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Holidays to Delhi

Often preceded by its reputation, Delhi is a city known for tenacious touts, as well as mechanical and human traffic. This multidimensional metropolis may appear confrontational upon first glance, but delve deeper and it becomes apparent that India's capital is littered with hidden glistening gems. There are captivating ancient monuments, fascinating museums, a vivacious performing arts scene and some of Asia's most wonderful places to eat.

Split into two distinct parts, the 'old' and the 'new' Delhi precincts each provide something very different, yet both are a melting pot of vernaculars. The languages spoken range from English and Hindi, to Punjabi and Urdu. New Delhi is modern, but with colonial influences. Tree-lined avenues and solid historical architecture define this contemporary region, and the national government have called the area home since 1931. Rajpath, the royal mall, stretches from west to east of New Delhi, finishing at the India Gate war memorial. The expansive grassy areas are a favourite amongst romancing couples, gathering youths and picnickers alike. At the northern edge of the new capital is the business hub where neon flashing signs on restaurants and bars illuminate the streets. Lodi Road, to the south, boasts an amazing park with Mughal tombs and ancient monuments.

At the crossroads of the Mathura and Lodi roads is the Humayun’s Tomb. Persian in style, the tomb was built to house the remains of the second Mughal emperor and is one of India's finest sites. Made from red sandstone and black and white marble, the monument stands on a raised podium facing the Yamuna River. Nizamuddin is a self-contained village within New Delhi, just across from Humayun's Tomb where ancient mosques and tombs dominate the area that is totally devoid of traffic. Upon entering the area, many recall feeling like they are in a time warp due to its historical presence and laidback atmosphere in contrast to the rest of the city.

The city of Old Delhi is not oldest in the area and was only built in the 17th century. Created for the Mughal Shah Jahan, it took 11 years to complete, and 14 gates were erected on its perimeter. Today, only four of these gates remain and much of the surrounding wall has crumbled. The city is still a fascinating area, full of enticing nooks and crannies, an impressive congregational mosque and a striking citadel. The Old Delhi traveller must be prepared to deal with people traffic and beeping vehicles whilst they are within the great walls.

Lal Qila is also known as the Red Fort. It was modelled on the fort of Agra and commissioned by Shah Jahan to become his main residence. The fort is traditionally constructed, and filled with public and private halls, marble archways, a mosque, private residences and elaborate gardens. The main entrance is a popular location for souvenir sellers, but is well worth a visit. Carry on left via a pathway at the end and you come to the fascinating Museum of the Struggle for Independence that depicts India’s resistance to British rule.

Jama Masjid is India's largest mosque and is a prime example of Mughal pomp. The red and white sandstone construction is stunningly breathtaking and visitors are welcome to access the interiors to view the magnificent broad staircases and the main prayer hall, which is a busy local place of worship.

The sub-precinct of South Delhi may be small, but it is highly significant. It was here that the early settlements were located, and ancient monuments can still be seen to this day. Once a rural area, overdevelopment has headed out to South Delhi and it is now full of houses and apartment blocks with entire villages embedded within its modest boundaries. This adds to the liveliness of the city and tourists will encounter a few gems if they choose to visit.

Located on a rocky escarpment, Tughluqabad Fort was built in the 1320s and was all but deserted after the King's death at that time. Several halls and a tower are the only remains of the long underground passageway to the south-western part of the citadel, but visitors can still make out the markings of other areas, including the palace to the west of the entrance and a local bazaar to the east. The first monuments of Muslim India, known as the Qutb Minar Complex, are situated above the foundations of Lal Kot and are amongst Delhi's most noted. The impressive, fluted, red sandstone tower rises up from the ruins and is covered with intricate carvings and messages from the Koran.

Visit Delhi and you will leave exhausted, but satisfied. Nowhere else in the world would you encounter such an array of cultures and fascinating monuments.


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