Delhi: New Delhi and Old Delhi, and Tourist Attractions

 

Delhi, the capital of India, has a history of three thousand years. The Pandavas of Mahabharata had ruled Delhi as early as 1000 B.C. It was known as Indraprastha then.

The passage of time have seen various rulers conquering and ruling India. Most of them have left some mark or the other for the future generations to see and remember them.

In 737 AD, Tomar Rajput Anangapal christened his Capital Lalkot at Dillika village, thus giving birth to Delhi that we know today. The Chauhans took it over from Tomars in the 12th century. The last ruler of Chauhans, Prithviraj, built a second town Killa Rai Pithora. The second attack by Md. Ghori saw the power transferred to Ghori and he took over control. He had to return to Gazni and he placed Qutub Ud Din AIbak, his slave general at the throne. Qutub Ud Din killed Ghori in 1206, became Sultan and started the slave dynasty. He also started building the Qutub minar in 1199.

In 1526, Babur attacked Ibrahim Lodhi of Delhi and won the battle of Panipath. Thus the Mughal dynasty started.

After Aurangzeb’s death, Nadir Shah of Persia attacked Delhi and conquered it. He was not interested in ruling, and departed soon, carrying back as much wealth as possible from Delhi, including the peacock throne and the Kohinoor diamond.

The British took control in 1803, and ruled till 1947, till India became independent, and was able to hoist Her tri color at Lal Killa or Red fort.

Delhi was declared an Union Territory in 1956, but now it is a state.

The national republic day is a big event at Delhi, when the full city lights up and decorates itself to the occasion. The tableaux and arms processions draw thousands from around the globe as witness to the event. Security checking also reaches its peak at this time.

Another important event is the ten day Ramlila festival at the time of Dusserrha. Fireworks and cultural events abound, the city also lights up in decorative lights to the occasion.

Other important events are Eid and MuhharamHoli is a big event too, but outsiders should avoid the city in times of Holi

Delhi is divided into two parts, Old Delhi, more commonly called Delhi and New Delhi, which is the capital city of India and the state, is much better planned and is greener. The Ramlila maidan is situated between Old and New Delhi.

 

Connaught place is the center of Delhi or the CBS. Buses to all parts of Delhi starts from here. The most important roads also start from here, or touch it. Offices, shops, hotels, airline offices, banks and tourism agencies, all can be found here. Palika bazaar, an underground air conditioned market is also at CP. The outer ring of Connaught place is called Connaught circus. The place is also known for its CP market and the beautiful architectures all the buildings around display.

The Government of India’s Tourism Department office is at 88, Janpath, close to CP. National and International tourists in need of information and help regarding tourism should visit it. The ChanakyaPuri enclave close by houses all the embassies of different countries.

Delhi is the most well connected place in India. Refer to the links at the bottom of the page for Railways, Airways and Bus connectivity to the place. The Golden quadrilateral, arguably the best Highway of India, connects Delhi to Kolkata and Mumbai.

There are thousands of hotels in Delhi, catering to every kind of standard. Please refer to the link at the bottom to find out details about hotels and to book them.

 

Travelling in Delhi by conducted tours:

Contact Asoke tours at 23348746 to book a conducted tour in an ac car for fur at Rs.2100. Else you can visit http://www.delhitourism.gov.in/delhitourism/tour_packages/city_sight.jsp to book conducted tour buses that start from 9am in the morning to 5.30 pm in the evening.. It can also be broken into half tours and taken on separate days.

Typically the places covered are Laxmi Narayan temple, Qutub Minar, Bahai (Lotus) temple, Safdarjung tomb, Red fort, Old fort, Jama Masjid,Rajghat and Humayun's tomb

There are many package tours too, originating from Delhi, and the best and most reliable is Delhi Tourism & Transportation Development Corporation Ltd. You can get the details and contact them at http://delhitourism.nic.in/delhitourism/contactus/contactus.jsp

 

Shopping in Delhi:

Delhi is one of the best places to do bargain hunting. However, you need to be careful about the quality of stuffs. It is better not to believe that the shopkeeper is giving you genuine brands at makeshift stalls, because they are generally fakes.

However, it is true that Delhi offers one of the best priced markets of India.  It is known for ivory, hand crafted shoes, woolen clothes and electrical goods.

Caunnaught place offers one of the best markets. Janpath has Central cottage industries, Baba Kharag Singh Marg also houses a large number of handicraft emporiums.

Dilli Hut offers a large open air fair of Handicrafts too, from around the country.

Meena Bazar near Juma Masjid offers a muslim flavored market, where the sellers and the buyers are mostly muslims.

Dariaganj offers a fabulous collection of old and new books. Sarojini Nagar market is one the preferred places to buy inexpensive yet modern clothing.

The Paharganj market beside New Delhi railway station has got everything on sale, from pin to elephant.

The Ajmal Khan market of Carol Bagh also offeres good value.

There is a Tibetian market operated by tibetian refugees at Janpath that has its own flavor. You can go for warm clothing shopping, junk jewellery etc. Prices may be slightly more than other markets.

If you are an antique expert, visit the Sundar Nagar market at Dr. Zakir Hussain road. Behind the Red fort, on ring road there is a market that is open only on Sundays, and it is becoming more and popular everyday. It is called the chor bazaar, where second hand, almost new articles are sold at a fraction of the MRPs of their showroom counterparts.

The good on sale are actually stolen goods. But buying from it is legalized. Recently it was closed and new venue was suggested,  so check before you go.

Remember, Chandni market, Sadar Bazar abd Caunnaught circus are closed on Sundays. Carol Bagh, Paharganj, Sabzi mandi and Gandhi market are closed on Mondays.

Greater Kailash is closed on Tuesday.

Tilaknagar is closed on Wednesday.

Karampura and Motinagar are closed on Fridays.

 

Places to visit in Delhi:

 

Make an effort to check out Dolls museum, Parliament Bhawan, Rastrapati Bhawan, Akashbani Bhawan, Reserve Bank and the Old Fort or Purana Killa. The Natural history museum at Barkhamba road has a commendable collection of fossils from the Jurassic age and stuffed animals.

The National Gallery of Modern Art at Zakir Hussain Marg near India gate has a commendable collection if Modern art.  Paintings by the likes of Rabindranath Tagore are on display here.

The National Rail Museum is one the best and unique places to be in Delhi. It is in Chanakyapuri, behind Bhutan house.

The Tibet museum at 16, Zorbagh, beside Oberoi Grand hotel, is also unique.

Also check out the Airforce museum at Palam road.

The Philatelic museum is a stamp collector’s paradise at Sansad marg’s post office.

Every evening there is a light and sound show on history of Delhi (Sonet Lumiere) at the red fort, which you will enjoy.

The Chandni Chowk is one of the busiest business district of Delhi. Nearby is Digambar Jain Temple. Birds are treated here, so it is also known as bird hospital.

Close by is Sishganj Gurduara, where 0th Sikh guru, Guru Tegbahadur was beheaded by Aurangzeb.

The Bangla Saheb Gurudwara near the head post office of New Delhi is also an important Gurudwara. Water available here is rich in medicinal properties. The Prasad of Langar Khana here is also famous. There is also a Gurdwara beside Humayan’s tomb at Pulin called Dumdama Saheb Gurudwara, where Guru Govind Singh met the Mughal darbar.

 

Kutub Minar: Qutub Ud Din Aibak built this on the devasted fort of Prithviraj, the Rai Pithora fort. It is a tower 72.5 meters high inspired by the one at Gajani. Qutub Ud Din started it, and it was completed by Iltutmish, the son in law of Qutub Ud Din. It is a world heritage site as announced by Unesco.

Beside the minar is the 7,2 meters high Iron Piller of Mehrulli, built in the 4th century by ChandraVarma. It is assumed that the piller was actually a Vishnu Dhwaj and was established here by Chandragupta Bikramaditya. The piller boasts about the engineering of that period. Over the centuries it has been lying in the open, yet there is no rust in the piller.

In the northwest of Qutub minar lies Quwwat UL Islam Mosque was built in the same period over a Hindu temple. The graves of Alauddin and Iltutmish are also lying nearby beside Alai Minar. Alai Minar was the unfinished dream of Alauddin, who intended to build a minar taller than qutub, but he died after finishing the first storey of the minar.

The Maze or Bhulbhulaiya at Mehruli village is also a tourist destination. There are graves of different Mughal emperors as well. The Mughal garden here is terrific too.

Aulia Mosque built by Iltutmish is also here.

Tughlakabad and Adilabad Forts: 10 km east of Qutub Minar and 15 kms from caunnaught place is Tughlakabad fort, and 1 km further is Adilabad fort. Both the forts are in ruins now.

Swami Narayan Akshardham. This is the latest in the places to visit in Delhi, and about 70% of all tourists of Delhi visit it. You can find more details on it from its official website at http://www.akshardham.com/

Laxmi Narayan Mandir: Situated on the west of Caunnaught circus, it is built in Orissa styled architecture, by Baldeo Birla. It is also known as Birla Mandir. The walls are well adorned with glimpses from the Puranas.

KaliBari: Beside the Laxmi Narayan mandir is the Kalibari which is loved by all Hindus of Delhi. One can also stay in its guesthouse.

Bahai Temple or Lotus temple: Open to people of all religious faith it is a beautiful temple built in the center of a garden, and having 9 entries to the temple.

India Gate: You can drive by it, or spend time in its nearby gardens in the evenings, when it is very pleasant. There is option for boating too. The lawns are also thronged by hundreds.  It was built in memory of those soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the allied forces in the first world war and Afghan war. Burning under the India gate is the Amar Jawan Jyoti, four flames, in memory of the Indian soldiers who lost their lives in 1971.

Rastrapati Bhawan: Covers an area of 330 acres, and has 340 rooms, 35 lobbies and 4 floors. There are artificial hills, gardens, springs, water bodies and Mughal gardens. But the common man is not allowed to enter, you can see it while driving past it.

In the winters, the place sports a variety of flowers. The common man can enter the place between February to March, except on Mondays. One may need permission, from Govt. of India tourist office.

 

Parliament house: On the northeast of Rastrapati bhawan is Parliament house, seat of Indian democracy. Built by the British under the aegis of Sir Herbert Baker, it houses highest level of elected representatives of India

Jantar Mantar: Second only to the one of Jaipur, it is a find example of astronomical study. Built by Sawai Man Singh, it accurately measures solar time, eclipses and movement of other celestial bodies. The Bhiarav mandir is also here.

National Museum: One of the largest museum of the country, it is situated in Janpath. The collection is commendable.

Nehru Museum: It used to be Pandit’s Nehru’s residence, and is situated south of Rastrapati Bhawan. It now hosts facts and things used by Nehru, along with his photographs.

Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum. Her residence has been turned into Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum, at 1, Safdarjung road.

Firoz Shah Kotla: It now houses the famous cricket stadium, but it was a town built by Alauddin, and later by Firoz Shah Tuglakh. He brought a sandstone Ashoke Pillar, and dug a royal tank. There is a Madrasa too, and Sultana Razia’s tomb is also here.

Most of it is destroyed by Sher Shah and Shah Jahan while they built their own cities.

Old Fort or Purana Killa: It was started by Humayun, but was completed by Sher Shah when he defeated Humayun. There is a field museum at the campus. The Killa e Kuhana Mosque still attracts the tourists. But the fort is getting in worse condition every day.

Just beside in the Zoological gardens, which is home to 2000 species of living beings. Covers an area of 4 acres. Its closed on Fridays. On the left is Pragati Maidan, where there are fairs round the year.

Two and half kilometers away is Lodhi Gardens. It mostly houses the tombs of different Sayed and Lodhi rulers.

Dolls Museum: A collection of over 6000 dolls from 85 countries in one place! That’s Shankar’s International Dolls museum. Closed on Mondays. There is also the B.C Roy Children’s Library and Play corner.

RajGhat: Located near Delhi gate on the banks of Yamuna, 4 kms from Janpath is the new India’s national temple of RajGhat, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated on the 31st January of 1948. The place has been covered in black stone as a memorial, and his last words ‘Hey Ram’ has been inscribed. There is also an eternal flame built here. Every Friday, the day he was killed, a memorial gathering is organized. There is a museum too, open all days except Monday, from 10am to 5 pm.

Shantivan: On the northen side of Rajghat lies Shantivan, where Pandit Nehru was cremated. Next to him Sanjay Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi who died in an air accident, was cremated.

Shakti sthal: Here, Indira Gandhi was cremated.

VeerBhumi: This is in memory of Rajiv Gandhi, and he was cremated here.

Five memorial temples have also been built. Nearby is Kishanghat, where Charan Singh, 5th Prime Minister of India, was cremated. Opposite to Rajghat on the banks of river Yamuna is another memorial temple in memory of Dalit prime minister Babu Jagjiban Ram.

 

The Red Fort or Lal Killa:

Lal Killa was built by Shah Jahan when he shifted from Agra to Delhi. The entire fort is built in red sandstone; hence it was called Lal Killa, meaning the red fort.

The Lal Killa was built with ultimate grandeur, with no compromises whatsoever, but repeated assaults by the changing hands of power have destroyed most of it. Nadir Shah, the Marathas and the British, all had their shares in destroying parts of the fort. However, it is also true that whatever remains today, is largely because after the initial plunder, the British had protected it, and had it converted it into an army mess.

The peacock throne or the mayur Singhasan was built over a period of 7 years and it was valued at 1,20,00000 pounds even at that time. It had two solid gold peacocks adorned with precious gemstones on both side of the throne and was the most beautiful human artifact ever. It was looted by Nadir Shah in 1739, and was later destroyed.

Much later in 1760, the Marathas dismantled the silver ceiling on top of it. After the sepoy mutiny, when British conquered the fort, much of it was destroyed, until Lord Curzon stopped all plunder and converted it into an Army Barrack.

The fortress was actually center to Shajahanbad, Shah Jahan’s dream city. It was octagonal in shape and had 14 gates, with high walls. The moat surrounding the fort was 11meters deep, and the walls were 33meters in the city side, and 18meters high in the river Yamuna side. The river has changed its course in due time by a kilometer now.

The walls covered a distance of 7 miles. Much of the walls have been destroyed, and 12 gates have also perished with the walls. The operational gate in the Lahore gate facing Chandni Chowk today, and you will find the ancient Meena bazaar still functioning inside the fort, primarily selling antiques.

The Dewan-e-aam and Dewan-e-Khaas can still be viewed and most of the fort that is accessible today is in good shape. Some of it is barred for tourists, and is under the control of army.

The Red fort rost to epitome of India’s freedom, when Subhas Chandra Bose raised the slogan “Delhi Chalo”. When India got her independence, the first prime minister of India, Jawhwarlala Nehru gave the speech of independence on 15th August from the Red Fort. The tradition still continues.

If you do not visit the Red Fort at Delhi, your Delhi tour is as good as not being made.

Jumma Masjid: This was also built by Shah Jahan a kilometer off the Red Fort inspired by the Moti Masjid of Agra. There are 4 entrances to the mosque. Shah Jahan used to come on foot to this Masjid. One can get up on the southern tower to get a view of Delhi and the fort from here. It is also an architectural feat. Non Muslims are barred from entering, when Namaz is on.

 Safdarjung Tomb: 5 kilometers from caunnaught place towards Qutub Minar is Arabinda Marg, where there is Safdarjung tomb. It was built by Suja ud Daula for his father’s tomb, inspired by Humayun’s tomb. It is a 40 feet high mausoleum in the midst of a mughal garden.  Right next to it is Safdarjung flying club, from where Sanjay Gandhi met his fateful accident in 1980.

Hazrat Nizam Ud Din Aulia: A lane in the opposide, keeping the police station in one side, is the ancient Indraprastha. Here the holy Muslim pilgrimage point is built in white marble stone, Nizam Ud Din Aulia. The forth guru of Chisti clan, Sekh Nizam Ud din Aulia’s tomb is his here. He died at the age of 92 years.  Every Friday evening, there is a Kawali song program here, in memory of the saint.  There is also a huge water body, a mosque built by Alauddin Khilji in 1325, Mirza Galib’s, Amir Khusru’s and Jahanara’s tombs.

Humayun’s Tomb:  Two kilometers off the Old fort on the Mathura road is Humayun’s tomb, which is a very important Mughal Architecture. It was built by Hazi hamida Begam, wife of Humayun, the second Mughal emperor, 9 years after his death. It is older than the Taj Mahal, and many Mughal buildings like the Taj Mahal has been inspired from this tomb. Hamida’s tomb is also here, so is Darashuka, Murad, Suza and Bahadur Shah with his Sons and Grandsons. There is a mosque in the right of entrance. It is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Buddha jayanti Park:  Built to commemorate the 2500 years of Buddha’s nirvana, it has become a popular picnic spot. A branch of the main Bodhi Briksha tree from Sri Lanka has been planted here. The place is also known for its flowers.

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