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Lotus TempleDelhi, the capital of India has a fascinating history and a stimulating present. The old city, built by Shah Jahan in the 17th century, stands today as an epitome of the whole history of Indo-Islamic architecture. New Delhi, designed and constructed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker is a mixture of East & West. One of the most important Indian travel and commercial hubs, Delhi finds its roots in the great epic of Mahabharata as Indraprastha, the capital of the Pandavas. The sprawling markets, the rich culture, the matchless enthusiasm that charges the city with an eclectic mixture of the old and the new, makes it one of the most popular cities amongst tourist destinations.

Delhi is no fairytale city but a city where dreams come to reality. Its strategic location was one of the prime reasons why successive dynasties chose it as their seat of power. Delhi is truly a symbol of the old and the new; a blend of ancient well preserved monuments and temples along with jam-packed burger joints and up market shopping malls. The city is lushed with a plethora of temples, forts, mosques as well as parks, gardens and beautiful colonial mansions. Delhi may seem daunting to a first time visitor but as a national capital and the gateway to the North, it is a must visit city on any traveler’s itinerary. Impressive museums and interesting nightlife, Delhi has a lot to offer for everyone. So varied are the shades of Delhi's different faces, it is difficult to grasp it in a short span of time. The city consists mainly of two parts; Old Delhi and New Delhi. In Old Delhi, visitors find a charming selection of colourful bazaars and narrow winding alleys. In comparison, New Delhi – the city created to reflect the might of the British Empire – consists of tree-lined avenues, spacious parks and sombre-looking government buildings.

Delhi is also the center of most important cultural festivals, where performers from the classical arts to modern pop stars, artists, sculptors, dramatists, film-makers, all come to present their works. Charting phenomenal growth over five decades after India's independence in 1947, Delhi has now become a heterogeneous mixture of all religious groups, linguistic communities, social segments and economic brackets.

There is a famous saying that goes, “one who knows Delhi is a loser and one who doesn’t know Delhi is also a loser”. Which is very true because, a person who has known Delhi finds it very difficult to adjust and accept any other place while a person who has not known Delhi at all is simply missing out all the fun that Delhi has to offer. Delhi is a small mirror that reflects India. Over the millennia, the capital of the world’s largest democracy has wooed rulers who just could not resist its charm. The best way to know about the glorious heritage of Delhi is to know its monuments, to travel through time back into centuries of history filled with the rise and fall of dynasties that ruled the land.

Jama MasjidJama Masjid: The largest mosque in India, Jama Masjid stands across the road from the Red Fort. Built in 1656, it is an eloquent reminder of the Mughal religious fervour. Its spacious courtyard can hold thousands of the faithful who offer prayers.

Humayun's Tomb: Humayun's Tomb was built nine years after Humayun's death by his wife Haji Begum. Designed by a Persian architect named Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, and completed in 1565, the edifice was a trendsetter of the time. It is said that all later Mughal monuments, including the Taj Mahal, had followed its design.

Qutub Minar: The Qutab Minar is located in Mehrauli village in South Delhi. It was built by Qutub-ud-din Aibek of the Slave Dynasty, who took possession of Delhi in 1206. It is a red sandstone tower, standing tall at a height of 72.5 metres and is covered with intricate carvings and verses from the holy Quran. Qutub-ud-din Aibak began constructing this victory tower as a sign of Muslim domination of Delhi and as a minaret for the Muslim priest, the muezzin, to call the faithful to prayer. However, only the first storey was completed by Qutb-ud-din. The other storeys were built by his successor Iltutmish. The two circular storeys in white marble were built by Ferozshah Tughlaq in 1368, replacing the original fourth storey. The bands of calligraphic inscriptions are amazing in perfection with the exquisite stalactite designs seen on the exterior of this tower.

Red Fort: It is Delhi's most magnificent monument, which was built by Emperor Shah Jahan, in 1638 A.D. Enclosed in this glorious Fort is Diwan-i-am, the hall meant for public audiences; Diwan-i-Khas, where private audiences were granted; Rang Mahal, the water cooled apartment of the royal ladies; the Pearl Mosque, a lovely, ornate dream in white marble. The Prime Minister of India addresses the nation from this age old Fort on the auspicious day of India’s Independence every year.

India GateIndia Gate: This 42 metre high, freestanding arch was built in 1931.It was originally called All India War Memorial in the memory of the 90,000 soldiers of the Indian Army who died in World War I. The names of the soldiers are inscribed all along the walls of the arch. In 1971, the eternal flame was lit here to honour the Immortal Soldiers.

Purana Qila (old fort): Purana Qila, the old fort. The fort was built by the great Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century A.D. on the banks of the river Yamuna. There is a small archeological museum just inside the main gate. Boating facilities are also available here.

Jantar Mantar: It is an astronomical observatory with masonry instruments built in 1724 by Jai Singh, the great mathematician and astronomer king. The Samrat or Yantra supreme - the largest structure shaped like a right-angled triangle, is actually a huge sundial; the various other instruments are intended to show the movements of the sun, moon, etc;

Birla Temple, DelhiLakshmi Narayan Temple: Popularly known as Birla Mandir, it is a large Hindu temple built in 1938. Dedicated to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. People of all faiths can enter here and worship (but one must walk barefoot into the courtyard and further on).

Chandni Chowk: It is the nerve centre of commercial activity in Old Delhi. The narrow lanes have kept alive the traditional workmanship, which makes Delhi famous. The famous Paranthawali Gali, Darya Ganj and, Dariba Kalan - the oldest jewellery market dating back to the Mughal period are all located here. The western end of Chandni Chowk is marked by the Fatehpuri Masjid, erected in 1650 by one of Shah Jahan’s wives.

Parliament House: This circular shaped colonnaded building houses the two Houses of Parliament - the Lok Sabha (lower house) and the Rajya Sabha (upper house). Its domed Central Hall is 90 feet in diameter.

Raj Ghat: On the banks of the river Yamuna is Raj Ghat, where the father of the nation - Mahatma Gandhi was cremated in 1948, soon after India attained freedom from British rule. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Indian prime minister, was cremated just to the north at Shanti vana (forest of peace). His daughter, Indira Gandhi and grandsons Sanjay & Rajiv Gandhi were also cremated in the vicinity.

Safdarjang's Tomb: This marble domed mausoleum was the last famous Mughal monument built in Delhi in 1753-54, by the son of the second Nawab of Oudh. It is a son's tribute to his father, the Wazir of Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah.

Bahai's Temple (Lotus temple): The Baha'i Temple, situated in South Delhi, is shaped like a lotus. This symbol of peace was built by the Baha'i community, offers the visitor a serenity that pervades the temple and its artistic design.

Connaught Place: It is the most glamorous shopping area in the heart of the city, which was built during the British Days with a beautiful fountain and park in the center. It also houses an underground popular shopping plaza, Palika Bazar. The entire Connaught Place is built in concentric circles. A pillared pathway runs along the outermost and innermost circles with convenient and ample parking spaces. Radial roads lead out of the center point to all parts of Delhi.

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