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Historical Monuments

Delhi has been an Imperial capital for the most part of the past thousand years. Successive rulers bestowed on the city a variety of monuments. These were either the houses of Gods or the houses of (and final resting places) of kings. Every monument was shaped, often literally, by the character, choice and constraints of the ruler.

Each of these mosques, tombs and forts brought completely new features to the landscape of Indian architecture. Over thousand years domes, pointed arches and calligraphy were introduced and an incredible variety of ways to make a simple prayer courtyard, facing a western wall, were born.

 

 

Humayun's Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb is striking both for the perfection of its richly decorated structure and for the formal beauty of the well-ordered garden that surrounds it.

Humayun's Tomb

The skilful disposition of arches of various sizes and the grace of the central dome make it a splendid and accomplished building and thus really the first important Mughal monument.

Humayun’s tomb, the first garden tomb made in India is divided into 36 grids, with water channels paths crisscrossing the place. The garden is laid down in the Persian Style. The square garden is initially divided into four large squares by causeways and channels, which again divide each square into smaller parts creating the Char bagh. The entrance to Humayun’s tomb is through a long axial processional track with gateways on the way. The tomb itself has an octagonal shape, built over a platform and row of pillars under which thee are graves of lesser-known people. Mainly built with red sandstone, Humayun’s tomb also has the use of black and white marbles to break the uniformity.

Built by Hamida Banu Begum, widow of Humayun, this excellent piece of architecture was said to have been the major idea that is said to have inspired Shahjahan to construct the wonderful, Taj Mahal at Agra. The tomb is set in the centre of a huge square garden enclosed by high walls on three sides. The Persian architect, Mirza Ghyas and his team designed it. The Queen later got the team of architects killed - she didn’t want this structure to be copied.

This most satisfying building was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993.Humayun’s Tomb is located in Nizamuddin East in New Delhi. It lies in the Mathura Road near it’s crossing with the Lodhi Road. Being one of the most important tourist attractions in New Delhi, it is easily accessible by buses, autos or taxis from all major parts of Delhi.

 

 

India Gate

At the center of New Delhi stands the 42m high India Gate, an "Arc-de-Triomphe" like Archway in the middle of a crossroad, almost similar to its French counterpart. 

India Gate

This solemn monument was built in memory of the 90,000 Indian soldiers who died in World War I. It was built in 1931, designed by Lutyens, and was originally called the All India War Memorial.

The names of the soldiers are inscribed on the walls of the arc of the gate. Later in 1971, an eternal flame was lit here in memory of the unknown soldiers who died in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war.

India Gate stands at the end of Rajpath, and is a popular picnic site especially during hot summer evenings. At night, the Gate is brightly lit and the fountains near the Gate are lit with coloured lights. The sight is delightful.

 

 

Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar surrounded by Delhi’s commercial, political and administrative landmarks the Jantar Mantar is an astronomical wonder dating from the 18 century.

Jantar-Mantar

This observatory was masterminded by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur (1699-1743) under orders from Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah around 1724.

It is built entirely of red brick and rubble, and is inscribed with scale markings in order to take readings. Jai Singh, it is believed, studied all known astronomical observatories of ancient times, before the designing of the Jantar Mantar, along with similar structures at Jaipur, Ujjain, Varanasi and Mathura.

 

 

Purana Quila

The Purana Qila (Old Fort) stands on the site where the ancient city of Indraprashtha is believed to have existed. Archeological evidences such as pottery dating back to 1000 BC, found within the fort premises support the premise. 

Purana Quila

Pottery of similar nature has been recovered. In 1538, the Mughal emperor Humayun laid the foundations of his city named Dinpanah, or the Refuge of the Faithful. 

The inner citadel of this city is today called Purana Qila or the Old Fort. An old fort, it is! One can almost smell the ancient stories oozing from the corners of the fort.

The site of the fort was also Indraprasta, the capital of the famed warriors of the Mahabharata, the Pandavas. Excavations near the eastern wall of the fort reveal that the site hadbeen occupied since 1000 B.C Archaeologists found painted grey ware pottery and other remains, which date back to the Mahabharata. The Purana Qila has three gates - Humayun Darwaza, Talaqi Darwaza and Bara Darwaza. 

The present entrance is the Bara Darwaza, an imposing red sandstone gate on the western wall. Inside the Purana Qila is the Sher Mandal, a two-storied octagonal pavilion in red sandstone, built by Sher Shah. Humayun used it as a library after he captured the fort. However, the Mandal is tragic, since it was here where the emperor is said to have tripped on its tortuous stairs and tumbled to his death in 1556. 

 

 

Rashtrapati Bhavan

The palatial building built on an area of 330 acres with a private garden designed by the illustrious Lutyens, as the official residence of the Viceroy of India during British reign, is now the official residence of the First Citizen.. 

Rashtrapati Bhavan

The house that houses the President of India and the house that boasts of having welcomed the most powerful men in history. 

The Rashtrapati Bhavan was designed by Edwin Lutyens and built in 1931, to be the central point of the British power in Delhi. Originally called the Viceroy's House, the Rashtrapati Bhavan covers an area of 4.5 acres of land. It has 340 rooms, 37 salons, 74 lobbies and loggias, 18 staircases and 37 fountains.

The most magnificent room in the Rashtrapati Bhavan is the Durbar Hall, which lies directly beneath the main dome. All important Indian State and Official ceremonies are held here. To the west, is the famous and beautifully landscaped Mughal Gardens, designed after the terraced gardens the Mughals built in Kashmir. The garden is famous as the 'Butterfly Garden' for the numerous butterflies that visit the varied flowers. The garden is open to the public in February. 

 

 

Qutub Minar 

Historical Construction Of A Landmark In 1199, Qutub-ud-Din raised the Qutub Minar either as a victory tower or as a minaret to the adjacent mosque. 

Qutub Minar 

From a base of 14.32m it tapers to 2.75m at a height of 72.5m.The highest stone tower in India, the Qutub Minar was built by Qutbuddin Aibak, the viceroy of Mohammed Ghori in 1192.

It was built to celebrate Ghori's victory over the Rajputs. The tower and the victory are very significant, because both heralded the birth of a new dynasty - Slave Dynasty. And it laid the foundations of the Delhi Sultanate. And the rest, as one would put it after witnessing this monumental tower, was history.

The Minar is a five-storey building with a height of 72.5 metres. The first storey of the Qutub Minar was completed in the lifetie of Qutbuddin. His son-in-law and successor, Iltumush, added the next three stores. 

Within the complex, is the famous Iron Pillar which has stood for millennia without rusting, Quwwat-ul-Islam, the first mosque built in India, and the Alai Darwaza, the gateway to the complex erected by Alauddin Khilji. The entry to the Minar has been closed, after the tower became infamous for the several suicides that were committed here. 

Qutub Minar is a successful tribute to architecture, as it captures one's attention by its sheer mass appeal. Even on close encounter, the attention lingers, owing to the delicate and almost ethereal carvings.

 

 

Iron Pillar

The 7.2 metre high pillar, standing within the Qutub Minar complex, is a proof of India's advanced knowledge of metallurgy 2000 years ago. 

Iron Pillar

For it continues to stand, even today, rust-free. The pillar was erected sometime between the 4th and 5th century AD as a Dhavaja-stambha (flagpole) of a Vishnu temple. 

It was erected in memory of King Chandragupta Vikramamditya who ruled from 375 to 413 AD. The Sanskrit inscriptions on the pillar record these facts. Unbelievable, considering today, even the spoons in our kitchens cannot guarantee this kind of an immortality after centuries of scientific progress! Another thing one has to do after laying one's sight on this pillar is, to go and give it a bear hug. Besides the metallurgic excellence, it is believed that hugging the pillar will make all of one's wishes come true. So… go, see and hug!

 

 

Rajghat

Raj Ghat 4 km away from Janpath to the N-East of Feroz Shah near Delhi Gate at Ring Rd on the bank of Jamuna situated Rajghat. Jawaharlal Nehru Rd also ends opposite Rajghat. On 31st Jan. 1948, Mahatma Gandhi's last rites were performed here.

Rajghat

The memorial stone of Gandhi is square in shape made of black stone. His last ward- 'Hey Ram' is inscribed on it. 

Ordinary people, VIPs, foreign tourists all come here at Rajghat to pay their homage to him. On every Friday (the day of his death) a prayer is being held. Except Monday, a regular feature of projecting Gandhi philosophy in picture, sculpture and photos from 10-00 to 17-00 is being performed at Rajghat. 

Besides, there is Gandhi Memorial Museum projecting his life and the philosophy of Sarvodaya Movement in film from 9-30 to 17-30 except Thursday and on Sunday at 16-00 in Hindi and 17-00 in English. Another Gandhi memorial is Gandhi Balidansthal or assassinated spot at Tis January Marg of the city. On 30 Jan. 1948 on his way to prayer at Biral Bhawan, he was assassinated by bullets. Hence, this memorial. 

 

 

Red Fort 

The most arresting sight in Old Delhi is the long and moated wall of red sandstone that surrounds the Red Fort or Lal Qila. One of the most spectacular pieces of Mughal Architecture is the Lal Quila or the Red Fort. 

Red Fort 

Built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan between 1638 and 1648, the Red Fort has walls extending up to 2 kms. in length. 

he Red Fort, with a circumference of over 2.2 kilometers, was laid out by the banks of the Yamuna River in the 17th century. The Mughal emperor Shajahan built it with the ambition of concentrating the Mughal power in one monument. Monument is perhaps not the right word. A mini-city is more like it. 

Unfortunately for the emperor, before he could move his capital from Agra to Shahjahanabad in Delhi, he was taken a political prisoner by his son Aurangazeb. The fort is a delight to one's imagination. Imagine the Naqqar Khana (Drum room) also called Naubat Khana (Welcome Room), where once drums loudly heralded the arrival of the emperor and the Diwan-e-Am (Hall of Public Audience) resounded with the incantations of the people. Amazing, isn't it? There's more to see - Mumtaz Mahal, Rang Mahal (Palace of Colours), Khas Mahal (Emperor's Palace), Diwan-e Khas (Hall of Private
Audience), the Hammam (bathing area) and Shah Burj. 

The wall and the gate are subtler and more decorative than at first glance, and the gate is indeed very pretty, its bastions delicately arcaded and topped by the pretty serrations of pointed battlements or merlons and the variously sized chatris or domes along the skyline, shaded by their sloping chajjas. The fort has two main entrances - Delhi Gate and Lahore Gate. The latter get its name from the fact that it faces Lahore in Pakistan. It's entrance leads to Delhi's most crowded bazaar, Chandni Chowk. 

There is a Light and Sound Show every evening, which throws a good deal of light on the history of the fort and of the city beyond it.

 

 

Sufdarjung's Tomb

After the death of Aurangzeb, the only significant structures raised were the Tomb of Safdarjung, who was the prime minister of Delhi under Muhammad Shah.

Sufdarjung's Tomb

It was built by his son, Shuja-ud-Daula 1753-1754. The tomb lies at the head of Lodi road. It is the mausoleum of Safdarjang, the viceroy of Awadh, known more as the last enclosed garden tomb.

It has many smaller pavilions that have very attractive names, which include Badshah Pasand (King's Favorite), Moti Mahal (Palace of Pearls) and Jangli Mahal (Palace in the woods). 

The materials used to build this were of inferior quality, such that much of it is falling now. Architecturally also it is not a perfect building. Yet, it is unmistakably a building in the tradition of the Taj, onion dome, garden and all…it looks wistfully pretty in the setting sun.

 

 

Tughluqabad Fort 

Tughluqabad Fort Fortress of Tughlaqabad is situated beyond the southern outskirts of the city. One enters the rocky site through an arched opening in an immense outer wall, strengthened by bastions, only to be faced by the further bastions of an inner citadel. 

Tughluqabad Fort 

The massive strong walls of Tughluqabad, the third city of Delhi, are located east of the Qutub Minar. 

The citadel frowns down ominously like some Gothic palace all over the Qutub-Badarpur road and seems to prefer its splendid isolation. Dating from 1321to 1325, it is still the most remote of all the seven cities.

Yet, from its heights one can see the new city creeping upon it, with its pylons and tall chimneys rising out of the grey heat haze. 

 

 

Teen Murti Bhavan

The Teen Murti Bhavan housed the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. Robert Tor Russel, the architect of Connaught Place, and the Eastern and Western Courts on Janpath, designed it. 

Teen Murti Bhavan

The Bhavan was originally the residence of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces in India. 

However, after independence the house was taken over as the residence of Jawaharlal Nehru. And on his death, the house was converted into a national memorial comprising a library and a museum. 

The library is one of the finest ones for information on modern Indian history. The house gets its name after the Teen Murti (three statues) Memorial, which stands on its extensive grounds. The memorial was built in memory of the Indian soldiers who perished in World War I. The Bhavan is closed to public on Mondays and on all public holidays. 

 

 

The Jama Masjid

The Jama Masjid or Friday Mosque, the largest in India is Old Delhi’s most splendid monument: built by Shah Jahan in 1650-56 on a rocky outcrop, high above the old city and the Red Fort.

The Jama Masjid

A straight road reaches the main or eastern entrance, but when you get the top of the steps the great wooden gate is closed, it is for kings only.

But there are two other gateways, each at the head of flights of steps, to its 100metre square yard. Jama Masjid, once the largest mosque in Asia, set on an elevated mound reached by an ascent of 35 steps, and said to be the finest example of the three- domed Mughal mosque. Note the thin black marble stripes on the dome.

 

 

Khirki Masjid

The shabby and unassuming village of Khirki lies of the south of Delhi. Hidden within it,, slightly off the road, is a remarkable building which looks more like a moated fortress than the mosque that it is called. 

Khirki Masjid

From outside the atmosphere is strikingly austere, yet rural. 

The square mosque is built in two storeys, there are basement cells within the ground floor arches, the main mosque, occupying the first- floor level is reached by the arched bridge over the dry moat. 

The interior is strange and beautiful and remarkably well thought out, a pillared courtyard divided and subdivided into many small squares, in part open to the sky, but mainly covered with low flat domes. The mosque was built in 1380 or about 50 years after the Fortress of Tughlaqabad.

 

 

The Lodi Tombs

The Lodi Tombs seen from the north, the three central monuments of the Lodi Gardens appear connected, unified and majestic. 

The Lodi Tombs

They date from the early part of the reign of Sikander Lodi (1489-1571). The Bara- Gumbad on the left might have been a gateway to the lower central mosque. 

Though still decorated simply and with restraint by alternating the grey and red stones of the facade, these buildings now look rather plain, splendid in silhouette. But the dome on the right was once covered with blue glazed tiles earning it the title of Shish Gumbad or Glass Dome.

 

 

The Qudsia Garden

The fine gateway to the large Qudsia Garden in North Delhi is agreeably run-down –time-worn, but not in ruins. Qudsia Begum was a dancing girl who became the wife of Muhammad Shah. 

The Qudsia Garden

The garden, she laid out in about 1748, is the prettiest place in New Delhi, an area north of Red Fort and towards the Ridge is known as the Civil Lines. 

It is particularly associated with the early years of the Raj and, depressingly with the Mutiny.

Two fine gateways stand out: Delhi Gate at the southern entrance to Shah Jahanabad or Old Delhi and Kashmir Gate at the northern. This is not far from a similar fortified building bang in the middle of the road, the remains of the British Magazine, blown up in 1857 at the outset of the Mutiny to keep its contents out of the mutineers’ or the freedom fighters’ hands. 

Not far away is the pretty canary- colored St-James’ Church of 1836, only 21 years before the Mutiny- built by half- Scottish, half-Indian Colonel James Skinner. Nearby are the remains of the Pir Ghaib, a dilapidated Mughal building.

 

 

Begumpuri Masjid

Begumpuri Masjid

Begumpuri Masjid (1370) located in Jahanpanah is Delhi’s first extant mosque built on an elevation, such that you have to climb the steps to reach it. It also has a number of egg-like dome- lets.

 

 

 

 

Sher Shah's Sher Mandal

Sher Shah's Sher Mandal

which Humayun later used as his library is a quaint two storeyed eight- sided building with a chhatri on top. 

Sher Shah’s Qila KUHNA MOSQUE (1540-45) has arches framed in a large solid triangle, which somehow adds to their grandeur. The mihrab on the western wall is richly colored with red sandstone and black and white marble

 

 

Manzil Masjid

Manzil Masjid

Manzil Masjid is a beautiful monument in the heart of Delhi. Maham Anagah, the wet nurse of Emperor Akbar built the mosque. It is entered through an imposing gateway. 

The mosque consists of five compartments of which the central one is domed. The northern, southern and eastern sides had double- storeyed colonnades that served as a madrassa

 

 

Salimgarh Fort and Ferozshah Kotla

Salimgarh Fort and Ferozshah Kotla

Salimgarh Fort and Ferozshah Kotla were built by Islam Shah Suri (reigned 1545-54), successor of Sher Shah Suri and Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 1354 respectively.

 

 

 

 

 

Lal Darwaza or Sher Shah Gate

Lal Darwaza or Sher Shah Gate

As popularly known, located opposite the Delhi Zoo entrance, BAGH-E- BEDIL, tomb of the Tajik poet, Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil, opposite Durgah Matka Pir in the near vicinity of the Purana Qila, ILTUMISH’S TOMB AND MADRASSA, built by the Sultan himself in 1235 at the north- western corner of his extended mosque are some other well known monuments in Delhi. There are many more, when you dig and dig more and more come out.