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A vibrant city with the imposing...
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A national tribute to the bravehearts and martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the country, the War Memorial stands proud at the heart of Delhi. An expansive monument boasting well-manicured lawns, peppered with life-like busts of the brave heroes who gave their lives in the service of the country, War Memorial invokes a deep pride in visitors. It is dedicated to the soldiers who gave their lives during the India-China war in 1962, Indo-Pak Wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971, Indian Peace Keeping Force Operations in Sri Lanka and in the Kargil conflict of 1999.
A historical gem in Delhi, Qila Rai Pithora or Lal Kot was built by Rajput king Prithvi Raj Chauhan, who was fondly called Rai Pithora. The ruins of the vast fort bear traces of its former grandeur, and can be seen around areas of Qutub Minar, Saket, Vasant Kunj, Mehrauli and Kishangarh. Earlier, Qila Rai Pithora was a city surrounded by fortifications.
It is said to be an extension of Lal Kot, which was the first city of Delhi, built in the 8th century by Tomar kings. It is said that the fort came under the rule of Mamluk dynasty, when Prithvi Raj Chauhan was defeated by Qutb al-Din Aibak. Since then, the fort has had the same structure with no renovations. Today, it falls under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and makes for an interesting exploration.
The governance centre of world's largest democracy, India, Parliament House is one of the most impressive buildings in Delhi. A fine specimen of symmetry and architecture, it is spherical in shape, and comprises three semicircular chambers that house the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and a central library. About 144 columns add to the beauty of the building, along with beautiful gardens and fountains. The boundary wall of the building features sandstone blocks carved in intricate geometric patterns. One can visit the house by obtaining an official permission. Parliament House was built in 1921, and its foundation stone was laid by the Duke of Connaught and it was inaugurated in 1927 by Lord and Lady Irwin. It was designed by Herbert Baker. It is said that the Constitution of India was drafted in this building.
One of the oldest structures in Delhi, Feroz Shah Kotla Fort was built by Sultan Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 1354. According to historical sources, this fort was built when the ruler decided to shift his capital from Tughlaqabad to Firozabad due to the scarcity of water at the former capital. Hence, the fort was built on the banks of the holy Yamuna river to serve the purpose. The fort has some magnificent gardens, mosques, palaces etc., in its complex. The entrance of the fort has a gigantic iron gate with the name of the ruler and the boundary of the fort walls are as high as 15 m. Though a number of structures in the fort are in ruins, the stepwell (baoli) is still in good condition. One of the interesting features of the fort is that it houses an Ashokan Pillar, which was brought by Feroz Shah from Ambala to Delhi. It is 13 m high and bears the inscriptions of Ashoka's principles.
The 16th-century stone fort finds a mention in the epic Mahabharata and it is said that near it lie the remnants of the legendary city of Indraprastha. Excavations in the fort show the area was inhabited even around 300 BC.The thick walls of the somewhat rectangular fort are crowned by merlons and have three gateways with bastions on either side. In ancient times, the fort was surrounded by a wide moat that was connected to River Yamuna, which flowed to the east of the fort. The Northern Gate is a blend of the Islamic pointed arch and the Hindu chhatris and brackets. The walls and the gateway of the fort were built by Mughal emperor Humayun and his work was carried forward by Sher Shah Suri, the Afghan ruler who ruled Delhi in the mid-16th century after defeating Humayun. Inside are a stepwell, a tower used as a library-cum-observatory, and a mosque. Humayun started construction in 1533, but was defeated after a few years by Sher Shah. Around 15 years later, Humayun re-captured the fort but soon after tripped down the stairs of the library and died. A spectacular light and sound show held every evening retells the story.
Untouched by the test of time, Safdarjung Tomb stands elegantly framed against a picturesque backdrop. A beautiful architectural specimen made of marble and sandstone, it was built in 1754 in the memory of an able administrator and statesman, Muhammad Muqim in-Khurasan, who was honoured with the title of Safdarjung by the then emperor. Boasting a large central dome, the monument was designed by an Ethiopian architect. It is built on an elevated platform, which is further surrounded by huge square gardens that measure 280 m on each side. The tomb has intricate designs on its facade and its backside houses several rooms and a library. There are a number of Arabic inscriptions on its surfaces. The burial chambers of Safdarjung and his wife, Amat Jahan Begum, are preserved in an underground chamber of the monument. The entire monument is under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Located on the outskirts of Delhi, Tughlaqabad is speckled with ancient monuments, seeing that it was the capital of the Tughlaq dynasty that ruled over Delhi in the 14th century. The city houses fascinating stone fortifications, which surround it in an irregular manner. The typical feature of the monuments of Tughlaq dynasty are the sloping, rubble-filled city walls, which are 10-15 m in height and are further topped by battlement parapets and strengthened by circular bastions of up to two storeys.
The highlight of the city is the Tughlaqabad Fort, which was established by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq in 1320-1321. The fort is located on the hills of the Aravalli range and its walls are as long as 6 km. The main purpose of building the fort was to defend it against the frequent Mongol attacks.
Built in the memory of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who is revered as the Father of the Nation, Raj Ghat is a marble platform where he was cremated on January 31, 1948. Lying on the banks of the Yamuna river, Rajghat is fringed by lush well-manicured lawns that are dotted with trees. The mortal remains of Gandhiji were cremated at this ghat.
The samadhi is a true reflection of the man himself and exudes a simplicity that he came to be associated with. A brick platform where his body was burned and a black marble platform are surrounded by a marble fence. The words 'He Ram', which was the last thing Gandhiji said, have been inscribed on the memorial. An eternal flame stands adjacent to it.
A popular historical stopover on the tourist circuit, Teen Murti House was once the residence of the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, who lived here for 16 years until his death in the year 1964. After this, the house was dedicated as a memorial to him. The building is called ‘Teen Murti’ owing to the statues of three soldiers standing in the premises.
These represent the lancers of Mysore, Jodhpur and Hyderabad. These were installed in 1922 as a mark of respect for the brave soldiers who lost their lives in World War I, in Sinai, Palestine and Syria. Teen Murti House was designed by British architect Robert Torr Russel in 1930 as the residence of the commander-in-chief of the British army. Tourists can also visit the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Here, you can find displays of Nehru’s old office that has been recreated using the same artefacts and furniture. The library has a large number of books that trace the history of modern India. Another attraction is the Nehru Planetarium that attracts tourists from all over the area. You can catch interesting shows and presentations in the sky theatre of the planetarium.
A quaint and serene spot amidst the bustle of Delhi, Agrasen-ki-baoli, gives a peek into the history of the capital. It is a 60-m-long and a 15-m-wide historical step well. Its heritage character, intricate structure and tranquil ambience have endeared it to film-makers as well and the monument has often been a cinematic backdrop, featured in movies like Sultan and PK. As you descend the deep stepwell, you can suddenly feel the cool embrace you. It might even send a chill down your spine as you recall that the monument was once believed to be haunted. Legend has it that the water in the baoli was said to be full of black magic and anyone who looked at it would get into a trance and jump to certain death. The baoli (step well) has 108 steps and three levels with arched niches on both sides.
Today, it is a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). There are hardly any historical records to provide information about its creator but it is believed that it was built by legendary king Agrasen and rebuilt by the Agrawal community in the 14th century.
The heartbeat of Delhi, Connaught Place is a heritage neighbourhood that has been modeled after the Georgian style of architecture. Lined with a host of eateries, high-end stores, parlours, theatres and book stores, the market is the hub of most activities in Delhi. Spread in two concentric circles, Connaught Place holds a vintage character that is vividly contrasted by various cosmopolitan shops and cafes that are crowned with blaring neon signs. On any good day, you can see a number of students and office workers spilling out on the streets and enjoying the pleasant weather while relishing a plate of chaat from a vendor.
Before stalls and stores took over Connaught Place, it used to be a cinema centre. In the 1920s, Russian ballets, Urdu plays and silent films were hosted at various theatres here. Its heritage cinemas like Rivoli and Odeon still preserve their antiquity and it is an enchanting experience to catch a movie in one of the sprawling movie theatres.
The official residence of the President of India, Rashtrapati Bhawan is the most prominent landmark of Delhi. Built in the Edwardian baroque style of architecture, the building is adorned with classical motifs that symbolise legacy and authority. Rashtrapati Bhawan is spread over an area of 321 acre and boasts 340 rooms, including guest rooms, reception halls, offices, stables and residences for staff and bodyguards.
Rashtrapati Bhawan was constructed in 1929 and is also called Presidential Residence and Viceroy's House. Earlier, it was the residence of British viceroy. This architectural marvel was constructed in 17 years. Rashtrapati Bhawan was designed by Edward Lutyens and Herbert Baker. The famous Mughal Gardens of the Bhawan are spread over 15 acre of land and has 159 varieties of roses, 60 varieties of bougainvillea and many other varieties of flowers. The Rashtrapati Bhawan Museum Complex (RBMC) also makes for an interesting visit. A major highlight is an old Presidential buggy that can be seen drawn by life-size horses. You can also admire a Mercedes car gifted to the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by the king of Jordan. To get a closer look at history, tourists can see rare photographs of the Bhawan and the freedom movement that have been displayed on a table. A Gift's Counter in the premises shows the presents received by the President from different parts of the world. Tourists would be particularly entranced by a special square box that has 3-D holographic images, which are played alongside the speeches of various Presidents. Several windows in the museum show personal belongings of the Presidents.
Built in 1724 by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur, Jantar Mantar is one of the five astronomical observatories built by the king in Northern India. Its striking combinations of geometric forms have caught the attention of architects, artists and art historians from around the world. It was designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye. It is a part of the tradition of the Ptolemaic positional astronomy, which was common in a lot of civilisations.
Jantar Mantar comprises 13 astronomy instruments that were used to predict the movements and timings of the planets, the sun and the moon. Astronomical tables and charts were compiled to get an accurate idea of the celestial bodies. The major attractions of Jantar Mantar are Misra Yantra, Samrat Yantra, and Jayaprakash Yantra.
A stunning archway standing as a tribute to the brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country, India Gate is one of the landmarks of Delhi. Built with sandstone, this 42-m-high gate was the first of its kind in the national capital. The walls of the gateway have been inscribed with the names of 13,516 soldiers killed in the Northwestern Frontier in the Afghan war of 1919, besides 90,000 soldiers of the Indian Army who were martyred in World War I. The base of the monument is made of red Bharatpur stones and the structure of India Gate is similar to France's Arc- de- Triomphe.
India Gate is fringed by lush well-maintained lawns that act as a popular picnic venue for families. The best time to visit this monument is at night when it is bathed in soft golden lights and glistens in the dark star-less sky.
Lying at the heart of Delhi, the majestic Red Fort, made of fine red sandstone, stands as a testament to the architectural legacy of the Mughals. One of the most beautiful monuments in the world, this UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous as qila-e-mubaraq, is replete with palaces, pavilions and mosques.
Built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as the palace fort of his capital Shahjahanabad, Red Fort is famous for its massive enclosing walls. The architecture of the fort reflects a seamless fusion of Islamic, Persian, Timurid and Hindu styles. The major attractions are the Diwan-i-khas, also known as the Shah Mahal, the Diwan-i-aam or the Hall of Public Audience and the Rang Mahal (a part of the harem), also known as Imtiyaz Mahal. The other monuments here are the Naubat Khana (Drum House), where royal musicians played and announced the arrival of royal family members; the hammam (royal bath), and the Muthamman Burj, or Musaman Burj (a tower where the emperor would show himself to his subjects). Once the power of the Mughals weakend, the fort was plundered by the Persians, led by Nadir Shah, in 1739. The invaders took away much of the fort's treasures, including the opulent Peacock Throne, which Shah Jahan had crafted out of gold and gemstones (including the precious Kohinoor diamond).
Almost as old as the history of the Delhi Sultanate, the iconic Qutub Minar, the world's tallest brick minaret, dominates the skyline of the city. Standing 73 foot tall, this five-storeyed tower, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, remains one of the most magnificent buildings of India from the medieval era. The first three storeys of the tower are built in red sandstone while the fourth and fifth are made of marble and sandstone. All the five floors are adorned with projecting balconies.
Located in Delhi's Mehrauli area, the Qutub Minar was commissioned by Qutub-ud-din Aibak, who laid the foundation of Mamluk dynasty (1206-1290) in India. Inspired by the victory tower at Ghazni, Afghanistan, its construction began in 1192 AD but, unfortunately, Qutub-ud-din-Aibak, did not live long enough to witness its completion. The tower was finally completed by his successors Iltutmish and Firoz Shah Tughlaq.
Surrounded by neatly manicured lawns, the massive Humayun’s Tomb is a spectacular monument that was the first garden mausoleum built in the Indian subcontinent. The first of the grand tombs synonymous with Mughal architecture, this monument narrates a timeless saga of love and longing. Built by Mughal emperor Humayun's first wife, empress Haji Begum, in her husband's memory, the tomb houses the graves of both the emperor and his wife and stands as a testament to their eternal love. Designed by Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, the imposing building invites tourists from all corners of the world. As you enter the lush palm-lined lawns, you are welcomed by a beautiful fountain, which makes a great photography backdrop. The garden is further divided into four main sections by walkways and water channels; the design synonymous with the Paradise Garden mentioned in the holy book of Islam, the Quran.
The four main sections are sub-divided into 36 parts. One needs to walk through majestic gates to reach the monument. Right before the last and final gate, a viewing gallery has been set up by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) that displays old pictures of the monument that reflect its grandeur. The main building is made of red sandstone while the tomb is made of white and black marble. An attractive gate leads you to the central hall, which houses the tomb of Humayun. The hall is adorned with intricately carved windows and a beautifully designed ceiling. The large platform is dotted with several tombs, including those of empress Haji Begum and prince Darah Shikoh. An interesting fact about the monument is that it also houses the tomb of Humayun's favourite barber.
The monument was used by the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar as a refuge before the British captured and exiled him in 1857. To the right of the complex is the tomb of Isa Khan, a noble at the court of Sher Shah Suri. It depicts Lodi-era architecture and was constructed in the 16th century. The Humayun's Tomb lies very close to another popular attraction of Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, a shrine built over the grave of the 14th century Sufi Saint Nizamuddin Auliya.