Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned construction of the Red Fort on 12 May 1638, when he decided to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi. Originally red and white, the Shah’s favourite colours,[11] its design is credited to architect Ustad Ahmad Lahouri, who also constructed the Taj Mahal.[12][13] The fort lies along the Yamuna River, which fed the moats surrounding most of the walls.[14] Construction began in the sacred month of Muharram, on 13 May 1638.[15]:01 Supervised by Shah Jahan, it was completed on 6 April 1648.[16][17] Unlike other Mughal forts, the Red Fort’s boundary walls are asymmetrical to contain the older Salimgarh Fort.[15]:04 The fortress-palace was a focal point of the medieval city of Shahjahanabad, which is present-day Old Delhi. Its planning and aesthetics represent the zenith of Mughal creativity prevailing during Shah Jahan’s reign.[citation needed] His successor Aurangzeb added the Pearl Mosque to the emperor’s private quarters, constructing barbicans in front of the two main gates to make the entrance to the palace more circuitous.[15]:08

The administrative and fiscal structure of the Mughal dynasty declined after Aurangzeb, and the 18th century saw a degeneration of the palace. When Jahandar Shah took over the Red Fort in 1712, it had been without an emperor for 30 years. Within a year of beginning his rule, Shah was murdered and replaced by Farrukhsiyar. To raise money, the silver ceiling of the Rang Mahal was replaced by copper during this period. Muhammad Shah, known as ‘Rangila’ (the Colourful) for his interest in art, took over the Red Fort in 1719. In 1739, Persian emperor Nadir Shah easily defeated the Mughal army, plundering the Red Fort including the Peacock Throne. Nadir Shah returned to Persia after three months, leaving a destroyed city and a weakened Mughal empire to Muhammad Shah.[15]:09 The internal weakness of the Mughal empire made the Mughals titular heads of Delhi, and a 1752 treaty made the Marathas protectors of the throne at Delhi.[18][19] The 1758 Maratha conquest of Lahore and Peshawar[20] placed them in conflict with Ahmad Shah Durrani.[21][22] In 1760, the Marathas

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