Delhi is the hub of all the cultural and religious diversity seen around the country. Filled with monuments, tombs, temples, mosques, churches, parks and small markets, you can never finish it all in one day. But there are certain places here that are must-see, and I am going to list the top 5 destinations for you.
1. Red Fort
Red Fort is undoubtedly the most important place to visit in Delhi. The Mughal emperor, Shahjahan built it in the 17th century when he shifted his capital from Agra to Delhi.
The fort contains marble monuments, tombs and museums within it. Initially, it had been as a fortress for Shahjahan’s palace, and later it was confiscated by the British. They destroyed many of the beautiful marble structures here during the Independence mutiny.
It has also been witness to India’s grand Independence. But no matter what it had to go through, the fort still stands as proudly and gloriously as it did 200 years ago, speaking stories through its walls.
Every year during Independence Day, the Prime Minister of India hoists the national flag at the fort and speaks to the public from its ramparts (outer defensive walls). It is indeed a proud moment for all the Indians.
The fort is near the Chandni Chowk metro station, and there is a small entry fee. Once inside, you can even ask for an audio guide which you can listen to personally while strolling through the place. Red Fort should be first on your to-do list here.
2. Lotus Temple
The Lotus Temple is one of the most beautiful monuments that you will see in India. Built in 1986 as a Bahai temple, the entire monument is made of white marbles and resembles a lotus.
People believe that the architect of Lotus Temple wanted to build it in the shape of the lotus because it was one flower that had significance in all the religions.
Lush gardens surround the entire monument, and there are about nine pools around the temple placed strategically. The water sparkle in the morning sun and the place does not look less than a lotus shaped diamond.
Once you get in the temple, you will get the shock of a lifetime because all the chaos and sounds of people rushing, talking and shouting are left behind. As soon as you are let into the temple (because there are guards at its doors and they take their work very seriously!), there is pin drop silence. The temple is massive within, and there is no piece of decoration inside, only chairs for people to sit and peace that is indescribable. In the evening, the waters are lit, and the sight is breathtaking.
3. Akshardham Temple
As soon as you enter the Akshardham Temple, it is like you are transported into another world. Situated in Noida, the temple is reportedly built by more than 15,000 artisans!
The sheer magnitude of the temple is stunning. But Akshardham is not this famous for its size only. Its architecture is a reflection of India’s culture, spirituality, beauty and tradition. The temple looks more or less like a palace surrounded by beautiful ponds where fountain shows are organised in the evenings.
But maybe none of these things will hold your interest like the interiors of the temple. The entire interior walls including the roofs are filled with intricately carved designs of gods and goddesses. It is bliss to watch.
4. Qutub Minar
Perhaps the first picture that you will see in Google when checking India’s famous monuments is of Qutub Minar.
Situated near Mehrauli, it was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The site is flooded by tourists daily. It is believed that it was built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak after he defeated the last Hindu king and established Mughal empire here.
The monument stands vertically and is a gigantic 73 m high!
Close to that is the Iron Pillar which is one of the most mysterious cases in the world! It is said that when archaeologists traced the time at which the pillar could have been built, they found out that this element was not even discovered back then! So now when you visit Qutub Minar, walk that little distance to the pillar as well because now you know that it’s not just another ordinary one!
5. India Gate
India Gate is the legendary war memorial of India. The mighty archway was built by the then Viceroy of India, and that is why it resembles the memorial in France.
The monument was erected to commemorate all the Indian soldiers who had given up their life during the Indo-Pakistan war. It was also in memory of the soldiers who fought during World War 1 with the British army.
Another memorial, “Amar Jawan Jyoti” translating to the eternal burning flame of the brave, was built later by Indira Gandhi, the first female Prime Minister of India. The flame burns day and night in memory of all the brave souls who didn’t think twice before sacrificing themselves for the country.
India Gate is just opposite the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the house of the President. It is surrounded by vast areas of lush greenery, and you can often spot people having picnics there.
If you visit Delhi in summer, make sure to come by here in the evening because there will be plenty of people and lights adorn the place.
Also, some people say that if you look at the monument closely, you can see the soldiers’ names etched on it. Well, I guess you will have to visit it yourself to find out!