Delhi is best known as simply being the national capital. However, unless one explores this vast and vibrant city, one does not realise the amount of history, culture and art that one can find here, along with a healthy dose of natural beauty. Many visitors to this city are amazed at a fast paced metropolitan city that is still clean, well organised and full of options for visitors to occupy themselves with, whether it is malls or local markets, five star restaurants or street food and nature or history.
1. Red Fort
Even during the days of the Mughals, Delhi was the capital city. Constructed by the emperor Shah Jahan, the Red Fort would be the residence of the Mughal rulers for over 200 years. Named after the red sandstone used to build it, the Red Fort has been maintained very well over the years and one can visit all the halls and rooms from where the entire Mughal Empire was governed. Today, the Fort hosts various museums for visitors, as well as a light and sound show. On Independence Day, the national flag is hoisted here by the Prime Minister.
2. Purana Qila
Legend goes that the Purana Quila, one of the oldest monuments in the country, was the residence of the Pandavas themselves, after they built Indraprastha on the banks of the Yamuna. It was restored by Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century and was completed by Humayun.
The Purana Quila hosts various monuments from the Mughal times. The temples, domes, arches etc. all have stories to tell.
3. Chandni Chowk
Designed by Jahan Ara, the daughter of Shah Jahan, Chandni Chowk remains a bustling market with overwhelming sights in every corner. One can sample from stores of ethnic clothing, gold and silver jewellery and many other items. In fact, this vast area even has a large number of temples and ancient mansions to visit.
Chandni Chowk is most famous for its street food. Various eateries are present here, some who have been serving excellent street food from as far back as 1940.
4. India Gate
The India Gate is a war memorial located in central Delhi. Often considered to be the very symbol of free India and the sacrifices of our soldiers, the memorial is inscribed with names of the 82,000 British Indian soldiers that died during the war with Afghanistan and the First World War. The Amar Jawan Jyoti or the Flame of the Immortal Soldier was built right below the towering memorial after the Bangladesh Liberation War.
5. Qutub Minar
Built in the year 1199 by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak, the Qutab Minar is often known as the first Muslim structure in India. The 73 metre tall structure, with 379 steps leading to the top, is built in red sandstone and covered with verses from the Quran.
Interestingly, the entire tower has been built by two rulers over time and has been restored time and again by various rulers of Delhi, including the British.
6. Akshardham Temple
Inaugurated in 2005 and dedicated to Swaminarayan, the Akshardham temple is one of the largest Hindu temples in the world. It has been built to accommodate various modern features such as the central temple crafted of stone, exhibitions on incidents from the life of Swaminarayan and the history of India, an IMAX feature on the early life of Swaminarayan as the teenage yogi, Nilkanth, a musical fountain on the message of the Upanishads, and large landscaped gardens.
7. Humayun’s Tomb
The final resting place of the great emperor Humayun and built very close to the Purana Quila, this was the first garden tomb in the Indian subcontinent, and thus another mark of the Mughal Empire in India. Much like the other major Mughal structures, this is built in red sandstone and was infact, the first monument to use sandstone to such an extent. After Humayun, this Tomb with its palatial buildings and gardens, was given the designation of the family tomb and houses the tombs of various generations of Mughal rulers, including Humayun’s wife and Shah Jahan.
8. Hauz Khas Village
Hauz Khas Village is famous for its variety of eateries and pubs and for the glamour that one finds there each night. However, what is wonderful about this area is that even in this cosmopolitan hub, one can have a glimpse of history at the Hauz Khas fort and lake, built in the late 13th century, and also visit the Deer Park at the entrance of the village, with a wide variety of flora and fauna to be viewed, such as deer and peacocks.
The village itself is built in a vintage feel with beautiful graffiti on the walls, tiny, localised stores for vintage decorations, clothing, jewellery etc. and merrymaking in every corner.
9. Lodi Gardens
Spread over 90 acres of land, the Lodi Gardens are famous for its groomed natural beauty, and have become a pioneer in a city where parks are common site. Sites to visit within the Gardens are Mohammed Shah’s Tomb, Sheesh Gumbad, Sikandar Lodi’s Tomb and Bara Gumbad. Many locals as well as tourists flock here each day in the morning or evenings for walks, picnics or just to relax.
10. Connaught Place
Located in the very heart of Delhi and often considered a symbol of the grandeur of the national capital, Connaught Place is a hub of financial and political workers. Ranked as the fourth most expensive office destination in the world and the fifth highest priced market in the world, this area is one of the oldest upbeat destinations for recreation and social gatherings. It is built in two circles, the inner circle, surrounding a central park, with shops and eateries, and an outer circle, which mostly contains the office complexes.
Delhi is a city with much more to do than anybody can realise. One must take their time to truly get to know this city, its culture and lifestyle.