New Delhi Tourist Attractions
Delhi is said to be one of the oldest existing cities in the world, along with Jerusalem and Varanasi. Legend estimates it to be over 5,000 years old. Over the millennia, Delhi is said to have been built and destroyed 11 times. It is northern India’s largest city. One part of it, known as New Delhi is officially designated the capital of India, but the names are often used interchangeably.
New Delhi is home to beautiful sites of historical importance that promote Indian heritage, culture and tourism all over the world.
The Red Fort (Lal Qila) is one of Delhi’s top tourist sights. A brilliant red sandstone fort built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (who also built Agra’s Taj Mahal) as his ruling palace. Completed in 1648, the years since have not treated the buildings kindly: the rooms have long since been stripped of all objects, the marble inlays are long gone and quite a few buildings are off limits. Still, the scale remains imposing and the gardens are kept lush and green even in midwinter. Major buildings within include:
– Chatta Chowk (Covered Bazaar). True to the name, this is a covered bazaar between the gate and the fort itself, now filled with souvenir hawkers.
– Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience). This building separates the outer court from the inner court, and has a marble platform for the emperor’s throne.
– Hayat Baksh Bagh (Life-Bestowing Gardens). Once a grand garden of full of fountains and streams, now sadly all dry – only dry channels and acres of green grass remain.
– Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience). Built completely of marble, this is where the emperor received special visitors.
– Khas Mahal (Private Palace). The Emperor’s main residence. The octagonal Mussaman Burj tower looks out toward the Yamuna River, and is where the Emperor used to appear before the public for each morning.
– Rang Mahal (Colour Palace). The residence of the Sultan’s main wife.
– Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel Palace). Contained six apartments for the Sultan’s harem. Now used as a museum of court textiles, carpets, weapons, etc (free).
– Daawat Khana. A minor palace at the northmost end of the Fort, this was originally the residence of a prince, but it was converted into a tea house by the British, a function it continues today. Basic meals go for around Rs. 60, drinks Rs. 10-20, and it also has the cleanest toilets around.
– Swatantra Sangrama Sangrahalaya (Museum of the Independence Movement). To the left after the Chatta Chowk, this is a reasonably well-presented museum on the history of independence activism in India, starting from the Mutiny of 1857 all the way to Gandhi.
The only open entrance is Lahore Gate, on the west side. Security in and around the Fort is very heavy, as it was the scene of a terrorist attack in 2000 that killed three people; bags are allowed, but they’ll be X-rayed and you’ll be patted down. Tickets cost Rs 10/100 for Indians/foreigners, photography free, video cameras Rs. 25 extra. Open sunrise to sunset daily except Monday. The most scenic way of reaching the fort is to take the Metro to Chawri Bazaar and then a cycle-rickshaw through the incredibly packed bazaar to the Fort (price negotiable, aim for Rs. 20).
The fort has a light and sound show (Rs.30) in the evenings between 7:30 and 9 PM depending on the season.
– Rajpath. A main parade route that leads to the President’s residence (Rashtrapati Bhavan). Wide avenue, the splendid India Gate, and many grassy lawns. Especially nice in the evenings and at night when the buildings are lit, and the vendors come out to supply the many picnicking families.
– Humayun’s Tomb. The splendid tomb of Humayun, second Mughal Emperor of India, built in 1570, is of particular cultural significance as it was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It inspired several major architectural innovations, culminating in the construction of the Taj Mahal.
– Rajghat Memorial of Mahatma Gandhi. A simple square platform of black marble marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. It is left open to the sky while an eternal flame burns perpetually at one end. While you visit the Rajghat Complex, you will see trees labeled near the platform. These trees were planted by the various dignitaries who visited Rajghat.
– Qutab Minar. A tall tower built in the early middle ages by Quli Qutub Shah, this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
– Nehru House ‘Teen Murti Bhavan’. The house of the first Prime Minister of India. Only for people interested in politics. Free entrance.
– India Gate. This monument has been built as a memorial for the Indian soldiers who died in World War One. There is also a fire (“eternal flame”) burning for all fallen Indian soldiers.
– Parliament House. Known as Sansad Bhavan in Hindi, this is the place where the Indian Parliament meets. Though the entry is free, visiting the Parliament House requires a prior official permission. Another factor that needs to be kept in mind is that whether the Parliament is in session or not. You can enter the library after obtaining an entry pass. Foreign tourists need to apply to their embassy for a visit at the Indian Parliament House. After obtaining the permission, the visitors can enter the public galleries of the Indian Parliament House. There are various other tourist attractions located in close vicinity to the Parliament House, including India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Jantar Mantar, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib and Hanuman Mandir, which you can visit while visiting the parliament.
– International Doll’s Museum. A museum of dolls from all over the country. You get to see the costumes and art from all over India, as well as some nice craftsmanship.
– India Habitat Center. Most noted for its ever-changing art exhibits, plays and film shows, as well as an international selection of food items in its food court.
– Tibet House. Established by HH Dalai Lama with the aim of preserving the cultural heritage of Tibet. There is a museum, exhibition space and library.
– National Museum on Janpath is a must see. Contains plenty on Indian History and archeology.
– Teen Murti Bhavan former residence of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, now a museum of his life.
– National Railway Museum houses a collection of Indian trains from the past to the present – a worthwhile look into India’s proud railway heritage.
– Jama Masjid is a huge mosque opposite the Red fort, next to Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi – must see on the list.
– Lakshmi Narayan Temple or popularly known as Birla Mandir, located next to Connaught Place, is a big Hindu temple complex.
– Bahai Lotus Temple, Kalkaji, South Delhi. Welcomes all faiths to come and meditate and enjoy the peaceful grounds.
– Chhattarpur Mandir Huge & beautiful temple complex with a big surrounding campus – located near Mehrauli area of South Delhi.
– ISKCON (Hare Krishna) temple, at East of Kailash. Centre for Krishna Consciousness, it has robotic shows and multimedia presentations, apart from the traditional temple complex. Lively atmosphere and excellent tasting sweets – and the delicious Govinda’s restaurant on site.
– Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple, off National Highway 24 in East Delhi
Parks and Gardens
– Lodhi Garden – a peaceful park in the heart of New Delhi, Lodhi garden is ideal for mornings walks in the hot season and for afternoon strolls and picnics during the cooler months
– Nehru Park – a large park in the South Delhi neighborhood of Chankayapuri
– Majnu ka Tilla Tibetan Colony. One of the most accessible Tibetan resettlement areas in India, and certainly a nice piece of variety for Delhi; to get there head north along Ring Road just past Majnu ka Tilla Gurudwara, or take the Metro to Vidhan Sabha station, and a cycle-rickshaw is Rs 15 from there.
Delhi’s climate is, sad to say, infamously bad. From April to October, temperatures are scorchingly hot (over 40°C is common), and the monsoon rains deluge the city in July and August. With every air-conditioner running at full blast, the city’s creaky infrastructure is often stretched beyond the breaking point, with power and water outages common. In winter, especially December and January, temperatures can dip to near-zero and the city is blanketed in thick fog, causing numerous flight cancellations. The shoulder seasons (Feb-Apr and Sep-Nov) are comparatively pleasant, with temperatures in the 20-30°C range, but short.