Delhi, 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 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
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 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,
Lakshmi 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
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
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
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.