A symbol of the country’s rich
past and thriving present, Delhi is a city where ancient and modern blend
seamlessly together. Just a century ago, the British moved the seat of their
empire from Kolkata to Delhi. And it has been the Capital of India ever since.
Now a thriving, cosmopolitan metro, the city has much to celebrate as it has
already reached the milestone of completing 100 years as a Capital. With a
history that goes back many centuries, Delhi showcases an ancient culture and a
rapidly modernizing country. Dotted with monuments there is much to discover
here. The seat of many powerful empires in the past, its long history can be
traced in its many carefully-preserved monuments, ancient forts and
tombs. All this is combined with the best features of a modern city such
as a metro system, bustling markets and fabulous eating places. The past and
the present meld seamlessly together, making centuries-old monuments a part of
the city’s daily life. Delhi is very much a history’s child. The story of the city
is as old as the epic Mahabharata, when the town was known as Indraprastha,
where Pandavas used to live. Over the centuries, eight more cities came alive
adjacent to Indraprastha: Lal Kot, Siri, Dinpanah, Quila Rai Pithora,
Ferozabad, Jahanpanah, Tughlakabad and Shahjahanabad. Many empires rose to the
heights of their power and were destroyed here. Among the prominent dynasties
which made Delhi their capital were the Tughlaqs, the Khiljis and the
Mughals. Even today, one can have a fascinating glimpse into the
past in Old Delhi, with its labyrinth of narrow lanes, old havelis, and
colourful bazaars. Rickshaws wind their way through this crowded, bustling
capital of the Mughals, where life continues, much as it did hundreds of years
It is home to three World Heritage monuments—Qutub Minar, Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb that have survived many centuries, and give an idea of architectural wonders created by emperors in the past. Central Delhi, with its tree-lined avenues, imposing structures and buildings such as the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House and India Gate, reflect Delhi’s colonial past. A number of museums provide a glimpse into the country’s fascinating history.
Raj Ghat is the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation. A black stone platform in an open air complex marks the spot where Gandhi was cremated. A flame constantly burns at one end of the platform and visitors are required to remove their footwear before they enter Raj Ghat. Also close to the Raj Ghat is the memorial of Jawaharlal Nehru, known as Shantivan.
Synonymous with New Delhi and situated in the heart of the city, India Gate is one of the most popular monuments in the city. The foundation stone of India Gate was laid in 1920 and the structure was unveiled in 1933. Designed by Edwin Lutyens, India Gate was dedicated to all the Indian soldiers of the British Army who died in World War I. Another memorial, the Amar Jawan Jyoti was added later and was dedicated to soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. The India Gate is flanked by lush green lawns, which are a popular picnic spot, especially during winter afternoons and summer evenings. The wide roads surrounding the India Gate are also frequented by morning and evening walkers. There is also a small pond nearby where one can enjoy boating as well. At nightfall India Gate is beautifully lit up, including the surrounding fountains and makes for a beautiful sight.
Lotus Temple (Baha’i House of Worship)
The Baha’I House of Worship, more popularly known as the Lotus Temple, owing to its shape and design, is one of Delhi’s most recognized structures. The Lotus temple, constructed entirely out of white marble, is known for its modern architecture, which stands out against the concrete jungle around it. The temple consists of twenty seven massive marble petals shaped like an unfolding lotus flower, which rises from nine pools and walkways. The number nine signifies the nine unifying paths of the Baha’i faith. A little niche under each petal contains sayings from the Baha’I scriptures. The temple does not contain any idols or images, as it is against the Bah’i faith and visitors are welcome to meditate inside the temple silently. The temple is surrounded by beautifully maintained laws and the best time to visit the temple is during sunset.
Red Fort (Lal Qila)
The Red Fort-a massive red sandstone fort is synonymous with Delhi and is proof of the glory of the flourishing Mughal Empire in Delhi. Commissioned by Shah Jahan in 1638 when he decided to shift the capital of the Mughal Empire from Agra to Delhi, the Red Fort took a total of ten years to be completed. The main gate to the Red Fort is the Lahore Gate and is also the site for the Prime Ministers speech every year on Independence Day. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Red Fort is spread over a rambling 254.67 acres and the walls alone are around 2kilometres long. The Red Fort is octagonal in design and there are beautiful flower decorations and calligraphy on the walls, examples of later Mughal style architecture. At one point the Read Fort was surrounded by a deep moat, used to keep intruders out. The Red Fort contains the Diwan-e-Aam, the Diwan-e-Khas, the Moti Masjid and the Hayat Baksh Bagh among other interesting architectural elements.
The Qutub Minar is a towering 73 meter high tower built by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak in 1193. The tower was built to celebrate Muslim dominance in Delhi after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu ruler. This tower is the highest tower in India, complete with five storeys and projecting balconies. The first three storeys of the Qutub Minar are made of red sandstone and the last two are made of marble and sandstone. The construction of the Qutub Minar was started by Qitub-ud-Din Aibak, but he only constructed the basement. The construction of the tower was later taken over by his successor Iltutmish who constructed three more stories. The last two storeys were completed Firoz Shah Tuglak. The different architectural styles from the time of Aibak to Tuglak are clearly visible in the Qutub Minar. Apart from the tower, the Qutub Minar complex comprises of the Quwwat-us-Islam Mosque (the first mosque to be built in India), a 7 metre high iron pillar, the tomb of Iltutmish, Ala’i-Darwaza and the Ala’I Minar.
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib
The Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is one of the most popular and important Sikh shrines in Delhi. Located in the heart of the city, near Connaught Place, this gurudwara was originally a bungalow owned by Raja Jai Sing, a ruler in the seventeenth century. This building was later pulled down to construct Connaught Place, a brand new shopping area on New Delhi. Guru Har Krishan, a prominent Sikh guru also lived here and served many people during his lifetime. Today the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is an import place of worship for Sikh, where special gatherings and prayers are held on the birth anniversary of Guru Har Krishan. The Gurudwara premises include the main prayer hall (containing the Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs), a tank in the middle, a library which contains books on Sikhism, a hospital, a school and an art gallery. Like with all gurudwaras, langar is served in the Bangla Sahib where everyone irrespective of religion, caste, gender, caste or creed is welcome to share a meal. Visitors to the Bangla Sahib are required to dress modestly and to keep their heads covered at all times when inside the gurudwara. Visitors and worshippers are required to remove their shoes before entering the gurudwara.
Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple
The Swaminarayan Akshardham, popularly known as the Akshardham Temple is a Hindu temple which exemplifies traditional Hindu culture and architecture. The temple was developed by the spiritual head of the Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, Pramukh Swami Maharaj. 7000 artisans were involved in the construction of the temple aided by 3000 volunteers. The Akshardham temple was opened in November 2005 and boasts of spectacular architecture. The entire structure of the temple has been built without using steel and is complete with 234 intricately carved pillars, 9 beautiful domes, 20 rising towers, a plinth of stone elephants known as the Gajendra Pith along with statues of famous Indian sadhus and spiritual personalities. The structure of the mandir is an amalgamation of pink stone and white marble and is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the city.
Jain Shwetambar Temple
Located in Kinari Bazaar in Old Delhi, the Jain Shwetambar Temple is one of the most beautiful Jain temples in the city. The temple belongs to the Shwetambar sect of Jainism, who wear only simple, white clothes. This three storey high temple is elaborately adorned with delicate artwork on its walls and pillars. The main devotional area of the temple is on the first floor and has a beautiful idol of Lord Parasnath. The main temple building contains statues of Lord Sumatinath and Lord Adinath among other important figures of Jainism. Arched entrances, complete with exquisite paintings and gold filigree work make up the interiors of the temple. Another attraction of this beautiful temple are elaborate paintings depicting the life of Lord Mahavira, along with paintings of musicians and dancers. The Jain Shwetambar Temple has a museum on the ground floor which contains old artifacts, manuscripts, paintings in gold and many items made out of silver.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official residence of the President of India and is a rambling mansion with breath taking architecture. Spread over 320 acres, the vast grounds of the Rashtrapati Bhavan are home not only the head of state, but also staff quarters, stables, offices and the beautiful and famed Mughal Gardens. The Rashtrapati Bhavan was designed by British architect, Edwin Lutyens and is a unique amalgamation of Mughal and European architecture. Such is the grandeur of this mansion that very few residences of heads of states from around the world can match up to the extravagance that is the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Situated at the eastern edge of Rajpath, the Rashtrapati Bhavan faces the India Gate, which lies at the Western edge of the same road. On either side of the Rashtrapati Bhavan lie the North Block and South Block, which house various ministries of the Government of India. The lavish Mughal Gardens lie behind the North Block and South Block, which opens to the public from mid-February to mid-March. Apart from this you can also enjoy a guided tour of a few section of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, such as the Durbar Hall, Lutyens´Gallery, Long Drawing Room, Ashoka Hall, Children’s Gallery and Gift Museum which have now been opened to the public.
Shantivan, or the Forest of Peace, is the Samadhi, or cremation spot of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. The samadi in the form of a large base covered with a lawn is located north of Raj Ghat, the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi. Shantivan is visited by many visiting dignitaries and heads of state who come here to pay their respects. Special prayer services are organised on the birth and death anniversaries of Nehru. Cultural programs by children also take place, since Nehru loved children and they in turn fondly called him Chacha Nehru
Parliament House (Sansad Bhavan)
Parliament House or Sansad Bhavan is one of the most impressive buildings in Delhi. Located at the end of Sansad Marg the Parliament Building was designed by British architect Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. This iconic building was inaugurated in 1972 by Lord Irwin, the then Governor-General of India. The Parliament House comprises of a central hall which is circular in shape and 98 feet in diameter. The Central Hall is considered to be a very important part of the Parliament building since this is where the Indian Constitution was drafted. The building houses the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and a library hall. In between these three chambers lies a garden. The building also has facilities for accommodation for ministers, important officers of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Chairmen and Parliamentary Committees. The Parliament House also houses a museum which aims at educating people on the “Democratic Heritage of India” and which dates back to 2500 back. The museum is set up in a very interesting way and is complete with sound and light videos, large screen interactive computer screens and virtual reality among other features.
The Alai Minar is an unfinished tower in the Qutub Complex, construction of which was started by Alauddin Khilji. After Khilji had doubled the size of the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque he decided to constructed a tower which would be twice the height of the Qutub Minar. Construction of the Alai Minar came to a halt in 1316 following the death of Alauddin Khilji. Today the Alai Minar, a massive red rubble structure stands at a height of 2.5 meters.
Cathedral Church of Redemption
The Cathedral Church of Redemption is one of the most beautiful churches in India and dates back to the 1900’s. The construction of this church was completed in 1935, though it had already opened to public worship in 1931.The building of the cathedral is shaped like a birthday cake with a candle placed on top. The cathedral was also visited by the British Viceroy during the days of the Raj. The architect of the church was Henry Medd who built the church in such a manner that the interiors of the building would remain cool even in the harshest of summers. The interiors of the church comprise of high arches and ornate domes. The Cathedral Church of Redemption is under the Delhi diocese of the Church of North India.
Shah Jahan’s last architectural extravagance, the Jama Masjid towers over Old Delhi and is India’s largest mosque. Commissioned by Shah Jahan in 1650 the mosque took six years to be constructed and was completed in 1656. The massive courtyard of the Jama Masjid can hold up to twenty five thousand worshippers and houses many interesting relics, including an ancient copy of the Quran inscribed on deer skin. The main prayer hall of the Jama Masjid is topped with three white bulbous domes and the entrance is adorned with high rising arches which cover the mihrab (an alcove in the wall which indicates the direction of prayer). A pool in the centre of the mosque is used by the faithful for ablutions before prayer. The Jama Masjid is flanked by slim red and white minarets on all four sides which reach high into the sky. In the north east corner of the mosque is a small shrine which houses relics of Prophet Muhammad, such as a red hair from his beard, his sandals and his footprint imprinted on a marble slab.
The Nehru Park is a large park located in the heart of the city spread over an area of 80 acres. Established in 1969 and named after India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the Nehru Park is a popular venue for many music shows, such as the SPIC MACAY and the Bhakti Music Festival. The Nehru Park is beautifully maintained and is complete with beautiful flowers, fountains and walking paths. Other than this the park is also a popular spot for Yoga classes and morning and evening walks. The park is also a popular picnic spot, especially during winters. The Nehru Park also houses a large statue of Vladimir Lenin, leader of the great October Socialist Revolution and every year on the 22nd of April members of the Communist Party of India visit the Nehru Park to celebrate the birth anniversary of Lenin.
Garden of Five Senses
The Garden of Five Senses is a large park which offers its visitors a chance to enjoy a variety of activities. Inaugurated in 2003, the park is spread over an area of 20 acres and was the brainchild of the Delhi Tourism Transportation Development Corporation. Upon entering the garden you are greeted by two massive steel birds fixed on clay pillars. This massive garden is set over a natural slope and is complete with spiral pillars and elephants cut out of stone. The garden is divided into the Khas Bagh and the Mughal Gardens, which are lined with beautiful and colourful flowers, trees, shrubs and fountains. One of the prime attractions of the Garden of Five Senses of the Fountain Tree, which is a pleasure to admire. Apart from that there is the Neel Bagh which comprises of a pool full of water lilies. Also in the garden is a large wind chime which will mesmerize you with its sweet music. The garden also contains an amphitheater where concerts are held. Towards the back of the garden is an open air exhibition area where workshops and exhibitions are held. The Garden of Five Senses is also home to the largest public art display collection in the country in the form of over 25 different sculptures that the garden is home to. The garden is also home to a many restaurants where you can sample some exquisite cuisine. As the name suggests the Garden of Five Senses is a place where you can stimulate all five senses.
Dotted with monuments and tombs from the Lodi and Sayyed periods of history, the Lodi Gardens in one of Delhi’s popular tourist attractions. Emblematic of 16th century architectural styles, the Lodi Gardens contain the tombs of Muhammad Shah and Sikandar Lodi. Despite being a historical monument, the Lodi Gardens has become an integral part of the lives of many Delhites as many picnickers, walkers and joggers frequent the gardens in the mornings and evenings. The Lodi Gardens also contain the National Bonsai Park, which is home to a wide variety miniature tress. The best time to go to the Lodi Gardens is around sunset when the sunlight is mellow and the tombs are beautifully lit up.
Hauz Khas Village
Hauz Khas Village is a popular complex in Delhi which is essentially popular for its designer boutiques, specialty restaurants. This urban village or HKV as it is popularly known also houses an Islamic seminary, a mosque and a tomb constructed around a water tank. The historic remains in the Hauz Khas Complex were once part of Siri, a historic city built by the Allauddin Khilji, a popular ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. HKV witnesses a large footfall of visitors, especially over the weekend and many people enjoying talking morning and evening walks around the water tank.
Charity Birds Hospital
The Charity Birds Hospital in Delhi is a specialty hospital for birds in the city Located near the Jain Mandir in Old Delhi, this birds hospital was set up by N.C Jain, a former bank employee who started this hospital with help from family and friends. This is one of the only hospitals in the city dedicated to treating birds and has treated more than 3000 birds, out of which 400 birds were set free after treatment. The most common birds being brought to the Charity Birds Hospital are sparrows, pigeons, parrots and domestic fowl. Many people also bring their pet birds to this hospital for treatment and are given advice on how to take care of them at home.
Located in the heart of Delhi, Connaught Place is one of the most important business and commercial centres of the city. Connaught Place and its iconic white pillars form a large circle in the centre of the city with seven streets diverging from it. This city centre is home to several shops, restaurants and offices and is a great place to spend a weekend. Often shortened to CP, Connuaght Place was built by the British in 1933 and was named after the 1st Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. In 1995 Connaught Place was renamed Rajiv Chowk after later Prime Minsiter Rajiv Gandhi, yet it still continues to be known as Connaught Place. Connaught place is divided into the Inner, Outer and Middle Circle and the Outer Circle is at times referred to as Connaught Circus.
Jantar Mantar is an observatory constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur in 1724. The essential purpose of the Jantar Mantar was to accumulate astronomical tables which in turn would help predict the time and movement of the celestial bodies such as the sun, moon and other planets. The Jantar Mantar comprises of various instruments which helped with these predictions, such as the Samrat Yantra, Jayaprakash Yantra and the Misra Yantra among others. After constructing the Jantar Mantar in Delhi, Raja Jai Singh constructed more such structures by the same name in Jaipur, Ujjain, Mathura and Varanasi. The Jantar Mantar remains a popular tourist destination and is a great place for lovers of astronomy.
National Zoological Park
The National Zoological Park, earlier known as the Delhi zoo is essentially a fortified area which is home to around 1350 animals across 130 species of animals and birds from around the world. The zoo was inaugurated on 1st November 1956 and hoped to be a model for other zoos in India. The environment provided by the National Zoological Park to the animals is very close to their natural habitat and is a perfect place for breeding endangered species. The zoo is home to animals like the Gir lion, chimpanzees, hyenas, hippopotamus, African Wild Buffalo and zebras among others. Other than that the zoo also has an underground reptile house which houses reptiles like the Gharial, Marsh Crocodile, Indian Cobra, Indian Star Tortoise and the Indian Sand Boa among others. The zoo also has numerous species of birds such as the Sarus Crane, Emu, Silver Pheasant, Peafowl, Grey Hornbill and the Barn Owl among others. The National Zoological Park also runs conservation initiatives for animals like the Royal Bengal Tiger, Swamp Deer, Asiatic Lion and the Red Jungle Fowl among other endangered species of birds and animals. For Kids: This is a great place for children to learn about various kinds of animals and birds.
One of the most magnificent tombs built in Delhi during the Mughal rule, the Humayun’s Tomb is an excellent example of Persian architecture. The Humayun’s Tomb was commissioned in 1526, nine years after the death of Humayun, by his widow Hamida Banu Begum. Constructed out of red sandstone, the Humayun’s Tomb was the first ever garden style tomb to be constructed in India. The Humayun’s Tomb stands in the centre of Charbagh style of gardens complete with pools linked by channels. The main entrance if the tomb is from the south side, though there is another entrance from the west side as well. The Humayun’s Tomb served as an early example for other Mughal tombs which were built over time, such as the Akbar’s tomb in Sikander, the tomb of Ghiyas-ud-Din Tugluq at Tugluqabad, the tomb of Sikander Lodi in the Lodi Gardens and the Taj Mahal. In the Humayun’s Tomb one can see architectural features which over time went on to become important component of Mughal architecture, such as its octagonal shape and its high central arch. Apart from Humayun, the tomb is also the final resting place of his wife Hamida Bahu Begum, Shah Jahan’s son Dara Shikoh and other prominent Mughals from the royal family. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Humayun’s tomb is best visited in the late afternoon if you wish to get some beautiful shots of the building.
Fun N Food Village
Fun N Food Village is an amusement and water park where you can enjoy various rides and water sports. This amusement park is a great place to enjoy yourself with your friends and family while enjoying thrilling rides.
Delhi Art Gallery
The Delhi Art Gallery is one of the oldest art galleries in the city and is home to some of the country’s most renowned pre-modern, modern and contemporary painters. Some of the artists whose work you will find at the Delhi Art Gallery are Rabindranath Tagore, Raza, F.N D’Souza, Husain and Padamse among others. Apart from appreciating the beautiful art on display art aficionados can also purchase art at the Delhi Art Gallery.
Chandni Chowk is one of Delhi’s oldest and most famous markets. Located in Old Delhi and built in the 17th century by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, Chandni Chowk is still steeped in history and is home to many iconic historic monuments such as the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid, Lal Jain Mandir and the Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib. Situated in Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk begins at the Lahori Darwaza and runs through the Red Fort all the way through to the Fatehpuri Masjid. Today, apart from its historic importance, Chandni Chowk remains famous for being one of Delhi’s largest wholesale markets and attracts numerous shoppers on a daily basis. Some particularly famous shops in Chandni Chowk are Suneja Sons for paper items and Mehr Chand and for dry fruits near Khari Baoli. The market is also a foodie’s dream come true as Chandni Chowk is famous for its street food such as chaat, paranths and dahi bhallas.
The Tughlaqabad Fort was built by the founder of the Tughlaq Dynasty, Ghiyas-ud-din-Tughlaq in 1321. Established as the fifth historic city, the fort was later abandoned in 1327. The fort is a gigantic stone structure, with walls that are 10-15 metres high. Crowning the walls are battlement parapets and bastions. The fort-city of Tughlaqabad was supposed to have as many as 52 gates, out of which only 13 remain now. The Tughlaqabad Fort has an interesting legend behind it. It is believed that Tughlaq wanted every laborer in the area to build the city-fort. This led to the fury of one of the labourers, Nizamuddin Auliya who cursed the fort saying “Ya rahey hissar, ya bassey gujjar”, which means, may the fort remain unoccupied, or else may herdsmen live here. Following this curse it is believed that the Empire could not prosper and the fort-city was soon abandoned.
National Gandhi Museum
Located in Rajghat, near the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi, the National Gandhi Museum was inaugurated in 1961, on the 13th Death Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi by then President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. The National Gandhi Museum houses numerous paintings and personal artifacts of Mahatma Gandhi, including a Satyagraha Woodcut by Willemia Muller Ogterop, Gandhi’s walking stick, the shawl and dhoti worn by him when he was assassinated, one of the bullets which killed him, his teeth, an ivory toothpick and his urn among other articles. The National Gandhi Museum also houses a library which contains books by or on Gandhi and books dealing in other subject matter as well. Apart from books the library also contains periodicals in English and Hindi which record the life of Gandhi. Apart from articles related to Gandhi, the museum also contains exhibits related to the history of India and other important Indian political leaders.
Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum
The once residence of late Indian Prime Minister, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum is now home to artifacts and interesting memorabilia related to Indira Gandhi. Apart from news clippings and photographs, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum also has many personal belongings of Mrs.Gandhi, including the blood stained saree she was wearing at the time of her assassination in October 1984. A few of the rooms of her former residence have been preserved just like they were when she lived there. Giving visitors an interesting insight into the life of this notable woman.
National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum
Popularly known as the National Crafts Museum, the National Handicrafts and Handlooms museum is one of Delhi’s largest crafts museums. Located in Pragati Maidan this museum is run by the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. The museum houses more than 35,000 unique pieces which pay a tribute to Indian craftsmen and their skills across different genres such as painting, sculpture, embroidery, textile designing and craft involving clay etc. The complex of the National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum also houses various galleries such as a Gallery of Courtly Crafts and the Tribal and Rural Craft Gallery. Some of the most popular collections of the museum include the Bhoota collection from Karnataka which is 25-300 years old, brocade and Baluchari sarees, embroidery from Kutch and precious metal. The museum is particularly famous for its large textile collection. Other than the artifacts, the museum is also home to a library, a laboratory and a research and documentation centre.