The Red Fort (Lal Qila) is the new name of the famous Qila-e-Moalla (The Exalted Fort) which was built as the focal point of Shahjahanabad which was then the new capital city. The fort was established during the mid 17th century. The fort was designed by Ustad Ahmed, and the construction began in 1639 which continued till 1648.
However, additions to the fort were done through the 19th century. The huge fort is built in red stone and is one of the magnificent palaces of the world. The fort is spread across 2.41 km, and the two main gates to the fort are the Lahore Gate and the Delhi Gate. The Lahore Gate leads to the Chatta Chowk which was the market place which catered to the royal families.
The Red Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This beautiful monument has several marvellous structures in it. The Diwan-i-Aam is one among such palatial marvels. This is where the King addressed the problems and complaints of the commoners. Then there is Diwan-i-Khas which was meant for private meetings and conferences.
The Moti Masjid was a later addition to the fort. The masjid was a private mosque built by Mughal emperor Aurangazeb. Chatta Chowk, transliterated as 'the covered bazaar', is a shopping location at the Red Fort, Delhi. This was an area where silk, jewellery and other goods that catered to the royal household were sold during the Mughal period.
Diwan-i-Aam or the Hall of Public Audiences is the hall in the Red Fort where the emperor Shah Jahan used to address the problems and complaints of the commoners. He would hear the complaints through a balcony (jharokha) seated in a canopied alcove.
Diwan-i-Khas (Khas Mahal) or the 'Hall of Private Audience' is situated inside the Red Fort in Delhi. The hall was where private meetings and conferences with courtiers and state guests were held by emperor Shah Jahan.
The Moti Masjid is a mosque located to the west of the Hammam (Royal Baths) at the Red Fort. Mumtaz Mahal is one of the women's courtyards of Zenana in the Red Fort, which is currently a museum. The palace is built at the southernmost end of the row of palaces.
Mumtaz Mahal is one among the six mansions built in Red Fort by emperor Shah Jahan. The Naqqar Khana marks the entrance to the Rang Mahal in the Red Fort. This three-storeyed building was used to play music five times a day at promising hours. The structure was also called Hathipol as those who visited the palace would dismount from the elephants at this place.
The Rang Mahal at Red Fort or the 'Palace of Colours', which is also known as the Begum Mahal, is where emperor Shah Jahan housed his wives and mistresses. Every year the Prime Minister hoists the National Flag here to mark the Independence Day.
During evenings, sound and light shows are conducted that describe the Mughal history. There is also an archaeological museum and Indian War Memorial Museum. The Fort is open from 8 am to 6 pm everyday, except Mondays. The amenities of the fort include guides, a small canteen, toilets, wheelchair access and parking space.
Of all the major attractions of Delhi, India Gate is one of the most visited tourist spots. Situated in the heart of the Delhi city, India Gate stands tall as one of the national monuments of the nation. The 42-metre-high monument is built in resemblance to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The memorial which was originally called the All India War Memorial commemorates around 70,000 soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during the World War I and the Third Anglo-Afghan War of 1919.
Though the foundation stone was laid by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Connaught, in the year 1921, the monument was completed in 1931 by the then Viceroy, Lord Irwin. The structure was designed by Edwin Lutyens. It is built of red and pale sandstones along with granite. Under the monument, you can see an eternal flame Amar Jawan Jyothi that pays homage to the soldiers who fought for the nation and lost their lives in the Indo-Pak War in 1971.
The vacant canopy in front of the India Gate earlier had a statue of the Emperor of India, George V which was moved to the Coronation Park. India Gate was built in the year 1931 and till date remains one of the best attractions of India.
A complex located in Delhi's Mehrauli, Qutub complex is home to the very famous attraction Qutub Minar and many more classic historic monuments. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has many structures from the Slave dynasty. A very well-maintained place, it is a major tourist attraction and a picnic spot in Delhi. Here is a list of interesting monuments housed within it:
Qutub Minar: This one is the most famous structures at the complex. The UNESCO World Heritage is the tallest minaret in the country, at a height of 72.5 metres. Qutub Minar is supposed to be a victory tower built by Qutubuddin-Aibak during 1193 and 1368. Extremely well maintained, it is an architectural wonder and is a must-see structure in India.
Iron Pillar: If you have heard of an iron pillar in India that's rust-resistant, it is housed here within this complex. A seven-metre-tall pillar raised by Chandragupta II Vikramaditya during 400 AD, it continues to amaze metallurgists for the combination of rust-free metals used and for remaining strong, resisting the harsh climatic conditions of Delhi.
Alai Minar: This tower was commissioned by Alauddin Khilji to be built at a height double that of Qutub Minar's, but he died when it was completed up to 25.4 metres and with his death the construction of the minar stopped too. The incomplete Alai Minar is also present within the complex.
Alai Darwaza: It is a small square-shaped building with a dome that used to be the entranceway to Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque inside the complex. Now, the structure stands behind the Qutub Minar and is all of beautifully carved stone screens and marble decorations.
Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque: This one inside the complex is one of the oldest mosques in Delhi. Though mostly in ruins, some of the structure's parts are still intricate and are all of beautiful decorations and carvings.
Tomb Of Imam Zamin: This tomb is dedicated to a Turkestani Imam who had stayed at the mosque in the Qutub complex during the rule of Sikandar Lodi. It can be found next to the Alai Darwaza.
Alauddin Khilji's Tomb And Madrasa: The tomb of Khilji dynasty ruler Alauddin Khilji's tomb and a madrasa built by the ruler can be found behind the complex. He was the second sultan of Delhi and ruled from the place between 1296 to 1316 AD.
Tomb Of Iltutmish: Also present inside the complex is the tomb of Iltutmish—the Slave dynasty ruler. The cenotaph is made of a white marble and is located on a raised platform in the heart of the chamber. It is renowned for its extensive and beautiful carving.
Sultan Ghari: Sultan Ghari is an Islamic tomb that was built for Nasir ud din Mahmud—the elder son of Iltutmish. Constructed in the year 1231 AD, it was initially part of the medieval Delhi which was called the Slave dynasty. However, the area, today, is a part of the Qutub complex. While it has an unusual structure and is like a fortress with a courtyard, unlike other tombs, it also happens to be a very popular place among both Hindu and Muslim pilgrims who worship the same like a Dargah rather than treating it like a tomb. Thus, the heritage structure is better maintained by these devotees than the Archaeological Survey of India.
The Jama Masjid is one of the oldest and largest mosques of India. This was the last architectural work of Emperor Shah Jahan. The construction of the mosque started in 1650 and was completed in 1656. Located at the Chowri Bazar Road, the mosque is one of the main attractions of Old Delhi.
The mosque was originally named Masjid-i-Jahan Numa which means the “World-reflecting Mosque”. The mosque was later renamed as Jama Masjid which gained its name from Jammah, the Friday noon congregation prayers followed by the Islamic.
This huge mosque can hold up to 25,000 worshippers in it. It has three majestic gates, four towers of 40-metre-high minarets made of red sandstone and white marble. There are 260 beautifully done carved pillars in the mosque that has a mixture of both Hindu and Jain architecture. The floor of the mosque is covered with white and black marble that resembles an ornamented Muslim prayer mat. This beautiful mosque stands on a 5-feet-high platform and is perhaps the largest mosque in India.
The mosque has a number of relics in it, among which is an antique copy of the Qur'an that is written on deerskin. This is placed at the north gate of the mosque. The mosque is opposite the Red Fort in Delhi.
Parliament House, the supreme law making body of the country is a major tourist attraction at New Delhi. Located on Sansad Marg, it is an attractive circular structure, housing the ministerial offices, various committee rooms and a beautiful library with an extensive collection of books.
The circular building consists of a central hall with a dome atop. Built in an imperial style, it consists of a verandah with 144 pillars. Designed by two British architects named Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker, its construction was completed by 1927.
This building until 1946 served as the central library of the then Central Legislative Assembly and the Council of States and was later converted into the Constituent Assembly Hall.
And the central hall holds an important place in the Indian history for the following two reasons: for the transfer of colonial power to the provisional Government in 1947 under Nehru and for the framing of the constitution which took place in the same central hall of the parliament building.
Today, the central hall is used for the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha meetings and for things such as discussions among the members and various other important political occasions. Visitors are not allowed to visit the building. However, with prior permission, one can visit and watch the proceedings inside the house.
Raj Ghat in Delhi needs no special introduction. It is the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi and was built following his assassination on January 31, 1948. Such is the place's importance that in recent times, it has become mandatory for all the foreign delegates visiting India to visit Raj Ghat, offer flowers, and pay their respects to Mahatma Gandhi.
Raj Ghat can be found present on the Mahatma Gandhi Marg on the banks of river Yamuna. The site is one of Delhi's most popular tourist attractions and attracts thousands of visitors towards it each day.
The memorial is a square shaped flat platform built out of black marble, burning at one end of which is an eternal flame. It is surrounded by a stone footpath and greenish lawns and has the epitaph 'He Ram' inscribed upon it, for these are the words believed to have been last uttered by the Mahatma.
When one visits this famous memorial, there are quite a few things to be kept in mind. As a mark of respect to Gandhi, visitors to Raj Ghat should remove their footwear before entering the memorial premises. Also, while a commemorative ceremony is held every Friday, prayer sessions will be held on the leader's birth and death anniversary days every year.
The memorial has been designed by a person named Vanu G Bhuta, and the architecture evinces the eminent leader's mantra – 'Simplicity'. However, the memorial has seen several changes in its design from the time of its construction.
When you visit Raj Ghat, it is not just the Mahatma's memorial that you'll get to see. Surrounding this famous cremation site are memorials of various other prominent political leaders who ruled India.
Some of them include the following: Shantivan – the memorial of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vijay Ghat – memorial of Lal Bahadur Shastri, Shakti Sthal – cremation site of Indira Gandhi, Ekta Sthal – memorial of Giani Zail Singh and Veer Bhumi – cremation of Rajiv Gandhi, to name a few.
Rajpath – as the very name suggests, is Delhi's 'Royal Street'. Stretching from the famous Rashtrapathi Bhavan via Vijay Chowk, India Gate to Delhi's National Museum, it is a ceremonial street for the Republic of India. Considered as one of India's important boulevards, it is flanked by trees, ponds and beautiful green lawns on either side.
Each year on January 26, the annual republic day parade takes place on this road. It is this road through which funeral processions of popular Indian politicians pass. While the road passes straight towards Raisina Hill and ends at the Rashtrapati Bhavan gates, roads from Connaught Place run into the boulevard from the North.
The important buildings and landmarks surrounding Rajpath include secretariat buildings, Rashtrapathi Bhavan - the residence of the President of India, Vijay Chowk or the Victory Square and the India Gate. Since the stretch is surrounded by various buildings that are politically important, it happens to be a highly protected area with very tight security.
The plan of the Delhi City was made by British architect Edwin Lutyens with Rajpath as the place of key importance of the entire plan. Most of the buildings around Rajpath were designed by Lutyens and yet another architect named Herbert Baker.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan is perhaps the most prestigious building in India. Apart from its impressive architecture, the building also is the official residence of the President of India. The building came into existence when the capital of the nation was shifted from Kolkata to Delhi.
The structure was built to accommodate the British Viceroy and thus it was built in a classical blend of royal Mughal architecture and elegant European architecture as well. The two-shaded sandstone structure has a beautiful dome that was inspired by the Stupa of Sanchi. This dome, however, is visible from a long distance.
The Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is well decorated with colourful marbles giving it a luxurious look. The Ashokan Hall on the other hand is done in Persian style with a painted ceiling and wooden flooring. The rooftops, windows, chattris, etc. are the other attractions of the building that evokes the aesthetic sense of the one who sees it.
The Presidential Estate comprises of a drawing room, a dinning room, a banquet hall, a tennis court, a polo ground, a cricket field and a museum. The whole structure consists of four floors with 340 rooms in them. No steel has been used for the construction of the whole structure.
The Indian temple bells used in the pillars of the building is another specialty of the Presidential palace. These bells depict the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cultures.The Mughal Garden here is again a blend of Mughal and British style. It is spread across 13 acres of land and has some exotic varieties of flowers. The Rashtrapati Bhavan is a true visual treat to visitors, and it also is truly a masterpiece of architecture.
National Museum in New Delhi is one of the biggest repositories in the country. Set up at Delhi in the year 1949, it exhibits a wide range of interesting artifacts. Functional under the Union Ministry of Culture, it can be found located in the corner of Maulana Azad Road and Janpath and houses all forms of artworks like those from the pre-historic times to the modern arts.
A Pinch Of History
It all began with an expo of Indian artifacts held in London during the year 1947-48. Curators of this exhibition which was conducted at the Royal Academy, London decided to put up a show of all the exhibits once in India before the unique collections were sent back to their respective museums.
As a result, the same collections were displayed at Delhi's Rashtrapati Bhavan. The exhibition attracted so many connoisseurs that it was decided that a national museum of arts be set up at Delhi itself. Thus, the National Museum came into existence the very same year and was inaugurated by the then governor of India Chakravarti Rajagopalachari.
However, the building of the present day museum came into existence and was opened to the public only in the year 1960.
The museum today houses a whopping 200,000 art pieces of both Indian and foreign origins within. It includes terracotta and bronze exhibits that date back to 2700 BC, wooden sculptures from the Mauryan era, art pieces from the Vijayanagar of South India, artifacts representing the Gupta period, Indus Valley Civilization, Mughal Era, Gandharva period and more.
Also, present within the museum is a separate Buddhist art section that includes various antiques of Buddha, discovered and unearthed from the Basti district of Uttar Pradesh. Some more interesting exhibits include the dancing statue from Mohenjodaro, tribal arts and jewelry, miniature art pieces, mural paintings, costumes, musical instruments, weapons and some very impressive memorials autographed by the renowned Mughal emperor Jahangir.
The collections, in general, include items belonging to categories like paintings, jewelry, archeology, manuscripts, arms and armours and more. Spread across three vast floors, a single day would probably be insufficient to view and admire the collections within this beautiful museum. The museum remains open for public viewing between 10 am and 5 pm daily and remains closed on Mondays.
The famous Kalkaji Temple is one of the most visited and revered ancient temples in India. It is located at Kalkaji near Nehru Place in the capital city. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Kali who is an incarnation of Maa Durga.
The temple is also called the Manokamna Siddha Peeth and Manokamna means all the desires of the devotees. The legend behind the temple is interesting as the Goddess Kalika was born from Goddess Parvati who wanted to help other Gods to be safe from a large number of demons.
The Devi then took the place as her abode and thus it emerged as a temple. The temple is built in brick masonry which currently boasts of a marble finish and is surrounded by a pyramidal tower. The central chamber is 12-sided with a doorway on each side that is paved with marbles. There is then a veranda enclosing the chamber, with 36 arched openings.
Though regular poojas are done in the temple daily, the temple turns into a festive mood during the Navratri season. Devotees gather here during this festival that happens twice a year to sing hymns in praise of Goddess Durga. The attractions near the temple are the Lotus Temple and the ISKCON temple.
Jantar Mantar in Delhi is a very interesting and a 'must-visit' attraction. An observatory renowned for housing some unique astronomical instruments, it can be found present in the modern city of Delhi. Jantar Mantar was constructed in the year 1724 and happens to be one among five other such sites built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur.
The Maharaja took up the task for the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah who wanted him to revise the calender and the astronomical tables. Built with an aim of compiling astronomical tables, to predict the movements of sun, moon and the planets, Jantar Mantar houses a total of 13 interesting astronomical instruments.
The other five observatories built by Jai Singh under the same name – Jantar Mantar can be found in Jaipur, Varanasi, Ujjain and Mathura. However, no accurate observations can be made with the hep of these instruments today, but all five of them are major tourist attractions in India and are very significant in the area of astronomy.
Some of the unique instruments within Jantar Mantar include the following: The Ram Yantra, Mishra Yantra – a structure whose job was to indicate when it turned noon in various places across the globe, the Samrat Yantra – a massive 70 ft tall instrument which actually is an equal hour sundial, and the Jayaprakash Yantra that was built with an aim to align a star's position.
Jantar Mantar is located on the Parliament Street and remains open for public viewing on all days.
The National Zoological Park or the Delhi Zoo is a nature reservation site which is located near the Old Fort at Delhi across an area of 214 acres. The zoo has around 1350 animals covering an average of 130 species of animals and birds around the world.
The zoo was opened on November 1st, 1959 as the Delhi Zoo. However, it was later renamed as the National Zoological Park hoping that the park would be an example to other zoos in India. The main objective of the zoo is to create awareness amongst the visitors and public in general regarding nature conservation.
The wildlife here include chimpanzee, spider monkey, African wild buffalo, Gir lion, macaque, banteng, axis deer, fallow deer and peafowl amongst other animals, birds and water animals. There is an underground Reptile Home Complex within the park which has a huge collection of snakes and reptiles.
The zoo also joins the Central Zoo Authority for the preservation programs of royal Bengal tiger, Indian rhinoceros, swamp deer, Asiatic lion, brow-antlered deer and the red junglefowl.
The zoo is open on all days except Fridays. During summers it is open from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm and during winters from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. The entry fee for an Indian is Rs 5 and Rs 100 for a foreigner. The zoo also has a cafeteria for refreshments and an open-roofed mobile van to take a tour of the park at affordable rates.
The Akshardham or the Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple located in Delhi is a true depiction of Indian culture, architecture and spirituality. The temple complex took around 5 years to be completed under the guidance of Pramukh Swami Maharaj who was the spiritual lead of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha.
Around 11,000 artisans, among whom 3000 were volunteers, have worked on the construction of the Akshardham Temple Complex. The complex was officially inaugurated on the 6th of November, 2005. The temple was built following Vastu Shastra and Pancharatra Shastra.
The whole temple complex is divided into 5 major portions. The main temple is situated at the centre of the complex. The 141 ft high structure consists of 234 wonderfully carved pillars, 9 ornate domes, 20 quadrangled shikhars, an imposing Gajendra Pith (plinth of stone elephants), around 20,000 idols and statues of divine personalities, rishis, devotees and saints.
Being built with pink sandstones and white marble, the monument doesn't have any steel or concrete in its structure. There is a “Hall of Values” or the Sahajanad Pradarshan which exhibits incidents from the life of Swaminarayan using animated robotics and dioramas. The incidents leave messages that tell us about the importance of peace, harmony, humility, service to others and devotion to the Almighty.
The Neelkanth Kalyan yathra, which is a motion film screened on a giant screen is also an attraction of the complex. The film screened shows various religious places in India, their culture, festivals, etc. It is called the “Mystic India”. One can also take a boat ride which takes you to the history of Indian heritage and discoveries made by the Indian rishis through its models and portraits.
This gives you a clear idea about the vast Indian culture. The musical fountain of the Yagnapurush Kund is another attraction of the complex. It is a rare combination of a Vedic yagna kund and a musical fountain. The kund or the stepwell is the largest stepwell of the world, and in the evening it also has musical fountain shows.
To the centre of the stepwell there is an eight-petalled lotus which is designed in perfect geometry to define the advanced knowledge of mathematics in India. The Bharat Upavan or the “Garden of India” is a huge lush garden which is lined up with bronze sculptures of children, women, freedom fighters, eminent personalities and notable figures of India.
The other attractions of the complex include the Yogi Hraday Kamal, Neelkanth Abishek, Narayan Sarovar, Premvati Ahargruh and the AARSH Centre. The temple is a must-visit attraction of Delhi and is not to be missed if you have set your feet at the capital city.
Gurdwara Bangla Sahib is a famous Sikh religious attraction in New Delhi. Located near Connaught Place, it has a very impressive structure with a golden dome and is renowned for its association with Guru Harkrishan – the eighth Sikh Guru. The gurdwara is also renowned for a famous pond called the 'Sarovar', the water inside which is considered as 'Amrit' (holy water) by the Sikh community members.
Originally, the Gurdwara edifice happened to be a bungalow of Raja Jai Singh – a 17th century ruler from Amber and the structure was then called Jaisighpura Palace. The eighth guru of the Sikh community Guru Har Krishan is believed to have resided in this very same bungalow when he visited Delhi in the year 1664.
During his stay at the place, deadly diseases like smallpox and cholera were prevalent at the place and to help the diseased, he would provide fresh water from a well present in the palace complex. Gradually, the guru also contacted the disease and expired in the year 1664.
Later, Raja Jai Singh constructed a tank over this well and it is the same water that's considered sacred by all the Sikh community members today. People from across the globe carry water from this tank and preserve at their homes.
The water is also believed to possess medicinal properties even to this day. This temple complex includes the following within: the sarovar, a kitchen, an art gallery, a school, Baba Baghel Singh Museum, a hospital and a library.
Fatehpuri Masjid is located at the western end of Chandni Chowk. The mosque was built by Fatehpuri Begum, one of Shah Jahan's wives, in 1650.
The mosque is built in red sandstone. The mosque is the only single-domed congregational mosque in the whole of Delhi. Though the mosque appears to be small from outside, it is a fairly big structure once you enter it.
The mosque boasts of traditional design and the prayer hall has seven-arched openings. The central arch is the biggest amongst these seven arches. There are single-storeyed and double-storeyed structures on both sides of the mosque.
The mosque has three gates. One of the gates is in front of the Red Fort, and the other two gates are to the north and south of the mosque respectively. The two festivals of Islam Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are celebrated at the mosque with grandeur.
The attractions near to the Fatehpuri Masjid are the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid. The biggest spice market of Asia, the Khari Baoli, is also situated in the surrounding area.