A new book revives works of a mapmaker who depicted in 1846 how Shahjahanabad had evolved
The citadel, referred to as Qila on the map, stands out prominently with its red enclosing walls clearly depicted. This is what we know today as Red Fort, though its formal name was Qila-e-Moalla, “the exalted fortress”. This was in a way the focal point of the new city of Shahjahanabad. Construction had first begun here with the laying of the foundation stones on May 12, 1639, and no other project in the city was undertaken, neither the city wall, nor the Jama Masjid, until this palace complex had been inaugurated, on April 18, 1648.
The Qila was not really a fortification, but rather a palace complex, where the emperor, his extended family and household lived. This was also the administrative hub of the empire, though the hub moved with the emperor when he travelled out, which in the time of Shahjahan and his successor Aurangzeb, he frequently did, to keep control over his vast empire.
At the time this map was made, the position of the emperor was very different. The incumbent on the throne was Bahadur Shah “Zafar”, the poet king, who lamented the fall of his dynasty, and his status as a pensioner of the East India Company, an emperor…