Old Meets New: Delhi

New Delhi, Noida, Delhi

Delhi’s glorious past runs deep—well into 6th Century B.C.! It is even believed to have inspired ancient epics like “Mahabharata!” The city itself has been built, destroyed, and rebuilt several times throughout its long history under different dynasties. Traces of each political era and cultural group still stand well-preserved on the skyline, from the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire to the British occupation and modern-day New Delhi. Roam abandoned forts and manicured gardens for a trip back in time. These architectural wonders are a tangible timeline that tourists can still follow today!

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Updated a year ago

Qutb Minar Complex

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New Delhi, India • Recommendation • 

Qutb Minar is the world’s tallest brick minaret at 73 meters high! The spire was erected as a victory tower to the newly established Mehrauli. The city’s leader, Qutb-ud-Din-Aibak, was the first Muslim ruler of the Mamluk Dynasty and Delhi Sultanate. He laid the first floor of the red sandstone spire, which his successors completed with marble and sandstone. Geometric and interlace patterns, including Quran passages, are etched into the stone to pay heed to Islamic influences. Wander through the UNESCO World Heritage Site for a closer look at the pristine carvings that look as if they were sculpted yesterday! Ruins from the preceding kingdom (called the Qila Rai Pithora) are scattered around the area, too!

  • Seth Sarai, Mehrauli, New Delhi, Delhi, India

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Hauz Khas Complex

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New Delhi, India • Recommendation • 

Hauz Khas (meaning “water house”) Complex supplied water to the residents of Siri, the second city of the Delhi Sultanate. Seek shade under the cover of Hauz Khas’s mosque, madrasa (learning institution), and several tombs for a sprawling view of the once life-giving lake! In an ironic twist, it is believed that vibrant Siri was constructed over the heads of 8,000 Mongols! These invaders from the East were no match for Alauddin Khalji (of the Khalji Dynasty) whose nickname was the “Delhi Decapitator!” He established Siri (“sir” being Hindi for head) as a fort. Eventually, he and his constituents settled down in the area permanently, creating the need for the Hauz Khas reservoir.

  • Deer Park, Hauz Khas, New Delhi, Delhi, India

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Tughlakabad Fort

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Noida, India • Recommendation • 

Delhi’s third dynasty under the Delhi Sultanate, the Tughlaq Dynasty, founded a mighty citadel atop a hill. It was named Tughlakabad Fort after its founder, Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Tughlaq. The stone fortress was thought to be impregnable to invaders. However, as time has proven, weeds and monkeys have begun to reclaim the Tughlakabad Fort. Amidst the crumbling walls slowly giving way to shrubbery, its Ghiyath al-Din’s mausoleum is the sole structure that seems completely intact. Put on your explorer’s hat and trek through the rough terrain to Tughlaq’s majestic tomb! (Remember: beware of the cheeky monkeys!)

  • Tughlakabad, New Delhi, Delhi, India

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Lodhi Gardens

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New Delhi, India • Recommendation • 

The Delhi Sultanate’s last three dynasties saw less construction than any of the periods before them. Its architectural achievements came in the form of tombs at Lodhi Gardens—a fitting final farewell to the Delhi Sultanate. Pay your respects to Sultan Muhammad Shah Sayyid and Sultan Sikandar Lodi in their particular resting places. The gardens have been a respite for former kings, locals, and tourists alike. Find peace as you lounge on serene lawns and wander through beautiful pavilions!

  • Lodhi Estate, Lodhi Road, New Delhi, Delhi, India

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Purana Qila (Old Fort)

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New Delhi, India • Recommendation • 

The Delhi Sultanate ended with the dawn of the Mughal Empire. The new age ushered in different cultural influences: Islamic, Persian, and Turkish! Purana Qila (Old Fort), where the first Emperors ruled from, is studded with red-stone monuments displaying this fusion. Find the intricately decorated Qila-i-Kuhna Mosque (Mosque of Sher Shah), more commonly known as the Grand Mosque. Note the parchin kari, the meticulous art of setting semi-precious stones into hand-chiseled marble that decorate the inner chambers. The art form was first introduced here from the West. Later on, this stunning decoration will be fully realized in the Taj Mahal!

  • Mathura Road, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, Delhi, India

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Red Fort

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Delhi, India • Recommendation • 

The Red Fort was the central seat of power and main residence of Emperors for nearly 200 years! Later into Emperor Shah Jahan’s rule, he transferred the capital of the Mughal Empire from Agra to a sandstone fort in Shahjahanabad (one of Delhi’s past names). Locals call this quarter and its surrounding area Old Delhi. Visit the Diwan-i’Am (Hall of Public Audience) where the throne has remained; and, Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience) which holds the Naubat-Khana (Drum House) where musicians played during ceremonies. Its timeless beauty proves that the Mughal Empire’s architectural legacy peaked with Emperor Shah Jahan (the man behind best known for the Taj Mahal)!

  • Netaji Subhash Marg, Lal Qila, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi, India

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Jama Masjid

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Delhi, India • Recommendation • 

Emperor Shah Jahan’s final gift to Delhi was the Jama Masjid, which took 5,000 workers to build and more than 10 years to construct. It is one of the biggest mosques in India, fitting up to 25,000 people! Shah Jahan’s favorite materials (red sandstone and marble) work perfectly in tandem as the mosque glints like a jewel on the Delhi skyline. Ascend 121 steps to the top of the southern minaret for a panoramic view of Delhi’s streets. A note to visitors: remove your shoes at the top of the stairs. Also, the mosque rules that women must be accompanied in the tower.

  • Meena Bazaar, Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi, India

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India Gate

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New Delhi, India • Recommendation • 

In 1911, Delhi was crowned the capital of British India. After the First World War, the India Gate was commissioned as a memorial to the brave British and Indian soldiers who served on the battlefields. Their names are etched in honor of their sacrifice. The arch was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the primary architect who shaped New Delhi’s cityscape. His vision was so critical that sometimes, New Delhi is referred to as “Lutyen’s Delhi.” Commune with fellow tourists at the hotspot and bask in the busyness. Hawkers and sellers add a lot of life and color to the otherwise historic site.

  • Rajpath, India Gate, New Delhi, Delhi, India

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Rashtaprati Bhawan

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New Delhi, India • Recommendation • 

From empty palaces to crumbling forts, Delhi has been home to India’s rulers. Rashtrapati Bhawan is the latest addition to Delhi’s royal residences. It was built during the British Occupation and designed by its foremost architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens. The building is a mix of European aesthetics and local design influences. Rashtraprati Bhawan houses the President of India in a spacious 340-room building replete with all that a head-of-state could need: reception halls, guest rooms, and offices. Roam the palatial grounds and revel in the refreshing atmosphere of the Mughal Gardens! Visits must be made by request through their online booking system.

  • Rajpath, New Delhi, Delhi, India

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Baha’i House of Worship (Lotus Temple)

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Noida, India • Recommendation • 

A true testament of Delhi’s multicultural heritage, Baha’i House of Worship welcomes visitors from all faiths! Acceptance is a key teaching of the Baha’i faith that values equality and unity among all people. The Lotus Temple, as it is also called, is a futuristic structure that resembles a half-opened flower. Nine pools surround it and at night the temple is illuminated, enchanting everyone who sees it. Stroll through the manicured gardens and admire the building mid-bloom; or, meditate and meet people from different walks of life!

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