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Red Fort, Jantar to turn white

he interiors of Red Fort and the exterior of Jantar Mantar will soon turn white. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), whose recent research found that these structures were originally white, is planning to paint these buildings with the white lime plaster used on the monuments of the Mughal period.

K.K. Mohammed, the director of ASI, Delhi division, said that the Red Fort was called so because of the colour of its outer walls and that most of the internal structures like Shahi Mahal, Rang Mahal, Naubat Khana, etc., had white plaster. "Our study has found that it was possible that after the fall of Delhi during the 1857 uprising, the British turned the fort into army barrack and barred the masons who used to wash and renew the white lime every two years. And the white plaster slowly peeled off. Later, it was repaired with red sand stone and thus turned red," said Mohammed.

Mohammed said that the ASI study has found that Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who built the Red Fort, has originally named it Qila-e-Mualla or Qila-e-Mubarak (the blessed fort). "But, it only came to be known as the Red Fort. Now, there is a proposal to rename it Red-White Fort," he added. Mohammed added that the makeover of Red Fort interiors will take three months to complete.

ASI officials said that the Jantar Mantar, which is largely known for protest marches and sit-ins, was also originally white when it was built by Maharajah Jai Singh II of Jaipur. "It not known when and who turned this astronomical observatory to red," said an ASI official.

Interestingly, the makeover will be done by the local masons as the production of white lime plaster is done in a desi method.

"This white lime plaster is a shrewd mixture of ground marble, lime, milk fat, pulses and raw sugar. It is then pasted on the stone and rubbed with coconut oil and wood powder for days. This way, it turns rock solid and makes the building resistant to heat and rain," said Karim Bux, a mason.

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