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Delhi: India’s Past and Present

Delhi: India's Past and Present

New Delhi is a huge, sprawling metropolis. Rich history, extreme wealth and outstanding beauty often alongside brutal poverty and filth. It was the first city of our India tour and first impression was of utter chaos: the traffic appears out of control, motorcycles weave dangerously among larger vehicle, livestock wanders freely around and pedestrians risk their lives a they dodge across the streets. 

My wife and I were lucky, from our very first day in India, we stayed in very decent Crown Plaza Hotel in New Delhi Okhla which certainly meets the International standards. It was a great far away from hustle and bustle of the city, the ambiance of the hotel was very nice along with great staff, hospitality and food.

Delhi: India's Past and PresentOn arrival to Delhi. Flower garlands are a popular means of welcoming guests.

What to do in Delhi and what are the best places to see in Delhi?

This city has an amazing mix of modernisation and carefully preserved antiquity. Certainly there is no end to the historical sites, markets, restaurants, parks and lively street scenes you will find, but if you have limited time (we had two days only), this is our must see list for Delhi:

  • Jama Masjid and Red Fort in Old Delhi
  • India Gate, Humayun’s Tomb and Raj Ghat (the Gandhi memorial) in New Delhi

And of course don’t forget to take a ride on a rickshaw. It’s true that rickshaw ride may seem a slow way of traveling but when you are in Delhi, this slow pace helps create cherished memories.

Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid is the last work of Emperor Shah Jahan while Delhi was the capital of the Mughal City. In fact, the magnificent Mughal mosque completion took 6 years, while construction began in 1650. It’s largest mosque in India with capacity to welcome 25,000 people! So peaceful oasis at the heart of Old Delhi’s mayhem, here you have a chance to relive the Mughal history as you pass through the splendid corridors of this ancient mosque.

Delhi: India's Past and PresentJama Masjid Mosque

There is a small fountain in the middle with seating arrangements.

Delhi: India's Past and PresentIn the middle of courtyard
Delhi: India's Past and PresentMen in shorts are asked to wear sarongs

One can see lots of pigeons inside temple complex. Indian people believe that feeding the animals is very significant: it absolve sins and apparently it’s good karma.

Pigeons in the mosque courtyard

Delhi: India's Past and PresentThe mosque interior is a vast space which can accommodate thousands of worshippers, with tens of thousands more in the exterior courtyard.


Delhi: India's Past and PresentThe interior halls and sanctuary are sumptuously decorated with scrollwork and inlay.
Delhi: India's Past and PresentBeautiful artwork in ceiling of Jama Masjid in Delhi

Travel Tips:

  • The Jama Masjid is located close to the Red Fort in Old Delhi on the north side of the city. It is open from shortly after sunrise to just before sunset, closed to non-Muslims during prayer times. There is no cost of admission, however there is a camera fee (350 Rupees per camera, approximately £4.00 GBP ).
  • Since the Jama Masjid is a religious site, there are rules and norms that should be followed. Please note: You must take off any outer footwear (socks are allowed) and put them aside on the stairs before the entrance. Make sure you dress conservatively as well, or you won’t be allowed in. This means covering your head, legs and shoulders. Attire is available for hire at the entrance.

Rickshaw ride

We enjoy a rickshaw ride in the streets of Old Delhi, it was perfect way to see the sights. Highly recommended to all!

Delhi: India's Past and PresentOn rickshaw tour
Delhi: India's Past and PresentTypical chaotic street in Old Delhi

Red Fort

One of the most historic forts in India.

The Red Fort was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for nearly 200 years and now remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.

Delhi: India's Past and PresentCurrently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage, the fort complex serves as a tourist spot and is a powerful symbol of the Indian Republic.

It is known that Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last Mughal Emperor who occupied the fort, afterwards in 1803, the British ruled the Red Fort Delhi. It was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

Travel Tips:

    • There are many buildings in Red Fort, Delhi that is open for tourists to explore. There is an archaeological museum in the Mumtaz Mahal, which contains artefacts related to Mughal Era.
    • The entry fee for Indian is 35 Rupees (40p) and 500 Rupees (approx £5.50 GBP) for Foreign nationals. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday and can be visited from sunrise to sunset.

India Gate

This majestic arc is not to be missed when visiting the capital of India. This World War I memorial towers above the city of Delhi, commemorating the 82.000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who fell during the war.

Delhi: India's Past and PresentIndia Gate in the centre of New Delhi is the iconic emblem for the country’s capital.
Delhi: India's Past and PresentIndia Gate is counted among the largest war memorials in India.

India Gate is rightly and well compared with the ‘Arch of Constantine’ outside the Roman Colosseum and the ‘Arc de Triomphe’ in Paris. It was made by Edwin Lutyens in 1921.

Humayun’s Tomb

It is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun and was commissioned by his widow Bega Begum nine years after his death. It was built from 1565-1572 and was the first garden tomb on the Indian subcontinent. Humayun’s tomb in New Delhi is perfectly proportioned structure, it has inspired the Taj Mahal which it predates by 60 years.
Absolutely beautiful blend of Persian and Mughal elements… Needless to say the building and gardens are beautifully maintained and one cannot even imagine such an amazing monument exists in the middle of the hustles and bustles of the city.

Delhi: India's Past and PresentHumayun’s Tomb is indeed a perfect example of a landmark that depicts Mughal and Persian architecture
Delhi: India's Past and PresentIt is the 1st garden-tomb that was built in India

Its gorgeous gardens, repeating archways, well-proportioned dome structure and rich history are worth the visit. Humayun’s Tomb is indeed a reminder of India’s glorious past and flourishing present.

Travel Tips:

  • Humayun’s Tomb is open daily from sunrise to sunset . There are two ticket windows – one for Indian nationals which was the one that had a long line and one for foreigners which had no line. Foreigner entrance fee is 500 Rupees (approx £5.50 GBP) however Indian nationals only pay 30 Rupees (35p). Children under 15 can enter free of charge and there is a 25 Rupee fee if you have a video camera with you – there is no charge for normal digital cameras.
  • Bring a bottle of water with you as I did not see any shops or stalls selling drinks – not even outside the entrance to the tomb and gardens. It gets hot and there is no worse feeling than being dehydrated.

Raj Ghat

Raj Ghat (meaning Royal Steps) is a beautiful, peaceful memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation. This simple and somber black granite platform marks the site where, on January 31, 1948, Gandhi’s cremation were performed. An eternal flame burns perpetually in the middle of the square stone. The memorial was designed to reflect Gandhi’s simple life. The inscription in the stone, “He Ram” (“Oh God”), is believed to be Gandhi’s last words.

Delhi: India's Past and PresentMemorial to Mahatma Gandhi

The place is surrounded by gardens and is a very peaceful environment. It’s good to go to show respect and understand the love that most Indian people have for Mahatma Gandhi and his memory.

Travel Tips:

  • The memorial is open throughout the day and throughout the year. No entry charge or camera charge is imposed on any of the visitors.
  • You must remove your shoes before entering the enclosure, so a pair of socks might be useful.

Delhi can feel overwhelming but we absolutely love visiting this city, it is packed with interesting places  and color, it offers a wonderful mixture of old and new and most important it gives you a real taste of India.

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