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What to see in Delhi

What to see in Delhi

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Here is a list of articles that I have found useful to bring to India. This list was created with the help of Brahma Muhurta dasa (ACBSP) an India veteran, and has been refined over the last five years or so and has been useful to many devotees, so they tell me anyway.

Turkman Gate
Built in the late 1650s, Turkman Gate was the southern gate of the old walled city. Named after the pious Muslim saint, Hazrat Shah Turkman Bayabani whose tomb predates Shahjahanabad, Turkman Gate, located near the Ramlila Ground can today be reached by taking the Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg. This gate like the other gates of Shahjahanabad is square in plan with high arched openings. Locally known as Turkman Gate, it is too now amidst one of the densely populated areas of the capital.

Located on the narrow Hailey Lane on the Atul Grove Road (old Hailey Road) cutting across the Kasturba Gandhi Road, in the center of modern Delhi, is an ancient stepped well or Baoli. Ugrasen's Baoli (stepped-well) is said to have been built by Raja Ugrasen, the forefather of the Aggarwal community. However, the architectural features of the Baoli resemble the features of the late Tughlaq period or Lodi age.

Vijay Ghat
Just near the small artificial lake extreme north of landscaped gardens is Vijay Ghat, where India's second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri was cremated in 1966. Born in 1901, he was a great statesman and freedom fighter who led many defiant campaigns and spent a total of seven years in British jails. 'Shastri' was the bachelor's degree awarded to him by the Kashi Vidya Peeth of Varanasi for his academic accomplishments.

Vir Bhumi
Located next to Rajghat is the memorial of the sixth and youngest prime minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi. Popularly known as a man with great dreams for his country and his countrymen, Rajiv Gandhi was the first son of Indira and Feroze Gandhi. He was appointed as prime minister of the country within hours of his mother's assassination in 1984 and two months later he won a landslide general election.

War Memorial Museum
Originally known as Qila-e-Mualla, Red fort or Lal Qila was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan after he transferred his capital to his newly planned city of Shahjahanabad (Delhi) from Agra in 1638. The foundation stone of this massive citadel was laid in 1639 and it was completed after nine years in 1648. Designed by the Mughal architects Ustad Hamid and Ahmad, Red Fort is an important symbolic monument in India even today. Every year on Independence Day (15th August) the Prime Minister of India hoists the national flag and addresses the nation, from the ramparts of Red fort.

Khari Baoli
Khari Baoli is the Asia's largest wholesale spice market. It can be reached by taking the Khari Baoli road (towards western direction) after crossing the Fatehpuri Masjid on the western end of the main Chandni Chowk Road. It was during Shah Jahan's reign that the Khari Baoli, (the stepped well) was constructed along with a fortified gateway on its western end popularly known as Lahori Gate. The gateway was so named because a road through it led to the city of Lahore now in Pakistan. However, today there is no trace of either the Baoli or the gateway here.

Chandni Chowk
Chandni Chowk, or 'Moonlight Square' is the most famous and historic street of Delhi, built around 300 years ago when the walled city of Shahjahanabad was established in the 17th century. The 'Trafalgar Square' of Delhi, Chandni Chowk is widely known for its century old heritage and meeting point of different cultures and traditions over the centuries. At present the street is a busy thoroughfare with its traditional framework of several 'Kuchas and Katras' (alleys) housing traditional Havelis, innumerable places of worship, popular specialized markets and century-old eating joints, known for their specialties not only in the capital but worldwide.

Neharwali Haveli
An interview broadcast on a popular news channel by the President of a neighboring country suddenly created interest in one of the Havelis of the old walled city, located at Kucha Saadullah Khan, behind Golcha cinema of Daryaganj. Overnight the Haveli became popular and one of the favorite tourist destinations of Old Delhi.

Sunheri Masjid
Located outside the southwestern corner of Delhi Gate of Red Fort, opposite the Netaji Subhash Park stands the magnificent Sunehri Masjid (not to confuse with Sunehri Masjid of Chandni Chowk). It is one of the fortunate buildings of Old Delhi that was not damaged during and after the first war of Indian Independence in 1857. Also known as Golden Mosque the mosque was built by Nawab Qudsiya Begum, the wife of Emperor Ahmad Shah in 1751. One of the eunuchs of Qudsiya begum, Jawed Khan supervised the construction of the mosque.

Zinat-ul Masjid
Located on Khairati Ghat, Ansari Road along the walls of Shahjahanabad in Daryaganj, opposite Shakti Sthal and south of Red Fort, Zinat-ul Masjid is also known as 'Ghata Masjid'. Built in 1707 AD by Zinat-ul-Nissa Begum, the daughter of Emperor Aurangzeb, the mosque is said to be a replica of the magnificent Jama Masjid on a smaller scale. The main features of this beautiful mosque are its sky touching minarets, Kangura battlements and its alternative strips of white and black marble on the domes. The mosque is a protected monument as it is of considerable architectural merit.

Khuni Darwaza
Built by Emperor Sher Shah Suri in 16th century, as one of the gates of his city Shergarh, Khuni Darwaza or Bloody Gate is located on the main Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg just opposite to Maulana Azad Medical College. It is a double storeyed majestic gate and is largely constructed with grey stone except for the frames of its windows, which are made up of red sandstone.

Jama Masjid
Built in 1656, Jama Masjid is the country's largest mosque in India, where thousands of Muslims offer prayers. Jama Masjid lies opposite the Red Fort and is surrounded by a large number of shops, which deal in a variety of goods. The great mosque of Old Delhi is both the largest in India and the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan with a courtyard capable of holding 25,000 devotees.

The busy locality of Daryaganj, near the Delhi Gate of Shahjahanbad, is known for its unique feature, a very distinct style of architecture prevalent at the turn of the century. The influence of modern European architecture is quite prominent in the buildings of the area. They have mouldings on the façade, circular pilasters (columns), semi-circular arches and were designed in such a manner as to encounter the 'riot of light' (heat) as well as the chilly winter of Delhi.

Begum Samru's Palace
Begum Samru's Palace can be reached by taking the road just before the Kumar Cinema Hall on the main Chandni Chowk Road when coming from the direction of Red Fort. Popularly known as the Bhagirath Palace and North India's biggest electrical goods wholesale market, Begum Samru's Palace is located just behind a Hindu shrine surrounded by trees.

Gadodia Market
Gadodia Market, which lies south of Khari Baoli, is a spice wholesaler's storage area. The entrance is through a covered arcade that directly takes visitors into a small courtyard lined with storerooms with giant-sized old-fashioned weighing scales. Built by Seth Lakshmi Narayan Gadodia in the early 20th century, the place is so busy during the peak market hours that it is nearly impossible to reach the open square area.

British Magazine
Located in the middle of Lothian Road (within the road divider) just in front of the Post office are the two similar structures, which are commonly known as British Magazine. The structures are the ruins of an extensive fortified building, which stored the ammunition of the British troops. The structure was blown up on 11th May 1857, during the first war of Indian Independence by the officer in-charge, Lieutenant Willoughby. He did this to prevent the Indian troops who had risen in revolt, from using the ammunition stored in the magazine.

St. James Church
Located at the intersection of Church Road and Lothian Road, St. James Church was built by the famous Colonel James Skinner in a Greek cross design. Consecrated in 1836, the beautiful church was said to be an imitation of St Paul's Cathedral in London but according to Percival Spear the church was actually modeled on a church in Venice. With its beautiful gardens and peaceful atmosphere, the church was once situated in Delhi's best European shopping area.

Razia Sultan's Tomb
In the Bulbuli Khane locality, east of Kalan Masjid, at some distance from Turkman Gate, just near the Sitaram Bazaar, reached by a forking lane is the tomb of Razia Sultan, the only woman in the history to rule over Delhi. Her tomb (the one with stone slab) is located on a raised platform in the center of an unroofed walled courtyard (approx 35 sq feet) along with the grave of her sister Saziya, unknown to history. Apart from a prayer mihrab in the western wall, the courtyard has two more small graves in the southwestern corner, probably of children, also unknown to the world. It is said that her brother and successor Behram Shah built this tomb here soon after the death of Razia, away from the Qutb area for strategic reasons.

Central Baptist Church
Central Baptist Church is located on the main Chandni Chowk Road, just opposite Gurdwara Sisganj and before the Fountain Chowk (Bhai Mati Das Chowk). It is probably the oldest Christian mission in the whole of the northern Indian region. In the late 18th century, the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS), London, purchased a piece of land near Red Fort where the Central Baptist Church was established in 1814.

Dara Shikoh Library
Located in the grounds of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi, near the General Post Office, is the Dara Shikoh Library of the Department of Archaeology, Delhi Administration. The building is of immense historical importance as it was built by Shah Jahan's liberal intellectual son and chosen successor, Dara Shikoh, and was later used as a residency by Sir David Ochterlony, the first British Resident of Delhi. Dara Shikoh was murdered by his brother Aurangzeb in 1659 and his property along with this library passed through several hands before the British finally took it from Marathas in 1803.

Digambar Jain Temple
Located just opposite the massive Red Fort at the intersection of Netaji Subhas Marg and Chandni Chowk, Digambar Jain Temple is the oldest temple of the Jain religion in the capital, originally built in 1526. An impressive red sandstone temple today (the temple has undergone many alterations and additions in the past and was enlarged in the early 19th century), the Digambar Jain Temple is popularly known as Lal Mandir.

Fatehpuri Masjid
Located at the western end of the oldest street of Delhi, Chandni Chowk, Fatehpuri Masjid was built in 1650 by Fatehpuri Begum, one of Shah Jahan's wives. The mosque is built with red sandstone on a large scale and is surmounted by a single dome. Flanked by towering minarets, the mosque has a traditional design with the prayer hall having seven-arched openings. Among the seven arches, the central arch is the highest. The mosque has single and double-storeyed apartments on the sides and some of its endowments were used as a school for poor students. The British auctioned some parts of the mosque after the 1857 war to a Hindu family. Later in 1877 it was restored to the Muslims at the Delhi Darbar when the British allowed the Muslims back in Old Delhi.

Feroz Shah Kotla
Located near the famous Feroz Shah Kotla Cricket Stadium, off Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, Feroz Shah Kotla was the imposing citadel of Ferozabad, the Fifth city of Delhi. The great builder and Emperor Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351-88), nephew of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq and successor of Muhammad Tughlaq built the city of Ferozabad with its citadel in 1354. It is said that this city was spread over a very large area, extending from Hauz-Khas in the southwest to Pir Ghaib in the north, where there is a hunting lodge built by Feroz Shah.

Gates of Old Delhi
Shahjahanabad, the 17th century city of Shah Jahan and the seventh city of Delhi, which was completed in 1649, was built like a huge fortress surrounded by strong rubble-built high walls from all sides with bastions, 14 high-arched openings gates and 16 windows. The city with its base at the imposing Red Fort (now the world's largest non-functional fort) was a difficult proposition for any enemy to enter and challenge the sovereignty of the Mughal Emperor. Polygonal in plan, the city was strategically built with 14 gates for the people and the royal procession to enter or exit, while taking trips in different directions. At present, there are just five gates left of the grand city that have fortunately survived the ravages of time

Ghaziuddin Khan's Madarsa and Tomb
Located near Ajmeri Gate in Old Delhi, Ghaziuddin's madarsa and tomb was built Mir Shahbuddin, a highly respected and influential courtier and minister during the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The title of 'Ghazi-ud-Din Khan' was conferred on him and his son Mir Qamar-ud-Din was the founder of the dynasty of Nizam of Hyderabad. The madarsa was built in 1692. English classes were introduced in 1824 and it came to be known as Anglo-Arabic School and later Anglo-Arabic College. The building has a large enclosure of arcaded apartments where the madarsa used to function. The entrance to this madarsa, which is one of the fine examples of madarsa architecture in Delhi, is through the eastern gate.

Gurudwara Sisganj
Located on the main Chandni Chowk road, just opposite Baptist Church, before Sunheri Masjid lies one of the sacred places of Sikhs in the capital, Gurdwara Sisganj. The gurdwara commemorates the site where on the orders of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Guru Tegh Bahadur; the ninth guru of the Sikhs was beheaded. He was martyred here in 1675 under a banyan tree because he objected to emperor's use of force against the Hindus, who refused to renounce their faith and religion.

Kinari Bazaar
'Marriage on the mind'! Just visit the famous Kinari Bazaar, which has everything for sale that is needed for a wedding. A wonderful and colorful market, Kinari Bazaar is located on the street just behind the Gurdwara Sisganj and Sunehri Masjid on Chandni Chowk. The bazaar can be reached either by taking the Dariba Kalan Road and turning right in the fourth alley or taking the Paranthewali Gali just after the Ghantewala Sweet Shop.

Lothian Cemetery
Located on Lothian Road near Kashmeri Gate on the northeast side of the railway bridge, Lothian cemetery is the first British cemetery of Delhi. The members of Delhi's Christian community were buried in this old cemetery from 1808 to 1867. The main feature of the cemetery is the imposing memorial in form of huge Celtic cross dedicated to the Europeans who were killed in Delhi during the first war of Indian Independence in 1857. The cemetery has many marked and unmarked graves, some of which have very elaborate tombstones.

Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad's Tomb
Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad's tomb is located just before the imposing Eastern gateway of Jama Masjid, near the Meena Bazaar Street. A popular freedom fighter and a nationalist leader, Azad was always held in high regard in political circles for his secular thoughts and high principles. He was a dedicated member of Congress Party and one of the few Muslim leaders who strongly opposed the partition of India.

Meena Bazaar
The market just below the massive stairs on the Eastern end of Jama Masjid is known as Meena Bazaar. Built in the late 1970s, the shops on the both sides sell items like embroidered caps for Muslim men, local cosmetics, pictures and posters of sacred places, and readymade garments like burquas used by the Muslim women. Apart from these items, there are many small food stalls and dhabas, which really serve delicious Indian non-vegetarians delicacies.

Mirza Ghalib Haveli
The Haveli of famous poet Mirza Ghalib (1796-1869) is located in Gali Qasim Jaan, near the corner of Ballimaran, one of the alleys of Chandni Chowk. The great poet stayed here during 1865 to 1869 and spent his last phase of his life. The Haveli has been since considerably renovated and was used lately as shops till December 1999 when Delhi Government acquired a portion of the Haveli and set up a memorial museum dedicated to the great poet.

Nai Sarak
Nai Sarak meaning new street is the linking road, which connects the main Chandni Chowk Road to Chawri Bazaar and has a very big wholesale and retail market of mainly school and college textbooks. The street can be reached by taking a left turn after the Paranthewali Gali and just before the Katra Nawab Gali on the main Chandni Chowk Road. The other way to reach here is by taking a right turn from Chawri Bazaar Road if coming from the Jama Masjid direction.

Sadar Bazaar
Sadar Bazaar is one of largest wholesale markets of household items in the capital. Located at the western side of Khari Baoli, just near the Sadar Bazaar Railway Station, one of the ways to reach the market is through the Khari Baoli Road. This market like all the major markets of Old Delhi is very crowded and busy. Though it is also a wholesale market but one can purchase any item in small quantity.

Salimgarh Fort
Built by Islam Shah Suri, also known as Salim Shah, son and successor of Sher Shah Suri in 1546, Salimgarh Fort was constructed on an island of river Yamuna. However, only the walls were completed when Salim Shah died and the construction was abandoned. Later several Mughal rulers camped here before the creation of Shahjahanabad, which includes Humayun who stayed here for three days before recapturing Delhi in 1555. In 1622 AD, Jahangir constructed a bridge and connected it to the mainland, which was later removed by the British when they built the railway line through it.

St. Stephens' Church
After crossing the Fatehpuri Masjid while moving towards the Old Delhi Railway Station, St. Stephens' Church is located on the left hand side of the main Church Mission Road just opposite the police booth. Built with local material in the year 1862, this rectangular Romanesque church reflects the typical gothic style and has a very high ceiling with baroque style of decoration.

Telegraph Memorial
Located within 100 meters to the north of British Magazine is the Telegraph Memorial built on the site of the wooden cabin in which the Telegraph officers worked. It was from this site that the last signal "we are off" was posted to Ambala during the 1857 war of Independence that officers there learnt about the revolt by the sepoys in Meerut and Delhi and could plan counter attacks. Though with much difficulty but one can read the inscription on the Memorial 'the electric telegraph has saved India'.

Urdu Park
Just next to the Meena Bazaar of Jama Masjid is the quiet and pleasant Urdu Park. Here you will find ustads (experts) of various unique professions. The profession may range from ear cleaning to body massage to Champi (head massage). Believe it or not they are the real experts and better than many who work in big hotels or saloons with sophisticated gadgets.

William Fraser Bungalow
Located just behind the sacred St James Church stands an off white large domed building popularly known as William Fraser Bungalow and currently an administrative office of Northern Railway. Built on the 'tykhana' or cellar made of Lakhori bricks of Ali Mardan Khan palace, Shah Jahan's senior general and one of the most important 'Omrahs' in the Mughal Empire, the Bungalow was constructed in 1803.

Red Fort
So called because of the red stone with which it is built, the Red Fort is one of the most magnificent palaces in the world. India's history is also closely linked with this fort. It was frorth here ht the British deposed the last Mughal ruler, Bhadur Shah Zafar, marking the end of the three century long Mughal rule. It was also fromits ramparts that the first prime.

Zinat Mahal
West of Hauz-Qazi in Lal Kuan Bazaar of Old Delhi, Zinat Mahal was built in 1846 during the reign of Bahadur Shah II (1837-57). The beautiful palace was constructed on the order of Zinat Mahal, the favorite wife of the emperor and thus is named after her. Though in a serious state of neglect, the palace is survived by an imposing gateway, few arched pavilions and the outer wall.

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