Travel Destinations: Delhi, India
Delhi is the symbol for both old India and modern India. It is the place where visitors can hear the voices of the past, feel the magic of years gone by and experience the hopes and dreams for the future.
Delhi is the centre of India, a busy international metropolis, a home to more than 13 million people. Yet there are reminders of the past, tombs and palaces and temples, hidden amongst the modern developments and highways built in recent times. This makes Delhi an interesting and fascinating place for tourists.
Delhi has more cultural attractions than what can be presented here, but there are some that should not be missed. Why not start with a visit to Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the president of India. It was designed by the English architect Edwin Lutyens when the British government decided that Delhi should replace Calcutta as the capital of India.
It is best to view the building from the east side from India Gate. It is a strikingly beautiful building and although the apartments are private, the gardens to the west side are open to the business. They were laid with Mughal pleasure parks in mind, with beautiful orderly squared gardens, interspersed with fountains and beautiful waterways, tennis courts, a swimming pool and fruit and vegetable gardens.
Jantar Mantar is another great place to visit. It can be found south of Connaught Place and was built in 1725. It was the first of five open-aired observatories that were designed by the Jai Singh II. The Jantar Mantar building looms over some wonderful flowerbeds where time, solar and lunar calendars were calculated with high degrees of accuracy.
If you love visiting temples, then Delhi is a great place for you. The biggest Sikh temple in Delhi is Bangla Sahib Gurudwara is a magnificent white marble building, topped with a gigantic onion shaped dome which you can see from quite a distance. It was built to commemorate the visit of the eighth Sikh guru, Hare Krishan. When you visit here, you will be asked to remove your shoes and whether you want to have a free guide. Please remember to dress respectively and accordingly. You will also experience some fantastic live music and be invited to share a simple but delicious meal.
Lakshmi Narayan Mandir is a modern Hindu temple that should not be missed. It is situated west of Connaught Place on Mandir Marg and is absolutely stunning with its white, cream and red brick domes. The prosperous Birlas family commissioned its construction and is dedicated the the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, and her consort Narayana (aka Vishnu), the preserver of life. You will hear the most beautiful devotional music throughout the temple and the Hindu scriptures are translated into English.
Another wonderful highlight of the city is Diwan-i-Khas, known as the Hall of Private Audience. It can be found north of Kas Mahal and is the place where the emperor would speak to the elite members of his court. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the Rang Mahal (the Palace of Colour) with a stunning marble pavilion with graceful arches and exquisite embellishments. There is an inscription that can still be read, which translates as “If there be paradise upon this earthly sphere/ It is here, oh it is here”.
Delhi has a wonderful array of restaurants and food markets, designed for everyone’s individual wallets. Most restaurants will close their doors around 11pm but those who have bars will stay open much later. However, there are 24/7 coffee shops or restaurants in high quality hotels that can cater for anyone’s needs.
If you are a lover of shopping, then Delhi is the place for you. The Sundar Nagar Market near Purana Qila is the place to shop for antiques, art and jewellery; Hauz Khas Village has some wonderful galleries and shops dedicated to art and antiques. However, please be aware that you are not allowed to take art objects out of the country if they are more than 100 years old.