Delhi is a curious blend of the new and the old; the historical and the contemporary, political, ethnic together with an essence of “Indianness” that is hard to describe but easy to experience and feel.
A long history dating back to around 800 to 700 BC has made Delhi unique. Many dynasties have risen and fallen here. Many rulers of these dynasties having made Delhi their capital, ruled from here. No wonder therefore that there are many historic monuments here that represent several dynasties and that Delhi is a true heritage city.
Delhi is not one city but a collection of seven cities of historical importance and the modern city of New Delhi built by the British. As Delhi is the capital of the Republic of India, it is a political hub but what makes Delhi exceptional is its rich and pulsating culture, its true representation of a great country of diverse tradition, language, religion and people.
There are many landmarks of historical importance in Delhi which the tourist sees as imprints in the sands of time. There are monuments, tombs, forts and palaces that represent different historical periods. There are newer monuments of recent times some of them designed and created by the British during the Raj and some built more recently after Independence.
List of Landmarks in Delhi
- Red Fort
- India Gate
- Connaught Palace
- Vijay Chowk
- Ajmeri Gate
- Azad Hind Gram
- Lahore Gate
- Alai Darwaza
- Humayun Tomb
One of the most important buildings of the Mughal Era, The Red Fort in Delhi was built by Emperor Shah Jehan in the 17th Century. It was built on the bank of the River Yamuna within the city of Shahjehanabad which was Shahjehan’s capital. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Red Fort is a splendid monument built by using red sand stone. It is architecturally better designed than the Red Fort at Agra and has many superlative buildings within its ramparts such as palaces that were used as residences of the Royal Family, the Pearl Mosque and the court buildings Diwan-e-Aam and Diwan-e-Khas that were used for public and private audience by the Emperor. The Red Fort was the seat of government of the Mughal Emperors from Shahjehan to Bahadur Shah Jafar, the last Mughal Emperor.
India Gate is a grand monument that stands regally on Rajpath that has been designed by Lutyens and built by the British as a memorial to Indian and British soldiers who lost their lives in World War I. There are inscriptions of the names of these soldiers on the walls of the sandstone Arch under which is an Eternal Flame or Amar JawanJyoti. Earlier there was a statue of King George V in his coronation robes (which is now shifted to Coronation Park, a memorial where other British Raj statues are kept) under a canopy near India Gate that is now empty.
India Gate is one of the most visited landmarks that tourists and locals love. It faces the Raisina Hill and the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Rajpath or the Road of the Rulers which begins from Rashtrapati Bhawan on Raisina Hill crosses Vijay Chowk or the Victory Quadrangle, India Gate and extends upto National Stadium. It is a beautiful wide road with lawns and gardens, canals and water bodies and also rows of trees on either side.
The iconic Republic Day Parade begins from Vijay Chowk on 26th January every year and passes India Gate where government officials and politicians including the President and the Prime Minister sit. There is also an important foreign dignitary who is the Chief Guest at the function and who takes the formal salute from selected personnel from the Army, Navy and Air Force.The Beating of the Retreat or the formal ending of this grand function also takes place here on the 29th January or third day after the Republic Day.
Connaught Place or Rajiv Gandhi Chowk was the most important commercial and business center of Delhi. Now to decongest this central Delhi district Delhi has a number of commercial and business centers that are spread across the city.
Connaught Place as envisioned by Lutyens was the central business district of New Delhi and was built between 1929 and 1933. It was named after the Duke of Connaught. It has a Central Park around which there are colonial buildings on three concentric circles. Radial roads commence from Connaught Place and you can go to almost any place in Delhi using these radial roads.
Chandni Chowk is a very business oriented district of Old Delhi and has been thus since the Mughal Era. It is located opposite the Red Fort and runs adjacent to the Jama Masjid. It is not just a quadrangle or street with shops but a living throbbing place where you have in the close vicinity markets of textiles, ready- made clothes, paper and stationery, automobiles, cycles, jewellery, laces and borders, chemicals and pharmaceuticals together with places of worship of all faiths, the best ever street food. Chandni Chowk has been a busy market place and still is inspite of the fact that there are many markets flung far and wide all over the city.
Qutub Minar is a monument that has stood in its place since the 12th Century well before the Mughal Era. It was built by Qutubuddin Aibak and is a fine example of Indo Afghan Architecture. It is around 238 ft tall and has five storeys. There are intricate carvings of Quranic verses on these facades. Each storey has a balcony and there are about 380 steps that can take you to the top. It is a World Heritage site and is the tallest brick minaret of its kind anywhere.
Although we do not know exactly why this minaret was built, it is an architectural wonder having stood the test of time. Many earth quakes and strike of lightening have not been able to destroy it and it stands proudly as ever. The iron pillar next to the monument is a metallurgical feat as it has not rusted or eroded over a thousand years.
Another important monument built in the Mughal Era and which is still being constantly used since almost 500 years is the Jama Masjid located opposite the Red Fort and adjacent to Chandni Chowk. It is a huge edifice that took 13 years to be built and has an unbelievable capacity for 25000 faithfuls to pray at the same time.
Apart from being the largest in the country, Jama Masjid is a jewel that can have a greater impact on visiting it. The four towers on four corners offer memorable views the erstwhile Shahajehanabad.
As in all mosques and other places of worship, one must be appropriately dressed which means that the head, legs and shoulders must be covered.
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