Places to visit in Delhi: Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk, Rashtrapati Bhawan, India Gate, Rajghat, Birla Mandir, Qutub Minar, Lotus Temple, Iskcon Temple

Introduction: The Capital city of the country and one of the largest cities in India, Delhi has a history extending back over three millennia.The strategic location of Delhi, between the Aravalli hills and the river Yamuna, had attracted the attention of almost every King or Conqueror in this part of the world. The earliest reference to Delhi as a settlement is made in the Hindu epic, Mahabharata, which states that the Pandavas founded a city called ‘Indraprastha’, besides the river Yamuna in 1450 BC. Ever since then, Conquerors from North treated Delhi as a gateway to the Indian sub-continent.

Red FortDelhi today is one of the most elegant capitals in the world. Here one can see, the mingling of many cultures, languages, tradition and peoples into one united Nation. Delhi welcomes both the pleasure seeker and the mystic. “Lose yourself in Delhi” says Khushwant Singh, for “You may find its soul and your own”.

Red Fort: Red Fort is laid out along the river Yamuna as an irregular octagon, surrounded by a wall of about 2.4 km in circumference and is built of red sandstone. The Mughal King Shah Jahan transferred the capital from Agra to Delhi and the Fort was completed in 1648. The Fort has Diwan-e-Am, and Diwan-e-Khas where the king would grant audience to the public and would grant audience to important people respectively . Besides this is the Rang Mahal, the water cooled Apartment for the royal ladies.

Jama Masjid: This mosque, the largest in India, was built by Shah Jahan in 1956 AD. Situated near the Red Fort in Old Delhi, the Jama Masjid has a sitting capacity of more than 20,000. Jama MasjidCrowned by 3 onion domes and tapering minarets made of marble and slate, this architectural beauty is also a place of religious significance. The view from the top of the minarets is excellent.

Chandni Chowk: Today the centrepiece of Old Delhi, it was the pulse of Mughal Delhi’s commercial life. Designed by Jahanara Begum, the favourite daughter of Shah Jahan in 1648, this place was once filled with shops and houses of wealthy merchants and noblemen. A narrow water course once flowed down the middle of this road, carrying water to the palaces. Its winding narrow lanes are now filled with a variety of shops ranging from sweet stalls to jewellery, textile and leather shops.

Rashtrapati BhawanRashtrapati Bhawan: This official residence of the President of India was formerly known as the Viceregal Palace. Rashtrapati Bhawan is the highlight of Lutyen's New Delhi and was completed in 1929 at a cost of Rs.12,53,000. Located in an area of 130 hectares, the palace has 340 rooms. At one time, 2,000 people were required to look after the building and serve the Viceroy's household. It has an impressive garden called the MUGHAL GARDENS, which is open to public twice in a year, usually in February and March.

India Gate: Straight down the road from Rashtrapati Bhavan is India Gate which is primarily a memorial to unknown soldiers. Designed by Lutyens, the 42 meter high structure is a war memorial in honour of soldiers who died during the Second World War. The structure has an eternal flame (Amar Jawan Jyoti) to honour the memory of the unknown soldiers.

Rajghat: Located near the banks of the Yamuna River, Rajghat is a serene monument. It marks the site where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated after his assassination. The samadhi is surrounded by wide lawns and a garden with fountains and exotic trees that create a perfect ambience for meditation. Visitors come here to meditate on the Mahatma and the meaning of his life.
Birla Mandir: This is one of the landmarks in New Delhi - the capital of India. Built in the 20th century by the Birla family of industrialists, it stands apart from other temples in terms of concept and construction. The presiding deity here is Lakshmi Narain (Vishnu). The highest tower in the temple reaches a height of 165 feet while the ancillary towers reach 116 feet.

The Geeta Bhavan, a hall is adorned with beautiful paintings depicting scenes from Indian mythology. There is also a temple dedicated to Buddha in this complex with fresco paintings describing his life and work.

Qutub Minar: Qutab-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced the construction of the Qutub Minar in 1193 AD. The development of architectural styles from Aibak to Tuglak are quite evident in the minar. Qutub MinarThe 238 feet high Qutub Minar is 47 feet at the base and tapers to 9 feet at the apex. The main mosque comprises an inner and outer courtyard, of which the inner one is surrounded by an exquisite colonnade, the pillars of which are made of richly decorated shafts.

Among the ruins in the Qutub Complex, the Quwat ul Islam Masjid is one of the most magnificent mosques in the world. The building material for this mosque is provided by demolishing many Hindu and Jain Temples in this area. Built in 1197, this mosque is one of the finest blend of Hindu and Islamic architecture.

In the courtyard of the Quwat ul Islam Masjid, is a 7m high Iron Pillar - one of Delhi's most curious antiquities. Belonging to the Gupta Age, the pillar contains Sanskrit inscriptions, which state its history.

Lotus TempleLotus Temple: This gleaming white structure, shaped like a Lotus, is made of marble, cement, dolomite and sand. Located on Bahapur Hill, the Lotus Temple is meant for the worship of God, irrespective of caste, creed, race or nation. Visitors are requested to maintain silence inside the temple premises. A visit to the Bahai Temple also known as Lotus Temple is a must both for the tourists and the people in search of peace and tranquillity.

Iskcon Temple: Iskcon Temple in Delhi is reputed as one of the largest temple complexes in India. The elegantly built complex is located on a hill and is dedicated to Lord Krishna and Radha. The hall of the temple is centrally air-cooled with a capacity to accommodate about 1,500 people. There are beautiful paintings of Russian artists on the different past times of Radha Krishna, Sita, Ram, Laxman, Hanuman and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

The Akshardham Temple - is one of the most recently built temples in Delhi. Constructed by the Bochasanvasi Aksharpurushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), it is situated on the banks of the River Yamuna. Delhi Akshar Dham Mandir was inaugurated in Novenmber'05 in the presence of President APJ Abdul Kalam. It is spread over an area of 100 acres and took about two years to complete. Akshardhaam Temple of New Delhi is built in an architectural style similar to that of the Akshardham temple of Gandhinagar in Gujarat, India. Its construction is based on the ancient Sthaapatya shastras of India and it is built without steel, entirely out of sandstone and marble.

Approximately 234 ornate pillars, floral motifs, arches, exquisitely carved pavilions, 9 ornate domes, 20 quadrangle shikhars, a spectacular Gajendra Pith (plinth of stone elephants), adorn this architectural wonder. There are 20,000 statues inside Akshar Dham Mandir of Delhi of India's great sadhus, devotees, acharyas and divine personas. Other features of the Akshardham Temple are an IMAX theatre, a Swaminarayan temple, and an elaborate musical fountain. The area around the temple building has been converted into manicured lawns with beautiful water fountains.

The main shrine of the New Delhi Akshardhaam temple houses the statue of Lord Swaminarayan. There is an Akshardham Temple Monument to World Peace inside the temple complex. Along with that, there is also a restaurant modeled on the Ajanta and Ellora caves and an Ayurvedic bazaar. Combining Rajasthani, Orrisan, Gujarati, Mughal and Jain temple architecture, the mandir presents a magnificent sight. This temple is a major tourist attraction and counts amongst the wonders of modern India.

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