Delhi is the capital of India and is a large metropolitan area known as the National Capital Territory of India or NCT. Acting as the country’s main headquarters and seat of the parliament and other important administrative and political buildings, Delhi is also a people’s capital. With a population of about 11 million, Delhi has also been an important base during the Mughal Era, thus dotting the city’s landscape with architectural and historical monuments of great grandeur and grit. From the congested lanes of Old Delhi to the modern industrial and IT hub corridors of the NCR(National Capital Region), Delhi has expanded over the years and has become an urban conglomeration.
Dating back in rich history and culture, Delhi has gems of national pride that are a must visit at least once in a lifetime.
WHAT TO SEE
India Gate: An iconic landmark of not only Delhi, but the entire country, the India Gate is a war memorial dedicated to the soldiers who died during the First World War and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. The imposing gate is situated on the Rajpath and is symbolic in the Republic Day celebrations. Within its premise lies the Amar Jawan Jyoti, a lighted flame in the honor of the martyred soldiers.
Red Fort: Constructed by Shah Jahan in 1939, the Red Fort is a massive imposing fort built in red sandstone and acted as the political center during the Mughal era. The Prime Minister of India every year unfurls the national flag and addresses the nation from the Red Fort on Independence Day.
Qutub Minar: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this towering structure was built by Qutbuddin Aibak in 1192. However, over the period of the time it was rebuilt by many other rulers. The carvings and architecture of this magnificent monument will leave you spellbound and awed.
Humayun’s Tomb: The tomb of the Mughal emperor Humayun, is a garden tomb built by Bega Begum in 1569. The design and architecture of the tomb is heavily influenced by Mughal architecture and looks regal and splendid as it stands peacefully amidst the sprawling geometrically designed beautiful gardens.
Jama Masjid: One of the largest mosques in India, the Jama Masjid was built by Shah Jahan somewhere between 1644 and 1656. The massive courtyard can house 25000 people at a time. The towering minarets, arched gateways and domes make the Jama Masjid another leading marker of the splendor of Mughal Architecture.
Lotus Temple: Shaped as a lotus flower, this temple is the Bahai House of Worship. Open to people of all religions and race, this architectural wonder is a place for quietude and peace with oneself.
Akshardham: Also called the Swaminarayan Akshardham complex is a Hindu temple, and also a spiritual and cultural campus. The premises display religion and spirituality with exquisite architecture and planning.
Purana Qila: The Purana Qila is one of the oldest forts in Delhi and seeped in historical and architectural significance. The origins of the fort are debatable, however its design and construction will leave one impressed.
Rashtrapati Bhavan: The official home of the President of India, is another important landmark of the city. The grand construction, sprawling gardens and the museum within help visitors understand, learn and admire this seat of power.
Parliament House: The administrative hub where policies are made and where the political top brass of the nation meets to carve out the country’s future, the Parliament House is a circular building based on the Ashoka Chakra. The building is the most recognizable landmark of the country.
There are many other tourist attractions including, the Lodhi Gardens, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, National Museum, Gandhi Smriti, Kashmiri Gate, National Rail Museum, National Science Center, Nehru Memorial and Library, Cathedral Church of Redemption and more.
Old Delhi deserves special mention for its culture, history, architecture, markets and food. Old Delhi is walled and was built by Shah Jahan 1639. It was originally called Shahjahanabad. The Red Fort and Jama Masjid are some of the monuments that are a part of Old Delhi.
The charm of Old Delhi lies in its balancing act of trying to grapple with modernization under the heady influence of a glorious past. The Mughal era buildings are converted into shops and stores and the streets are bustling with hawkers, vendors, astrologers and of course, the food stalls. Local shopping areas that are thriving such as, Chandni Chowk, Nai Sarak, Chor Bazaar, Chhatta Chowk and Daryaganj Book Market are the main attractions that pull crowds from all over the country and world. Clothes, accessories, jewelry, fabrics, electronic goods, books and many more items are shopped from the streets of Old Delhi.
However, it is the food of Old Delhi that reigns supreme and gives it flavors and spices that are renowned all over. Chandi Chowk and Chauri are some examples of networks of interconnected lanes and alleys, each aromatic with street foods of different kinds, ranging from parathas, chaat items, kababs, mutton curry, nihari and sweets such as, halwas, ladoos, barfi and so on. Sometimes an entire street is named after the food item it specializes in, such as the Paranthe Wali Gali or the Batatshe Wali Gali.
New Delhi is better planned and is popular for landmarks such as, Parliament, India Gate and the Connaught Palace which is one of the biggest financial, business and commercial center of New Delhi.
Janpath and the Tibetan Market, Karol Bagh, Paharganj, Khan Market, Lajpat Nagar and Matka Market are some of the famous shopping areas of New Delhi. Street food goes hand in hand with the shopping areas where pan shops, kulfi shops, chaat items etc. are present ubiquitously.
Places near Delhi
Jim Corbett National Park: Known for a diverse wildlife this national park is also a tiger reserve and visited fondly by wildlife enthusiasts.
Agra: The city of the Taj Mahal, Agra is a definite getaway from Delhi that should not be missed.
Gugaon: A part of the National Capital Region, Gurgaon is an industrial and IT hub.
Rishikesh: Located near the foothills of the Himalayas, Rishikesh is famous for its ashrams, temples and yoga.
Mussoorie: This mesmerizingly beautiful hill station is popular amongst tourist for its beauty as well colonial influence.
Shimla: The picturesque hill station of Himachal Pradesh is a summer delight and buzzing with tourists all through the year.
Chandigarh: The planned city of Chandigarh will impress you with its efficiency and road network. The capital of Punjab and Haryana Chandigarh is famous for the Rock Garden and Sukhna Lake.
Delhi situated along the Yamuna, is the perfect blend of the old and new. The Mughal era stamp on the city’s landscape in form of language, architecture and literature is visible along with modernization, political and national administration and the clutter and clamber that are a manifestation of a busy and populated capital city.