Delhi is one of the oldest cities in the world and an excellent starting point for exploring North India.
Not only because of ample transport connections but because the history of Delhi is essentially the history of India.The city is littered with crumbling tombs and ruins, most of which are not even on the tourist map!
Here are some of the famous Monuments and Historical Sights of Delhi:
Qawal musicians in the night.
The 'dargah' of revered Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliyaa. Sufism is different strain of originally ascetic muslims whose followers seek divine truth and love through direct encounters with God.
Despite your religious inclination Sufi places of pilgramage are a must-visit for their tremendous energy and the magic of listening to the Qawals (live musicians) belt their mystical verses to the open skies.
Tip: Qawwalis are performed daily and as it is located across the road from the Humayun's Tomb one can combine a visit to the two.
Calligraphy at the base of the tower.
A monolith of red sandstone baked by Delhi’s summer sun - an image that is quintessentially Delhi.
The Qutab Minar is the tallest free-standing stone tower in the world and a Unesco World Heritage site,; Covered with intricate iron carvings and verses from the Qur'an. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone; the fourth, fifth and sixth storeys are made of marble and sandstone.
Tip: Try to visit during the week as it gets crowded on weekends
The Bahai or Lotus Temple.
With over thousands of visitors daily the Lotus Temple remains one of Delhi’s most iconic Tourist attractions. A ‘House of Worship’ for the Bahai faith, it was designed by the Iranian Architect Fariborz Sahba who used the icongraphy of the lotus as it was common to several religions including Hinduism and Buddhism. There are nine sides to the temple formed by 27 marble petals, arranged in groups of three. The floor inside the central hall is also made of marble imported from the Penteli Mountain in Greece.
Tip: Carry extra socks with you; you’re required to take your shoes off before entering and the floor can be hot in the summer.
The Masjid-i Jahān-Numā (مسجدِ جہاں نما, मस्जिद जहान नुमा, the 'World-reflecting Mosque') is one of the largest mosques in India.
Located in one of the oldest and busiest corners of Old Delhi, the Jama Masjid is one of the largest and best known mosques in India. Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1658, the masjid comprises a courtyard that can seat up to 25,000 worshippers!
With a fusion of Hindu and Jain traditions reflecting from the carved pillars, this Islamic place of worship also reflects the typical architectural works of the Mughals.
Tip: Early morning visits are recommend to avoid the inevitably large crowds.
The beauty of the tomb by night.
Humayun’s tomb is one of the best preserved of Mughal monuments. A spellbinding mausoleum built for the second Mughal emperor it launched a great Mughal architectural legacy. So much so that even the Taj Mahal, which was built by Humayun's great-grandson, was inspired by it!
The tomb proper stands in the centre of a square garden, divided into four main parts by causeways in the centre of which ran shallow water-channels. The high built-enclosure is entered through two lofty double-storeyed gateways.
Tip: Combine a trip to Humayun's tomb with lunch at one of the many restaurants in nearby Khan market
The sprawling temple complex is spread over a 100 acres and located in East Delhi
Akshardham Temple complex.
A major draw for Indian tourists, the Akshardham temple complex dazzles with it’s sheer scale and size. A celebration of the temples and culture of yore, this modern temple was built as per traditional temple architecture of India ie the Vastu Shastra. Based on traditional Indian architectural guidelines it makes no use of ferrous metal and has no support from steel or concrete!
Tip- This place sees a lot of visitors ,so be prepared for crowds. Also no cameras or electrical items allowed inside.
Delhi is a city that is all about the new and old, so there are a tonnes of historical sights to see!
Take breaks and Intersperse your sightseeing with pit-stops at any of the traditional eateries and try the medley of cuisines that make up Delhi or grap a cuppa at one of the numerous cafes that have recently opened for a more international flavour.