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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrNew Delhi – India’s capital is a multidimensional city which offers a mix of rapid urbanization and the splendors of the former Mughal Empire . The city is divided in two sections, ‘New’ and ‘Old’. If you travel to Delhi, you may simply get confounded by the sheer number of people and traffic. But as you condition yourself further, you will be able to find the magnificence that lies hidden under the hustle and bustle of the age old township, which has experienced several historical proceedings over time.
As New Delhi is the seat of urbanism with plush restaurants, multiplexes, luxurious hotels, and flyovers, Old Delhi is diametrically opposite in its taste. This section of Delhi is filled with old houses, busy narrow roads, old Mughal restaurants, and some of the majestic Mughal buildings which are still present today, that will surely make you walk down the memory lanes of the medieval times. Old Delhi which also served as the capital of Islamic India and was since long considered as the seat of art, culture, and learning, even during those times.
While Hindi is the main language spoken in Delhi. Punjabi language is also widely spoken in this land. Apart from these, most of the educated people can speak English in and around the city.
History and DemographicsHistorical records indicate that Delhi was constantly inhabited from the 6th century BC. According to the Hindu epic tale Mahabharata , the city once served as a capital of the Pandavas. It was from that time that many empires established their presence in Delhi, until 1639 when the great Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, built a new city called Shahjahanabad (Later Old Delhi), which served as the capital of Mughal Empire until the ‘Sepoy mutiny’ in 1857. In the year 1911, the headquarters of the British Empire, which was in Calcutta, got shifted to New Delhi. The construction of the new capital of the British Raj started in 1912 under the supervision of Sir Edwin Lutyens and ended in 1931. Later, when India gained independence in 1947, New Delhi remained the capital of India- as of date.
According to the census of 2014, the current population of Delhi is 27 million and is considered the second most populated city on Earth, next to Tokyo which ranks first with 38 million inhabitants as of 2014. The territory of Delhi also includes some of the neighboring areas for which the city has been conferred with the title as the National Capital Region (NCR). Some of the significant neighboring territories that fall under the NCR are Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Panipat, Gurgaon, and other smaller towns which lies adjacent to the capital city of India.
Sightseeing in DelhiBesides the contemporary culture that prevails in New Delhi, Old Delhi as a whole holds massive historical significance. The earliest relics found in Delhi were during the time of the Maurya Empire, which dates back to 300 BC. Later, the Muslim aggression has given foundation of various historical architectures that are also not to be missed once one visits the city of Delhi.
Following are some of the major tourist spots that one should not fail to visit during they stay in Delhi.
Humayun's TombIt is the famous sandstone tomb of the Mughal ruler, Humayun. Built in 1569-1570, and is considered to be the first garden-tomb in India currently located at East Nizamuddin in Delhi. The tomb was declared by the UNESCO as the World Heritage Site in the year 1993. You can visit Humayun’s Tomb all year round. For any foreigner, the entry fee is ₨ 250 ($4.00). There is no charge for still photography. However, for video photography, you need to pay an extra fee of ₨ 25 ($0.40).
Red FortOne of the most iconic places in Delhi, Red Fort was the house of the Mughal emperors for around 200 years until 1857. The fort was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the year 1648. Enclosed by a 18 meters high-wall, the Red Fort, which is made of sandstone and marble, is an architectural splendor as it reflects a clear picture of the lavish lifestyle lead by the Mughals. In 2007, Red Fort was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Red Fort is located in the center of Delhi, near Chandni Chowk. The visiting hour is from 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM. The fort is opened every day for visitors except Monday. For foreign nationals, the entry ticket is ₨ 150 ($2.40).
Qutb MinarAlso spelt as Qutub Minar, this 73 meter tower was built by Qutb-ud-din Aibak in 1193 to commemorate the victory after defeating the last Hindu ruler of India. The unique tower is a five-storied structure, where the first three sections are made of sandstone, followed the other two storeys which are made out of marble. The tower which marks the first settlement of Muslim rule in India. Qutb Minar is located near Mehrauli and is open on all days. As a foreigner, the entry fee is ₨ 250 ($4.00).
Jama MasjidOne of the famous mosques in India, Jama Masjid was commissioned by Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan. It was inaugurated in 1656 and is located in Old Delhi. The mosque’s courtyard is massive, as it has the capacity to hold 25,000 worshipers at any given point of time. Jama Masjid opens every day from 7:00 AM – 12:00 PM. It again, reopens at 1:30 PM and closes at 6:30 PM. There is no entry fee, but for photography you need to pay ₨ 200 ($3.20), once you are inside this building. It is also important to note that visitors are not allowed go inside the premise of the Masjid, during the hour of prayers.
India GateIt stands in the center of New Delhi and was erected in 1921 to commemorate the glory of the Indian and British soldiers who fought during the World War I and the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919. India Gate stands in an open area and can be visited anytime and has no entry fees.
Jantar MantarThis observatory was constructed in 1724 by the late Maharaja of Jaipur. Earlier, the observatory was famous for predicting accurate astronomical readings based on solar and cosmic charts. However, of late with the proliferation of high-rise buildings around the celestial observatory, it is no longer functional. Jantar Mantar is located near Connaught Place, New Delhi, and is open every day, from early morning till evening. An entry fee of ₨ 100 ($1.60) has been levied to the foreigners for entering this place. Although photography is allowed onsite, video photography cost you an extra of ₨ 25 ($0.40).
AkshardhamAdjacent to the Common Wealth 2010 Games Village, Akshardham is a notable Hindu temple complex that lies on the bank of the Yamuna River which flows beside this township. The Swaminarayan Akshardham is visited by more than 70% of tourists who visits Delhi. Endowed with a picturesque garden, musical fountains, IMAX Theater, lifelike robotics and dioramas, this place is a must-see for all tourist in Delhi.
Besides the aforementioned places, other locations that you may consider to visit while staying in the capital of India are Lotus Temple, Birla Mandir, Lodi Gardens, Parliament House, Safdarjung Tomb, and Purana Quila.
AccommodationThe vast influx of tourists in Delhi has led to the construction of many hotels. Most of the hotels are located in New Delhi, as that is the favored area for the tourist to reside. You will find a good number of budget hotels besides several star rated hotels in and around the city like The Taj Palace Hotel, The Maurya, The Metropolitan Hotel, The Oberoi, The Grand, The Taj Mahal Hotel, The Claridges, The Kempinski Ambiance- New Delhi, and others.
RestaurantsFor a gastronomy lover, Delhi is just the perfect city to enjoy all types of food. The city with the age-old Mughal tradition is probably the best place to get Mughal and Frontier cuisine in India. There is a mixture of budget and expensive restaurants that you may check out. Moreover, the roadside stalls, especially in Old Delhi is famous for succulent kebabs and biryani . Besides Mughal cuisine, Delhi also hosts a large number of continental and Chinese restaurants which serves a wide range of delicious mouthwatering gourmets for their clients.
Best time to visit DelhiDelhi has extreme climatic variation. In the summer season, the temperature in Delhi soars to more than 50°C and at times, it is also accompanied by heat wave. In the winter, the weather often touches 0°C, though snow fall is a rare occurrence in this part of the country. Moreover, the intense fog during winter in Delhi often jeopardizes the city lifestyle. Nevertheless, despite such obstacles in winter, the best time to visit Delhi is from October till the end of March.
TransportationAs a capital of India and counting on the population, Delhi has a number of options for traveling in the city. The best idea would be to opt for the Metro service – an intracity air-conditioned rail network that has opened up recently. Besides, there are also a number of local buses available in Delhi, but they are not ideal for tourists and foreigners. Another option is to avail of an auto rickshaw, which are available in plenty. Autos go by meter but they are famous for duping tourists, especially if you are from a foreign land. So, if you ever ride in an auto, be sure to deal with the fare beforehand. Taxis are also available in Delhi but they are not found in abundance. Hiring a rented car is, yet, another safe option that is available all through the day and night, for transportation in this city.
FestivalsThe major Hindu festivals that are held in Delhi are Dussehra, Deepawali, Holi , Maha Shivratri, Bhaiya Duj, Janam Ashtami, and others. The Muslims living in Delhi celebrates during the festive days of Id-ul-Fitr, Id-ul-Zuha, Bakrid, and Milad-ul-nab.
As there is also a very large population of Sikhs who live in Delhi, and so Guru Purab is also celebrated among the people of Punjab who lives here.
Buddha Jayanti is celebrated in the city of Delhi by the Buddhists, while Christmas, Easter and Good Friday is celebrated by the Christians living in Delhi.
The Republic Day (India) , is also another notable festival that is held in the month of January in this Indian capital township.
How to Reach DelhiAs a capital, Delhi is well connected with the other parts of the world by air. The IGI (Indira Gandhi International) airport serves as the main airbase with domestic and international flights plying every day. In regard to railway, Delhi is factually connected to all other parts of India. There are three major train stations in Delhi which are Sarai Rohilla, New Delhi station and the Old Delhi junction, which is also the oldest railway platform in this township.
Shopping in DelhiRight from the medieval period, Delhi served as a major trading center in North India. If you are planning to pick up some souvenirs, you can check out the local emporiums for exquisite handicrafts, carpets, leather goods, traditionally embroidered shawls and jewelries. Most of the emporiums are located in Connaught Place, Chandni Chowk, Karol Bagh, and in the Sarojini Market. There are also a number of shopping malls like TDI Mall, Pacific Mall, CTC Mall, Galaxy Mall, and others, that has recently sprang all over the city. But if you are looking, specifically, for souvenirs the malls might not be the best place for satisfying your shopping spree.
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Author: SubhasishMitra. Last updated: May 19, 2015