Delhi Monuments and Memorials
This World Heritage Monument built by Haji Begum, the widow of emperor Humayun and designed by Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, served as a model for the world renowned Taj Mahal. It was completed in 1565, eight years after the death of Humayun and is the first great example of the Mughal tomb in garden complex. Several other members of Mughal royal family lie buried here and many tombstones can be seen on the terrace.
India’s ‘Arc d’ Triomphe’s’ stands majestically at the eastern end of Rajpath, the great avenue with wide lawns on either side of it, that leads to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Formerly known as the All India War Memorial, the 42 metre high arch was designed by Lutyens and built in 1931, in the memory of solders of the Indian Army who died in World War-I. Names of 13,516 soldiers are inscribed on it walls. In 1971, an eternal flame was lit her to honour the ‘Amar Jawan’, the immortal soldier. At night the view of floodlit India Gate is spectacular.
This unique observatory was designed and built b Mirza Raja Jai Singh II of Jaipur in 1719. It is surrounded by stately palm trees and has a number of masonry instruments which were used to study the movement of constellations and stars in the sky. The Samrat Yantra, a huge sun-dial shaped like a right angled triangle is the largest instrument here.
Parliament House (Sansad Bhawan)
The colonnaded circular building is 171 metres in diameter with 8.3 metres high 144 pillars surrounding it. Magnificent wood panelled halls and one of the finest Parliament libraries in Asia are part of this stately building.
Purana Qila (Old Fort)
The grand old fort, one of the most spectacular monuments of Delhi, is believed to have been built by the Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri (1538 – 1545). As one enter form the Zoo side, one sees at the far end a small octagonal red sandstone tower, the Sher Manzil. A little ahead is the Qila-i-Kunha mosque. A field Museum nearby exhibits artefacts discovered in the area.
This most famous landmark of Delhi towering above the Lal kot monuments is one of the World Heritage Sites of UNESCO. It is 72.5 metres tall and tapers from a base diameter of 14.4 metres to a peak diameter of 2.4 metres. The five storeyed minar has three storeys built of red sandstone and two of marble and sandstone. Each storey is clearly distinguished from the outside because of its projecting balconies. Its foundation was laid by Qutb-ud-din Aibak(1193) and was completed by his son-in-law and successor Shamsuddin Iltumish. The Devanagari inscriptions on the minar mentions that the it was damaged in 1326 and repaired by Muhammad-bin Tughlak and in 1368, Froze Shah replaced the upper storey and added two floors, making liberal use of marble stone.
A unique 7 metre high Iron Pillar in the courtyard of Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque was perhaps a flagpole of a 4th – 5thcentury Vishnu temple. It has remained completely rust free for over 1500 years and is a tribute to ancient Indian metallurgy. Other attractions nearby are the Tombs of the Sultans Iltumish (1235), Alauddin, Balban and of Adham Khan, son of the Emperor Akbar’s wet nurse.
The spectacular official residence of President of India set on the eminence of the Raisina hill, sprawls over an area of 330 acres. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is one of the largest residential buildings in the world with 340 rooms, 37 salons, 74 lobbies and loggias, 1km corridor, 18 staircase and 37 fountains. In the front is a large court and a Mughal style gardens in the back, which is open for public viewing in February. The most magnificent room in the Rashtrapati Bhawan is the Durbar Hall, which lies directly under the main dome.
Red Fort (Lal Qila)
It was built in 17th century by Shah Jahan, when the Mughal capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi. Shaped like an irregular octagon, the fort is about 2 km in Circumference. The river Yamuna once flowed besides its battlements. Its handsome gates – Lahore, Delhi and Elephant are masterpieces of Builder’s art. Within the ramparts are splendid ornamented buildings, pavilions, gardens, tanks the Moti Masjid a marvel in marble and two museums, the Archaeological and War memorial. The buildings worth visiting are – Naubat Khana, Diwan-i-Am, Diwan-i-Khas, Rang Mahal and Khas Mahal. A Sound and Light show recreates the history of Delhi and this Fort. The Red Fort was the last fort of Delhi, it witnessed the glory and fall of Mughals, the British rule and then the dawn of Indian independence.
The graceful monument standing on a high terrace amidst an extensive garden was built in 1753-54 by Nawab Shia-ud-Daulah, son of Safdarjang, the second Nawab of Avadh and Prime Minister to Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah.