TEMPLES AND RELIGIOUS BUILDINGS IN DELHI
Chhatarpur Temple (Chhatarpur Metro station, Yellow Line) is said to be the second-largest temple complex in India. Dedicated to Goddess Katyayani, it spreads over an area of 26 hectares (60 acres). Constructed from marble, the temple boasts Dravidian and Nagara styles of architecture. It has 20 small and large temples in three complexes, along with a room that houses tables, chairs, a bed and a dressing table carved in silver. The sanctum sanctorum houses an idol of the goddess, who can be seen riding a lion and holding a sword in her hand. After paying obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum, devotees can also visit the temples of Lord Rama, Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha and Lord Hanuman in the premises. Chhatarpur Temple was built in 1974 by Baba Sant Nagpal Ji. Thousands of devotees flock to the temple, particularly during the Navratri (a holy nine-day festival) season.
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib (Connaught Place. LIC Shivaji Stadium Metro station, Delhi Airport Metro Express) is one of the most prominent Sikh gurdwara, or Sikh house of worship, in Delhi, India and known for its association with the eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Krishan, as well as the holly river inside its complex, known as the "Sarovar." A quiet and serene spot amid the bustling marketplace, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is possibly the most popular attraction of Connaught Place. You can spot it from a while away as its high golden dome glistens in the sun. As you enter the premises you will be enveloped in a sense of peace. After paying homage at the sanctum, where the holy book is kept, you can stroll along the tranquil pond in the Gurudwara. Other prominent features are a cooking area, a big art gallery and a school. A langar (holy food) is offered to devotees who come to visit. Legend has it that the Gurudwara area was once Jaisinghpura Palace, the residence of Raja Jai Singh, the ruler of Amber. It is said that in 1664, the eight Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Har Krishan Sahib, stayed in this palace.
Laxminarayan Temple (1.5 kilometers west of Connaught Place, Jandewhalan Metro station, Blue Line), is a Hindu temple dedicated to Laxminarayan, a name for Vishnu when he is with his consort Lakshmi. Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi and also known as the Birla Mandir, the temple was built by Jugal Kishore Birla from 1933 and 1939. It was the first large Hindu temple built in Delhi. The temple is spread over 7.5 acres, adorned with many shrines, fountains, and a large garden with Hindu and Nationalistic sculptures, and also houses Geeta Bhawan for discourses. The temple is one of the major attractions of Delhi and attracts thousands of devotees on the festivals of Janmashtami and Diwali. The side temples are dedicated to Shiva, Krishna and Buddha.
ISKCON Temple (near the Bahai Lotus Temple, NSIC Okhla Metro station, Magenta Line) is one of the main Hare Krishna temples in India. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, it is affiliated with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON, the Hare Krishnas). The temple is noted for its architectural splendour and invites devotees from far and wide. Its interior walls have been adorned with works of Russian artists that represent scenes from the lives of Lord Krishna, Goddess Radha, Lord Rama and Goddess Sita. The main attraction of the temple is its prayer hall and museum. Gaze in awe at the beautifully sculpted idols of Lord Krishna, Goddess Radha and other deities. The museum is known for its multimedia shows that help visitors understand the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata. They also aid in acquainting visitors with the philosophy, views and practices of the sect of Hare Krishna. This temple was established in 1988 with an aim to spread the teachings of Bhagwad Gita.
Morarji Desai National Institute Of Yoga (500 meters southwest of Connaught Place, Patel Chowk Metro station, Yellow Line) was established in the year 1970 as a premier centre for yoga and other ancient sciences. It acts as the nodal agency for the promotion and development of yoga across the India, and is focused on yoga research, yoga therapy, yoga training and yoga education. Spread over an area of over 2 acre, it has a library that boasts a collection of over 9,000 books on yoga and related topics. It houses a conference hall with audio visual facilities, along with an academic block for classes and practices. The institute is also equipped with other modern labs and biochemical testing and research facilities. Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga falls under the Ministry of AYUSH.
St James Church (near the Yamuna River, Chandni Chowk Metro station, Yellow Line) is one of the oldest churches in Delhi, dating back to the 19th century, St James Church is a prominent site on the tourist circuit. Located amidst the bustling neighbourhood of Kashmiri Gate, the church has a serene and tranquil ambience that draws visitors from all over the area. It boasts a charming facade and has been built in a Renaissance Revival style on a cruciform plan. It boasts three exquisite porticoes entrances, an octagonal dome in the centre and delicate stained glass windows above the altar. Other notable features are a cross hanging on the top and a copper ball, both of which are believed to be inspired by the facets of a church in Venice.
The church complex is bordered by lush, well-manicured lawns that invite people to sprawl back and soak in the serenity of the surroundings. It is said that the lawns can easily accommodate 1,200 people at a time. They often turn into a venue for baptism, birthday, anniversary, wedding and thanksgiving ceremonies. On Sunday, the church sees huge footfalls and festivals like Christmas, Easter and Palm Sunday are celebrated with much fervour. The church also organises a Sunday School for children that gives them Biblical teachings. St James Church was built by Colonel James Skinner. It is believed that the colonel made a vow to build a church while he was lying wounded on a battlefield. It is also said that the place where the church stands was once a mango grove owned by Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh, who was executed by his brother Aurangzeb. The church stands in a peaceful area with the graveyard of the Skinner family to the north.
Jama Masjid (in Old Delhi, Jama Masjid Metro station, Violet Line) is one of the largest mosques in India. Built in 1644-1648 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, it is a handsome structure with striped domes, a sweeping plain-white courtyard and soaring minarets that is still used as a house of worship. The mosque houses many relics of Prophet Mohammad and draws devotees from far and wide. Some of these relics include a Quran written on deerskin, sandals and a footprint of the Prophet embedded in a marble slab, and a red hair, which is said to have been from his beard.
Justin Bergman wrote in the New York Times, “Jama Masjid is the last of the three marvels built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, following the Taj Mahal and Red Fort. It’s as impressive, too, particularly when the courtyard — large enough to hold 25,000 people — is filled with worshipers and picnicking families. For those not fearful of heights, the climb to the top of the minaret is worth the effort to take in the mosque’s white marble domes, as well as the streets of Old Delhi and the modern city beyond. From 130 feet in the air, India’s capital, with its regal architecture, boundless energy and striking contradictions, feels as if it finally comes into view.” [Source: Justin Bergman, New York Times, November 24, 2016]
Made of red sandstone and marble, this gorgeous mosque is also called Masjid-I-Jahanuma, meaning the mosque commanding the view of the world. The courtyard of the mosque has been built with red sandstone and can be accessed from the north, the south and the east, via flights of stairs that were once venues for house markets, food stalls and entertainers. Jama Masjid has been built on an elevation of 10 meters and has three gates, two 40-meter-high minarets and four towers. From the tower, one can get a splendid view of bustling streets of Old Delhi.
Beggars gather outside the mosque. The neighborhood around the mosque is one quarter Muslim. Jama Masjid was designed by Ostad Khalil, a renowned Mughal architect. Legend has it that the eastern gate of the mosque was meant for the royal family in the olden days. It is said that Lutyens incorporated the mosque into his design in such a way that the mosque along with Connaught Place and the Parliament House falls in direct line of sight.
Tourists are not allowed in the mosque during prayers and while the entry is free, one will have to pay for carrying a camera into the premises. Signs are in Urdu as well as Hindi and English. The best time to visit the mosque is during the festivities of Id-ul-Fitr and Id-ul-Zoha, when it is resplendent as a bride and is thronged by devotees from all over the country.
Bahai Lotus Temple
Baha’i House Lotus Temple (NSIV Okla Metro station, Magenta Line) is a spectacular temple that looks like a lotus flower on the verge of opening. It is made of marble and is surrounded by acres of beautiful gardens. The temple belongs to the Bahai religion, which aims at the unity of all the races and people in a universal cause and a common faith. People from all religions and faith can enter this temple, regardless of their gender, and can chant their respective religious mantras. Designed by Iranian-Canadian architect, Fariburz Sahba in 1986, the temple is shaped like a lotus flower with 27 white marble petals. There are nine doors that open into a central hall that is approximately 40 meters high and has a capacity to host 2,500 people. There are nine pools of water that look breathtaking at dusk. The temple is famous all over the world for its architectural design.
John Bland, Head of the School of Architecture at McGill University said: “The building must be among the most remarkable conceptions of our time. I cannot think of another like it – clearly symbolic, sculptural – yet impressively accommodating and heroically structural. Truly inspired in form, pattern and material, it is powerfully appealing”. Arthur Erickson, renowned Canadian architect wrote “One of the most remarkable achievements of our time, proving that the drive and vision of spirit can achieve miracles”.
Bahá'í House of Worship at New Delhi was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “The Baha’i House of Worship in New Delhi is the Mother Temple of Baha’i faith in the Indian subcontinent. It is an edifice eminently and elegantly distinctive in its design, and uniquely inspirational in its purpose: to represent the Oneness of God, the Oneness of all Religions, and the Oneness of Mankind, the guiding tenets of Baha’i faith. Expressionist in style and spectacular in its architectural and structural and ingenuity, the House of Worship takes its inspiration from the exquisite lotus flower - a symbol of beauty, purity and divinity intimately associated with worship and a common strand running through the symbolism of many religions in India as well as their international sects and manifestations. [Source: Perment Delegation of India to UNESCO]
“The nine-sided , House of Worship Composed from 45 petals of white exposed concrete “Shell Structure” soaring to a height of more than 34 meters and adorned with shimmering white marble external cladding, sits majestically on 27 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, located in southern New Delhi. Designed by Iranian-Canadian architect Fariborz Sahba, the House of Worship (popularly called the Lotus Temple), consists of five sets of leaves or petals (3 external and 2 internal sets) each set consisting of 9 thin cast-in-place-jointless concrete shells. The outermost set of nine petals, called the entrance leaves, opens outwards and forms the nine entrances all around the outer hall. The next set of nine petals, or outer leaves, points inwards. The entrance and outer leaves together cover the outer hall. The third set of nine petals, called the inner leaves, appears to be partly closed. Only the tips open out, somewhat like a partly opened bud. This portion, which rises above the rest, forms the main structure housing the 2 sets of nine petals each thin shell structures called interior dome which houses central prayer hall, which seats 1,300.
“The external petals are clad with double-curved white Pentelikon marble, the same grade of marble that was used in the building of the Parthenon in Greece. All around the Temple are walkways with beautiful curved balustrades, bridges and stairs that surround the nine pools representing the floating leaves of the lotus. The utilization of natural light within the prayer hall, along with the pools as a water feature, serve as the two fundamental elements that accentuate the majesty of the Temple, and lend an atmosphere of natural beauty and serenity.
Akshardham (east side of Delhi, Akshardham Metro station, Blue Line) is a Hindu temple complex and a spiritual-cultural campus. in Delhi, India. Also referred or Swaminarayan Akshardham, Akshardham Temple or Swaminarayan Akshardham, the complex displays millennia of traditional Hindu and Indian culture, spirituality, and architecture. Inspired by Yogiji Maharaj and created by Pramukh Swami Maharaj it opened in November 2005. More than 8,000 volunteers across the world joined hands in building the temple.
Holding the Guinness World Records as the world's largest comprehensive Hindu temple, the Akshardham temple complex is a stunning piece of architecture. Sprawled over a vast area, the complex looks like a splendid heavenly city when viewed from above. The temple itself has been constructed in pink sandstone and marble and is laid amidst neatly manicured lawns, pristine waterfronts and open courtyards. It has been designed in the traditional Hindu style of architecture and follows vaastu shastra and pancharatra shastra. As you stroll along the breathtaking complex, you will spot intricate carvings of animals, flowers, dancers, musicians and deities that adorn the walls. It is said that the stone used in the construction of the temple was brought from Rajasthan and weighed about 6,000 tonne. The Italian Carrara marble used in the structure adds to the beauty of the grand temple.
Some interesting features of the temple are a musical fountain, the Sahaj Anand Water Show at Yagnapurush Kund and the breathtaking Light and Sound Show. Starting at 7:30 pm, the show narrates stories from ancient Hindu scriptures. It is a spectacular rendition that uses colorful lasers, underwater flames, water jets and video projections.
The temple stands at a height of 140 feet and has a width of about 300 ft. It hosts 234 beautifully carved pillars, along with nine elaborately inscribed domes. The temple premises hold around 20,000 idols of Hindu deities, and the main shrine is that of Lord Swaminarayan. An 11-foot-tall idol of the god stands below the central dome. Interestingly, each statue at Akshardham is built with five metals called panch dhaatu. It also contains 148 statues of elephants that weigh over 3,000 tonne. The temple can be accessed via 10 gates that symbolise 10 directions. The main gate is Bhakti Dwar or the gate of devotion.
Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah
Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah (near Hamayun’s Tomb, JLN Stadium Metro station, Violet Line) is one of the most prominent spiritual sites in Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah is the shrine of Muslim sufi saint, Nizam-ud-din Auliya (1238 - 1325 AD). It is a beautiful structure comprising intricate jaalis (lattice screens) and a vast courtyard framed by marble arches. Dating back to the 14th century, this dargah has been built in the Islamic style of architecture. It is a square-shaped building with a dome-shaped roof. A particular attraction is a 13th century room, called Hujra-e-Qadeem, which makes for an interesting visit.
The dargah draws devotees from far and wide and they can be seen tying a red thread on the jaalis so their prayers can be answered. While performing the prayers, they also light incense sticks and shower rose petals. Offering a chadar (a large sheet of fabric) at the shrine is considered especially auspicious. The best time to visit the dargah is on Thursday, when qawwali performances are held in the evening. Such is its renown that the dargah has been a cinematic backdrop for several movies like Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) and Rockstar (2011).
Echoing with magic and mysticism, the dargah complex houses the tomb of Amir Khusrau, one of the greatest Urdu and Persian poets. Moreover, there are tombs of Jahanara Begum, Shah Jahan s daughter; Atgah Khan, a nobleman whose wife served as the nurse of Mughal emperor Akbar and Muhammad Shah Rangila, a ruler of the 18th century.
Raj Ghat: Where Gandhi Was Cremated
Raj Ghat (south of the Red Fort. Delhi Gate Metro station, Violet Line) is the black marble platform where Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was cremated on January 31, 1948.. It is located in a well-kept park between the Ring Road and the banks of the Yamuna River The ghats were Nehru and his daughter and grandson were cremated are nearby. Pilgrims arrive by the hundreds to reverently touch the simple petal-strewn marble platform. Many circle the platform with their luggage balanced on their heads.
Lying on the banks of the Yamuna river, Rajghat is fringed by lush well-manicured lawns that are dotted with trees. The mortal remains of Gandhiji were cremated at this ghat. The samadhi is a true reflection of the man himself and exudes a simplicity that he came to be associated with. A brick platform where his body was burned and a black marble platform are surrounded by a marble fence. The words 'He Ram', which was the last thing Gandhiji said, have been inscribed on the memorial. An eternal flame stands adjacent to it.
Various trees that dot the landscape have been planted by dignitaries like Queen Elizabeth II, former US president Dwight Eisenhower, former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitman etc., and bear their names on a plaque. The memorial was designed by Vanu G Bhuta, and this national shrine was bestowed with a number of awards for its architectural design. The memorials of various other leaders such as Lal Bahadur Shashtri, Indira Gandhi , Jawaharalal Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi are also located inside Raj Ghat. Visitors are required to remove their shoes before paying homage to the leader. A ceremony is held every Friday to mark the day he died. There are two museums nearby, which are dedicated to Gandhiji.
Museums in Delhi
Among the main museums in Delhi are National Museum, Crafts Museum and Village Complex, Mahatma Gandhi Museum, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, National Museum of Natural History, Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum, National Gallery of Modern Art. State museums are closed on Mondays.
National Science Centre Museum (north of the Zoo, close to Gate no 1, of Pragati Maidan overlooking the Purana Qila, Indrapastha Metro station, Blue Line) was established in 1992. The main galleries, halls and exhibitions are: Energy Ball, Water : The Elixir of life, Our Science & Technology Heritage, Human Biology Gallery, Prehistoric Life Gallery, Fun Science Gallery, Hall of Nuclear Power, Information Revolution Gallery, Emerging Technology Gallery and Sardar Patel Gallery The aim of the museum is to educate visitors about the wonders of science. There are many hands-on displays that show various laws of physics and exhibits designed to appeal people from all age groups.
Shankar’s International Dolls Museum (Bahadur Shaha Zafar Marg, ITO Metro station, Violet Line), houses around 6,500 dolls from over 80 countries. The entire collection is divided into two parts: 1) dolls from Western countries like the U.S. and Britain; and 2) dolls from Asian countries, Africa and the Middle East. A highlight is 150 dolls in Indian costumes. These include dolls dressed as Kathakali dancers. The museum was set up by K Shankar Pillai, a political cartoonist. It is a unique place to study the cultures and traditions of various countries in the world.
Delhi Sulabh International Museum of Toilets (Western Delhi, Dashrathpuri Metro station, Magenta Line) chronicles the 4,500 history of toilets. Founded by Bindeshwar Pathak, a sanitation specialist, it is intended to instruct visitors not only about history but also about the design, technology and manufacturing of toilets. Among the displays are an 18th century chamber pot for ladies and time line for the evolution of the toilet beginning in 2500 B.C.
Sanskriti Museum of Everyday Art and Indian Terracotta (On Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road, southeast Delhi, an hour taxi ride from Connaught Place, one kilometer east of Moulsari Avenue subway station) features interesting everyday objects such as nutcrackers, toys and shrines made from terra cotta and large terra cotta sculptures displayed in a pleasant garden,
Lodhi Art District (JLN Metro station, Violet Line) features street murals of a flute seller standing by the roadside, a sardarji sitting behind a pile of books and reading his newspaper, a cow staring indolently in space and a shopkeeper serving sweets to her customers, and many others. Lodhi Art District, located in Lodhi Colony, is a nondescript neighbourhood that underwent a stunning transformation after whitewashed walls along the streets became canvasses for artists from India and across the world, who have turned the area into India’s first public art district.
National Museum, New Delhi
National Museum (near India Gate on Janpath, Udyog Bhawan Metro station, Yellow Line) has a wonderful collection of artifacts and works of art. Among its treasures are 5,000-year-old relics from Harappa, the Indus Valley civilization, an exotic collection of old paintings and manuscripts, and murals from Buddhist shrines in Central Asia. Among the painting by the Kangra School check out “Krishna Steals the Gopi’s Clothes.” Some places of the National Museum are poorly lit. The displays and exhibits are often shabby.
The National Museum’s fine collection of artefacts and precious objects cover more than 5,000 years of Indian cultural history. It exhibits about 2,00,000 works of both Indian and foreign art. The main collections are:Archaeology, Anthropology, Arms & Armour, Anubhav - A Tactile Gallery, Central Asian Antiquities, Decorative Arts, Jewellery, Manuscripts, Numismatics & Epigraphy, Paintings, Pre-Columbian & Western Arts, Pre History,
In the Archaeology Collection are: 1) Maurya, Shunga and Satavahana Collection, 2) Kushana Collection, 3) Gupta Art Collection, 4) Early Medieval Sculpture Collection, 5) Late Medieval Sculpture Collection, 6) Bronze Collection and Buddhist Art Collection. The anthropological collection at National Museum consists of about 8,000 objects. The collection was built over the years through purchases, gifts by various private donors and some by the surveys conducted by the officials of the department in tribal belts and rural areas.
The Arms & Armour gallery displays a fine collection of Indian weapons ranging from the Pre-historic period up to the 19th century C.E. These include, edged weapons, projectiles, smashing weapons, armour for men and animals, ornamental and ritual weapons and fire-arms and war accessories. Different varieties of bows and arrows- made of cane, bamboo, metal and decorated with ivory, gold and silver are exhibited in the gallery. The inscribed bow of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last ruler of the Mughal dynasty, is also on view.
The library of the museum is a goldmine for researchers as it contains books and journals related to various fields such as anthropology, archaeology, conservation, decorative arts, history, literature, museum studies, painting, philosophy and religion for research and reference. The library contains over 60,000 volumes of books, journals and several Indian and International journals and magazines. The museum was inaugurated on August 15, 1949 by Shri RC Rajagopalachari, the then governor-general of India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of the country, laid the foundation stone of the present building on May 12, 1955. The first phase of the building was formally inaugurated by Dr S Radhakrishnan on December 18, 1960 and the second phase was completed in 1989.
National Gallery of Modern Art
National Gallery of Modern Art (east of India Gate, Khan Market Metro station, Violet Line) is housed in a building that was once the Delhi residence of the Maharajah of Jaipur. It now houses well-light and spacious galleries filled with Indian and colonial art.
One of the premier institutes of the country, National Gallery of Modern Art houses some of the oldest paintings and art pieces of India. There are about 14,000 pieces in the gallery, some of which date back to the 1850s. Some of the famous painters whose works have been displayed here include Rabindranath Tagore, Raja Ravi Verma, Thomas Daniell, Gaganendranath Tagore, Abanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, along with foreign artists and sculptors.
Designed by Sir Arthur Bloomfield, the butterfly-shaped building was made in 1936. The first curator of the gallery was a reputed German art historian, Hermann Goetz. Over a period of time, new facilities were added such as the Art Restoration Services, Art Reference Library etc. In 2009, a new wing that is six times the size of the existing gallery was inaugurated along with a new auditorium, a preview theatre, conservation laboratory etc.
National Handicrafts And Handlooms Museum
National Handicrafts And Handlooms Museum (on Bhairon Road in Pragati Maiden, east of India Gate, Khan Market Metro station, Violet Line) is a delightful open air museum where you can see Indian craftsmen at work. Amidst replicas of typical Indian villages, craftsmen from all different parts of India exhibit their trade in a series of galleries in village huts. Every month the craftsmen change and their crafts are sold at a small counter. There is a wonderful display of folk and tribal arts.
This museum holds about 35,000 distinctive and rare art pieces that reflect the traditions and skills of Indian craftsmen through textiles, embroidery, paintings and crafts of wood, stone and clay. There are many galleries inside the museum: Tribal and Rural Craft Gallery, Gallery of Popular Culture, Textile Gallery, Gallery of Courtly Crafts. A particular attraction is a village complex that is spread over an area of 5 acre.
There are about 15 structures representing village life on display, along with shrines and courtyards from different parts of India. Tourists can also attend a folk art or dance performance. Other interesting features of the museum are a 300-year-old Bhoota collection from the state of Karnataka, handkerchiefs of Chamba with unique embroideries and 300-year-old rare Kashmiri dushalas (shawls).
Museums in the Red Fort
Red Fort Archaeological Museum (inside the the Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Metro station, Violet Line) is dedicated to Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. It houses many relics dating back to the Mughal period, including paintings, calligraphy, artefacts, costumes and textiles. The major attractions are weapons and a map of the war of Independence of 1857. Other visual treats include the king’s silver smoking pipe (hookah), silk robes seeded with pearls, textiles from the 19th century and beautiful blue tiles from the 13th century. Red Fort Archaeological Museum lies inside Mumtaz Mahal, in Red Fort.
Kranti Mandir (temple of revolution) is a complex of museums inside the Red Fort that was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 2019. Comprising the Subash Chandra Bose Museum, the Yaad-e-Jallian Museum, the Museum on 1857- India's first war of Independence and Drishyakala Museum on Indian Art, Kranti Mandir is a treasure trove of Indian history. The Subash Chandra Bose Museum is dedicated to the legendary leader and the Indian National Army (INA). It houses various artefacts related to Netaji like a sword and a wooden chair that were once used by the leader. Moreover, uniforms, medals, badges related to INA can also be found.
The Yaad-e-Jallian Museum eloquently traces the Jallianwala Bagh massacre that took place on April 13, 1919. A memorial similar to that in Jalianwala Bagh has been erected in the museum. The museum on 1857-India's first war of Independence showcases the valour shown and sacrifices made by the soldiers during that time. The Drishyakala Museum houses splendid artworks of Indian history from the 16th century till India's independence. Paintings by renowned artists like Raja Ravi Varma and Amrita Shergil have been put on display.
Museums Associated with Gandhi and Nehru
Gandhi Smriti (Tees January Marg, Lok Kalyan Marg Metro station, Yellow Line) is where Gandhi lived after independence in 1947. A former industrialist's mansion and formerly known as Birla House, it is now a museum containing a the spartan room where he slept and the garden where Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948 after leading a prayer meeting. Footprints carved on the red sandstone mark the path that Gandhi followed to a platform where he was shot three times. A pillar, hung with marigolds and inscribed with his last words, "He Ram—O God," marks the spot where he fell. Nearby is the Gandhi Memorial Museum.
Teen Murti Bhavan (one kilometer west of Gandhi Smriti, Lok Kalyan Marg Metro station, Yellow Line) is where the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, lived here for 16 years, until his death in the year 1964, with his daughter Indira Gandhi. The bedroom where he slept is almost as spartan as Gandhi's. It too is now a museum, memorial library and planetarium. The library contains phonographs, newspaper front pages and notes written by Nehru. Many of the historical displays feature a lot of people that non-Indians are not familiar with unless they are historians.
The house is now a memorial dedicated to Nehru. The building is called ‘Teen Murti’ owing to the statues of three soldiers standing in the premises. These represent the lancers of Mysore, Jodhpur and Hyderabad. These were installed in 1922 as a mark of respect for the brave soldiers who lost their lives in World War I, in Sinai, Palestine and Syria. Teen Murti House was designed by British architect Robert Torr Russel in 1930 as the residence of the commander-in-chief of the British army. Tourists can also visit the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Here, you can find displays of Nehru’s old office that has been recreated using the same artefacts and furniture. The library has a large number of books that trace the history of modern India. Another attraction is the Nehru Planetarium that attracts tourists from all over the area. You can catch interesting shows and presentations in the sky theatre of the planetarium.
Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum (No. 1 Safdarjung Road, near Teen Murti Bhavan, Lok Kalyan Marg Metro station, Yellow Line) is where the Nehru's daughter lived the 15 years she was prime minister. Two non Sikh soldiers stand by the site where she was assassinated. Her bloodstained, bullet-shredded sari is on display in a museum that honors the prime minister and her son Rajiv Gandhi. . Many Indians consider Gandhi, her father Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi to be "modern gods."
National Police Museum (Forensic Science Laboratories, Block No.-4, CGO complex, Lodi Road, JLN Stadium Metro station, Violet Line) houses exhibits collected from Central Police Forces of India, State Police Forces and police of foreign countries. Some of the popular items displayed are weapons, forged documents, images, counterfeiter equipment etc. The museum also highlights the police’s abilities to solve crime and arrest criminals. You can find exhibits of modern and old techniques used by Forensic Science Laboratories, Finger Print Bureau of Centre and States and Police Forces all over the world. The museum was set up in 1991.
Air Force Museum (Sadar Bazar Metro station, Magenta Line) is located at at the Palam Air Force Station and displays a fine and dynamic collection of armoury and aeroplanes, which reflect the glorious history of the Indian Air Force. The museum is a tribute to the great achievements of India’s flying force, and eloquently highlights its role in peace-keeping.
New Delhi National Rail Museum (in Chanakyapuri, southwestern New Delhi, Durgabai Deshmukh Metro station, Pink Line) has both indoors and outdoors exhibits. A toy train inside the museum allows visitors to explore the museum comprehensively. Some of the popular displays are 100 life-size exhibits of the railways, working and static models, antique furniture, historical photographs and signaling equipment. The feature the Joy Train, a train ride that goes around in circles, completing one trip every five minutes. It also has steam engines and buggies for children.
Gardens, Zoo and Parks in Delhi
Gardens and Parks include: 1) Mughal Gardens within Rashtrapati Bhawan palace, the Presidential Palace (near India Gate); 2) Talkatora Gardens (near Talkatora Stadium, one kilometer west of Connaught Place), beautifully laid with canal, fountains and rows of trees and flowers); 3) Nehru park (Chanakyapuri); 4) Deer Park (near Aurobindo Road); and 5) Okhla Dam (Kalindi Khuj Metro station, Magenta Line), a picnic spot with fishing facilities).
Lodi Garden (Lok Kalyan Marge Metro station, Yellow Line) is one of the most tranquil places in Delhi. Edward Gargan of the New York Times wrote: "Wedged in the center of the capital's most fashionable residential district, the garden, laced with meandering walkways, is filled with groves of exotic trees, a circular rose garden, and several 15th- and 16th-century tombs of noblemen from the Lodi dynasty.” Near the center of the gardens is the tomb of Mohammed Shah, who reigned from 1434 to 1444, an octagonal structure with triple archways along the sides rising to a great dome. Another tomb, built in 1517 for Sikander Lodi, is within its own garden surrounded by a stone wall embellished with decorative battlements...The rolling lawns that slope away from the tombs or stretch from the imperial palms that march along some of the walkways make a perfect site for a lazy afternoon picnic.”
Garden Of Five Senses (Saket Metro station, Yellow Line) covers 20 acres and is divided into distinct areas, of which Khas Bagh is the most popular. Modeled along the lines of the Mughal Gardens, this lush garden is dotted with vibrant flowers and also boasts water channels that bestow a coolness to the environment. There is also a series of fountains that present a splendid view when lit up. Another attraction is the Neel Bagh, which houses a pool of water lilies and hundreds of ceramic chimes. Moreover, the garden houses a number of flowering shrubs and as many as 200 varieties of plants. A walk through the garden can be quite rejuvenating. Several murals and sculptures have been set up in the park, making it one of the largest collections of public art in India. The garden also hosts a food and shopping court, where tourists can enjoy with family and friends amidst pristine surroundings. Another highlight is an amphitheatre that has blocks of sandstone for seats. An exhibition area at the back of the garden hosts art exhibitions and workshops that are a delight for tourists.
Delhi Zoo (near Puran QilaIndrapasthra Metro station, Blue Line) is officially known as the National Zoological Park. It is spacious and pleasant and famous for its white tiger. A tiger named Jimmy used to come when people called and swim around in a moat. In addition to being the home of many captive animals it also one of the largest and most important breeding grounds for wild water bird in northwest India. At different times of the year you can see painted storks, egrets, herons, cormorants and ibis in waterways at the zoo..
The Delhi Zoo Fort spreads out over 176 acres and is home to more than 1,000 animals, along with a diverse range of flora and birds. Animals include hippopotami, chimpanzees, spider monkey, Asiatic lions, Bengal tiger, swamp deer, Indian rhinoceros, brow antlered deer, storks and peafowl. In Reptile House that hosts different varieties lizards, cobras and poisonous snakes. The zoo was inaugurated in 1959. It also has Conservation Breeding Programmes for species like royal Bengal tiger, Asiatic lion, swamp deer and Indian rhino. You can explore the zoo by hiring a battery-car that takes you to all the enclosures.
Garden at Humayun's Tomb
Humayun's Tomb (near Purana Qila on Mathura Road, Hazrat Nizmuddin Metro station, Pink Line) is a lovely sandstone prelude to the Taj Mahal. The lovely 13-hectare (30-acre) formal garden at Humayun's Tomb was the first tomb gardens built in India. Organized in geometrical squares and providing a model for the garden at the Taj Mahal, it features water-filed, sandstone-lined canals, gnarled, century-old ficus trees, palms, cypress and tamarind trees, mango trees, fountains and square pools. Starlings gather in the trees. Peacocks strut across the grounds. The gardens were renovated in the early 2000s with money from the Aga Khan and the work of stone cutters and laborers paid the equivalent of a few dollars a day.
As you enter the lush palm-lined lawns of the Charbagh (Four Gardens), you are welcomed by a beautiful fountain. The garden is further divided into four main sections by walkways and water channels; the design synonymous with the Paradise Garden mentioned in the holy book of Islam, the Quran. The four main sections are sub-divided into 36 parts. According to UNESCO: The tomb itself is in the centre of a large garden, laid out in char baah (four-fold) style, with pools joined by channels. The main entrance is on the south side, and there is another entrance on the west side. A pavilion and a bath are located in the centre of the eastern and northern walls respectively. The mausoleum itself is on a high, wide, terraced platform with small arched cells along the sides.
The four squares of the gardens are separated by four promenades, radiating from a central reflection pool. Spread over 13 hectares surrounding the monument, t he highly geometrical and enclosed Paradise garden is divided into four squares by paved walkways (khiyabans) and two bisecting central water channels, reflecting the four rivers that flow in jannat, the Islamic concept of paradise. Each of the four square is further divided into smaller squares with pathways, creating into 36 squares in all, a design typical of later Mughal gardens. The central water channels appear to be disappearing beneath the tomb structure and reappearing on the other side in a straight line, suggesting the Quranic verse, which talks of rivers flowing beneath the 'Garden of Paradise'.
The garden changed repeatedly over the years after its construction. After the Mughal capital was moved to to Agra in 1556, the entire monument began to decay and the upkeep of the garden was too expensive to maintain. By the early 18th century, the once lush gardens were replaced by vegetable garden of people who had settled within the walled area. After the British captured the the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar in 1857 and had his three son executed the garden was transformed into an English-style garden. In the early 20th century, Viceroy Lord Curzon's ordered the original gardens restored.
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: India tourism website (incredibleindia.org), India’s Ministry of Tourism and other government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.
Updated in August 2020