Dilli Darwaza. The Delhi Gate was the principal gateway of the Fort and hence it was designed most monumentally. As Badauni noted, it was completed in A.H. 976 (1568-69). It faced the city to which it was connected through a chowk which was later reconstructed by Shah Jahan when the Jami Masjid was built. Besides the provision of such usual features as high, extra-strong bastions which projected and towered forward, high ramparts and their battlemented parapet with merlons which sheltered the defenders who could safely fire at the besiegers under their cover through loopholes and embrasures and the deep broad moat with draw-bridge over it which could be lifted up and disconnected the Fort from the main land rendering it inaccessible to the invader. The approach was also ingeniously planned to put the defenders in a definitely advantageous position. The Delhi Gate was also called the Hathi Pol (Elephant Gate) because of two stone sculptures of life-size elephants which adorned the entrance on the western side with raised trunks making an impressive arch. The elephants are no longer extant only their pedestals have remained in situ.
Two beautifully designed and ornamented bastions strengthened the hexagonal entrance originally served as the "Naubat Khana" where ceremonial music was played at fixed timings and with regular intervals firstly to denote time and secondly the movements of the Emperor. Naubat (ceremonial music) was part of the medieval life.
The gateway has a four storied elevation on the eastern side in reaching terraces, composed of living rooms, verandahs and pavilions. The bastions are octagonal in plan and double storied and are crowned by a chhatri each. The lower storey has arched and oblong niches; the upper one has arched alcoves with openings and similar niches beautifully alternated along the elevation on each octagonal side. White marble has been judiciously used with red sandstone in the scheme of surface decoration. In fact, the whole building has been most profusely ornamented and Akbar spared no money or effort to give it a regal impression. All possible techniques of decoration were adopted and, as it seems, and not able artisans were employed on this project. Thus, it has inlay and mosaic, stone carving cheifly in geometrical, floral and stylised designs, and stalactite, painted and of course, covering with glazed-tiles. Carving in bold relief has been done in oblong panels around the arches on the western facade, and in brackets, lintels and friezes on the eastern brackets, particularly those with elephant-heads with raised trunk, based on indiginous prototypes. Beautifully designed jalis have been used on the balustrades of the balconies. The oblong panels of carving around the arches were provided on western facade and in brackets and lintel and friezes on the eastern brackets particularly those with elephant heads with raised trunks. The interior has been decorated in lime stucco on arched niches, soffits in archaic design, geometrical and stalactite. Besides external surfaces have also been treated with stucco and paintings. The glazed tile decoration is limited to frieze where it is strikingly produced in deep red, green and yellow colours. The soffits and arch balcony of the topmost chhatries were also decorated with glazed tiles. Though much of it has been defaced whatever remains testify to the original glory.
A Persian inscription in the guard room of this gate records Akbar's departure in 1599 and arrival in 1601. The epigraph was executed by Muhammad Masum Nami, a nobleman of Akbar. Jalalu'd-Din Muhammad Akbar Padshah set out in 1008 A.H. (1599 AD) and returned to Agra in 1010 A.H. (1601 AD).
The bastions have a fine combination of tile ornamentation and stone carvings, whose composition as a whole is extremely impressive, befitting an entrance gateway. The upper storey halls have now been renovated and modernised earlier housing the Naubat Khana.
The chronogram, giving its date of construction was composed by the famous court poet Faizi as Bina-i-Dara-i-Bihisht (i.e. the building of the Gate of Paradise) in 1567 AD.