ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design

19. Seven times Delhi

Cortile interno della Jama Masjid, la moschea più grande di Delhi
New Delhi,  India’s capital since 1947, chokes in her human traffic and pushes you away at first sight. After the initial shock, you’ll discover a city of art with an ancient heart. Witnessing present and past eras both, this city is a melting pot of medieval and modern times, of metropolis and village, of north and south, markets and temples, chaos and stillness. You just have to choose yours. The city is vast (population is around 20.450.000), and it’s almost impossible to visit in her whole for a tourist – even though it’s easier now, with the new tube. Choose and go: two or three days are sufficient to taste Delhi, leaving the rest for the next trip while you proceed towards less populated destination. These are some hints.


The Delhi of Sultans
Around 1200, Dehli became capital of a Sultanate. Founded by Mohammedans, who conquered northern India, it lasted for 150 years and has seen 5 dynasties. Each of those has left traces of that era’s splendor spread across the southern part of the city. The Sultanate fostered the introduction of new architectural styles. The arch and the dome, for example, made an exquisite supplement to Indian architecture, giving birth to the beautiful Muslim-Hindu temple we can cherish today.
Qutub Minar is the most important location of that age – even more visited than the celebrated Taj-Mahal! Masjid-i-jami’s mosque is the very first in northern India, built (it is said) with materials obtained by the destruction of 27 Hindu temples. This mosque was used for public meetings and to state the magnificence and the supremacy of new regents’ politics. Qutub Minar was also built to celebrate a victory; it is a tower 72 meters high under the heritage of UNESCO. Other important monuments you can see are the tomb of Firuz Shah Taghlag in Hauz Khas and, in Lodi Gardens, Barah Khamba’s tomb.


Moghul Delhi
Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur laid the basis for Moghul dynasty; he conquered and plundered Delhi in 1526, making an end to the Sultanate. Delhi became one of the capitals of Moghul’s empire. A vast majority of the Mughal architectures we can see today was built by the emperor Shah Jahan. The King moved the capital from Agra to Delhi, planning to quickly erect the Shahjahnabad, commonly known as the old Delhi. Even today, Moghul’s city impresses you with her magnificence and the exquisite taste of her art – surrounded by today’s decay. In that era, old Delhi must have been a delightful sight to see. 
The most impressive monuments you can visit today are the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid. To go further back in moghul time visit Humayum Tomb, in Delhi south, built by Akbar for his father.


Delhi, the Capital
British people appointed Delhi as capital in 1911. The architect sir Edward Lutyens was in charge of the planning. Many styles of housing coexist in Dehli, bound by her ageless beauty: you won’t miss the marvelous colonial estates surrounded by white-painted arcades and bungalows nestled in verdant gardens. The true heart of the British’s Delhi is the India Gate, majestic arch in Rajpath, a long avenue with gardens and fountains that flanks the Parliament House. You’ll find more British colonial architecture in Connaught Place (heart of the city and main underground station) and in Rashrapati Bhawan, residence of President of the largest democracy in the world.


Delhi, a religions’ crossroad
Delhi is a perfect diorama of India. All Indian religions have a place of worship there. Some of them are of interest because of their sociological value, other are also places of art. The most important mosque in Delhi is Jama Masjid (XVII), where every Friday Muslims gather in mass to pray. Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is another extraordinary place to visit: a Sikh’s temple with golden domes reflecting on the sacred pools’ surfaces. The recently built (2005) Akshardham Temple, placed on the brims of Yamuna (Ganges’ largest tributary river) is an example of Hindu temple architecture’s revival. The remarkable architecture of the Lotus Temple is another must-see of Delhi. The place has no restrictions for visitors and is open for people from all religions, providing an “idol-free” place to pray or meditate. Delhi è tutta l’India in miniatura. Tutte le religioni indiane hanno i loro luoghi di culto in città. 


Shopping in Delhi
Delhi is also a sacred destination for shopaholics. Lively and colorful bazaars, flea markets but also artisan shops, boutiques, delicatessens and department stores will transform the closure of your luggage zipper into an authentic mission impossible. But don’t panic: the general store down the street has a bigger one to sell you! Old Delhi’s bazaars deserve a visit even if you are not really into shopping. Narrow alleys, a lot of people and exotic things to see. Take your time and be careful: it’s easy to get lost there.
For exotic craftsmanship you’ll want to visit Dilli Haat, and if you are good at haggling, you can go to Sarojini’s Market and spice up your wardrobe for a low price. Janpath and Palika Bazaar are more central, and definitely interesting places to visit.


Delhi, stillness and shade under a tree
Tired of shopping and tours? Delhi provides you with places to rest under blossoming trees. In the southern zones there are gardens where you can rest or promenade in the early morning without getting run down by a rikshaw (a mototaxi). Those are green areas in a city overwhelmed by smog. Lodi Gardens are not simple meadows: fountains, flowers, little forests and, between the benches, the splendor of Sultan’s tombs.
Same blending of green and architecture for the rose garden in Hauz Khas and Deer Park.
Right behind Connaught Place, the Jantar Mantar, consisting in 13 architectural astronomy instruments to stargaze built by a Jaipur king. 


 Creative Commons License :

Jama Masjid (cover) by Dimitry B.

Sultan's Tombs byKoshi

Red Fort. interior by Christopher John

India Gate by Wonker

Lotus Temple by Startracker

Janpath market by Michael Vito

Lodi Garden by Geoff Stearns


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