Delhi, the soul of India and a mélange of cultures, encapsulates two very different worlds, the “old” and the “new” giving a feel of both ancient and modern India. The city is nestled in the lap of the majestic Yamuna River and presents the soul of India in its true self. Over thousand years, it has wooed rulers, fascinated plunderers, and tried historians with details. Even today, Delhi preserves an enviable heritage; it’s a city always on the move. The city is sprinkled with captivating ancient monuments, picturesque gardens, magnificent museums, a vivacious performing arts scene, and some of the subcontinent’s best restaurants. This city of contrasts is a treasure trove for tourists.
In the 17th Century, the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, made his capital in Shahjahanabad, the area that broadly covers present-day Old Delhi, also called the walled city. Ten gates connected the city with the surrounding region. Some of the gates and parts of the wall still stand. The romance of the bazaars of Delhi can be experienced at its best in and around Chandni Chowk and its by lanes. Today, the walled city is one of the metropolis’ most crowded, chaotic, and captivating areas, with a bamboozling orchestra of sights and sounds.
Delhi's culture is a melting pot of diverse influences from Mughal, British, and modern Indian cultures. It is renowned for its historical monuments, street markets, and cultural festivals. Delhi's cuisine is equally diverse, with a range of street foods, snacks, and traditional dishes from various parts of India. Some popular dishes include butter chicken, chaat, chole bhature, kebabs, and biryani. Delhi is also known for its sweet delicacies such as jalebi, rasgulla, and gulab jamun.
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib : A magnificent white-marble gurdwara (Sikh temple), topped by glinting golden onion domes, was constructed at the site where the eighth Sikh guru, Harkrishan Dev Sahib, stayed before his 1664 death. Despite his tender age, the six-year-old guru tended to the people suffering from smallpox and cholera. In the process of curing people, the Guru himself fell victim of the epidemic. The water of the large tank is said to have healing powers. The temple is full of color and life, yet tranquil, and live devotional songs from the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of the Sikhs. The temple is visited by people of all the faiths and is the symbol of the culture and harmony of India.
India Gate : An imposing 42m-high stone memorial arch was designed by Lutyens in 1921. It pays tribute to around 90,000 Indian Army soldiers by inscribing their names on it who fought and died in WWI, in the Northwest Frontier operations, and the 1919 Anglo-Afghan War. The chhatri behind it contained a statue of George V, which was later moved to Coronation Park. The arch has a constant buzz of tourists, buddhi ke bal ('old lady's hair' – candy floss) sellers, and other hawkers.
Red Fort : Founded by Emperor Shah Jahan and surrounded by a magnificent 18m-high wall, this fort took 10 years to construct (1638–48) and is rumored to have had the decapitated bodies of prisoners built into the foundations for luck. It once overlooked the Yamuna River, which has now shrunk to some distance away. A tree-lined waterway, known as nahr-i-bihisht (river of paradise), once ran out of the fort and along Chandni Chowk, fed by the Yamuna.
Humayun’s Tomb : Humayun’s tomb is sublimely well proportioned, seeming to float above its symmetrical gardens. It's thought to have inspired the Taj Mahal, which it predates by 60 years. Constructed for the Mughal emperor in the mid-16th century by Haji Begum, Humayun's Persian-born wife, the tomb marries Persian and Mughal elements. The arched facade is inlaid with bands of white marble and red sandstone, and the building follows strict rules of Islamic geometry, with an emphasis on the number eight.
Akshardham Temple : Delhi's largest temple, the Gujarati Hindu Swaminarayan Group’s Akshardham Temple was built in 2005, and is breathtakingly lavish. Artisans used ancient techniques to carve the pale red sandstone into elaborate reliefs, including 20,000 deities, saints, and mythical creatures. The centerpiece is a 3m-high gold statue of Shri Swaminarayan surrounded by more, fabulously intricate carvings.