Delhi - Capital of India
India's capital Delhi is the hub of the country, a modern international metropolis. However the twin cities of Old and New Delhi represent two contrasting culture and aesthetics of Mughal and British sensibilities. Delhi is embedded with an astonishing array of forts, tombs, mosques and government buildings constructed over the past 1,000 years.
Old Delhi is a maze of narrow lanes lined with old havelis and formidable mosques. It rose to prominence when the Mughal emperor Shahjahan decided to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi in 1639 and named it Shahjahanabad. The imperial city of New Delhi came into being when the British Raj shifted their capital to Delhi and stamped their architectural signature in spacious, tree-lined avenues and imposing government buildings.
Delhi has been the seat of power for many empires for about a millennium. Many a times the city was built, destroyed and then rebuilt . Today, tucked away inside Delhi's modern suburbs and developments lie tombs, temples and ruins that date back centuries. The city's importance lies not just in its past glory as the seat of empires and magnificent monuments, but also in the rich and diverse cultures.
Modern Delhi is the political hub of India. Even in the mythological era, the Pandavas of the Mahabharata had their capital at Indraprastha, which is believed to have been located in today's Delhi.
Sights to visit:
Humayun's Tomb (UNESCO Heritage): Built as a memorial for emperor Humayun by his wife in the 16th century, this structure, resplendent in red sandstone is considered to be the next best thing after the Taj Mahal in Agra. The tomb is awe inspiring, nestled by lush green lawns on three sides and a river on the fourth. There are other tombs within the premises as well - of Humanyun, Babar's and Isa Khan's. This place is not frequented just by the tourists but also has its loyal admirers who throng here in hordes. The entry in the complex is free on Fridays.
Qutab Minar & Complex (UNESCO Heritage) : Some believe it was erected as a symbol of victory of the Muslim rule in India. What is undisputable is that it is one of the finest monuments in the country and one of the most recognized, second only to the Taj Mahal in Agra. Its construction was started Qutab-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi in 1200, but managed to finish only the base. His successor, Iltutmush added three more stories, and later, Firoz Shah Tughlak constructed the fifth and the last storey. The first three stories are made of red sandstone. The fourth and fifth floors are made of marble and sandstone. Situated in midst of the beautiful Indo-Islamic structures of the Qutub Minar complex, stands the elegant Alai Darwaza (gate). By the time it was finished in 1311, Indian workmen had mastered the art of constructing a dome.
Jantar Mantar - Sun Dial (UNESCO Heritage) : On first glance, Jantar Mantar seems like a collection of weird buildings contorted beyond belief. On closer look, the genius of the construction is apparent. Built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1725, it is a brilliant attempt to revise the calendar and the astronomical tables. A mammoth sun dial stands in the centre of the observatory. There are many other constructions made to track the sun beams and moon cycles. Once a precise mechanism for telling time and eclipses, now Jantar Mantar is made defunct due to the overshadowing by tall skyscrapers all around. This place derives its more contemporary charm from the hordes of protests and hunger strikes that are organised on a frequent basis.
Red Fort (UNESCO Heritage) : This was emperor Shah Jahan's residence, a fort of unimaginable magnitude. Built in 1648 along the banks of the Yamuna river, it is constructed in the reddest of sandstones, and extends up to two kilometers horizontally. Before 1857, the fort was a small city in itself and was home to over 3000 people. Today, it daily welcomes thousands of tourists. Only a part of the full area is accessible to public, the rest is the territory of the Indian army. The daily sound and light show in the evenings is very popular with the visitors and is a must-see.
Gandhi Smriti, housed in the Old Birla House on 5, Tees January Marg is the sacred place where Mahatma Gandhi's epic Life ended on 30 January 1948. Mahatma Gandhi had lived in this house from 9 September 1947 to 30 January 1948. Thus, the hallowed house treasures many memories of the last 144 days of his life. The Old Birla House was acquired by the Government of India in 1971 and was converted into a National Memorial of the Father of the Nation and was opened to the public on August 15, 1973.The preserves include the room where Mahatma Gandhi lived and the prayer ground where he held a mass congregation every evening. It was here where assassin’s bullets felled Gandhiji. The building and the landscape have been preserved as they were in those days.
Jama Mosque : This is the biggest mosque in India and is one of the last buildings to be made by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. The construction of the mosque took 14 years and ended in 1658. It has three entrances, and four towers. The top of the towers provide a priceless view of the old city. The mosque itself has been constructed in sandstones and marble.The central courtyard can hold up to 25, 000 people at any given time, but after 5pm, only Muslims are allowed to stay inside the premises. Word of caution: Women are not allowed to go up the minaret without a male escort.
Nearby Destinations :
Nearest Airport :New Delhi International Airport (15 km / 30 mins)
Best time to visit and Climate :
Best time to visit Delhi is during the winter & spring months when the weather is glorious. May and june months are extremely hot with the temperature crossing 40 degree celcius.
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