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Delhi, capital city of the Federal Republic of India. It is one of India's fastest growing cities. It has sprawled over the West Bank of the river Yamuna, straddling the river. The city has two distinct parts, Old Delhi & New Delhi. Old Delhi is centered on the Red Fort built by Emperor Shah Jehan between 1636 & 1658.
The streets of Old Delhi are narrow & bustling. The beauty & serenity lies inside the courts of the main buildings. Delhi has some of the finest museums in the country. Its boutiques and shopping arcades offer access to a wealth of traditional and contemporary crafts, from all over the country. New Delhi was proclaimed the capital of India by the British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944), & is tree-lined & spacious.
New Delhi, the capital and the third largest city of India is a fusion of the ancient and the modern. Standing along the West End of Gangetic Plain, the capital city, Delhi, unwinds a picture rich with culture, architecture and human diversity, deep in history, monuments, museums, galleries, gardens and exotic shows. Comprising of two contrasting yet harmonious parts, the Old Delhi and New Delhi, the city is a travel hub of Northern India.
Places to see:
Qutab Minar is a soaring, 73 m-high tower of victory, built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak immediately after the defeat of Delhi's last Hindu kingdom. The tower has five distinct storeys, each marked by a projecting balcony and tapers from a 15 m diameter at the base to just 2.5 m at the top. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone; the fourth and fifth storeys are of marble and sandstone. At the foot of the tower is the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, the first mosque to be built in India. An inscription over its eastern gate provocatively informs that it was built with material obtained from demolishing '27 Hindu temples'. A 7 m-high iron pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque. It is said that if you can encircle it with your hands while standing with your back to it your wish will be fulfilled.
The origins of Qutab Minar are shrouded in controversy. Some believe it was erected as a tower of victory to signify the beginning of the Muslim rule in India. Others say it served as a minaret to the muezzins to call the faithful to prayer.
Iltutmush in 1230 and Alla-ud-din Khilji in 1315 made additions to the building. The main mosque comprises of an inner and outer courtyard, of which an exquisite colonnade, the pillars of which are made of richly, surrounds the inner decorated shafts. Most of these shafts are from the 27 Hindu temples, which were plundered to construct the mosque. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Muslim mosque has typical Hindu ornamentation.
Close to the mosque is one of Delhi's most curious antiques, the Iron Pillar which has never rusted inspite of standing the assault of water & sun.
The red sandstone walls of the massive Red Fort (Lal Qila) rise 33-m above the clamour of Old Delhi as a reminder of the magnificent power and pomp of the Mughal emperors. The walls, built in 1638, were designed to keep out invaders, now they mainly keep out the noise and confusion of the city.
The main gate, Lahore Gate, is one of the emotional and symbolic focal points of the modern Indian nation and attracts a major crowd each Independence Day.
The vaulted arcade of Chatta Chowk, a bazaar selling tourist trinkets, leads into the huge fort compound. Inside is a veritable treasure trove of buildings, including the Drum House, the Hall of Public Audiences, the white marble Hall of Private Audiences, the Pearl Mosque, Royal Baths and Palace of Color.
An evening sound and light show re-creates events in India's history connected with the fort.
This great mosque of Old Delhi is the largest in India, with a courtyard capable of holding 25,000 devotees. It was begun in 1644 and ended up being the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort.
Located near the crossing of Mahura road and Lodhi road, this magnificent garden tomb is the first substantial example of Mughal architecture in India.
It was buit in 1565 A.D.nine years after the death of Humayun, by his senior widow Bega Begam. Inside the walled enclosure the most notable feature are the garden squares (chaharbagh) with pathways water channels, centrally located well proportional mausoleum topped by double dome.
There are several graves of Mughal rulers located inside the walled enclosure and from here in 1857 A.D; Lieutenant Hudson had captured the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah II.
The Parliament house is a cirular colonnaded builing . It also houses ministerial offices,numerous committee rooms and an excellent library as well. Conceived in the Imperial Style, the Parliament House consists of an open verandah with 144 columns.
The domed circular central hall with oak paneled walls and the three semi circular buildings are used for the Rajy Shabha and Lok Shabha meetings.
Formely the Viceregal Lodge, the building is the highlight of Lutyen's Delhi and was completed in 1929 at a cost of 12,53,000 pound sterling. Located in an area of 130 hectares, the palace has 340 rooms.
Lakshmi Narayan Mandir
Built in 1938, the temple is an ideal introduction to some of the gods of the India pantheon. The temple contains a large number of idols and visitors can also watch priests performing ritualistic prayers.
Jantar Mantar (Yantra - instruments, mantra - formulae) was constrcted in 1724. Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur who built this observatory went on to build other observatories in Ujjain , Varanasi and Mathura. Jai Singh had found the existing astronomical instruments too small to take correct measurements and so he built these larger and more accurate instruments.
The instruments at Jantar Mantar are fascinating for their ingenuity, but accurate observations can no longer be made from here because of the tall buildings around.
East of Nehru place, this temple is built in the shape of a lotus flower and is the last of seven Major Bahai's temples built around the world. Completed in1986 it is set among the lust landscaped gardens.
The structure is made up of pure white marble The architect Furiburz Sabha chose the lotus as the symbol common to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Adherents of any faith are free to visit the temple and pray or meditate.
Around the blooming petals there are nine pools of water, which light up, in natural light. It looks spectacular at dusk when it is flood lit.
At the centre of New Delhi stands the 42 m high India Gate, an "Arc-de-Triomphe" like archway in the middle of a crossroad. Almost similar to its French counterpart, it commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during the World War I. The memorial bears the names of more than 13,516 British and Indian soldiers killed in the Northwestern Frontier in the Afghan war of 1919.
The foundation stone of India Gate was laid by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught in 1921 and it was designed by Edwin Lutyens. The monument was dedicated to the nation 10 years later by the then Viceroy, Lord Irwin. Another memorial, Amar Jawan Jyoti was added much later, after India got its independence. The eternal flame burns day and night under the arch to remind the nation of soldiers who laid down their lives in the Indo-Pakistan War of December 1971.
Surrounding the imposing structure is a large expanse of lush green lawns, which is a popular picnic spot. One can see hoards of people moving about the brightly lit area and on the lawns on summer evenings
Safdarjung's Tomb is the last enclosed garden tomb in Delhi in the tradition of Humayun's Tomb, though it if far less grand in scale. It was built in 1753- 54 as mausoleum of Safdarjung, the viceroy of Awadh under the Mughal Emperor, Mohammed Shah.
It has several smaller pavilions with evocative names like Jangli Mahal, (Palace in the woods),Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace) and Badshah Pasand ( King's favourite).
The complex also has a madarsa. The archaeologocal Survey of India maintains a library over the main gateway.
One does not have to go far to see the old fort or Purans Quila standing stoically amidst wild greenery.Built on the site of the most ancient of the numerous cities of Delhi, Indraprastha, Purana Quila is roughly rectangular in shape having a circuit of nearly two kilometers.
Around the blooming petals there are nine pools of water, which light up, in natural light. It looks spectacular at dusk when it is flood lit.
The old Lady Willington Park, now known as Lodhi Garden, is dotted with monuments of Sayyid and Lodhi Periods, which include tombs mosques, and bridge .
The tombs of Muhammad Shah and Sikandar Lodhi are the good examples of octagonal tombs. Shish and Bara Gumbad are square tombs with imposing dome, turrets on corners and facades giving false impression of being double storeyed.
It is a favourite point for early morning walkers from the posh south Delhi colonies.
Azad Hind Gram
Azad Hind Gram Tourist Complex at Tikri Kalan is a project developed by Delhi Tourism to honour Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and to create quality leisure space and wayside amenities for the citizens.Located within two kilometers of the Delhi Haryana border on NH-10, the architecture of the project is inspired by the language of North Indian achitecture and the traditions of Indian craftsmanship.
Just adjacent to the tower is the mosque of Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid, which follows the design evolved in Central Asia with an enclosure wall and entrance gateway with the mirhab and striking archways marking the western side. There are several features of this mosque that distinguish it from all later Mughal buildings. The new conquerors had to rely on local craftsmen. The artisans introduced elements that paved the way for a synthesis of both cultures.
The very concept of the arch was a novelty and the indigenous artists created corbelled arches that looked more or less like the real thing. Obviously built in a hurry, it is believed to have been built using the materials of the remains of Hindu temples. On one hand there is the beautiful, exceptional Islamic handwriting and brocaded designs. Then there are pillars with clearly pre-Islamic Hindu motifs. The reason is that the pillars were taken from the 27 temples of Qila Rai Pithora, the city of the Rajput king Prithviraj Chauhan.
This in fact has been recorded by Qutub-ud-din in his inscriptions, who calls it the Jami Masjid (Friday Mosque). The mosque was started in 1192 by Qutub-ud-din Aibak, the first ruler of the Slave Dynasty and was finished four years later.
The Iron Pillar
The famous Hindu iron pillar (7.20 metres of pure rust resistant iron), which bears a Sanskrit inscription in the Gupta script, palaeographically assignable to the 4th century is a technical masterpiece which the early Islamic rulers installed in the courtyard of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque.
The inscription records that the pillar was set up as a standard or 'dhvaja' of god Vishnu on the hill known as 'Vishnupada', in the memory of a mighty king named 'Chandra', who is now regarded as identical with Chandragupta II (375-413) of the imperial Gupta dynasty. A deep hole on the top of the pillar indicates that an additional member, perhaps an image of 'Garuda', was fitted into it to answer to its description as a standard of Vishnu.
The pillar was evidently brought here evidently from somewhere else, as no other relics of the 4th century are found at the site. There is a strong bardic tradition that it was brought here (wherefrom, nobody knows) by Anangpal, the Tomar king who is credited with the founding of Delhi.
The base of the pillar is knobby, with small pieces of iron tying it to its foundations, and a lead sheet covers the portion concealed below the present floor-level.
The total length of this slightly tapering shaft is 7.20m, of which 93cm is buried below the ground. The metal of the pillar has been found to be almost pure malleable iron. Its portion below the ground shows some signs of rusting, but at a very slow rate. The manufacture of such a massive iron pillar, which has not deteriorated much during 1600 years of its existence, is a standing testimony to the metallurgical skill of ancient Indians.
The ambitious construction of Alai Minar was started by Alauddin Khilji who had visions of grandeur and had planned to build a second minar that would have been twice the height of the Qutab Minar. But the sultan lived to see it only to the height of 24.5m and nobody was ready to complete his over-ambitious project. The unfinished stump stands at the north-eastern corner of the complex near the present entrance.
Alauddin Khilji introduced architectural developments in the Qutab complex. In 1311, he ordered the construction of the Ala-i-Darwaza. It is an ornamental southern gateway to the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque, with true arches framed with fringes of lotus buds and many toned decorative panels of inlaid marble and sandstone.
Alai Darwaza is the first building employing wholly the Islamic principles of accurate construction and geometric ornamentation. It also betrays certain 'Saljuqian' characteristics, which had influenced the Khalji architecture. Important among these characteristics are a wide and bulging dome with a central knob, pointed horse-shoe-shaped arches, squinches and lotus-bud fringes on the arches.
The celebrated gateway, built of red sandstone, is 17.2m squares with arched openings on all sides, and is surmounted by a wide but shallow dome on an octagonal base achieved through squinches with concentric series of arches. The northern arch is semicircular, while others have a pointed horseshoe shape laid on the principle of true arch.
The underside of the arches is fringed with lotus-bud embellishment, not merely in the openings, but also in the perforated side-windows. Its excellent proportions, profuse geometrical carvings on the interior, inscriptional bands of white marble in Naskh characters and other decorative details in red stone make it a very pleasing structure. It has been rightly described as, "one of the most treasured gems of Islamic architecture".
The Tomb of Iltutmish
The tomb of Shamsu'd-Din Iltutmish, son-in-law and successor of Qutub-ud-din Aibak, lies to the northwest of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. It was built about 1235 by Iltutmish himself, and illustrates that phase in the development of Indo-Islamic architecture, when the builder had ceased to depend for material on the demolition of temples, although the arches and semi-domes below the squinches were still laid in the indigenous corbelled fashion.
Its tomb-chamber with a cenotaph in the centre, internally nearly 9m-sq and faced with red sandstone, was certainly intended to be covered with a dome, as is clear from the squinches, which appear for the first time in this building. It is believed that the original dome had fallen and was replaced by Feroze Shah Tughlak, but even this did not survive.
The interior on the west is occupied by three 'minhrabs' or prayer niches, the central one higher and ornamented with marble, to serve as a place for prayers, while the other sides are pierced by arched entrances.
The tomb is plain on the outside, but is profusely carved on the entrances and in the interior with inscriptions in Kufi and Naskh characters with geometrical and arabesque patterns in saracenic tradition, although several motifs among its carvings are reminiscent of Hindu decoration. To this class belong wheel, bell-and-chain, tassel, lotus and diamond. In view of its lavish ornamentation, Fergusson described it as "one of the richest examples of Hindu art applied to Muhammadan purposes".
The mortal remains of mahatma Gandhi were cremated on this spot on the west bank of the river Yamuna on the evening of January 31, 1948.
Ala-ud-din's Tomb and College
To the southwest of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque lie some rooms and halls in ruins making an L-shaped block. They are believed to represent Ala-ud-Din's tomb and college or 'madrasa', with rows of arched alcoves and rooms (now ruined). The college was started by him to impart instructions in Islamic theology and scriptures.The central room in the southern wing was perhaps his tomb. The conception of a combined college and tomb appears here in India for the first time and is perhaps inspired by 'Suljuqian' traditions.
Places of Interest
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