Over the centuries, Delhi has made its stance as the capital of India fusing together the ancient and the modern so effortlessly. Comprising two contrasting yLotus templeet harmonious parts, the Old Delhi and New Delhi, this city is truly the travel hub for tourists from the world over.
Narrating the city's Mughal past, Old Delhi takes you through the labyrinthine streets passing through formidable mosques, monuments and forts and coupled with New Delhi, they unravel a clear image of rich culture, architecture and diversity One can easily behold the rich history of the city in its monuments, museums and people. While holding on to its cultures and norms, Delhi has transcended into a city that offers the best in luxury, the classiest of restaurants and pubs, and the best shopping options.
Yet even as it bears close resemblance to first world cities elsewhere, Delhi has a particular charm unlike any other. It has developed a personality that lures one into feeling at home. Temples and monuments like the famous lskcon temple, the 16th century Humayun tomb, the Bahai Lotus temple often compared to the Sydney Oprah house, and Sacred Heart Cathedral are evident of harmonious living in Delhi.
Swaminarayan Akshardham reflects the essence and magnitude of India's ancient architecture, traditions and timeless spirituality. The main monument, depicting ancient Indian "Vastu Shastra" and architecture, is a marvel in pink sandstone and white marble that is 141 feet high, 316 feet wide and 370 feet long with 234 ornate pillars, over 20,000 sculptures and statues of deities, eleven 72-foot-high huge domes (Mandapams) and decorative arches. (It remains closed on Mondays).
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is the most prominent Sikh gurdwara or Sikh house of worship, in Delhi, known for its association with the eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Krishan, and the pond inside its complex, known as the "Sarovar", whose water is considered holy by Sikhs and is known as "Amrit". It was first built as a small temple by Sikh General, Sardar Bhagel Singh in 1783, who supervised the construction of nine Sikh shrines in Delhi in the same year, during the reign of Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam II.
Laxmi Narayan Temple, also known as Birla Mandir, is one of Delhi's major temples and a major tourist attraction. Built by the industrialst G.D. Birla in 1938, this beautiful temple is located in the west of Connaught Place. The temple is dedicated to Laxmi (the goddess of prosperity) and Narayana (The preserver). The temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi on the condition that people of all castes will be allowed to enter the temple.
New Delhi houses several government buildings and official residences reminiscent of the British colonial architecture. Today we will drive past few of them, like The Parliament House, designed by Baker is 173m in diameter, the Rashtrapati Bhawan once the Viceroy's residence is now the official residence of the President of India. Designed by Lutyens, it combines western and eastern styles.
Humayun's Tomb is probably one of the most innovative and experimental monuments of its time, incorporating within it Indo-Islamic architectural styles. This magnificent garden tomb is the first substantial example of Mughal architecture in India. It was built in 1565 A.D. nine years after the death of Humayun, by his senior widow Bega Begam. Inside the walled enclosure the most notable features are the garden squares (Charbagh) with pathways water channels, centrally located well proportional mausoleum topped by double dome.
At the centre of New Delhi stands the 42 m high India Gate, an "Arc-de-Triumph" like archway in the middle of a crossroad. Almost similar to its French counterpart, it commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during the World War I. The memorial bears the names of more than 13,516 British and Indian soldiers killed in the Northwestern Frontier in the Afghan war of 1919. Under the arch, the Amar Jawan Jyoti commemorating Indian armed forces' losses in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971.
This great mosque of Old Delhi is the largest in India, with a courtyard capable of holding 25,000 devotees. It was begun in 1644 and ended up being the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort. The highly decorative mosque has three great gates, four towers and two 40 m-high minarets constructed of strips of red sandstone and white marble. The interior of the prayer hall is divided into aisles by arches. The walls and floors are of marble inlay panels.
Laxmi Narayan Temple
Laxmi Narayan Temple, also known as Birla Mandir, is one of Delhi's major temples and a major tourist attraction. Built by the industrialist G.D. Birla in 1938, this beautiful temple is located in the west of Connaught Place. The temple is dedicated to Laxmi (the goddess of prosperity) and Narayana (The preserver). The temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi and people of all religion and faiths can worship in the temple. The design is in the Orissan style with tall curved towers (sikhara) capped by large amalakas.
The Bahai House of Worship or Bahai Temple is also known as the Lotus Temple due to its shape like half opened Lotus flower. This temple is the last of seven Major Bahai's temples built around the world. Completed in 1986 it is set among the lush green landscaped gardens. The structure is made up of pure white marble. The architect Furiburz Sabha chose the lotus as the symbol common to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Adherents of any faith are free to visit the temple and pray or meditate. (It remains closed on Mondays).
The National Museum in New Delhi is one of the largest museums in India. It was established in 1949, and holds variety of articles dating back from pre-historic era to modern works of art. The museum contains 200,000 works of art, both of Indian and foreign origin, covering over 5,000 years. It also houses the National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology, established in 1983 and now a Deemed University since 1989, and run Master and Doctoral level courses in History of Art, Art Conservation and Art restoration. (It remains closed on Mondays).
The Rashtrapati Bhavan or The Official Residence of the Head of the State is the official residence of the President of India, located at Raisina Hill in New Delhi. Until 1950 it was known as "Viceroy's House" and served as the residence of the Viceroy and Governor-General of India. The construction of the building was planned for 4 years, but World War I intervened and construction took 19 years to complete. All important Indian State and Official ceremonies are held here.
Raj Ghat is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. It is a black marble platform that marks the spot of Mahatma Gandhi's cremation, on 31 January 1948, a day after his assassination. It is left open to the sky while an eternal flame burns perpetually at one end. It is located on the banks of the river Yamuna in Delhi on Ring Road officially known as Mahatma Gandhi Road. A stone footpath flanked by lawns leads to the walled enclosure that houses the memorial.
Delhi's monuments such as Qutub Minar (the 238 feet tall highest individual tower in the world) and Jantar Mantar (built by Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur in 1710 AD have a perfect amalgamation of religion and science) continue to be marvels to all those who visit the city. Red Fort (built by Shah Jahan in 1638, when he shifted the Mughal Empire's capital from Agra to Delhi) stands tall among the important monuments of the city as thousands continue to be even today. The name Red Fort (Lal Qila) comes from the massive red sandstone walls that surround it; Jama Masjid known to be the largest mosque in India is only a stone's throw away from the fort. The fascinating architecture of the Akshardham Temple is another marvel where one can explore Indian culture ornate with 20,000 statues, floral motifs, arches and exquisitely-carved pillars.
However, Delhi has more to it than just architecture. It has evolved into a shopping paradise for anyone looking for difference entwined with rich culture. Bargaining while you shop at the famous Janpath or Chandni Chowk markets can be an exhilarating and unforgettable experience. The streets lined with shops are packed with craft items India gatebelonging to almost all the states in India. The vibrant colours hanging from the roof of shops alone have been proven to be a magnet for most. Shopping malls can also be seen popping up in every area offering the best of international brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior just to name a few.
The Oberoi, ITC Maurya Sheraton, Le Meridien and The Park are just a few of the 5-star hotels which have made Delhi a hub for tourists looking at having a relaxed and hospitable stay. Most of these hotels cater for everything under one roof. Folk dances and Indian classical music have become very much a part of the evening menu, giving even the locals a taste of authentic Delhi. But the options for stay do not end here. Recently, the city has approved the Bed & Breakfast for anyone who wants to share their hospitality with the public and visitors looking for a home away from home experience.
Delhi particularly shines during Independence Day (August 1 5) and Republic Day (January 26). During this time patriotic energies run high as shoppers get ready to adorn their premises with India's flag and other decorative pieces with colours of saffron, white and green which represent the flag. On Independence Day, kites fly high from every roof top, thus adding to the festive spirit.
Another festival Delhi looks forward to is Lohri where a bonfire is lit after sunset. The festivities are incomplete without sweets, peanuts, puffed rice, popcorn, singing and dancing, especially the traditional dance of Bhangra and Gidda and the folk songs. Over the centuries Delhi has always had a lot to offer but today in the twentieth century, the possibilities of having a fulfilled and memorable vacation are endless. So come to Delhi and feel the pulse of this vibrant city.
The imperial city of New Delhi displays the finely-curved architecture of the British Raj. It generates a mesmerising charm reflecting well-composed and spacious streets under the shade of beautifully lined avenues of trees and tall and imposing government buildings.
Then there are the famous Delhi foods. Delhi is a foodie's delight; you can be assured that you'll never go hungry with lanes lined up with cafeterias, hotels and restaurants. The city has the taste of everything be it North Indian, South Indian, Chinese, Continental and American lifestyle fast food. However, the best tasting foods dredged in sweet smelling ghees and chillies savoured by ginger teas can be found right on the roadsides.
A flatbread made with whole-wheat flour, pan fried in oil, and sometimes stuffed with crushed vegetables.
Rice and dal flour mixed into a batter and like a pancake it is spread on a hot pan until golden, brown and served with a sour type dal, Sambar.
Chaat Bhalle papri, aloo tikki, gol gappe
Mixture of yogurt and Tamarind syrup thrown over crispy fried flour batter.
Betel leaf combined with the areca nut.
Rice cooked with vegetables and meats.
Large puffy fried bread made out of flour served with curried chick peas aka chhole.