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Delhi Monuments

Culture of Delhi
Delhi is a dynamic city that is flexible and adaptable. But that does not mean the city has lost its connection to its roots-its culture. The basic character of the city has remained same over the years. Delhi has this uncanny habit of blending itselfCulture and Monuments with different cultures without losing its own color. Perhaps this is what has survived the culture of Delhi despite various outside influences in the past.

New Delhi has been a part of a rich and varied culture. The old city of New Delhi boasts of rich legacies of the time when Mughals were great patrons of arts and crafts. To know more about the culture of New Delhi view the popular classical dance forms at the Kamani Auditorium or Siri Fort of New Delhi.Many dance and music festivals are organized at every corner of the city of New Delhi.

Delhi has a mini India feel to it. People from different corners of the country have come and made Delhi their home. The culture of Delhi, thus, is liberal and tolerable. People from different parts of India live in peace and harmony in the capital and practice all their customs and rituals without any hindrance. This is reflected in various fairs and festivals that are celebrated in Delhi. You can see Bengalis celebrating Durga Pooja with same fervour and gaiety, as north Indians celebrate Diwali or Holi. During Jagrans, one can find Shri Sai Baba and Guru Nanak Dev sharing space with gods of the Hindu pantheon.

The festivals in New Delhi form a great part of the ethnic culture of the city. There is an endless list of festivals in New Delhi, which includes, Id-Ul-Fitar, celebrated to mark the end of Ramzan, the Muslim month of fasting. It is an occasion for fasting and rejoicing. Makar Sakranti is a major harvest festival of India. This festival is not only celebrated in Delhi, but in Tamilnadu, Karnataka, and AndhraPradesh also. Republic Day is also one of the main festivals in New Delhi; the celebrations include a magnificent parade of the armed Forces, folk dances, and floats from all the different states of India.

Delhi has a rich cultural life. You can enjoy a number of cultural programmes that are a regular affair at India Habitat Centre, India International Centre, Dilli Haat and Triveni Kala Sangam. You can enjoy theatre at Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts and National School of Drama.

Cultural events in Delhi
Culture and Monuments India’s calendar of festivals draws upon the nation’s Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian communities, with a sprinkling of non-religious festivals thrown in for good measure. Most will be celebrated to some extent, somewhere in Delhi.

Republic Day, a week of celebration kicks off on 26 January, with a military parade along Rajpath.

A guard of honor stands to attention at Raj Ghat on Martyr’s Day, 30 January, to commemorate the anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

Spring exuberance erupts on the day after the full moon in early March, during Holi, when people running through the streets bombard each other and stray tourists with brightly colored powder and water, to celebrate good harvests and fertility of the land. It is often an occasion for indulging in a drink or two.

The Raslila is performed across India recreating the life of Krishna on the anniversary of his birth, Janmasthami, which falls in August/September. The city celebrates most flamboyantly at Lakshmi Narayan Mandir.

Diwali (Deepavali), the most pan-Indian of Hindu festivals – coinciding with the onset of the Hindu and Jain new year – symbolizes the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness by commemorating Lord Rama’s return to his kingdom, Ayodhya, after his 14-year exile.

Monuments in Delhi

Delhi is a city with an impressive and remarkable history. Standing as a witness to this interesting bygone era are the various monuments of Delhi. From the Old Fort to the Tughlaqabad area to the various tombs in the city, each one represents a separate period in the history of Delhi. In the area of New Delhi, historical monuments cover mostly those that were built during the time of the British like the Parliament House, President's House, the India Gate etc.

However, one thing that is common in all the monuments of Delhi is their architectural excellence. Be it the Red Fort built by Shah Jahan or the Parliament House designed by Edwin Lutyens, each and every monument has an architectural beauty that leaves you mesmerized. All said and done, the magnificence of Delhi monuments cannot be fully described and youCulture and Monuments will have to visit them to really appreciate them.

The Red Fort
The Red Fort of Delhi is a massive monument built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It took approximately 10 years to complete the Red Fort of Delhi that was started in the year 1638. Situated on the embankment of river Yamuna, the fort was constructed during the zenith of Mughal Empire. The Red fort was supposed to be the fortress of the Shah Jahan's new capital at Delhi, Shahjahanabad. Today, the Red fort serves as the venue for the Prime Minister's Speech that is given on the Independence Day of the country.

Lal Quila of Delhi is surrounded by a moat, now dry, and walls that stretch on for approximately two km. The width of the wall varies from 18 m on the riverside to 33 m on the city side. The fort comprises of a number of structures like Diwan-i-am (Hall of Public Audience), Diwan-i-khas (Hall of Private Audience), palaces, private apartments, Moti Masjid (mosque), etc. Chatta Chowk, once the market of the Delhi's most talented jewelers, carpet makers, weavers and goldsmiths, provides the main entrance to the Delhi Red Fort.

This market now mainly houses jewelry and ornaments for the purpose of the tourists. A little farther from the Chatta Chowk is the Naubat Khana or the Drum House, where the musicians used to play for the emperor. Other attractions of the Red fort of Delhi include Hamaam (Royal bath), Shahi Burj (Shah Jahan's private working area), Rang Mahal (Palace of Colors) etc. The Rang Mahal served as the palace of the wives and mistresses of the Emperor. Gild turrets, mirror work and gold and silver covered ceiling adorn the palace.

Tughlaqabad Fort
Tughlaqabad Fort, perched on a rocky hill, constitutes one third of the capital city of India. The fort is located on the Culture and MonumentsQutab-Badarpur Road and was built by Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughlaq, the founder of the Tughlaq dynasty. The Tuglaqabad Fort seems to be more or less octagonal, with a border of approximately 6.5-km. The ramparts of the fort, now in ruins, are between 10m to 15m high with fortresses and gateways at intervals. The Tughlakhabad at Delhi was built to serve a dual purpose, one of providing a defensive structure to the ruler and the second, to serve as his imposing capital.

Tughlaqabad stands divided into three segments. The eastern segment is entered through from the Qutub-Badarpur road. It is a rectangular area enclosed within high walls and bastions and used to serve as the citadel. On the west side of the Tughlaqabad Fort is a wider area that once contained the palaces and is surrounded by walls and bastions. A huge reservoir stands on the southern side of the Tughlaqabad Fort at Delhi. Bunds were put up between hills to the east to create the reservoir, which is linked with Ghiyas-ud-Din's tomb through a causeway.

There is a wide mound near the south eastern-corner of the Fort Tughlakhabad of Delhi that leads to the fortress of Adilabad. The sluice gates near the mound were used for controlling water for irrigation purposes. There is also a tower, known as the Bijai-Mandal, inside the fort, along with remains of several halls, and also a long underground passageway. To the north of the fort, lies the city of Tughlaqabad, which is now mostly in ruins.

Qutub Minar
The famous Qutab Minar of Delhi is a tower that claims the distinction of being the highest stone tower in the country. Said to be a tower of victory, it soars to a height of 73 m. Qutab-ud-din Aibak, after defeating Delhi's last Hindu kingdom, started the construction of this tower in the year 1193. Although Qutab-ud-din Aibak started the construction of the tower, he could not complete the monument during his lifetime. Later on, additions were made by his successors. Three stories were constructed by Iltutmush, while the fifth and the last two was the work of Firoz Shah Tughlak.

Delhi Qutub Minar is made up of five stories, with the first three being made of red sandstone and the fourth and fifth ones being made up of both marble as well as sandstone. Each of the stories has a projecting balcony with their diameter ranging from 15 m at the base to 2.5 m at the top. There is a little disagreement over the origins of Qutab Minar of Delhi.Culture and Monuments One legend has it that it was built as a tower of victory to commemorate the beginning of the Muslim rule in India. Another legend goes that it was built to serve as a minaret to the muezzins to call the faithful to prayer.

Delhi Qutub Minar is adorned with bands of inscriptions, along with four projecting balconies supported by elaborately decorated brackets. There is also the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, the first mosque of India, which stands at the base of the Qutab Minar. Inside the courtyard of the mosque stands a 7 m high iron pillar. It is believed that if you are able to encircle it with your hands while standing with your back to it, your wish will be granted. Over the eastern gate, it is inscribed that the material to build it was acquired from demolishing twenty-seven Hindu temples.

Parliament House
Parliament House accommodates the two Houses of Parliament, Lok Sabha (House of the People) and Rajya Sabha (Council of States). Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker, the architects of New Delhi, designed this building. His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught, laid the foundation stone of Parliament House in the year 1921. It took six years to complete the Delhi Parliament House and its was inaugurated in the year 1927 by the then Governor-General of India, Lord Irwin. A circular building, it also houses ministerial offices, a number of committee rooms and a brilliant library.

The Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha meetings are held in the domed circular central hall and the three semi-circular buildings. Sansad Bhavan of New is adorned with an open verandah with 144 columns and a 28 m central dome. Made up of blocks of sandstone, it has a diameter of approximately 174 m. Enclosing the Parliament House Estate is an attractive red sandstone wall or iron grill with iron gates. It is necessary to take prior permission before visiting the Parliament House of Delhi. Indians need to get permission by applying at the Parliament Secretariat and foreigners through their Embassies or High Commissions.

Rashtrapati Bhavan
It was decided in the Delhi Durbar of 1911 that the capital of India would be shifted from Calcutta to Delhi. Thus was born the city of Delhi, designed by the great architect Edwin Lutyens, along with Herbert Baker. It took approximately 20 years Culture and Monumentsand 15 million pounds to build New Delhi. Built as the Viceral Lodge, Delhi Rashtrapati Bhawan comprises of four floors and 340 rooms. Now known as the President House of New Delhi, it is spread over an area of approximately 200,000-sq-feet. It took 18 years to construct this building and on the on the 18th year of its completion, India became independent.

The Jaipur Column, a gift from the Maharaja of Jaipur, stands at a height of 145 m in the middle of the main court in front of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Another one of the impressive features of the Delhi Rashtrapati Bhawan comprises of the outstandingly beautiful Mughal Gardens. Then, at the base of the building, is a spacious square, known as the Vijay Chowk. The massive neo-Buddhist copper dome of the President House of New Delhi is splendid and can be seen even from a distance of a kilometer. Underneath this fabulous dome is the circular Durbar Hall, housing the Viceroy's throne, measuring almost 22.8 m in diameter. Before the National Museum was completed, it served as a museum for a number of years. All the official ceremonies such as the swearing in of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Members of Parliament, etc., take place in this hall only. Also, the Arjuna Awards for Excellence are awarded by the President from here itself. On the ground floor of the Rashtrapati Bhavan are a number of state apartments. Then, there is the State Drawing Room, State Ballroom, State Dining Room and a number of other such rooms inside the building. The Delhi Rashtrapati Bhawan consists of 54 bedrooms, along with additional accommodation for guests.

India Gate
India Gate is a war memorial of martyred soldiers, situated in the middle of New Delhi. Standing tall at a height of 42 m, Delhi India Gate, an "Arc-de-Triomphe", seems like a gateway at the heart of a crossroad. His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught laid the foundation stone of India Gate in the year 1921. Designed by Edwin Lutyens, the monument was dedicated to the country after 10 years, by the then Viceroy, Lord Irwin. It stands as a tribute to the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives during World War I, when they fought for the British Army.

More than 13,516 British and Indian soldiers who got killed in the Northwestern Frontier in the Afghan war of 1919 haveCulture and Monuments their names written on the Indian Gate of New Delhi. After India became independent, another memorial, Amar Jawan Jyoti was added to the existing structure. This arched memorial has an eternal flame that burns day and night as a mark of respect to the soldiers who laid down their lives in the India-Pakistan War that took place in December 1971.

Resting on a low foundation of red Bharatpur stone, the arch rises in stages to a huge molding. On both the sides of the arch the word INDIA is inscribed, along with the date, MCMXIV (1914) on the left and MCMXIX (1919) on the right. The best time to see Delhi India Gate is during nightfall, when it is magnificently floodlit. Splendid lawns, with a number of fountains, encircle the monument. These fountains present a breathtaking view at night when they make a lovely display with colored lights.

Humayun's Tomb
Humayun's Tomb, the mausoleum of Mughal emperor Humayun, is situated on the Mathura Road, near it's crossing with Lodi Road. The first significant model of Mughal architecture in India, the tomb was built by Humayun's wife Haji Begum in the year 1565. High arches and a double dome adorn the tomb that is entered through two towering double-storied gateways, on the south and on the west. The center of the eastern wall of the enclosure houses a baradari (pavilion), while that of the northern wall houses a bath-chamber.

One of the most remarkable features of the Delhi Humayun's Tomb is a square garden inside its complex. The garden stands divided into four large squares, separated by causeways and channels. These four squares are then further divided into smaller squares by typical pathways ('Chaharbagh') of a Mughal Garden. In the center of the entire complex stands the mausoleum. The cenotaph is kept in the central octagonal chamber with arched lobbies on the sides having perforated screens at the openings.

The Garden Tomb of Humayun in Delhi is constructed mainly of red sandstone, with white and black marble adorning its Culture and Monumentsborders. The second story of the tomb, with 42.5m high double dome and pillared kiosks (chhatris), is built in the same way as the first. Further beautifying the Humayun's Tomb are the carvings, the inlaid work on the marble of the walls and the trelliswork in red sandstone. Built as per the hasht bihisht (Eight Paradise) architectural design, it is a sort of pioneering landmark of the Indo-Islamic architecture.

The vaults below the podium in the mausoleum house the graves of a number of Mughal dynasty rulers. These include the graves of Haji Begam, Hamida Banu Begam, Dara Shikoh - Shah Jahan's son, and the later Mughals, Jalandar Shah, Farrukhsiyar, Rafi'u'd-Darajat, Rafi'u'd-Daula, 'Alamgir II, Shah Jahan's son and Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal emperor of Delhi. Infact, Delhi Humayun Tomb served as the refuge of Bahadur Shah II, who was later captured here by Lieutenant Hodson during the Revolt of 1857. The sheer number of graves here led to the tomb being called as "The Dormitory of the House of Timur".

Jama Masjid Delhi
Jama Masjid is one of the largest mosques in India, also known by the name of "Masjid-i-Jahan Numa" (visible to the world). Situated near the Red Fort in Delhi, it is one of the last monuments built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Designed as Shah Jahan's primary mosque, Jamma Masjid of Delhi is built in red sandstone, with an extensive use of white marble. The interiors of the mosque are inlaid with stripes of black. It took six years to complete this simple yet elegant monument. Delhi Jama Masjid was built on a high platform so as to make it visible from all the neighboring areas.

Ostad Khalil, a great sculptor of his time, designed this mosque. Built as the replica of Moti Masjid in Agra, it has three gateways, four towers and two minarets. However, the most impressive feature of the mosque is its pulpit, carved out of a single block of marble. Gracing the portico of Jama Masjid, the slender minarets, one on each side, are approximately 130 ft high. As you enter inside the mosque, you step into a stadium like courtyard. Wide staircases and arched gateways are the trademark of the Jama Masjid of Delhi. The relic of the Prophet as well as the Holy Koran is shrine in a small shrine inside the mosque.

One of the most valued treasures of the Delhi Jama Masjid are a hair of the beard of Hazrat Mahmmad, his used chappal (footwear), the canopy of his tombstone, the foot print of Muhammad on the stone and a chapter of Koran taken from its original holy book. All of these are kept in the northeast corner of the mosque. The main imams of this Jama Masjid have always been the direct descendants of the first Imam appointed by Emperor Shahjahan. Till today, this tradition of appointing his descendants as the main Imam has been carried out without any break. People of other religions are allowed inside the mosque throughout the day, except for between 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm.

Jantar Mantar
Jantar Mantar, with Yantra meaning instruments and Mantra meaning formulae, was built in the year 1724. Situated near Connaught Place, New Delhi Jantar Mantar counts amongst the numerous astronomical observatories erected by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur. The other observatories consist of the ones built in Jaipur, Varanasi, Ujjain and Mathura. It basically comprises of the instruments that were used for keeping track of celestial bodies. Jai Singh, after finding the existing astronomical instruments too small to take correct measurements, built these larger and more accurate instruments.

The instruments at Jantar Mantar of Delhi display promising brilliance. However, there is a little problem, that, these instruments can no longer make accurate observations because of the numerous tall buildings that have been built around the observatory. Delhi Jantar Mantar is also a reminder of the technological achievements that took place under the rule of the Rajput kings. There is an interesting legend associated with the construction of the Jantar Mantar. It is said that Jai Singh, ardent adherer of astronomy, oversaw an argument between Hindu and Muslim over certain planetary positions.

Since it was utmost necessary to solve the argument and know the positions precisely, he offered to rectify the available astronomical tables. The offer was accepted by the Mughal emperor and that led to the construction of Jantar Mantar in Delhi. At first, brass instruments were used in the observatory. However, they were found to have a number of intrinsic flaws. So after much deliberation, Jai Singh adopted the style of Prince Ulugh Beg, builder of the 15th century observatory at Samarkand, Uzbekistan. This is how the Delhi Jantar Mantar became what it is today.

Lotus Temple
Lotus Temple is situated 12 km to the southeast of Connaught Place. Architecturally one of the most splendid temples of India, Delhi Lotus Temple is called so because it is built in the shape of a Lotus flower. The temple got completed in the year 1986 and rises to a height of more than 40 m. Located on Bahapur Hills, it is the seventh and the latest Baha'i houses of worship in the world. Bahai Temple of New Delhi is a white marble monument designed like a half-opened lotus.

Twenty-seven giant lotus petals of white marble spring out from nine pools and walkways of the temple. These walkways represent the nine unifying spiritual paths of the Baha'i faith. Exquisitely manicured lawns surround the building of the Lotus Temple. Silence is a prerequisite inside the New Delhi Lotus Temple. Also, one needs to take off the shoes while entering inside. Made up of marble, cement, sand and dolomite, this temple is often equated with the Sydney Opera House. Baha'i Temple in Delhi is often compared to the Sydney Opera House.

There is a simple, but outstanding 34.27 m high central hall in the temple where people sit and meditate. Petal alcoves of the temple are inscribed with stimulating quotes of the Baha'i sacred scriptures. Though the temple belongs to the Baha'i sect, it is open to people of each and every faith. The Baha'i religion, an independent one, places great importance on prayer and meditation as instruments for the progress of the human soul. Committed to the oneness of all religions and mankind, it traces its origins to its prophet Baha'u'llah, born in Persia in the 20th century.