Delhi Monuments, Delhi Historical Structures
The red sandstone walls of Lal Qila, the Red Fort, extend for two km and vary in height from 18 metres on the river side to 33 metres on the city side. Shah Jahan started construction of the massive fort in 1638 and it was completed in 1648. Before he could move his capital from Agra to Shahjahanabad in Delhi, he was deposed and imprisoned in Agra Fort by his son Aurangzeb.
The Lahore gate is the main gate to the fort, getting its name from the fact that it faces Lahore. It leads to a vaulted arcade, the Chatta Chowk (Covered Bazaar). The shops cater to the tourist trade today, but once they stocked articles for the royal household - silks, jewellery, gold. This arcade was also known as the Meena Bazaar, where ladies of the court shopped on Thursdays. No man was allowed inside the citadel on that day.
Coronation Durbar Site
This is a must for incurable Raj fans looking for their fix of nostalgia. It's north of Old Delhi and is best reached by auto-rickshaw. An obelisk marks the site where the durbars were enacted between 1877 and 1903. It was here that King George V was declared Emperor of India in 1911.
Feroz Shah Kotla
The ruins of Ferozabad, the fifth city of Delhi, erected by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 1354 can be found at Feroz Shah Kotla, just off Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg between the Old and New Delhi. A 13-metre-high sandstone obelisk with Ashoka's edicts (and a later inscription) can be seen in the old fortress palace. Also to be seen are the remains of an old mosque and a fine well. But most of the ruins were used in the construction of later cities.
Purana Qila is the supposed site of Indraprastha, the original city of Delhi. The Afghan ruler, Sher Shah, who briefly interrupted the Mughal Empire by defeating Humayun, completed the fort during his reign from 1538-45, before Humayun regained control of India. The fort, located south-east of the India Gate and north of Humayun's Tomb and the Nizamuddin railway station, has massive walls and three large gateways. There is a small octagonal red sandstone tower, the Sher Mandal, inside the fort near the South gate. It was later used by Humayun as a library. While descending the stairs of this tower one day in 1556, he slipped, fell and received injuries from which he later died. The Qila-i-Kuhran Mosque, or Mosque of Sher Shah, lies just beyond it and unlike the fort itself, is in a fairly reasonable condition. There's a small archaeological museum just inside the main gate. There are good views of New Delhi from atop the gate.
The tomb is an early example of Mughal architecture. Humayun's senior wife Haji Begum had it built in the mid-16th century. This earlier tomb is thus of great interest for its relation to the later Taj. The squat building, graced by high arched entrances topped by a bulbous dome is surrounded by formal gardens.This style of architecture was refined over the years,ultimately rersultingin the magnificence of the Taj Mahal in Agra. Haji Begum too is buried in the tomb. The garden has other tombs including that of Humayun's barber and the Tomb of Isa Khan. The latter is a good example of Lodi architecture. Entry is free on Friday. On other days, there is a small entry fee. There is an excellent view of the surrounding country from the terraces of the tomb.
The shrine of the Muslim Sufi saint, Nizamuddin Chishti, who died in 1325 aged 92, is across the road from Humayun's tomb. With its large tank, it is one of several interesting tombs here. Other tombs include the later grave of Jahanara, the daughter of Shan Jahan, who stayed with her father during his imprisonment by Aurangzeb in Agra's Red Fort. Amir Khusru, a renowned Urdu poet, also has his tomb here as does Atgah Khan, a favourite of Humayun and his son Akbar. It's worth visiting the shrine at around sunset on Thursdays, as it is a popular time for worship, and qawwali singers start performing after the evening prayers.
The Safdarjang Tomb was built in 1753-54 by the Nawab of Avadh for his father, Safdarjang, and is one of the last examples of Mughal architecture before the final remnants of the great empire collapsed. The tomb stands on a high terrace in an extensive garden. Entry is free on Friday. On other days a small entry fee is charged. This tomb is adjacent to the small Safdarjung airport.
The walled city and fort of Tughlaqabad with its 13 gateways lies east of the Qutab Minar.The third city of Delhi, it was built by Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq.Its construction involved a legendary quarrel with the saint Nizamuddin, when the Tughlaq ruler took away the workers the latter wanted for work on his shrine.
Qutab Minar Complex
The buildings in this complex, 15km south of Delhi, date from the onset of Muslim rule in India. The Qutab Minar itself is a soaring tower of victory which was started in 1193, immediately after the defeat of the last Hindu king in Delhi. It is nearly 73 meters high and tapers from a 15-metre-diameter base to just 2.5 metres at the top. The tower has five distinct storeys, each marked by a projecting balcony.The first three storeys are made of red sandstone, the fourth and fifth of marble. Although Qutab-ud-din began construction of the tower, he only got to the first storey. His successors completed it, and in 1368, Feroz Shah Tughlaq rebuilt the top storeys and added a cupola. An earthquake brought the cupola down in 1803 and an Englishman replaced it with another in 1829. However, that dome was removed some years later. Today , this impressively ornate tower has a slight tilt, but otherwise has worn the centuries remarkably well. The tower is closed to visitors.
This seven-metre-high pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque and has been there since long before the mosque's construction. A six - line Sanskrit inscription indicates that it was initially erected outside a Vishnu temple, possibly in Bihar, and was raised in memory of the Gupta king, Chandragupta Vikramaditya, who ruled from 375 to 413. What the inscription does not tell is how it was made. Scientists have never discovered how this iron, which is of such purity that it has not rusted after 2000 years, could be cast with the technology of the time. It is said that if you can encircle the pillar with your hands whilst standing with your back to it, your wish will be fulfilled.
The same time as Ala-ud-din made his additions to the mosque, he also conceived a far more ambitious construction programme. He would build a second tower of victory, exactly like the Qutab Minar, except it would be twice as high! When he died the tower had reached 27 metres and no-one was willing to continue his over-ambitious project. The uncompleted tower stands to the north of the Qutab Minar and the mosque.
The great mosque of Old Delhi is both the largest in India and the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan. Commenced in 1644 , the mosque was not completed until 1658. It has three great gateways, four angle towers and two minarets standing 40 meters high and constructed of alternating vertical strips of red sandstone and white marble. There's a Rs 15 fee to take a camera inside the mosque, and another Rs 15 to take it up the minaret.
Khirki Masjid & Jahanpanah
This mosque dating from 1380 has four open courts. The nearby village of Khirki also takes its name from the mosque. The remains of the fourth city of Delhi, Jahanpanah, lie close by. Also found close by are the high Bijai Mandal platform and the Begumpur Mosque with its multiplicity of domes.
The Might of Islam Mosque, at the foot of the Qutab Minar was the first mosque to be built in India. Since Qutab-ud-din began construction of the mosque in 1193, a number of additions and extensions have been made over the centuries . The original mosque was built on the foundations of a Hindu temple. Many of the elements in the mosque's construction indicate their Hindu or Jain origins. Altamish, Qutab-ud-din's son-in-law, built a cloistered court around the original small mosque in 1210-20. Ala-ud-din added a court to the east and the magnificent Alai Darwaza gateway in 1300.
Lakshmi Narayan Temple
The temple erected by industrialist B.D Birla in 1938 is dedicated to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and good fortune, and is commonly known as Birla Mandir.
The lotus-shaped Bahai temple lies to the east of Siri. Set amongst pools and gardens, adherents of any faith are free to visit the temple and pray or meditate silently according to their own religion. It looks particularly spectacular at dusk when it is floodlit.