India Gate, the 42 meter high, free standing arch, was designed by Luytens and built in 1911. It was originally called ‘All India War Memorial’ built in the memory of the 90,000 Soldiers of the Indian Army who died in World War I. The names of the soldiers are inscribed all along the walls of the arch. In1971, an eternal flame was lit here to honour the Amar Jawan (immortal soldiers).
Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan between 1638 and 1648, the masterpiece of Red Fort has the distinction of being chosen as a site from where the prime minister of India addresses the nation on the Independence Day. Popular as Lal Quila, the grand and imposing fort is today a regular haunt of tourists from all parts of the world. The unparalleled architecture is testimony to the grandness of supremacy of Mughal empire in India. The complex houses Diwan-i-Am, Diwan-i-Khas, the Moti Masjid, the Shahi Burj etc. The fort stands as dignified and grandiose as it did centuries ago.
Purana Qila (Old Fort)
The ruins of this fort are located on a small hill which once stood on the banks of the river Yamuna. Legend has it that the fort marked the site of Indraprastha, the magnificent capital of the Pandavas, though the construction was carried out by Sher Shah Suri sometime between 1538 and 1545 AD. The structure houses a mosque which has a double storied octagonal tower. It is said that the Mughal King Humayun fell from the tower and died. At the foot of the hill is a lake where the Delhi Tourism has arrangements for boating.
Connaught Place (CP), the heart of New Delhi, now called Rajiv Chowk is the British-designed colonial equivalent of a shopping mall laid out in two concentric rings divided into blocks, all bursting with shops and lots of pampered pigeons waddling about. Long neglected, the area received a major shot in the arm after the opening of the major Metro junction of Rajiv Chowk under it, and is going more upmarket by the day. At the centre is a small but pleasant park; while on one edge is the notorious Palika Bazaar, an underground den of cheap wares. Visit Janpath Market to take back Indian Souvenirs. The area is surrounded by tall office buildings on nearly all sides.
Within Connaught Place is the Jantar Mantar Observatory built by the Rajput King of Jaipur, Sawai Jai Singh in 1724. It was believed to have been built with masonry instruments for observing the movements of the stars and planets.
Taj Mahal is known have been inspired by Humayun's Tomb, and in many ways this magnificent red and while building is as spectacular as the famous Taj Mahal in Agra. Tomb is memorial by a grieving wife and was built by his widow Haji Begum in 1565-66, nine years after his death.
The splendor of this grand monument becomes overpowering on entering through the lofty double storeyed gateway. It is set in the centre of a large square garden enclosed by high walls on three sides, while the river would have been the forth boundary. The Chahar Bagh is divided into smaller squares by pathways as in a typical Mughal garden. The fountains were worked with simple yet highly developed engineering skills quite common in India during that period.
Lying to the east of Siri is this building shaped like a lotus flower. Built between 1980 and 1986, it is set amongst pools and gardens, and adherents of any faith are free to visit the temple and pray or meditate, according to their own religion and faith.
It was the eyes and ears of the Mughal's commercial instincts and is today one of the country's best known wholesale markets for textiles, electronic goods and many other items. The entire area was designed by Jahanara Begum, Shah Jahan'' favorite daughter and was then inhabited by the well-to-do families of the time. In today's time, this area is highly congested.
It is the last enclosed garden tomb in Delhi in the tradition of Humayun's Tomb though it is far less grand in scale. It was built in 1753-54 as the mausoleum of Safdarjang, the viceroy of the Awadh under the Mughal Emperor, Mohammed Shah. It has several smaller pavilions.
This magnificent structure in the southern part of the capital was built by the Muslim King, Qutab-ud-din Aibak in 1199 AD. A part of it which could not be finished was completed by another Muslim King, Iltutmish. In 1368, Feroz Shah Tughlaq rebuilt the top storeys and added a cupola. An earthquake brought the cupola down in 1803 and an Englishman replaced it with another in 1829 which was removed some years later. The minar (tower) is 72.5 meters high and tapers from 15 meter-diameter base to just 2.5 meter at the top. The tower has distinct storeys, each marked by a projecting balcony. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone, the fourth and fifth of marble and sandstone. At the foot of the Qutab Minar stands the first mosque to have been built in India, the Might of Islam Mosque. Qutab-ud-din began construction of the mosque in 1193, but it had a number of additions and extensions during the years.
This seven meter high pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque at Qutub Minar and has been there since long before the mosque was built. A six line Sanskrit inscription indicates that it was initially erected outside a Vishnu temple, possibly in Bihar and was raised in memory of the Gupta King Chandragupta Vikramaditya, who ruled from 375 AD to 413 AD. The pillar is made of a very exceptional pure iron. The pillar stands strong and non-rusted even after 2000 years.
The Parliament House is a marvelous piece of architecture which can be admired only from outside on account of security restrictions. Close to the President's House, it is a circular structure almost a kilometer in circumference, and was designed by the famed architect Luytens. It is the seat of Indian Parliament.
Rashtrapati Bhawan (President's House)
The official residence of the President of the country, the building was also designed by Luytens. It was the official residence of the Viceroy when the British ruled India with 340 rooms and an area of about 330 acres. The Mughal Gardens within the complex are a treat for the eyes and are open to public during certain periods of the year.
Birla Mandir (Laxmi Narayan Temple)
It was built by the industrialist Raja Baldev Birla in 1938. The temple is an important prayer centre and contains idols of several deities. Interestingly, Mahatma Gandhi, who inaugurated the temple, was also a regular visitor here.
Representing the Hindu mythology and the Indian culture, the Akshardham Temple stands on the banks of river Yamuna, covering an area of 100 acres. This modern-day wonder boasts 234 embellished pillars, 20,000 statues and a number of arches. The temple complex houses an IMAX theatre, exhibition halls and musical fountains. Surrounded by beautifully laid out garden, the temple attracts lakhs of tourists from far and wide. The temple is built in marble and red sandstone, symbolising devotion and eternal peace.
Jama Masjid is the country's largest mosque where thousands of Muslims offer prayers every day. It took over 14 years to complete and was built in 1656. It lies opposed the Red Fort. The flight of stairs and its large courtyard are marvels of Mughal architecture. It has three gateways, four angle towers and two minarets standing 40 meters high and constructed of alternating vertical strips of red sandstone and white marble. Broad flights of steps lead up to the imposing gateways. The eastern gateway was originally only opened for the emperor, and is now only open on Fridays and Muslim festival days.
CREMATION SITES OF NATIONAL LEADERS
On the banks of the river Yamuna are the national shrines: Raj Ghat (Mahatma Gandhi); Shanti van (Jawaharlal Nehru) Vijay Ghat (Lal Bahadur Shastri), Shakti Sthal (Indira Gandhi) and Vir Bhumi (Rajiv Gandhi).
The massively strong walls of Tughlaqabad, the third city of ancient Delhi, is situated in east of Qutub Minar. The walled city and the fort with 13 gateways were built by Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq. The story behind the construction of this massive fort is that the King took away workers who were engaged in constructing a shrine of Sufi Saint Nizam-ud-din. As a result the Sufi Saint cursed the King that his city will not be inhabited for long and only Gujars (shepherds) will shelter here. Truly, today is the situation.
Across the road from Humayun's Tomb is the shrine of the Muslim Sufi saint, Nizamud-din Chishti, who died in 1325 at the age of 92. His shrine, with its large tank, is one of the several interesting tombs here. Other tombs in this area include the later grate of Jahanara, the daughter of Shah Jahan, who stayed with her father during his imprisonment by Aurangzeb in Agra's Red Fort, Amir Kusru, a renowned Urdu poet. On Thursday around sunset time, the Sufi Qawwali singers start performing after the evening prayers.
About 3 km to the west of Humayun's Tomb are the well-kept gardens and in the gardens are the tombs of the Syed and Lodhi rulers. Mohammed Shah's Tomb (1450) was a prototype for the later Mughal style tomb of Humayun's, a design which would eventually develop into the Taj Mahal. The other tombs include those of Mubarak Shah (1433), Ibrahim Lodhi (1526) and Sikander Lodhi (1517). Lodhi garden is ideal for morning walks in the hot season and for afternoon strolls and picnics during the cooler months.
Situated midway between Safdarjang and the Qutab Minar, this area was once the reservoir for the second city of Delhi. Siri, which lies slightly to the east. Interesting sights here include Feroz Shah's Tomb (1398) and the remains of an ancient college.