15 June 2016

Top 13 Places To Visit In New Delhi

Just the very thought of India warms me up a little. When we visited it was so hot, and thinking about traipsing around in the sunny city provides solace considering my current weather situation in London right now. New Delhi is one of those places that is filled with temples, tombs, and historical places. This, considering its history with Mughal Empire in addition to British involvement in the country. There is plenty to see and do in Delhi and one would spend a lifetime exploring the city's mixes. A reach mix of origins, whether that’s in its people that have come from all over India to make a name for themselves or the Persian influence in the architecture and style of buildings that have stood the test of time, to the history of the Mughals and their fight to stay relevant. Prepare for the traffic in the city when you visit,  which means that exploring may be a lot slower than you think. There are taxis, rickshaws, and trains in the city, although I found it easier to have the hotel book the taxi for me as I wanted to make sure I was using register taxis while exploring. When you visit New Delhi do not miss out on the following places:

1. The Lotus Temple(Bahai House of Worship)

This place was close to the top of my list as I have seen a few other Bahai Temples, all with amazing architecture. I will be sharing more pictures of this place in due course. It's certainly worth a visit when in Delhi. The Lotus temple, shaped like an unfolding lotus flower, consisting of 27 marble petals, rises from nine pools and walkways, is made entirely out of white marble and reminds me OF Sydney's Opera House. It stands out against a lot of the temples you will find in Delhi. The inside is plain and simple and does not contain any idols oR images as its against Bahai faith.

Visitors are welcome inside. No photography is allowed inside. It's open 9.30-5.30 and until 7pm in the summer.  Entry is Free. Also, note that shoes are not allowed so prepare for the hot ground when the sun is in full force.

2. Jantar Mantar

This is an observatory constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur in 1724. Its purpose was to accumulate astronomical tables which would help predict the time and movement of celestial objects like the sun, moon and planets.  Jantar Mantar comprises of various instruments and is just a treat later in the afternoon when the sun is low enough to start creating shadows.

Open from sunrise to sunset. Entry is 100 Rupees to foreigners and 5 Rupees for Indians.

3. Connaught Place

This place is located  right in the heart of Delhi and center of important business and commercial centers. It has remnants of a colonial past in its iconic white pillars that form a large circle in the center of the city with seven streets  diverging  from it, kind of similar to the avenues at Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Built by the British in 1933 and named after the first Duke of Connaught and Strathaern. There are several shops, restaurants, offices and its a lively part of the city where many people head to especially for the weekends.  There are also markets nearby for almost everything you can think of.

4. Lodi Gardens

As a city that is famous for its temple and tombs. One definitely has to pass by Lodi Gardens. It's dotted with monuments and tombs from Lodi and Sayyed periods of history. Lodi Gardens is a popular attraction in the city and much loved by picnickers, walkers, and morning joggers. It also contains the National Bonsai Park, home to a variety of miniature trees.

Entrance is free. Open from sunrise to sunset.

5. The Red Fort (Lal Qila)

Having been to Agra Fort, I was keen to also see the Red Fort in New Delhi. Commissioned by Shah Jahan in 1633 when he decided to shift the capital of the Mughal Empire from Agra to Delhi. The Red Fort took 10 years to build. It's also the site of the Prime Minister's speech every year on Independence Day. The Red Fort is comprised of a few internal buildings and truly a delight learning about how the Mughal lived as you walk around.

Open from  sunrise to sunset. Entrance is 250 Rupees and 10 Rupees for Indians. Note there are usually massive queues but be sure to walk through as the queue to the foreigner's ticket booth hardly has anyone queuing there.

6. Akshar Dham Temple

Akshar Temple is a Hindu temple which is just a marvel! It took the collaboration of 7000 artisans in the construction of the temple, together with another 3000 volunteers. The construction of the temple was built without the use of steel, constructed using 234 intricately carved pillars, 9 domes, 20 towers and a plinth of stone elephants known as Gajendra Pith along with statues of famous Indian spiritual figures. Seeing the temple all lit up from afar at night is just as breath-taking as taking it all in up close.

Entry into the temple's gardens is free but other areas of the temple require advance booking and paid entry.

7. India Gate and Canopy

India Gate was dedicated to all the Indian soldiers of the British Army who died in World War I. The surrounding area is flanked by green lawns and is usually the spot for many a picnic. If you are a Yoga fan, you might also know that this is the area where they had the world's biggest yoga session where nearly 36, 000 people set a world record last year.

Open 24/7 but the may be cordoned off in the later hours. Entry is also free.

The Canopy stands behind India Gate and can be seen through the arch. It was constructed by British Architect Edwin Lutyens. Until India's Independence in 1947, it had contained the statue of King George the Fifth was but later removed. Like India Gate, its open 24/7 and free entrance.

8. Qutub Minor

This is a 120-meter minaret. It's the world's tallest brick minaret. Amazing that you can still see this considering it was built by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak in 1193. Yes, 1193, the tower was built to celebrate Muslim dominance in Delhi after the defeat of Delhi's last Hindu ruler. It's also the highest tower in India, complete with 5 storeys and projecting balconies. Apart from the tower, within the complex, you will also find Quwwat-us-Islam Mosque, the first mosque to be build in India.

Entry is 250 Rupees and 10 Rupees for Indians.

9. Humayun's Tomb

One of my absolute favourite places I visited in New Delhi. Humayun's Tomb is one of the most magnificent tombs built during Mughal's rule. Inspired by Persian architecture. Commissioned in 1526, nearly 10 years after the passing of Humayun, by his widow Hamida Baun Begum. It also went on to inspire Sikander Lodi's tomb in Lodi Gardens and the famous Taj Mahal. Both of which you can find more pictures of on the blog. More on Humayun's Tomb can be found here.

Entrance is 250 Rupees for foreigners and 10 Rupees for Indians. It's a lot more peaceful than a visit to the Taj Mahal.

10. National Museum

One of India's largest museums. The National Museum was established in 1949 and houses artifacts ranging from prehistoric to modern pieces of art.

Open 10am - 5pm. Entry is 300 Rupees and 10 Rupees for Indians.

11. Chandni Chowk

Chandni Chowk is one of Delhi's oldest and most famous markets. Built in the 17th century but the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It's located in Old Delhi  is still steep in history and is home to many iconic and historic monuments such as Red Ford, Jama Masjid, and a few more sites. Chandni Chowk run through the Red Fort and all the way through to Fetehpuri Masjid. It remains famous for being Delhi's largest wholesale markets, attracting plenty of shoppers daily.

Open Monday to Saturdays.

12.  Delhi Art Gallery  

This is one of the oldest galleries in the city and home to the country's renowned pre-modern, modern and contemporary art.

Open 10.30 to 7pm and entry is free.

13.  Rashtrapati Bhavan

This is the official residence of the President of India.  Spread over 320 acres, the grounds  of Rashtrapati Bhaven are home to the head of state, staff quarters and the beautiful Mughal Gardens. The gardens are only open to the public from Mid February to Mid March. There are also guided tours to sections of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Open Friday to Sunday 9-4pm and entry is free.

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