Fort (Lal Qil’ah) in Delhi, one of the most fascinating of all such edifices in the country. “Red,” because of the extensive use of red sandstone for the massive walls that surround it. The fort dates back to the 17th century and was built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan—yup! the same guy who constructed the Taj Mahal. It served as his residence. And it continued to serve as the palace of the Mughals till the mid-nineteenth century.

The Diwan-i-Khas of the Red Fort comprises a rectangular chamber that has engraved, arched openings all around, supported on piers. All gilded and inlaid with floral designs, as in the Taj. Pillared umbrella-like structures (chhatris) occupy the corners of the roof. The arches bear an inscription from the 13th century Sufi poet, Amir Khusrow:

Agar Firdaus Bar Rooe Zaminast
Haminasto Haminasto Haminast
“If there be a paradise on the earth,
it is this, it is this, it is this.”

Apparently at the center of the hall was the famed Peacock Throne on a marble pedestal. A French jeweler, Tavernier, who saw it in 1665, described its opulence, covered in rubies, emeralds, diamonds (including the Koh-i-Noor), and pearls, not to mention ample gold.

An ancient prophet described God, in his glory. sitting on his throne in a temple, surrounded by angels.

… I saw the Lord sitting on a throne,
lofty and exalted,
with the train of His robe filling the temple.
Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings.
Isaiah 6:1–2

And God, too, is holding court there.

God takes His stand in His own congregation;
He judges in the midst of the rulers.
Psalm 82:1

Magnificent and awesome, more so than any earthly ruler can be or even conceive.

The heavens will praise Your wonders, O LORD;
Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies is comparable to the LORD?
Who among the sons of the mighty is like the LORD,
A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones,
And awesome above all those who are around Him?
Psalm 89:5–7

No commoner was afforded this access to the emperor in the Diwan-i-Khas. But the Red Fort saw a lot of action—aggressors aplenty, intruders wreaking havoc.

The Persian ruler Nadir Shah invaded the Mughals in 1739, taking the Peacock Throne back to Iran, from where it disappeared from the annals of history. (One of the marble pedestals for the throne is now located in the Metropolitan Museum of New York.)

Another aggressor blinded the then king, Shah Alam II, in 1788, and dug up the floors searching for buried treasure.

And here, in 1858, the British tried the last Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah II, for murder, ending the age of the Mughals.

But to God Almighty, Creator of the universe, his children have free access.

But now in Christ Jesus
you who formerly were far off
have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
… for through Him we have our access
in one Spirit to the Father.
Ephesians 2:13, 18

Free access, for all who believe in Christ and his saving work on the cross.

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence
to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
… let us draw near ….
Hebrews 10:19, 22

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