The capital city of Delhi is one of contradictions. It houses some of the greatest architectural accomplishments of the mighty Mughals and other Islamic rulers, and is yet one of the most congested, polluted cities I have been to. It’s got lavish malls and an excellent Metro system, and yet only areas of commercial and diplomatic importance are clean, green and well-maintained. For the history and architecture buff, there couldn’t be a better city in the country.
Getting around Delhi is super-easy, with the Delhi Metro Rail being efficient, well-connected, unbelievably cheap, and extremely helpful to outsiders. Uber and Ola help things even more, allowing you to discover the city’s jewels at your own pace.
Humayun’s Tomb – constructed in memory of the great Emperor Humayun, commissioned by his grieving wife.
Humayun’s Tomb – the structure was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, which was followed by repair and restoration work.
Humayun’s Tomb – one of the first structures to use red sandstone on such a large scale, its deep hue stands out against the sky. White marble is used as highlights on the floors, frames, jaalis and dome.
Humayun’s Tomb – details of the chhatris or umbrellas which were originally covered in gorgeous blue tiles. How striking they must’ve been!
Humayun’s Tomb – the entire structure sits on a raised platform.
Humayun’s Tomb – the Char Bagh or Four Gardens surrounding the tomb are representative of the Mughal love for geometry. The water features must have looked incredible in their day. Agrasen Ki Baoli
Agrasen Ki Baoli – this stepwell is right in the middle of Connought Place and is completely unexpected. The steep steps lead down to an ancient water storage system, which is currently home to hundreds of shrieking bats.
Agrasen Ki Baoli – nobody really knows who constructed this, or whom its named after. Many old tales of curses and haunting ghosts surround it, and there is exactly zero security or safety imposed. Entry is free, but prepare for an onslaught of daring kids climbing the narrow walls. Red Fort/Lal Qila
Red Fort – one of the most recognisable symbols of India, the Red Fort to this day is of immense political importance.
Red Fort – entering through the Lahore Gate takes you through the Chatta Chowk or covered market, currently occupied by vendors selling ‘Indian’ fabric and knickknacks to tourists at 10 times the price.
Red Fort – the audio tour is worth the money, and takes you through key aspects of the fort’s history and architecture.
Red Fort – the inside of the fort houses many smaller structures, palaces, gardens, fountains and courtyards. It is said to have been one of the richest, most stunning royal homes with the Kohinoor Diamond and the Peacock Throne once residing here too.
Red Fort – the entire fort is beautifully maintained on the inside with lush gardens and plenty of shady spots to sit in and admire the buildings.
The stunning Qutb Minar is the world’s tallest brick minaret and is located within the Qutb Complex.
Qutb Minar – panel details. Five storeys high and tapering upwards, each level is visually broken by an elaborate balcony.
Qutb Complex – started by Qutb Al Din Aibak, the complex remained a favourite among all future dynasties – Tughlaqs, Lodhis, Khiljis who all added and restored structures.
Qutb Complex – Alai Minar. An ambitious project started by Alaudin Khilji, this was meant to be twice as large and tall as the Qutb Minar. He passed before its completion, and the construction was abandoned. Walking around this giant mound of rubble is pretty impressive!
Qutb Complex – the 7 metre tall Iron Pillar feels rather out of place and dwarfed in the complex. Made during the reign of Chandragupta II around 400 CE, its rust-resistant iron composition has been the subject of much interest and study.
Qutb Minar – another view.
Purana Qila – Bada Darawaza or main entrance to the old fort.
Purana Qila – interior gate surrounded by a deep trench.
Purana Qila – built by Sher Shah Suri, most of the fort is now in ruins. You can walk along the standing parts of the roof.
Purana Qila – fort walls.
Purana Qila – the Qila – i – Kuhna mosque was commissioned by Sher Shah Suri and used by him and his courtiers for prayer. The interiors are adorned with patterns and inscriptions.
Purana Qila – these puppies were scared, hungry and hot, and loved a cold drink of water.
Purana Qila – thirsty puppies at the Qila. Lodhi Gardens
Lodhi Gardens – with free entry, these gardens are a lovely break from the chaos of Delhi’s traffic.
Lodhi Gardens – although known to be the favourite hideout place for young couples secretly in love, it still is one of the loveliest gardens I have seen, and all the history only adds to its charm.
Lodhi Gardens – they house the tombs of the Sayyids and Lodhis.
Lodhi Gardens – plenty to eat for the squirrels.
Rashtrapati Bhavan – home of the President of India.
Rajpath – designed by British architect Edwin Lutyens, the entire area is horn-free, clean, green and protected by armed guards.
Rajpath – the Ministries of Finance, Home, External Affairs, and Defense work from here.
India Gate – at the other end of Rajpath, this was also designed by Edwin Lutyens.
India Gate – in memory of the Indian soldiers who fought in WWI and the Third Ango-Afghan War.
Safdarjung’s Tomb – in line with the style of Humanyun’s Tomb, this was constructed in honour of Safdarjung – the able Chief Minister of Hindustan during the Mughal rule.
Safdarjung’s Tomb – Delhites are lucky to be living with such immense history, which today continues to provide a tranquil haven with green gardens and pleasant surroundings.