Agrasen Ki Baoli is a unique and interesting monument in Delhi. Eclipsed by the city's tall and modern edifices, only a few know about the existence of this historic stepwell in the national capital territory. Agrasen Ki Baoli is a historical monument taken care of by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Located on the Hailey Road close to Connaught Place, it is a 15 m wide and 60 m long artistic stepwell. Though no one knows about the person who commissioned its construction, legends have it that it was built by a legendary king named Agrasen of the Mahabharata era and was reconstructed by the members of Agarwal community during the 14th century.
The stepwell includes about 103 steps leading towards the base that once stored water and consists of five different levels. Unlike the other traditional stepwells that are mostly circular, this one is shaped differently with one end of it being a raised platform with roof and the other end without a roof being shaded by a huge neem tree.
Today there is no water in the baoli but the well is home to many pigeons and bats. It is a monument protected by the Archaeological Survey of India under its Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958.
Dariba Kalan is a street in Delhi known for its markets. This was a market that sold precious stones, gems, gold and silver jewellery. Though now the market is known for its silver and costume jewellery, the market is still known as the Jeweller’s Street. Apart from the shops that sell jewellery, there are also shops that sell authentic attar, a type of perfume.
Dariba Kalan which literally means the “Street of the Incomparable Pearl”, is located in Chandni Chowk. The market has come into prominence at the time of Emperor Shah Jahan’s rule. Apart from this street, there are also some shopping destinations that are worth exploring.
Some of them are the Sarojini Nagar, Khari Baoli, Pragati maidan, Lajpat Nagar and the Khan Market. The other attarctions near the street are the India Gate, Red Fort, Jama Masjid and Jantar Mantar.
Coronation Park in New Delhi is a park situated close by Nirankari Sarovar on Burari Road. Also called the Coronation Memorial, the park has a huge obelisk or sandstone pillar within. Coronation Park is the place, which, in fact, helped Delhi turn into becoming the capital of India.
In this park, the Britishers held a durbar in the year 1877, and Queen Victoria was announced the Empress of India. The durbar was also held at the place when Edward VII ascended the throne in the year 1903. However, the grandest durbar was held here in the year 1911, during King George's accession, who announced the shifting of India's capital city from Calcutta to Delhi at the time and laid a foundation stone for the same at Delhi. The obelisk in the park was erected to mark this very occasion.
Also, present opposite this sandstone pillar is a statue of King George V, which is surrounded by statues of various other British rulers, governors and some British Raj officials. The Delhi Development Authority is planning and preparing to conserve the park and the monuments inside it. It is located on New Delhi's Bhai Parmanand Marg, which is also known as Burari Road.
The second largest temple complex in India, the Shri Adhya Katyani Shakti Peeth Mandir or the Chattarpur Mandir is located at Chattarpur in South Delhi. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Katyayani, who is the sixth avatar of Goddess Durga.
Unlike other Hindu temples, devotees from every caste and creed are welcome to this temple. The temple was built by an ardent devotee of Goddess Durga, Swami Nagpal Maharaj. It was built in white marble and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. The carvings of the temple are done in the South Indian architecture.
The huge temple complex is a sight to marvel as the construction never seeks to end. The temple complex is spread across 70 acres of land and has around 20 small and large temples in three different complexes. The samadhi shrine of Swami Nagpal Maharaj is also built in the premises of the Shiv-Gauri Nageshwar Mandir in the temple complex.
There is a huge tree at the entrance of the temple complex where you can find holy threads tied to the twigs. Devotees tie holy threads and bangles to the tree in the hope of getting their wishes fulfilled. The temple has two main shrines. One of them is of Maha Gauri, a form of Goddess Durga, and is open to the devotees every day. The other shrine is of Goddess Katyayani and is open only during the 'ashtami' every month and during the festival of “Navratri”.
The huge golden idol of Goddess Katyayani, attracts devotees from every part of the world. The image is always well-adorned with glittering clothes, shining jewellery and heavy garlands. The temple complex also has temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, Lord Hanuman, Radha-Krishna and Lord Rama. All these temples have a mixture of South Indian and North Indian style of architecture.
Since its establishment in New Delhi in the year 1986, tourists have themselves proved that this is a must-visit attraction. How? - This house of worship, better known as Lotus Temple, attracts a whooping four million visitors towards it each year!
Located at a hamlet named Bahapur, it is a major tourist attraction in New Delhi; it is the sect's mother temple in the Indian continent and has won accolades in oodles for its lovely architecture. Such is the beauty of this architectural must see that apart from being featured in various publications and television programmes, it has also constantly won for itself, various awards in different arenas.
Like all other Bahai temples, this Bahai House of Worship in Delhi, too, is open to all people irrespective of the religion they belong to, for that is what is emphasised in the Bahai texts. However, though people of any sect are allowed to gather, pray and chant the religious scriptures of their respective religions, none are allowed to deliver sermons or practise ritualistic ceremonies inside the sacred place.
A Little About The Holy Place's Architecture . . .
Let's learn about what's behind the idea of constructing the beautiful Lotus Temple, the way it has been. According to the Bahai Scripture, Abdul Baha, son of the founder of Bahai religion—Bahaullah—specified that a house of worship should have a nine-sided circular form, no statues or pictures should be put on display inside the place and no altars or pulpits should be part of the construction of the structure. Like all other Bahai temples, Delhi's Lotus Temple, too, has been accordingly built.
This particular building in Delhi is inspired by the beautiful flower lotus and is made of 27 free-standing marble stones in the form of petals. They are arranged in clusters of three in order to form nine different sides. The building also has nine doors, entering through any of which will let you into a main central hall with a capacity of housing about 2,500 people at a time. Present in a 26 acre land, the hall is about 40 metres tall and is surrounded by nine ponds and some beautiful gardens.
What's more, for the uniqueness in its architecture, the Lotus Temple holds various distinctions. While it has received various awards for being a masterpiece since its inception, it has also been featured in books, Indian postage stamps, songs, newspapers, magazines and TV programmes. In the year 2001, it also was featured in the Guinness Book of Records for having been the world's most visited religious building that year!
The Azad Hind Gram Tourist Complex was built by the Delhi Tourism to honour the freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose. It was at this very spot that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had addressed the soldiers before he left the country. The monument is located on NH 10 at the Delhi-Haryana border which is 2 km from Delhi.
The structure is built in the North Indian architectural style boasting of traditional craftsmanship. The monument that was designed by some artists from Kolkata depicts various moods of Netaji through different murals. The museum also has some of the major landmarks of the freedom struggle depicted on canvas. The huge mosaic domes and the museum are the prime focus of the whole complex.
The museum (Dilli Chalo) has a number of newspaper cuttings and other visual references from the freedom struggle and also has the ranks of the Indian National Army portrayed as well. Other attractions and facilities of the complex include an amphitheatre, food kiosks, a public telephone booth, a souvenir and garden shop and an information centre.
It is open to the public on all days and remains closed on National holidays. The Complex is open from 10 am to 6 pm.
Baba Kharak Singh Marg is a busy street in Delhi which is known for its emporiums from around India. The State Emporia Complex in the street has a mixture of artefacts and specialties displayed from every corner of the country.
Zoon, the Kashmiri emporium is known for the lovely range of shawls they sell. The Tamil Nadu emporium, Poompuhar, is for those who love collecting bronze lamps and icons. Cauvery, the Karnatake emporium is for the silk lovers. You can find beautiful Madhubani paintings at Amrapali, the Bihari emporium.
Visit Rajasthali for that Rajasthani flavour. For printed cotton, miniature paintings and jewellery, you may visit Gurjari, the store from Gujarat. Manjusha, the stall from West Bengal is adorned with silk and cotton saris and you can also find fresh tea here. Mrignayani, the Madhya Pradesh store is for those who crave for wood carvings.
The huge three-storeyed Tripura emporium called Purbasha has lots of goods for your home that are made of bamboo and cane. The Rajiv Gandhi Handicrafts Bhavan is another place to visit near the Emporia Complex.
Here you can buy books, paper products, rural handicraft items, etc. The Hanuman Mandir at the Baba Kharak Singh Marg is another attraction here. It is one of the oldest Hanuman temples in the country. The main idol of the temple is of the young Hanuman. The temple is usually crowded on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
The Delhi Metro is the latest technology that the state and central government has come up with to make transportation easier to the public. From the busy streets of Delhi, the Delhi Metro has found its way to help people commute in a much easy and comfortable way.
Though the construction of the Delhi Metro started in 1998, the first railway line known as the Red Line was opened in 2002, which was soon followed by other lines which are the Yellow Line, Blue Line, Green Line and Violet Line.
The operations of the Delhi Metro are easy to understand for even an illiterate. The stored-value smartcard system makes it all the more easier for the passengers to recharge and use the cards at the start of every journey and at the end of a journey.
The on-train announcements and other information systems operate in Hindi and English. This world-class metro system ensures safety and reliability to the public with its sophisticated and modern train control system. The air-conditioned coaches make travelling easier, and the automatic fare collection system makes ticketing and passenger control an easy task as well.
Entries and exits to the metro stations are controlled by flap-doors, and there are escalators on both sides for the convenience of the public. This convenient mode of transportation in Delhi is one of its kind in the country. If you visit the capital city, do make sure you have a first-hand experience of the Delhi Metro as well.
The Central Cottage Industries Emporium is India's window to the world that showcases its rich traditional art and cultural forms. It was built in 1952 with the effort and enthusiasm of a group of ardent art lovers of the country. The emporium is located at the Baba Kharak Singh Marg near Janpath.
The large collection of the emporium has the best and the finest of works of art from every corner of the nation and these include sculptures, paintings, artefacts, metal ware, accessories, jewellery, craft items, herbal products, woodcraft, pottery, stoneware and marble craft.
The emporium has gained its name worldwide for its authentic handloom and handicraft produced. It also serves millions of families who earn a livelihood producing these beautiful pieces of art. Apart from the production of these items, they also have expanded their horizons and experimented in marketing and promoting the finished goods, shipping them across the world at affordable prices.
They also provide customised gift-wrapping services. Each product displayed here is unique in its own respect. The items here have a rich culture, folklores, traditions or special skills to boast of. You can see for yourself the works done by craftsmen, weavers and the folk artists for you and get awe-struck.
The Central Cottage Industries Emporium also operates in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata. The emporium has been attracted by celebrities and national delegates like Prime Ministers and heads of states and ambassadors.
The Air Force Museum situated at the Palam air force station in Delhi is one of its kind in India, housing a huge collection of memorabilia of the Indian Military Aviation. It depicts the wonderful history of the Indian Air Force (IAF), as a tribute to all those brave men who have fought for and even sacrificed their lives for the country.
The museum has been divided into indoor and outdoor display galleries and houses a wonderful collection of items. Let us begin our tour through the museum from its indoor display gallery.
Indoor Display Gallery
The indoor display gallery of the museum houses interesting items such as personal weapons of the Indian Air Force, uniforms, photographs, and more, all of which have been collected from the time of the IAF's inception in the year 1932.
Some of the interesting pictures displayed here include a historic image of lieutenant general Niazi of Pakistan signing the 1971 Indo-Pak war's surrender document and pictures of aircrafts hitting and setting afire the enemy targets.
This gallery will further lead you towards a Hangar, displayed where are about 15 varieties of military aircrafts and some air force inventory such as vehicles and ordnance and aircraft guns. Outside the hangar, larger aircrafts are displayed too.
Outdoor Display Gallery
The outdoor display gallery consists of some interesting things such as radar equipment, captured enemy vehicles, war trophies and more. Apart from this, visitors can also find a statue of Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon - a flying officer and the one and only air force pilot who was awarded the Param Vir Chakra for the extraordinary flying skills he possessed and for the heroism he displayed by shooting two enemy sabers.
Uniforms, swords and weapons of the air force officers, different models of tanks, rifles, pistols, guns and revolvers are exhibited at the museum as well.
The museum remains open to public from Wednesday to Sunday between 10 am and 5 pm. The place remains closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and on all other general holidays.
Cathedral Church of the Redemption of New Delhi is also called the Viceroy Church. One amongst the most beautiful churches in India, it can be found present towards the east of the Parliament House and Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Built by Henry Medd during 1927 and 1935, it is a perfect example of the colonial style of architecture and is the headquarters of the Churches of North India – Delhi Diocese. The specialty of this church is that it looks like a birthday cake with a candle placed atop and is believed to have been constructed in such a way that it remains cool even during the driest summers.
The history of the church says that the church came into existence when Rev T R Dixon was appointed as the chaplain to visit India and look into the requirements of the Britishers in India. The construction of the building was completed in the year 1935.
None are restricted from entering this church that can be found present amidst a very greenish garden.
Birla Mandir at Delhi is also renowned by the name Laxmi Narayan Mandir. A major tourist attraction at the metro, it was built by industrialist G D Birla, completed in the year 1939 and was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi.
One of Delhi's most beautiful temples, the main shrine here is dedicated to goddess Laxmi (the goddess of wealth and prosperity) and Narayana (her consort and preserver in Trimurti). Also, present around this main shrine are small temples dedicated to Lord Krishna, Shiva, Ganesh, Hanuman and Buddha.
There is a temple dedicated to Goddess Durga – the goddess of Shakti (power) too. Built in the Nagara style of Hindu temple architecture, it was constructed under the guidance of a person named Pandit Vishwanath Shastri and Mahatma Gandhi agreed to inaugurate the shrine after its completion, on condition that people of all religions and castes would be allowed inside the temple.
Spread across an area of 7.5 acres, the temple complex is beautifully landscaped with alluring green gardens and fountains and attracts thousands of pilgrims towards it every year, mostly during famous Hindu festivals like Diwali and Janmashtami. Located on Mandir Marg close by Connaught Place, the temple is easily accessible by all modes of transportation and remains open between 6 am and 10 pm on all seven days a week.
The Chunnamal Haveli is one of the attractions in Chandni Chowk. The structure takes you to large courtyards, Belgium mirrors and detailed artwork. Located at the heart of Chandni Chowk in Delhi, the haveli is being preserved in its original form by Anil Pershad who is a descendant of the Chunnamal family.
After the battle of 1857, Lala Chunnamal emerged as the wealthiest person of the whole of Delhi, and since then the haveli stands tall in the Katra Nil section, which is the heart of Chandni Chowk. The huge building is built in three floors across an area of over an acre. It has 128 rooms and the present generation of the Chunnamal family still lives there.
The whole of Chandni Chowk can be viewed from the terrace of the haveli. In fact, this is the only haveli that is well-preserved in the walled city of Old Delhi. An inscription on the wall of the drawing room in the haveli states that the structure was built in 1848.
However, a portion of the haveli was also built in 1864. The nearby attractions to the Chunnamal haveli are the Haus Khas Monuments, The Mehrauli Archaeological Park and the malls of Saket.
Chausath Khamba is a tomb in Delhi, built by Mirza Aziz Koka – son of Ataga Khan who was the prime minister of emperor Akbar, as a tomb for himself during the year 1623-24. Chausath Khamba, named after the two Urdu words Chausath and Khamba, which mean '64 pillars', respectively, was constructed during the rule of Jahangir in Delhi.
Present in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, Chausath Khamba is a square structure built out of white marble and consists of 64 columns that support 25 bays, each of which support a dome. These domes are inside the building structure, the roof of which appears flat from the outside.
Declared a heritage structure, this monument is part of the Nizamuddin religious complex. Also, present in the monument's vicinity are other heritage structures like the tomb of Ataga Khan, the URS Mahal – an assembly hall and the Mirza Ghalib Tomb – the tomb of renowned Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib.
And close by the tomb of Ghalib, there is the Ghalib Academy housing an Urdu literature library and a museum showcasing the works and collections of artworks and paintings of Mirza Ghalib.
Delhi Ridge or just The Ridge is a high ground in Delhi and is an extension of the ancient Aravalli Range. Better known as Delhi's green lungs for it allows the flow of some fresh air and protects the city from the hot winds of the Rajasthan's deserts, it has also earned Delhi the prestigious tag of world's second most bird-rich capital with Nairobi of Kenya grabbing the first place.
The ridge is known for containing quartzite rocks and has been divided into the following four zones for administrative purposes: The Old Delhi or Northern Ridge, The New Delhi or the Central Ridge, Mehrauli or South Central Ridge and Tughlaqabad or Southern Ridge. While present on the south-central part of the ridge is the Aravalli Biodiversity Park, there are many interesting monuments located in the northern part of the ridge. Let us learn a bit about them all.
Aravalli Biodiversity Park: Spread over an area of 692 acres, it is surrounded by the Mehrauli-Mahipalpur Road, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Palam Road, NH-8 and Vasanth Vihar. Maintained by the Delhi Development Authority and the University of Delhi, a good amount of money was spent on its development and restoration.
Ashoka Pillar: The pillars of Ashoka are a range of pillars spread across northern India. Columns with Ashoka's edicts inscribed upon them, there are a total of nineteen in number spread across North India. Two of these are in Delhi Ridge's northern portion. These were originally present at Meerut and Topra of Haryana but are said to have been brought to Delhi by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 1356.
Flagstaff Tower: This structure is present in the Delhi University campus. Built by the British Indian Army during 1828, it was used as a signal tower, and the structure played a major role during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. It was in the same room that many of the European families took shelter during the siege of Delhi in the 1857.
Pir Gharib: This structure used to be an observatory. It also was a hunting lodge of the 14th century and was built by Feroz Shah Tughlaq and can be found present on the Northern Ridge.