The Capital City
Delhi, the capital of India has a strong historical background. It was ruled by some of the most powerful emperors in Indian history.
The history of the city is as old as the epic Mahabharata. The town was known as Indraprastha, where Pandavas used to live. In due course eight more cities came alive adjacent to Indraprastha: Lal Kot, Siri, Dinpanah, Quila Rai Pithora, Ferozabad, Jahanpanah, Tughlakabad and Shahjahanabad.
Delhi has been a witness to the political turmoil for over five centuries. It was ruled by the Mughals in succession to Khiljis and Tughlaqs.
In 1192 the legions of the Afghan warrior Muhammad of Ghori captured the Rajput town, and the Delhi Sultanate was established (1206). The invasion of Delhi by Timur in 1398 put an end to the sultanate; the Lodis, last of the Delhi sultans, gave way to Babur, who, after the battle of Panipat in 1526, founded the Mughal Empire. The early Mughal emperors favoured Agra as their capital, and Delhi became their permanent seat only after Shah Jahan built (1638) the walls of Old Delhi.
From Hindu Kings to Muslim Sultans, the reins of the city kept shifting from one ruler to another. The soils of the city smell of blood, sacrifices and love for the nation. The old 'Havelis' and edifices from the past stand silent but their silence also speaks volumes for their owners and people who lived here centuries back.
In the year 1803 AD, the city came under the British rule. In 1911, British shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi. It again became the center of all the governing activities. But, the city has the reputation of over throwing the occupants of its throne. It included the British and the current political parties that have had the honour of leading free India.
After independence in 1947, New Delhi was officially declared as the Capital of India.
Delhi's famous Red Fort is known by that name because of the red stone with which it is built and it is one of the most magnificent palaces in the world.
The Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, after ruling from Agra for eleven years, decided to shift to Delhi and laid the foundation stone of the Red Fort in 1618. For its inauguration in 1647, the main halls of the palace were draped in rich tapestry and covered with silk from china and velvet from Turkey. With a circumference of almost one and a half miles, the fort is an irregular octagon and has two entrances, the Lahore and Delhi Gates.
Form the Lahore Gate, a visitor has access to the Chatta Chowk (vaulted arcade) which as once a royal market and housed court jewellers, miniature painters carpet manufacturers, workers in enamel, silk weavers and families of specialized craftsmen. The road from the royal market leads to the Nawabarkhana (band house) where the royal band played five times a day. The band house also marks the entry into the main palace and all visitors, except royalty had to dismount here.
The Diwan-e-Aam is the Red Fort's hall of public audience. Built of sandstone covered with shell plaster polished to look like ivory, the 80 x 40 feet hall is sub-divided by columns. The Mughal emperors would hold court here and meet dignitaries and foreign emissaries. The most imposing feature of the Diwan-e-Aam is the alcove in the back wall where the emperor sat in state on a richly carved and inlaid marble platform. In the recess behind the platform are fine examples of Italian pietra-dura work.
The piece de resistance of the fort, the Diwan-e-Khas was the hall of private audience. The most highly ornamented of all Shah Jahan's buildings, the 90 x 67 feet Diwan-e-Khas is a pavilion of white marble supported by intricately carved pillars. So enamoured was the emperor by the beauty of this pavilion that he engraved on it the following words: "If there is paradise on the face of this earth, it is this, it is this." Richly decorated with flowers of inlaid mosaic work of cornelian and other stones, the Diwan-e-Khas once housed the famous Peacock Throne, which when it was plundered by Nadir Shah in 1739, was valued at six million sterling.
Situated at the banks of Yamuna river, Delhi, the capital of India, is a vibrant modern city with an ancient and eventful history. The city with its multi-faceted culture can aptly said to be a microcosm of the whole nation. Delhi has thousands of historical monuments and places of religious importance.
India Gate, an important monument of the city, is a memorial built in commemoration of more than 80,000 Indian soldiers who were killed during World War I. The monument is an imposing 42 meters high arch and was designed by the famous architect Edwin Lutyens.
India gate was earlier named All India War Memorial. The design of India gate is almost similar to its French counterpart war memorial, the Arc-de-Triomphe.
The building is made of red stone that rises in stages into a huge moulding. On top of the arch, INDIA is written on both sides. Names of over 70,000 Indian soldiers are inscribed on the walls of the monument in whose memory it is built. There is a shallow domed bowl at the top, which was intended to be filled with burning oil at special occasions.
At the base of the India gate there is another memorial, the Amar Jawan Jyoti that was added after independence. This eternal flame was lighted in commemoration of the unknown soldiers who laid their lives to serve this nation.
The lush green lawns, Children Park and the famous boat club around the place make it a perfect picnic spot. Cool evening breeze near the fountains of India gate attract hundreds of visitors daily. In the evenings, India gate is illuminated with number of lights around it that gives it a magnificent appeal. Standing near the base of the monument one can have a good view of the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The beautifully lit up monument provides a memorable background against the darkening sky. Even in daylight, the stretch between India Gate and the Rashtrapati Bhavan offers a splendid view.
Every year on 26th January India gate stands witness to the Republic Day parade where latest advancements of defence technology is displayed. The parade is also a good platform to have a glimpse at the colourful and diverse cultural heritage of India as artists from all over the country perform on the occasion.
PARLIAMENT OF INDIA
Constructed in the Imperial Style, The Parliament house is a cirular colonnaded building . It also houses ministerial offices,numerous committee rooms and an excellent library as well. Conceived in the Imperial Style, the Parliament House consists of an open verandah with 144 columns.
The domed circular central hall with oak paneled walls and the three semi circular buildings are used for the Rajya Shabha and Lok Shabha meetings.
With the aim of educating people on Democratic Heritage of India, The Parliament House also houses a museum which dates back to 2500 back and is set up in a very interesting way and is made complete with light videos and sounds, large interactive computer screens and others.
The Parliament House was designed by British architect Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. The foundation stone of the building was laid by the Duke of Connaught in the year 1921 and the iconic building was inaugurated in 1927 by Lord and Lady Irwin.
Qutub-Minar in red and buff sandstone is the highest tower in India.
Built in the 13th century, the magnificent tower stands in the capital, Delhi. It has a diameter of 14.32m at the base and about 2.75m on the top with a height of 72.5m. It is an architectural marvel of ancient India.
The complex has a number of other important monuments such as the gateway built in 1310, the Alai Darwaza, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque; the tombs of Altamish, Ala-ud-din Khalji and Imam Zamin; the Alai Minar, a 7m high Iron Pillar, etc.
Qutub-ud-Din Aibak of Slave Dynasty laid the foundation of Minar in A.D. 1199 for the use of mu'azzin (crier) to give calls for prayer and raised the first storey, to which were added three more storeys by his successor and son-in-law, Shams-ud-Din Itutmish (A.D. 1211-36). All the storeys are surrounded by a projected balcony encircling the minar and supported by stone brackets, which are decorated with honey-comb design, more conspicuously in the first storey.
Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, to the north-east of minar was built by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak in A.D. 1198. It is the earliest extant - mosque built by the Delhi Sultans. It consists of a rectangular courtyard enclosed by cloisters, erected with the carved columns and architectural members of 27 Hindu and Jaina temples, which were demolished by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak as recorded in his inscription on the main eastern entrance. Later, a lofty arched screen was erected and the mosque was enlarged, by Shams-ud- Din Itutmish (A.D. 1210-35) and Ala-ud-Din Khalji. The Iron Pillar in the courtyard bears an inscription in Sanskrit in Brahmi script of fourth century A.D., according to which the pillar was set up as a Vishnudhvaja (standard of god Vishnu) on the hill known as Vishnupada in memory of a mighty king named Chandra. A deep socket on the top of the ornate capital indicates that probably an image of Garuda was fixed into it.
The tomb of Itutmish (A.D. 1211-36) was built in A.D. 1235. It is a plain square chamber of red sandstone, profusely carved with inscriptions, geometrical and arabesque patterns in Saracenic tradition on the entrances and the whole of interior. Some of the motifs viz., the wheel, tassel, etc., are reminiscent of Hindu designs. Alai- Darwaza, the southern gateway of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque was constructed by Ala-ud-Din Khalji in A.H. 710 (A.D. 1311) as recorded in the inscriptions engraved on it. This is the first building employing Islamic principles of construction and ornamentation.
Alai Minar, which stands to the north of Qutub-Minar, was commenced by Ala-ud-Din Khalji, with the intention of making it twice the size of earlier Minar. He could complete only the first storey, which now has an extant height of 25 m. The other remains in the Qutub complex comprise madrasa, graves, tombs, mosque and architectural members.
UNESCO has declared the highest stone tower in India as a world heritage.
Humayun's tomb in the capital Delhi is a fine specimen of the great Mughal architecture. Built in 1570, the tomb is of particular cultural significance as it was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. Its unique beauty is said to have inspired several major architectural innovations, culminating in the construction of the unparalleled Taj Mahal. In many ways, this magnificent red and white sandstone building is as spectacular as the famous 'monument to love' in Agra. This historic monument was erected by Humayun's queen Hamida Banu Begam (Haji Begam) at a cost of about 1.5 million. It is believed that she designed the tomb.
The splendour of this monument becomes evident on entering the grandiose double-storeyed gateway. High rubble walls enclose a square garden divided into four large squares separated by causeways and water channels. Each square is divided again into smaller squares by pathways, forming a typical Mughal garden called Charbagh.
The fountains were worked with simple yet highly developed engineering skills quite common in India during this period. The last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar II had taken refuge in this tomb during the first War of Independence in 1857. Several rulers of the Mughal dynasty lie buried here. Humayun's wife is buried here too.
The main sarcophagus stands in the central hall, oriented - in accordance with Muslim practice - on the north-south axis. Traditionally, the body is placed with the head to the north, the face turned sideways towards Mecca. The dome is what is called a full dome, a complete semi-circle which is a special feature of Mughal architecture. The structure is built with red sandstone, but white and black marble has been used in the borders. UNESCO has declared this magnificent masterpiece a world heritage.
LOTUS TEMPLE | BAHAI TEMPLE
A lotus-shaped outline has etched itself on the consciousness of the city's inhabitants, capturing their imagination, fuelling their curiosity, and revolutionising the concept of worship. This is the Bahá'í Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, better known as the "Lotus Temple".
The Lotus Temple proves to be a remarkable fusion of ancient concept, modern engineering skill, and architectural inspiration. Its soothingly quiet Prayer Hall and tranquil surroundings have touched the hearts of the Temple's numerous visitors, awakening in them a desire to trace its inspirational source and capture a bit of its peace for themselves. The aura of silence surrounding the Hall instills reverence. Some are moved by its 'eloquent silence' and 'divine atmosphere'. People are affected in varied degrees by the peace and beauty of the sanctum sanctorum.
The construction of the Bahá'í House of Worship of Bahapur was a significant chapter in the making of Baha'i history on the Indian sub-continent. Bahá'ís have endeavoured to their utmost to build houses of worship as beautiful and distinctive as possible. They have been inspired by writings of Baha'u'llah and His son Abdu'l-Bahá.
The Temple, with its total absence of idols, elicits bewilderment as well as favourable response. Visitors express perplexity at the absence of any deity and yet are awed by the beauty and grandeur of the edifice. A typical response is: "There is silence and the spirit is eloquent. One feels one is at last entering into the estate of the soul, the state of stillness and peace".
The Lotus Temple is one of the 100 canonical works of this century, a powerful icon of great beauty that goes beyond its pure function of serving as a congregation space to become an important architectural symbol. As a symbol of faith and human endeavour expended in the path of God, the temple has become the recipient of accolades and worldwide acclaim.
In 2000, the temple received the "GLOBArt Academy 2000" award in recognition of "the magnitude of the service of [this] Taj Mahal of the 20th century in promoting the unity and harmony of people of all nations, religions and social strata, to an extent unsurpassed by any other architectural monument world-wide".
Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi epitomizes 10,000 years of Indian culture in all its breathtaking grandeur, beauty, wisdom an d bliss. It brilliantly showcases the essence of India’s ancient architecture, traditions and timeless spiritual messages. The Akshardham experience is an enlightening journey through India’s glorious art, values and contributions for the progress, happiness and harmony of mankind.
The Swaminarayan Akshardham complex was built in only five years through the blessings of HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) and the colossal devotional efforts of 11,000 artisans and thousands of BAPS volunteers. Heralded by the Guinness World Record as the World’s Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple, the complex was inaugurated on 6 November, 2005.
Jama Masjid (the mosque of Friday), Delhi is the country's largest and perhaps its most magnificent mosque. It stands across the road from Red Fort. The great mosque of Old Delhi is the final architectural extravagance of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan with a courtyard capable of holding 25,000 devotees. Built in 1656, it is an eloquent reminder of the Mughal religious fervour.
It's also known as 'Masjid-i-Jahanuma' or 'Mosque commanding view of the world'. It was designed as Emperor Shahjahan's principal mosque.
Situated in the ancient town of Old Delhi, this monument was built by five thousand artisans. This magnificent structure stands on the Bho Jhala, one of the two hills of the old Mughal capital city of Shahjahanabad.
On the east, this monument faces the Lal Quila (Red Fort) and has three gateways, four towers and two minarets. It is constructed of alternating vertical strips of red sandstone and white marble. In the three domes white marble has been used extensively and they have been inlaid with stripes of black.
The main prayer hall on the west side is adorned by a series of high cusped arches, standing on 260 pillars which support about 15 marble domes at various elevations. Worshippers use this hall on most days but on Fridays and other holy days. The premises of the south minaret are 1076-sq-ft wide where 25,000 devotees at a time may sit together for namaaz (prayer).
It is said that Emperor Shahjahan built Jama Masjid at the cost of Rs.10 crore and it can be called as the replica of Moti Masjid in Agra. It combines the best of Hindu and Muslim styles of architecture.
Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India, is an imposing edifice located at the west end of the Rajpath in New Delhi with the India gate at the opposite end. Designed by Edwin Landseer Lutyens, this palatial building was the erstwhile residence of the British Viceroy. Few official residential premises of the State Heads in the world will match the Rashtrapati Bhavan in terms of its size, vastness and its magnificence.
The decision to build a residence in New Delhi for the British Viceroy was taken after it was decided that the capital of India would be shifted from Calcutta (Kolkata) to Delhi. It was constructed to affirm the permanence of British rule in India and the building and its surroundings were supposed to be 'an empire in stone'.
That 'empire in stone' and the perpetual Durbar was transformed to be the permanent institution of democracy on 26th January 1950 when Dr. Rajendra Prasad became the first President of India and occupied this building to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of India. It was from that day that this building was renamed as Rashtrapati Bhavan - the President's House.
The building completed in 1929, was scheduled to be constructed in four years but it took 17 years to complete it. This vast mansion has got four floors and 340 rooms. With a floor area of 200,000 square feet, it is built by using 700 million bricks and three million cubic feet of stone. Hardly any steel has gone into the construction of the building. The building is built in two shades of sandstone and reflects a blend of Mughal and classical European style of architecture. The most prominent and distinguishing aspect of Rashtrapati Bhavan is its huge dome that is structured in the pattern of the great Stupa at Sanchi. The dome is visible from a distance and surmounts a long colonnade, which adds to the magnificence of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Built in the memory of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who is revered as the Father of the Nation, Raj Ghat is a marble platform where he was cremated on January 31, 1948. Lying on the banks of the Yamuna river, Rajghat is fringed by lush well-manicured lawns that are dotted with trees. The mortal remains of Gandhiji were cremated at this ghat.
The memorial was designed by Vanu G. Bhuta, who intended it to reflect the simplicity of the Mahatma's life. It has won several awards for its architectural design.
The memorial stone of Mahatma Gandhi placed on a simple square platform made of black stone, with the words Hey Ram inscribed on it. It is left open to the sky while an eternal flame burns perpetually at one end.
It is situated amidst a well maintained garden with fountains and numerous trees that give the area a serene atmosphere. Near the memorial, there are labeled trees planted by visiting dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II, Ho Chi Minh, the former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitman and the former US president Dwight Eisenhower. Around the sides of the garden are quotes and thoughts written by Gandhi, engraved in different languages.
A remembrance ceremony is held every Friday at Raj Ghat, besides the prayer sessions held at the Ghat on Gandhi's birth and death anniversaries.
Raj Ghat is the last resting place of Mahatma Gandhi.
LAXMI NARAYAN TEMPLE | BIRLA TEMPLE
The Laxminarayan Temple (also called the Birla Mandir) is an elaborate Hindu temple of red and white columns, artificial mountains, and waterfalls. The temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi with the condition that the site would be open to all castes and faiths. "Laxmi Narayan" refers to the Hindu God Vishnu, the Preserver, with his consort Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. There are also three side-temples dedicated to Buddha, Shiva, and Krishna.
The temple is one of the most popular holy places in Delhi. Take some time to meditate or sit quietly in one of the temple’s halls. Wander into the small temple dedicated to Buddha, in the same complex, where you will see frescoes on the walls illustrating his life. The garden outside is also a quiet and relaxing place to spend an hour or two listening to the manmade waterfalls.
Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observatory situated in the heart of the capital city of India – Delhi. This is a phenomenal marvel of architectural brilliance whose shape represents a big sundial. Since its construction, this observatory has seemingly contributed to the study of both time and space. Maharaja Jai Singh laid the foundation stone for constructing this magnificent structure in the year 1724. Likewise, today, we have four more observatories situated in the cities of Varanasi, Jaipur, Mathura, and Ujjain.
The primary aim underlying the construction of this massive observatory was the preparation of astronomical charts. These were then used to track the local time zones by keeping an eye on the movement and transitions of the sun, the moon and the different planets that constitute our solar system. It thus follows that a highly precious observatory of the ancient past never fails to surprise the technology-influenced astronomers and researchers.
The Delhi’s Jantar Mantar has a got a whopping height of around 723 feet and is comprised of different astronomical instruments totalling to a count of 13 units. Amongst these, the most precious and widely acknowledged ones are – Samrat Yantra, Misra Yantra, Ram Yantra, and Jai Prakash Yantra. The sundial, which forms the chief attraction here, is highly influenced by the ancient Egyptian Ptolemaic Structure. It strictly adheres to the sequential celestial orders of the local arrangement of the equatorial, ecliptic, and the horizontal-zenith planes.
Thus, Delhi’s Jantar Mantar brings close the three different dimensions of belief, universe, and society. It conjoins the aspects of astronomical skills with cosmological concepts arising out of the court of a scholarly prince.
An exhibition in 1947-48 of various Indian historical artifacts was on display in the Royal Academy of London. Taking an idea or inspiration from this, various curators from the exhibition decided to plan a similar exhibition to display artifacts from museums across India. With this, an exhibition was organized in Delhi in the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 1949. The exhibition turned out to be a very popular one and this led to the idea of establishing a permanent museum.
The construction work of the museum was given a green signal and by 1949, the National Museum of India was constructed. C Rajagopalahchari, the then Governor-General of India inaugurated the museum on 15th August 1949. The various ancient artifacts in India’s possession were out on display in the museum and the place became a center of knowledge and history.
The National Museum or National Museum of India in New Delhi is one of the largest museums in India. Situated on Janpath Road, the museum is a hotspot for people who are indulged in art, culture, and history.
The museum houses more than 2,00,000 artifacts of Indian and International origin. The works of art and culture displayed here are said to be over 5,000 years old. Some artifacts belong to the ancient civilization of Harappa. Tourists from all over the globe visit the museum not only to see the wonders of ancient civilizations but also to witness the culture of various nations through the various paintings, statues and sculptures that are here.
GURUDWARA BANGLA SAHIB
A quiet and serene spot amid the bustling marketplace, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is possibly the most popular attraction of Connaught Place. You can spot it from a while away as its high golden dome glistens in the sun. As you enter the premises you will be enveloped in a sense of peace. After paying homage at the sanctum, where the holy book is kept, you can stroll along the tranquil pond in the Gurudwara. Other prominent features are a cooking area, a big art gallery and a school. A langar (holy food) is offered to devotees who come to visit. Legend has it that the Gurudwara area was once Jaisinghpura Palace, the residence of Raja Jai Singh, the ruler of Amber. It is said that in 1664, the eight Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Har Krishan Sahib, stayed in this palace.
NATIONAL ZOOLOGICAL PARK
National Zoological Park, or Delhi Zoo as it is popularly called, is located near the Old Fort. Spread over an area of 176 acre, it is an abode to more than 1,000 animals, along with a diverse range of flora and birds.
Visit the huge hippopotamus as it enjoys a lazy swim in the waters, see the chimpanzees have a playful go at each other, try to figuratively wrap your head around the really long arms and tails of the spider monkey, or hear an Asiatic lion roar its authority as it prowls restlessly in its enclosure; many fun experiences await you at the Delhi Zoo. Other unmissable stopovers are the spaces of the royal Bengal tiger, swamp deer, Indian rhinoceros, brow antlered deer etc. For birdwatchers, visiting migratory birds like storks and peafowl makes for an interesting sight. For a thrilling experience, tourists can head to the Reptile House that hosts different varieties of lizards and snakes.
The zoo was inaugurated in 1959. The best way to explore the zoo is by hiring a battery-car that takes you to all the enclosures. The zoo also has a library, which houses a collection of books on wildlife and provides information on the history of the zoo.
NATIONAL RAIL MUSEUM
This unique museum has a fascinating and exotic collection of over 100 real size exhibits of Indian Railways. Static and working models, signaling equipments, antique furnitures, historical photographs and related literature etc. are displayed in the museum. The line-up of old coaches includes the handsome Prince of Wales Saloon, built in 1875. Not to be outdone is the Maharaja of Mysore's Saloon built in 1899 with its brocade covered chairs and an elegant rosewood bed; one can peer in through the windows for a good look.
The star attraction here is the Fairy Queen, built in 1855 and considered to be one of the best-preserved steam locomotive engines of her age. A ride in joy train and mono rail (PSMT) is the most exciting experience besides boating. Do not miss the handsome Fire Engine on your way out.
THE GARDEN OF FIVE SENSES
Spread over an area of 20 acre, the Garden of Five Senses provides a serene atmosphere to its visitors. The garden has been divided into distinct areas, of which Khas Bagh is the most popular. Modeled along the lines of the Mughal Gardens, this lush garden is dotted with vibrant flowers and also boasts water channels that bestow a coolness to the environment. There is also a series of fountains that present a splendid view when lit up. Another attraction is the Neel Bagh, which houses a pool of water lilies and hundreds of ceramic chimes.
Moreover, the garden houses a number of flowering shrubs and as many as 200 varieties of plants. A walk through the garden can be quite rejuvenating. Several murals and sculptures have been set up in the park, making it one of the largest collections of public art in India.
The garden also hosts a food and shopping court, where tourists can enjoy with family and friends amidst pristine surroundings. Another highlight is an amphitheatre that has blocks of sandstone for seats. An exhibition area at the back of the garden hosts art exhibitions and workshops that are a delight for tourists.
NATIONAL GANDHI MUSEUM & LIBRARY
The origin of this Museum goes back to the period soon after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on the fateful evening of January 30, 1948, when the slow process of scouting for, collecting and preserving the personal relics, manuscripts, books, journals and documents, photographic and audio-visual material, all that could go into a Museum on the life, philosophy and work of Gandhiji—began in an unostentatious way in Mumbai.
Later the work was shifted to Delhi and in early 1951 the nucleus of a Museum on Gandhiji was set up in the Government hutments adjoining Kota House. Later still, in mid-1957, it was shifted to the picturesque old mansion at 5, Mansingh Road.
It was finally brought to its present new and permanent home, most appropriately built opposite the SAMADHI of Mahatma Gandhi – free India’s most revered place of pilgrimage-at Rajghat, New Delhi, in 1959. The imposing two storey Museum was formally inaugurated by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the President of India, on January 30, 1961.
The Museum was named ‘Gandhi Memorial Museum’ (Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya), now commonly known as ‘National Gandhi Museum’ (Rashtriya Gandhi Sangrahalaya) as there are also a number of regional Gandhi memorial museums in India.
NATIONAL CRAFTS MUSEUM & HASTKALA ACADEMY
The low-lying Museum building is a reflection vernacular architecture and fine craftsmanship. Several architectural elements like jharokha, internal courtyards, open and semi-open passages, roof tiles arches, carved doors, posts, pillars, perforated iron-screens etc. are all the visual delights.
The National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum, popularly known as the National Crafts Museum & Hastkala Academy, celebrates the rich, diverse, and practising craft traditions of India. Situated in a large campus at the corner of Pragati Maidan, opposite the majestic Purana Qila, the museum was designed by the renowned architect Charles Correa.
At present the Museum collection consists of over 33,000 specimens in various crafts, acquired over a period of 60 years collected from various states of India named as Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal. The collection reflects the continuing traditions of handicrafts and handlooms.
OLD FORT | PURANA QUILA
It is often referred to as Shergarh or Sher Fort after the Mughal Emperor Sher Shah Suri, who began its construction.
According to the mythological belief, Purana Qila was built at the site of Indraprastha from Mahabharata, which dates back to the 3rd century BCE. Later on, Humanyun and Sher Shah Suri renovated the site to the Qila.
It is said that the massive walls and gates were constructed under Humayun’s guidance, while the building within the walls, including the mosque, was built by Sher Shah Suri.
In simple terms, the Indraprastha was rebuilt by Humayun under his reign and was called Dinpanah, while the citadel was improved by Sher Shah Suri. The two most prominent attractions of the Qila are Sher Mandal and Qila-i-Kunha Masjid.
Sher Mandal was built as a cenotaph in order to honor Humayun’s death. On the other hand, the Qila-i-Kuhna was constructed in 1541 AD.
The Indo-Islamic architecture decorating the interior and exterior walls of it only speaks of its cultural significance. In fact, it is described as the epitome of Indo-Islamic architecture by Fergusson.
The Qila was inspired by Jama Masjid, which was established 15 years before the reconstruction of Qila. Sher Shah Suri only vivified the construction with avant-garde composition and structure.
Sundar Nursery is flanked by the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s Tomb (Above) on the South and the historic Purana Qila (Below) on the North and aligned to the historic Grand Trunk Road on the West. It was originally established in the early 20th century when the Imperial Delhi complex was being planned and constructed.
It was used as a place for propagating trees and other plants to be used in the new capital city, and also for testing species brought from other parts of India and from overseas, to pick those which successfully thrive in Delhi’s harsh climate. A large number of these trees, some of which are only occasionally seen in the city, are still flourishing here. A few others, perhaps those found unsuitable and not used at all, are only to be found within the nursery, as rare specimens.
The nursery is in fact an archaeological site – there are scattered remains of Mughal period structures including three nationally protected monuments, together with pavilions, tombs, grave platforms, wells, and a mosque platform.