A cacophony of colors, sounds, and aromas, Delhi is an assault on the senses. The gateway to the delights of India, this capital city, on the banks of the Yamuna River, is simply unforgettable and is sure to leave an impression on even the most intrepid traveler. A rich tapestry of history and culture can be found beneath the chaotic exterior of Delhi’s city life, whether amongst the Mughal relics of Old Delhi or the imperial grandeur of New Delhi.
Travel to Delhi to experience the stereotypical image of India: the overwhelming honking of car and scooter horns, the human and animal traffic, the steaming street food stalls, the street beggars and the busy shoppers. Despite the intensity of the city, it’s easy to fall in love with the so-called land of a thousand colors during a trip to Delhi. Inhabited since the 6th-century BC, Delhi’s architecture tells the story of the rise and fall of kingdoms and empires in its monuments, mosques, temples, museums, and palaces. In fact, there are at least eight historic cities of Delhi, all of which were built upon the ruins of their predecessor, leaving behind countless relics for visitors to discover on a tour of Delhi today.
A multi-faceted city in more ways that one, you’ll see enormous wealth juxtaposed by incredible poverty and modern architecture side-by-side with ancient temples if you visit Delhi. For labyrinthine markets and mouthwatering street-eats, it’s the best destination in India. Whether you’re in amongst the frantic streets of Old Delhi or enjoying the wide avenues and leafy green spaces of New Delhi, you’ll get the best out of a trip to Delhi if you simply go with the flow and savor the experience!
With an urban core of more than 700 square kilometers, there’s plenty of things to see in Delhi and equally as much ground to cover. The metro system will whisk you between the city’s sights, but of course, you’ll be missing out on the intricate, intoxicating street life scene above ground by bypassing the traffic-laden roads.
A diverse city, all religions are represented in Delhi’s temples, mosques, and churches, some of which have secured themselves at the top of the lists of things to see in Delhi. Akshardham Temple is a great place to start. Despite being inaugurated in 2005, this center of Hindu culture possesses all the charms of more traditional temples and is adorned with intricately carved pillars, domes and even, life-sized elephant sculptures. Constructed by more than 1000 talented artisans, this ornate display of spiritual architecture is home to a number of forward-thinking exhibits, aiming to make Hinduism accessible to all audiences.
Another of Delhi’s modern religious buildings is the Lotus Temple, an icon of the city’s skyline. A Baha’i house of worship, its minimalist lotus flower design, composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad petals, is simply spectacular. Open to all visitors, this unique place of worship is one of the world’s most visited and a must-see on a tour of Delhi. One of the older religious monuments in Delhi is the Jama Masjid Mosque, dating back to the 17th-century when it was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the same emperor that built the prestigious Taj Mahal. Jama Masjid Mosque can accommodate an impressive 25,000 worshippers and is crowned by two 40-meter-high minarets and three domes. Finally, Delhi’s Lal Mandir Jain Temple, the oldest Jain temple in the city, is conveniently located opposite the Red Fort and shares the same vibrant color as the fort in its facade. The temple complex contains a number of shrines as well as a bird hospital, as the care of animals is an important aspect of Jain beliefs.
From the spiritual to the historical, there’s a handful of historic monuments that simply cannot be missed on a tour of Delhi. The Red Fort, once the main residence of the Mughal Emperors, is one of the city’s most popular sights. The bright-red hues of the fort’s exterior make it instantly recognizable and incredibly photogenic. Every year on August 15th, the tricolor flag is raised above the Red Fort’s Lahori Gate to commemorate Indian independence in 1947. Inside this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll find elegant Mughal architecture and marble latticework, whilst those who visit the Red Fort in the evening will be treated to a fascinating sound and light show describing Mughal history.
Another of Delhi’s most visited sights is the historic Humayun’s Tomb, the final resting place of the Mughal Emperor Humayun, built by his widow in the 16th-century. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Humayun’s Tomb is said to be the first example of Mughal architecture in India and is thought to have later inspired the design of the Taj Mahal. Be sure to stroll through the surrounding gardens, which were slowly filled with the graves of Humayun’s descendants over the centuries. Finally, a monument in honor of a hero of modern times, the Raj Ghat, dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, is one of the most important things to see in Delhi. Consisting of a sleek black marble platform, marking the location of Gandhi’s cremation on the banks of the Yamuna River, a flame burns here constantly in his memory.
If you’d rather experience the life of everyday Delhiites after exploring the monuments and palaces of the greats, you can’t miss out on visiting Khari Baoli Spice Bazaar. Asia’s largest wholesale spice market, it was first established in the 17th-century. Expect intoxicating aromas and bargaining locals amidst a sea of rainbow-colored spices, herbs, and dried fruits. Situated in the busy shopping district of Chandni Chowk, this is unfiltered India at it’s finest. Be sure to pick up some exotic spices before retreating to the market’s hidden rooftop platform, a little-known tip for those wishing to snap panoramic photos and watch the hustle and bustle from a tranquil vantage point!
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