Mughal architecture, marble temples and giant sundials are some of the treasures in India’s capital. Here are 10 places to visit in Delhi.
You simply can’t go to Delhi and not visit the Red Fort. Of all the places to visit in Delhi, this is a historic gem.
Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan tried to move his capital from Agra to Delhi’s old walled city of Shahjahanabad in 1638, but was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb before he could complete the move.
Although the Mughal reign from Delhi was a short one, the legacy of this dynasty is encapsulated by the majesty of the Red Fort.
Inside are stately audience halls of which the most impressive, the Diwan-i-Khas once housed the diamond and ruby studded Peacock Throne.
Other highlights are the Pearl Mosque and grand marble palaces.
An evening sound and light show recreates the glory of Delhi’s history.
It was at the Red Fort that the British deposed the last Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar, marking the end of the three century long Mughal rule.
Many years later India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawharlal Nehru announced India’s freedom from colonial rule at this very site.
Take a drive past Parliament House. While the Red Fort represents India’s history, the contrasting modern circular structure of Parliament House is one of the places to visit in Delhi that represents the future.
There are two Houses of Parliament – the Lok Sabha (House of the People), Rajya Sabha (Upper House).
You can obtain a permit to sit in the public gallery if you have a letter of introduction from your embassy.
Delhi’s version of the Arc de Triomphe comes in the form of India Gate, a majestic 4m high memorial to the 85,000 Indian soldiers killed in World War I and the Afghan war.
Completed in 1931, the names of the soldiers who died in these battles are inscribed on its walls.
An eternal flame underneath the gate burns in memory of the soldiers who died in the 1971 India-Pakistan War.
Maharajah Jai Singh II of Jaipur was a keen astronomer who built the Jantar Mantar observatory in Delhi, a smaller version of the original in Jaipur.
Dissatisfied by the errors of brass and metal astronomical instruments, Delhi’s Jantar Mantar was the first of the five observatories that the Maharajah constructed.
Wander through the massive structures that were used to calculate planetary positions and to perform sacred rituals.
There is a gigantic sundial, Samrat Yantra, with two stone quadrants on either side which were used to measure time by using the sun’s shadow.
The Jai Prakash was invented by Jai Singh himself and verifies the time of the spring equinox.
One of the best places to visit in Delhi to soak up five millennia of Indian history is at the National Museum.
Its galleries display artefacts from the Indus Valley Civilization, stone and bronze sculptures from the Chola period, the largest collection of miniature paintings in the world and crumbly manuscripts.
There’s a Buddhist Gallery, an Anthropological Gallery of tribal art, galleries devoted to decorative and applied arts, Maritime Heritage and Pre-Columbian art, and an entire gallery dedicated to Sir Aurel Stein’s discoveries along the ancient Silk Route.
6-Say a prayer
Delhi’s answer to the Sydney Opera House comes in the form of the 27-petal white marble Bahai Temple, more commonly referred to as the Lotus Temple.
It’s one of Delhi’s more innovative structures and was designed by an Iranian architect and completed in 1986.
Recognised for its excellence in religious art and architecture by the US-based International Federation for Religious Art and Architecture, the Lotus Temple is open to all visitors and is free of charge.
Its 92-ha gardens are a green refuge from the smog of the city centre.
Originally from Persia, the Bahai sect views humanity as a single race.
There are four fifteen-minute prayer sessions each day that represent a unique combination of prayers from a number of different religions. Sessions are held at 10am, 12noon, 3pm and 5pm.
7-Shop and eat
You can go crazy craft shopping at Dilli Haat.
Situated at a large showground on Aurobindo Marg, in the centre of the city, it’s set up like a traditional village market with stalls selling crafts from all over India.
There are carpets from Kashmir, colourful puppets from Rajasthan, bangles, jewellery, textiles and wooden souvenirs.
Traditional bands chant and bang on their drums as they weave among the shoppers, creating a festive atmosphere.
Regional festivals that portray the vast diversity of cultures within India are held throughout the year.
You can also fill your tummy with delicious cuisine from the different states at the open air food stalls.
8-Taj Mahal daytrip
Take a day trip to visit one of the most recognised buildings in the world, the Taj Mahal.
Situated on the banks of the River Yamuna, the Taj Mahal needs no introduction.
Built by Emperor Shah Jahan as a symbol of love for his queen, this marble architectural wonder has been admired by people around the world for centuries.
The latest addition is moonlight tours which are conducted for only a few nights each month around the full moon.
9-Lap of luxury
Slip between crisp white sheets at the five-star Shangri-la (19, Ashoka Road, Connaught Place, New Delhi, tel: +91 11 5119 1919, www.shangri-la.com).
Guest rooms are elegantly designed in a mixture of oriental and contemporary décor, and are well equipped with modern facilities like internet access and new flat-screen LCD television sets.
Their poolside restaurant Café UNO, serves an excellent international buffet equipped with live cooking stations.
It also has an extensive dessert buffet with mouth watering Indian and international sweets.
Visit the 72-metre soaring stone tower that was built in 1193.
There are five levels, each with its own balcony.
The tower is one of Delhi’s well-known landmarks and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Of all the places to visit in Delhi, this one is popular with lovers of history.