INDIA. Delhi: New Delhi, or just Delhi, or Dilli in Hindi, the most historical city in the world is an ancient city and is the only city in the world that has three UNESCO World Heritage sites.
In this pandemic new normal era, visiting any of the so many tourist attractions in Delhi can be an experience by itself. Going around, gazing at various monuments with no one to obstruct your view can be a billionaire’s experience. All you need is a will and energy to explore and experience the culture of the city that has been the capital of seven previous civilisations. The monuments from all these eras are spread all over, you just need to be a traveler and learn a new chapter about yourself and about life.
And begin your explorations with the city’s three UNESCO World Heritage sites Red Fort – The Pride Of Mughal Dynasty, Qutab Minar – A Majestic Stone Structure, and Humayun’s Tomb – The Garden Of Tombs.
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The famous Red Fort (Lal Qila) was declared a UNESCO World Heritage in 2007. It is an outstanding marvel of Mughal architecture made of red sandstone and is one of the most magnificent palaces in the world. Red Fort was commissioned by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in 1618, and it was meant to serve as the palace fort for his capital Shahjahanabad.
Red Fort was built on a site that housed an old fort, named the Salimgarh, built by Islam Shah Suri in 1546. The construction was completed in 1638. The magnanimous red sandstone walls of the Fort with a height of 33-m were designed to keep out invaders.
The main gate of the fort, Lahore Gate, is one of the emotional and symbolic focal points of modern India, and that’s where the Prime Minister of India addresses the nation.
You enter the fort after a lot of security checks, and the arched arcade of Chatta Chowk, a bazaar selling tourist trinkets get enthralled. Enter the huge fort compound, and admire the architectural treasure chest of buildings – Darbar – e – Khas, the Drum House, the Hall of Public Audiences, the Pearl Mosque, Royal Baths, and Palace of Color.
Try and visit the fort in the evening and enhance your knowledge base by attending an evening sound and light show that re-creates events in India’s history connected with the fort.
While visiting the fort, you can also plan to visit the famous Chandani Chowk and see Gauri Shankar Temple, Digambar Jain Mandir, Sis Ganj Gurudwara, Jama Masjid, and feast on some authentic Paranthas at the Paranthe Wali Gali. And also indulge in shopping some inexpensive stuff from shops in Chandani Chowk’s narrow lanes are filled with shops to buy.
Qutab Minar, literally meaning Victory Pillar, is a majestic stone structure built in Indo-Islamic architecture. The minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world with a height of 73 meters, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower has a tapering structure – 15 m diameter at the base to just 2.5 m at the top and has five storeys. One can climb 397 steps to reach the projecting balconies that are supported by intricate brackets.
This 12th-century minaret built by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak is the earliest Islamic structure in India with both Arabic and Brahmi inscriptions and was built to celebrate Muslim dominance in Delhi after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu ruler.
The Qutab complex houses a mosque – Quwwat Ul Islam (Light of Islam), a rust-proof Iron Pillar, and Ala’i Darwaza, a domed gateway to the mosque. The 7 m-high rust-proof iron pillar is supposed to be a good omen; if you can encircle it with your hands bend behind your back, you get your wishes fulfilled.
A lot of controversies regarding its construction though surround Qutab Minar. According to local priests, the site was referred to by Hindus as Raja Prithviraj Temple. It is one of 27 Hindu and Jain temples destroyed by the invaders like Mahmud Ghazni. Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, the first mosque to be built in India has an inscription mentioning that it was built with material obtained from demolishing 27 Hindu temples.
Whatever is the origin of the minar or whatever the controversies are, no one can dispute the uniqueness of the tower not only in India but also in the world.
The third UNESCO World Heritage Site in Delhi, Humayun’s tomb or the Garden Of Tombs was built by Humayun’s widow, Hamida Banu Begum in 1565. The architecture of the tomb made of red sandstone and white marble is influenced by Persian architecture and was completed in 1572.
It will not be inappropriate to call Humayun’s garden-tomb the dormitory of the Mughals, as you find graves of over 150 Mughal family members in the cells. Some notable graves are those of Bega Begum, Dara Shikoh, Hamida Begum, and others.
The Tomb is an example of the Mughal charbagh with pools joined by water channels of underground terracotta pipes, aqueducts, and fountains. The mausoleum standing on a high, wide terraced platform has an irregular octagon plan.
The tomb is located near the Shrine of the 14th century Sufi Saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, which again is a must-visit for anyone visiting Delhi. If possible, you must plan your visit on a Thursday, and soak into a spiritual qawwali evening at the Dargah of Nizam-ud-din Auliya.