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Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience)

The Diwan-i-Am, or the Hall of Public Audience is situated at the center of the Red Fort of Delhi. Built of red sandstone plastered to resemble white marble, it was constructed by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan between 1631-40 A.D. 60 carved pillars support the flat roof of this huge assembly hall, which measures 201 feet in length and 67 feet in width. Two arched gateways situated in the north and south ends provide entrance to the hall which itself has a facade with nine openings under engraved arches. Inside, the assembly is divided into three aisles. At the back of the hall is the raised chamber under its marble canopy, where the Emperor sat on his throne. This chamber, the ’jharokha’, had a triple arched opening and was sculpted from marble inlaid with precious stones. It was also known as the ‘Takht-i-Murassa’, or the Throne Room. It was here that the famous Peacock Throne was placed before it was stolen by Nadir Shah in 1739. Beside the throne was a marble dais also studded with precious stones, which was occupied by the Emperor’s vizier who attended to the complaints and petitions. The back wall of the canopy is covered by beautiful panels which are inlaid with colored stones shaped like birds, flowers and patterns. It is believed to be the work of Italian jeweler Austin de Bordeaux.

The Diwan-i-Am was built by Shah Jahan as a way for him to interact with his subjects. It is here that they would gather to meet the Emperor and make requests, petitions and complaints. The Emperor would listen to these and discuss them with his vizier and try to come up with a solution.

The Diwan-i-Am can be found in the Red Fort in Old Delhi.

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