To say that Delhi is steeped in centuries old history and fascinating culture is something of an understatement! India’s capital city boasts opulent palaces, ornate mosques, impressive forts, mysterious tombs, fascinating museums and mighty monuments.
The best way to get to grips with this vast city is to choose your accommodation in India wisely; make sure you stay somewhere central to the key sights as traffic jams are common, opt for air conditioning as this city is hot as well as happening, and carry small denominations of notes and coins for small tips on the go. These are just a few of the key cultural sights in Delhi;
Delhi’s vast Red Fort complex is also known as Lal Qila and is one of the city’s top tourist sights – get here early and prepare for crowds! That said, a visit to the impressive Red Fort complex is unmissable. The towering red sandstone fortress was constructed by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (of the Taj Mahal fame) to serve as his palace. Finished in 1648, the key sights within the complex are the Diwan-i-Am, (Hall of Public Audience) complete with a marble throne platform, Mumtaz Mahal, (Jewel Palace) which was used for the royal harem and the lively Chatta Chowk, (Covered Bazaar) which is abuzz with traders. Time to get haggling!
South Delhi is home to the historic site of Humayun's Tomb (pictured above) which is a much admired UNESCO World Heritage Site – one of three within Delhi. Located with vast well maintained gardens, the complex was extensively renovated ten years ago and remains faithful to the Persian Char Bagh style. Once inside you’ll come across the huge tomb of Iza Khan first before you reach the impressive centerpiece of Humayun’s Tomb itself. India’s second Mughal Emperor was honoured in 1562 and this tomb is in fact the first Mughal-period building in the city, making it a special site. Legend has it that it inspired the mighty Taj Mahal in Agra.
The best way to get to grips with a new city is to learn a little of the history and heritage. And Delhi’s magnificent National Museum boasts a superb collection of artefacts and items dating back many centuries. Highlights include the Buddhist Heritage collection, the sculpture of a Harappan temple dancer which dates back more than 4,600 years and explore the exhibit on the Indus Valley Culture.
Delhi’s Parks and Gardens
When all those early starts and humid days start to take their toll, you can rest awhile in one of Delhi’s many green parks and carefully maintained gardens that are dotted around the city. These little corners of heaven offer welcome respite; the Mughal Gardens offer an area for serene contemplation, the Garden of Five Senses is an urban delight and the central Lodhi Garden is a surprisingly peaceful park in the very heart of Delhi.
As you’d expect, Delhi is bursting with impressive religious buildings, from cathedrals, temples, mosques and synagogues. The pinnacle has to be the ornate Jama Masjid which is resplendent in Islamic architecture. Opposite the Red Fort (see above) this mosque offers superb views over the city from atop the minaret.
If you are planning on working in India, then you will need to visit www.pan-card.org.in to apply for your PAN Permanent Account Number.