Hi guys I've been away and now I have a lot of reports to catch up on! I thought I'll start with Delhi, my hometown. I visit it every year to meet up with family but decided to do some sightseeing this time (over the new year).
India's capital, Delhi is a large city of 20 million and, as a typical big city, there are extremes. It is chaotic, dirty and noisy but also peaceful, green and well-maintained. It is one of the oldest cities of the world and boasts a lot of architectural wonders.
So, I'll start this report, from the heart of the city, New Delhi. A large area, very green, full of government buildings, monuments and embassies, New Delhi is the usual starting point of many travellers.
Below is a typical New Delhi traffic circle.
We first decided to visit the National Museum, which was built a few years after India's independence in 1947. It showcases artifacts from prehistoric and historic civilisations in the Indian subcontinent area.
I'll just show a couple of the better pictures of items in the museum.
Here is a section of a carving showing Buddha's life scenes.
An array of musical instruments:
Back outside now. Delhi has a large Tibetan community and here is a Tibetan market, popular with both locals and tourists.
Now the first historical monument: a complex of astronomical clock and related monuments called Jantar Mantar.
These monuments were built in the early-mid 18th century.
Our next stop was Connaught Place, now known as Rajiv Chowk (named after Rajiv Gandhi, once a prime minister). A popular shopping and eating locale in the heart of town, Connaught Place consists of three concentric circles divided into alphabetically named blocks, each bursting with large numbers of shops and restaurants, all housed in colonial architecture (some of you would know how much I like seeing colonial architecture).
Our last stop that evening was India Gate.
Built in the 1920s India Gate is a war memorial, dedicated to those soldiers of the undivided British-India army who perished in World War 1.
Below is the Amar Jawan Jyoti (Flame of the Immortal Soldier), the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Certainly, bjd. Though I took more photos of monuments, I'll definitely put those of the markets I took too.
Below is the entrance to the Purana Qila (Old Fort), known as Bada Darwaza (Big Gate).
The fort was built by the second Mughal emperor Humayun in the 16th century. However, excavations in the area have unearthed artifacts dating to 1000 BC, and indeed, the area is known to have been continuously inhabited through the ages.
The Bada Darwaza as viewed from inside the fort:
One of the main sights inside is a mosque, dating back to the early 16th century,
A look around the fort- large, green expanses.
Now onto the hammam (Turkish bath) in the fort- it's only their ruins which are now left.
The remainder of the fort is all ruins.
We then went to the complex of Humayun's Tomb. It's a large complex which contains not only Humayun's tomb but some other tombs and a mosque as well.
Entering the complex:
Below is the structure housing the tomb of Humayun, laid out in quadrilateral garden layout, typical of Persian style.
Below is the mosque undergoing some restoration work.
Right outside Humayun's Tomb complex is Sabz Burj, a tower located in the middle of a roundabout.
Nothing much is known about it, except that it too was built in the mid 16th century. It's not known who built it and why, though in the colonial period, the British used this building as a police station.
You may ask why I don't have many street view pictures, and that is why in this part of town, most of the main streets look like this:
In case you're getting bored of monuments I'll come back to them later. Let's have a look at Old Delhi for now.
Old Delhi was founded by Mughal emperor Shahjahan (and known as Shahjahanabad) in 1639. It was a walled city with 14 gates and while most gates still exist, most walls are gone.
Now the area is a crowded market area, with some monuments, and great street food.
The best way of seeing the area is to hoist yourself on top of a rickshaw (a non-mechanised, pedaled 3 wheeler) and take in the area. It's also a common way for locals to get around the area, and even to transport items from one part of the neighbourhood to another.
There are certainly some impressive sites, which of course is not at all surprising considering the huge importance of India and the history of its civilisation. Is the space in front of the India Gate closed to traffic at night?
I hope that the mist in the photos is just tropical haze and not pure pollution! The streets of Paris looked like that yesterday morning, and it was most definitely not tropical haze.
Yes, Kerouac, the road in front of India Gate is closed at nights. That's actually fog- Delhi winters are notorious for bad fog. Indeed, part of the reason is pollution but fog occurs throughout the Northern Plains in winters.
Bixa, there are 5 main train stations in Delhi. Train travel is indeed popular.
Interesting question bjd, can't say I have an answer to that.
No idea whether the presence of a mall drives rents up in the area- wouldn't be surprised if it is the case though. The market is quite local though- not as if residents of the other side of Delhi would come here just for a mall (so not much chance of increased customer base for the small shops).
On the other hand the merchandise sold is very different- the mall is largely the domain of national and international brands, while the market is home to many local clothes, jewellery and other small shops such as pharmacies.
Very interesting, Kerouac . Would love to have a look at your report.
A look at the Jama Masjid from inside the complex:
(sorry, these photos weren't good- they were taken from a phone).
Back outside, in Old Delhi.
Below is one of Delhi's most famous cathedrals.
Below is the Salt March Memorial. The British had, during their rule, made it illegal for individuals make salt on their own- Mahatma Gandhi (one of the most renowned freedom fighters, known as the 'father of the country') had protested to defy the rule. He marched to the coast, to make salt. In the memorial, he, at the extreme left, is leading his followers.
The area you can see below is one full of government ministries, parliament buildings as well as residences of the president, prime minister etc. Here is one such building, don't know what it is though (sorry for it being shaken- taken from a moving vehicle).
Back to Khan Market for dinner, the market area with among the highest rents in Delhi. It's well-lit up for the Christmas season.
And another foggy night...
With so much to see, we decided to visit some lesser known sights- found out a whole collection of ancient structures very close to a Jain temple we usually go to.
It is called Mehrauli Archaeological Park. Just outside the park is this small, unknown and not-visited mosque, undergoing some restoration.
There's no information about it anywhere, however the restoration folks explained that this mosque probably dates from the 15th or 16th century, and it may have initially been used as a temple.
Clearly in need of some work!
Taking a steep stairway up, this is the backside of the mosque.
We then walked, trying to find the entry to the park. A standard, insignificant 'Delhi Development Authority' board at a tiny entrance greeted us to what is likely to be the richest collection of historic monuments in the city.
The first sight we came across was Balban's Tomb. Here is its ruined gateway (undergoing restoration).
Built in the latter half of the 13th century, the tomb complex is said to be the first appearance of the arch in Islamic architecture in India. The tomb is of Ghiyas ud din Balban, a ruler of the Slave dynasty of the Delhi Sutanate from 1266 to 1287.
The actual tomb...
Walking through the park:
Next is a ruin of an enclosed tomb complex, also from the 13th or 14th century.
An inscription on the gateway, no idea what is being said though (I think it's in Persian).
After all the times I've been to India I realise there is a surprising amount I've yet to see. Especially where Delhi is concerned. I tend to just arrive and drive out of it as soon as I can. In looking at this thread and that of Richmond,NYC, I must say I know which city I'd prefer to live in. (ans. Delhi)
Indeed, Delhi has a vast amount of things to see. After I came back, I search the Net and found a massive lot of more sights one could visit. Next time for sure. I wouldn't be surprised if Delhi's history compares that of some other very historic cities of the world, don't know for sure as I've only seen some of the major tourist sights, of say Rome or Beijing.
I've never been to Beijing but the parallels with Rome are obvious. I, in fact, get a Rome vibe with the juxtaposition of a buzzing city and a huge historical patrimony rubbing shoulders looking at these photos. Great report!
Ansh, you have certainly shown a lot of things that I have never seen before in reports of Delhi, and I had no idea there was such a variety. Of course, considering how huge the city is, it is obviously just my ignorance talking. I am therefore very pleased that you have made the effort to show us all of these things. I am particularly impressed by the Qutub Minar. I'm not sure I would have even kept the Alai Minar if I were in charge of urban planning.
One reason for Delhi being less walkable is just the nature of the city- sprawling, no big, pedestrianised squares as such and massive distances. And the summers are brutal with temps going above 40C frequently. But sidewalks are generally OK and usable.
I was going through these photos again -- and most of them are remarkable -- and I noticed how a lot of the crumbling gritty places look more interesting than the perfecting maintained monuments. It's interesting how so many of us have been programmed to be more attracted to ruins than things in good condition.
Of course that only seems to be true of certain places, since Paris and London are currently the most visited cities in the world and have almost no ruins at all, if you exclude the poor suburbs. Yet I remember on my first independent trip to Europe at age 17, after spending two full weeks in Paris, I went to Rome for the first time and was overwhelmed by it. I remember writing to my parents that it was "five times more interesting than Paris" and the reason for that was all of the ruins -- the Colosseum, the Forum, the Appian Way and so many other things everywhere in the city.
Rome and Pompeii were the first ruins I've seen- about 6 years ago. And while I would certainly appreciate those ruins more now compared to that time, I still loved the places, and I really want to go back there.
Thanks Ansh - really remarkable report , I had no idea that Delhi has so much to offer, although really I should not be surprised. Thanks for all the info with the photos. Just a quick question about the first photo below the words "Now, moving on to the main market area, Chandni Chowk, one of Delhi's oldest." Is the guy tightrope walking ?
What was the temperature , I notice everyone is dressed warmly ?