Have you ever been to Delhi as a tourist? Have you ever wondered what makes this city so special?
Delhi is one of the most historical cities in India (truly majestic) which has been built, destroyed and rebuilt multiple times owing to continuous invasions. Numerous kingdoms in the medieval and modern age (Delhi Sultanate, Mughals, the British Raj etc.) chose Delhi to be the capital of their empire due to its strategic and regional importance within Asia and India.
Even today, Delhi bears the memories of historical times through the ruins of many of these dynasties. This majestic side of Delhi can transport you centuries back in time to experience the splendid and culturally rich times of our ancestors.
What are the places you must see in your short trip to Delhi?
Some of the places that I visited include: Qutub Minar, Humanyun’s Tomb, Safdarjung Tomb, Chandni Chowk, Red Fort, Jama Masjid and Hauz Khaz Complex. I recommend to wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes as most of these places will involve walking. Consider hiring a cab for the entire day if you are visiting these places in a single day. The approximate charges for a 5-seat sedan might be INR 2000.
Qutub Minar Complex
Qutub Complex (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), situated in South Delhi is one of the best historical places in Delhi. It is located about 2kms North of ‘Qutub Minar Metro station’ on the Yellow Line. Two key attractions of the complex are: Qutub Minar (the tallest brick Minaret in the world) and the Iron Pillar (a historical pillar which is rust free till date and bears ancient inscriptions of different dynasties). In addition to these two, the Qutub Complex includes a lot of other monuments along with very well maintained gardens and lots of pigeons, which make this place a photographer’s paradise. Early mornings are the best time to visit to avoid huge crowds and excessive heat (esp. in summers). The complex opens at around 7 AM in the morning and a ticket needs to be procured at a nominal amount to enter the premises. Good paid parking facility is available in case you are driving or are hiring a cab for the entire day. There are some eating joints right outside the compound across the road, which can serve you average Indian food at cheap rates. (around INR 100 per person).
The Mughals loved gardens and the Humanyun’s Tomb, a magnificent red stone architecture, is another great testament of that. This Persian architecture, built by Akbar in 16th century AD is situated in East Delhi and is the tomb of his father Humayun. This architecture served as an inspiration for Taj Mahal, which was constructed almost a century later. The complex houses other monuments en-route the Humanyun’s tomb including the tombs of Humayun’s wives Bega Begum and Hamida Begum. The best time to visit the tomb is early morning or evening so that you can take good pictures and enjoy the gardens in a soothing weather. The India Gate is only 4 kms from here and it might be worthwhile to take a walk around India Gate and Rajpath (erstwhile Kingsway). You can see some of the best architectures of the British time in this area including the President’s House (erstwhile Viceroy House). Few areas of the President’s house are open to public. Connaught Place is not very far from here and houses some of the best restaurants and shopping places in Delhi.
The Tomb of Safdarjung
Just 4 kms away from Humayun’s tomb, lies another beautiful Mughal architecture of the 18th century AD, The Tomb of Safdarjung. Though located in one of the most upscale areas of Delhi, the Lodhdi road, this is by far the most un-commercialized historical site. It is a sandstone and marble architecture with splendid gardens but is not visited by many tourists/ locals. The Lodhi Gardens are a walking distance away from here and a good place to hang around especially if you like gardens and clicking nature pictures. The India Habitat Centre is also very close by and houses some good restaurants.
If you are a foodie, I will definitely recommend you to visit Chandni Chowk. I have a separate post written just on that. You can find that post here. A Morning at Chandni Chowk.
Red Fort is located next to Chandni Chowk and you can walk between the two or take a cycle rickshaw at INR 30. Do not take a cab as the streets are usually very crowded. Red Fort was constructed by Shah Jahan as his main palace in the 17th century AD at the banks of the River Yamuna. It houses some of the great monuments within like Diwan-i-Aam (House of Commons), Diwan-i-Khas (House of Nobles), Mumtaz Mahal, Moti Masjid etc. and is an absolute treasure to experience the royal life of those times. The Red Fort is used today for the Prime Ministerial speech on the Independence Day i.e. 15 Aug. Consider taking a guided tour through a licensed guide at about INR 300 for 2-4 people. The entrance compound houses some private shops to buy souvenirs, fashion articles like hand bags and decorative.
Jama Masjid (one of the largest mosques in India built by Shah Jahan) is located less than a km away from Red fort. You can take a cycle rickshaw from Red fort to get there in less than INR 50. The Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid declares the Eid-Ul-Fitr every year which is one of the biggest festivals amongst Muslims. The first Shahi Imam was self-appointed by Shah Jahan and the current Shahi Imam is the descendent of the first Shahi Imam. Be cautious to maintain the sanctity of the place as it one of the most religious places for Muslims. There is no entry ticket but you need to pay INR 300 if you are carrying a video camera like DSLR. There is no charge for using a camera phone. If you like non-vegetarian food, Karim’s restaurant right across the road might be a fascinating place for you.
Hauz Khaz Complex
Hauz Khaz Complex located towards Douth West Delhi, houses a huge water tank/ lake, remains of some ancient monuments and well maintained gardens. It is a good place to just relax and experience the nature. It is very close to Hauz Khaz Village which has some of the best restaurants and evening party places in Delhi.
If you would like to know more about the medieval history of Delhi, do have a look at ‘City of Djinns’ and ‘The Last Mughal’ by William Dalrymple.
Are you a history lover? Which is your favorite historic site/destination? Would love to know your thoughts, comments and experiences…