Delhi, being acclaimed as the cultural capital of India, presents an unending list of destinations. The beauty of its spectacular architecture is explicit through its monuments and once explored, what is revealed before us is a city which is an interesting blend of diverse cultures which even dates back to 5000 years. Several times, the city had been a mute spectator to the empires being raised to glory and fallen into ashes. The present Delhi which we see now is a formation of seven cities constructed by varied emperors. Even now, we can see the ruins of the ancient city which are converted into popular tourist attractions. Qutub Minar, Red Fort, Jama Masjid, India Gate, Lotus temple, Humayun tomb and Rashtrapati Bhavan – each one of them remind us of the past glories and the sacrifices which were made in making the present city. In short, it is not only the cultural heart of India, but also a gateway to Northern India and a starting point for wonders like Taj Mahal.
One of the most famous monuments of Delhi, Red Fort is a splendid architectural souvenir of the Mughal emperors who ruled India once. This fort of red sand stones was constructed in 1638 to avoid the invaders along River Yamuna. It has walls which stretch to up to the distance of 2 kilometres (1.2 miles). However, these powerful walls failed to protect the fort being captured by Sikhs and British.
This magnificent archway, India Gate is located at the centre of New Delhi is constructed in the memory of Indian soldiers who lost their lives while fighting for the British during World War I. The sight of it glowing warmly under floodlights with the garden lining its boulevard is a something which shouldn’t miss in your lifetime.
One of the first achievement of Indo-Islamic architecture, it is an incredible piece of brick minaret which was built in 1206. The reason for its construction still remains a mystery as some versions say that it signified the beginning of Muslim rule in India. The tower contains five distinct stories and includes intricate verses and carvings from Holy Quran.
Located at Parliament Street and closer to Connaught place, this is also known by the name, Delhi Observatory. Made of stone and marble, it includes 14 geometric devices to measure time, forecast weather changes, predict the behaviour of planets and to the find the extraterrestrial altitude. Always been a hot tourist destination for scientists, historians and architects from all over the world, this is a splendid piece of Ancient Indian architecture.
Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India, is another stunning treasure which must not be missed. It has a huge courtyard which can hold 25,000 devotees. Constructed in 1650, the mosque took almost 13 years to be completed. A climb to the top portion of its southern tower will provide you with a stunning view of the roof tops of Delhi. The devotees are expected to maintain proper dress code like covering the head, shoulders and legs or else, you will not be allowed in. You get the attire from here.
Gandhi Smriti is the place where Mahatma Gandhi, fondly known as the father of the Nation was assassinated on January 30, 1948. He lived here for 144 days till the time of his death. The room in which he slept has been maintained exactly the way he left it along with the prayer ground where he held a mass assembly every evening. Both these places are open to the public. You can also view plenty of photos, paintings, sculptures and inscriptions, which are displayed here.
Another place which draws people in Delhi is Lotus temple or Baha’i House of Worship. The beauty of this structure is its shape which is of lotus. Opened to public in December 1986, the temple has become one of the most visited places in the world. The temple has a calm and serene atmosphere that the visitors must maintain pin drop silence once they enter the temple. Visiting the temple is once in a lifetime experience.
The 100 acres of Akshardham Temple is visited by endless number of tourists each and every day. Under the central dome in the temple, the statue of Swaminarayan is exhibited, which is 11 feet high. You also get to see the statutes of other gurus surrounding the main statue. Inaugurated in 2005, you can view programmes in IMAX theatre, musical fountain in Swaminarayan temple and walking around the Akshardham complex in Delhi.
A world Heritage Monument, Humayun’s Tomb is constructed by the widow of emperor Humayun and designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, a Persian architect. Constructed in 1565, eight years after Humayun’s death, this is one of the first and finest examples of Mughal Tomb- in garden complex. This place has further witnessed the cremations of many Mughal royal family members as many tombstones can be seen on the terrace.
Old Fort or Purana Qila
This grand fort located in south east New Delhi is believed to have been built by Humayun and renovated by Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri. Nearby to the fort, you can see the mosque of Sher Shah and the Delhi biological park. What makes the Old fort different is that it lacks the temple of palaces, recreational and administrative buildings as in the other Mughal forts.
Located on the banks of River Yamuna, Raj Ghat serves lot of historical importance as it is the last resting place of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation. A top destination for the visiting dignitaries, Raj Ghat is a place which should not be missed.
New Delhi centres on Rashtrapati Bhavan which is impressive and striking due to its architectural peculiarity. Its stretch called the Raj path is the place where the Republic Day parade is held. The plan of the building conceived by Lutyens is so impressive that it still maintains its charm which is not faded even after centuries. Complemented by beautiful flowers, Mughal gardens at the Rashtrapati Bhavan is indeed a visual treat.
Agra – Taj Mahal
One of the most beautiful monuments which is the finest example of Mughal architecture, a symbol of eternal love, a UNESCO world Heritage site, one of the wonders of the world, Taj Mahal was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in loving memory of his wife Queen Mumtaz Mahal after her death in 1631.
Delhi is a microcosm of India; it’s each street and monument reminds us of the ancient pasts, glories and failures India witnessed. Exploring Delhi is in a way exploring India’s past and present.