Four years after the Dalmia Bharat Group bagged the maintenance contract for the historic Red Fort in Delhi, becoming one of the first corporate partners in the government’s ‘adopt a monument’ scheme, it unveiled an interactive visitor centre showcasing the heritage of the Mughal-era fort in an immersive way.
The air-conditioned centre housed in a 19th century British barrack that has been given a beautiful makeover takes you on a journey of Delhi through the ages, and has augmented reality experiences, an actor enacting a bazaar scene from Emperor Shahjahan’s time, animated renditions of the courtly proceedings projected on the walls, and several fun activities.
For instance, a visitor can build the wall of the Red Fort using magnetic tiles. Another charming interactive wall has wooden blocks with a year inscribed on it. Slide it open and you get to see fun trivia about of what was happening in the world even as the Mughals were ruling India.
Stuff like how in 1636, when Shahjahanabad was not yet built, Harvard University was being set up in the US. In an AR photography room, visitors can get themselves clicked against a backdrop of their choice — ranging from the Rang Mahal, the peacock throne or the ramparts of the Fort
Not only do you get a glimpse of the magnificent artwork of the Mughal era, and costumes of the time, but you also get a sense of India’s history with the Red Fort as the fulcrum. The plunder of the Fort, its occupation by the British, and the Independence movement are all vividly depicted.
Near the exit is a Unity room with an interactive musical wall playing Vande Mataram and a spectacular mirrored room with millions of Ashok Chakras twinkling at you — called the Harmony installation.
Chhata bazaar’s actor
A 70-cover restaurant and a souvenir shop, the former run by Cafe Delhi Heights and the latter by Luv India Concepts, are part of the visitor centre, which is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, with an entry fee of ₹100.
The centre has been put together by a Noida-based architectural and design firm, Design Factory, which is also involved in the Mughal Museum at Agra.
The Dalmias, who signed a five-year deal to become the ‘Monument Mitra’ of the Red Fort in 2018, also said they will be reviving the Sound and Light Show later this year. A fair bit of sprucing up seems to have been done, with clean public conveniences, drinking water, spruced-up paths, and signages in evidence.
Asked if the contract which will end next summer will be renewed, a spokesperson said they are hopeful since two years were lost due to Covid-19.