Mughal Shahi Lal Dera Tent

Restoring the Lal Dera tent, Mughal period. Restoring the Lal Dera tent, Mughal period. Copyright BBC, 14th May 2017.

The Lal Dera ('Red Tent') or the Shahi Lal Dera ('Royal Red Tent) is housed at the fort of Mehrangarh, in Rajasthan, India. It is believed to have been used by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666), who is known for commissioning the construction of the Taj Mahal mausoleum at Agra, or by his successor, Aurangzeb (r. 1658-1707). The origin of the tent, however, is still disputed, and it may have been produced locally.

The Lal Dera is made of red silk velvet, brocade and gold. It is the only complete Mughal period tent still extant. The red colour and crenellated top reflect its high, imperial status. When put up, it rises to a height of some four metres. It was being cleaned and conserved in 2017 (see BBC report, 14th May 2017). The tent includes lobed archways and a colonnated inner chamber, where the Mughal emperor or prince would have been siting on his throne (the gaddi), made out of beautiful bolsters. The inside of the tent is decorated with panels made of cloth and embroidered with yellow flowers on silk. The tent was exhibited at the Festival of India, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 1985-1986.


  • GOSWAMY, B.N. (2012). 'Palaces on the Move,' (The Tribune, 21th October 2012).
  • CHOWDHURY, Zirwat (2015).  'An Imperial Mughal Tent and Mobile Sovereignty in Eighteenth-Century Jodhpur,' Art History, September 2015, pp. 668-681 (download here). 





Last modified on Wednesday, 31 May 2017 15:33