Things To Do In New Delhi
In New Delhi, there are many contrasts. Cows and crowds of people fill the narrow city streets and rickshaws thread their way through the traffic. The capital city is now a major industrial center as India continues to make progress in the fields of science, technology, tourism, and industry. New Delhi is filled with free attractions to explore, including temples, museums, gardens, and monuments. At the ISKCON Temple, the sanctuary of the Hare Krishna is considered as one of the biggest in India. The busy market of the Chandni Chowk is an amazing place to shop, dine, and observe the interesting culture of New Delhi.
When To Go:
The best time to travel to New Delhi is during the dry season which is from September to March. You will discover that lodgings and restaurants are easy to find and priced lower at this time. You can also go to a few major celebrations: the celebration of lights in October, or the Holi (Festival of Colors) celebration in March. Because of the atmosphere and weather patterns, New Delhi should be a great spot to visit throughout those specific months of the year.
The most sweltering months of the year are May and June, during which time the normal high temperatures are in the low 100's. Note that these are the normal temperatures, which means that it could get even more sizzling. The coldest months are from December until February, during which time the normal low temperature range is in the the mid to high 40's.
This list offers some things to do when in the city of New Delhi.
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The Swaminarayan Akshardham is a Hindu temple that was just recently built, dating back to 2000. To enter you must follow very strict rules. You cannot take pictures, and to visit the interior of the temple you must remove your shoes and give them to a custodian -- along with cameras, cell phones, food and pretty much anything else. The temple is really clean and beautiful. Gardens, pools, museums, bars, schools and various Hindu pavilions surround it, and it's really too bad they cannot be photographed because the decorations on the exterior columns are breathtaking as is the interior.
Inside there are white marble columns and walls that are filled with thousands of statues carved with Hindu gods (20,000 pieces), 148 elephants, etc. There are many domes towering over the temple. You can find here the 11-foot-high statue of Swaminarayan, which is all decorated with white marble and gold and is a true splendor to behold. This is a huge complex displaying a millenia of traditional Hindu and Indian culture, and definitely worth seeing when in New Delhi.
Humayun’s Tomb is one of the most interesting historical sites in New Delhi. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is very similar to the Taj Mahal, but without the crowd of tourists. It is also totally different in both meaning and existence from the famous monument to love of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. This place is much calmer and more serene -- a stately building surrounded by parks, fountains, and lots of monkeys and chipmunks. It is set in an expansive area where you must pass through a series of gates to see the most magnificent building of the tomb.
Entering through the portal, you will proceed into a garden where there are several monuments: the tomb of Humayun and members of his family, Isa Khan's tomb, the tomb of Humayun's barber, and several additional tombs including one for his nurse. The overall atmosphere is wonderful and magical, and it is interesting to imagine what it was like when the rooms were still decorated with precious stones. This monument can be reached by Metro rail, bus, and then 5 minutes by tuk- tuk. It has recently undergone a thorough restoration and the many fountains and ponds are once more filled with water and a major feature of the grounds.
Red Fort (Lal Qila)
The Red Fort -- also known as Lal Qila -- is located in central New Delhi; it was the residence of the Mughal Emperor for nearly 200 years and is another UNESCO Heritage Site. It lies along the Yamuna River which flows into the moats surrounding the fort and castle walls. The building material was mainly a local red sandstone from which this castle takes its color and its nickname. It symbolizes the culmination of Mughal power and is a typical example of Indian architecture. It can be visited from dawn to dusk every day except Mondays, with children under 15 admitted free of charge.
As you enter the place, you meet aspiring guides eager to offer visitors their explanations.
The Red Fort is a sheltered place that seems especially calm and peaceful as you enter from the hectic and noisy streets of Old Delhi. There is so much to see inside, from intricate laced inlay work to spectacular marble columns. It is the largest monument of Old Delhi and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. There are wide and expansive spaces, manicured lawns, and beautiful buildings inside the Fort, in short, a nice atmosphere that is ideal for learning and exploring. You must leave all bags in custody before entering the premises.
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib
The Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is a Sikh temple carved entirely of white marble. To enter you must cover your head (both for women and men) and take off shoes and socks (the complex is clean enough). There are small ponds with running water where you need to soak your feet before you can enter. Inside the temple it is not allowed to take pictures. There are Sikh guards at the gates wearing colorful turbans, making sure to protect their copy of a sacred religious book the original of which is located in Amritsar, the Golden Temple. The Sikhs revere this book because it contains the most important teachings of the guru.
This is the most important temple in Delhi for the Sikh religion and among the highest in the world in numbers of the faithful. Its golden domes are easy to recognize. The complex consists of the temple, a kitchen that feeds the needy and the faithful of any religion (even tourists), a lake whose waters are considered sacred (the Sarovar), a school and an art gallery. The temple is very friendly to visitors, offering head scarves, a shoe guard (volunteers are welcome to help with this task), iPhone service for women, and printed information on religion in several languages. It is a place where you will feel genuinely welcome.
This landmark attraction is a complex of monuments; the Qutub Minar, the unfinished minaret, the iron pillar, the Hindu temple, a mosque and the tomb of the builder of the Qutub Minar. The Qutub is impressive, tall and ornate. The remains of the Hindu temple include elaborately carved columns; the Islamic-style tomb has a mihrab decorated in white marble; and the iron pillar which does not rust is very ancient and sacred to the Hindus. You absolutely must visit this complex, do not dare miss it. When you do, be sure to watch for the green parrots and squirrels that roam freely on the grounds.
This is a well-kept complex with the highest brick minaret (239.5 feet) in the world. Today it is mostly ruins, but still very scenic. It combines a unique blend of cultures (Islamic and Indian). It is an unusual attraction that is especially interesting for people who are into architecture. At the heart of the complex is the legendary iron pillar of Chandragupta. This sacred pillar was made of the highest standard iron (about 99%) more than a thousand years ago, yet it is not subject to corrosion. The minaret is also interesting; it was built by several generations of rulers and each new tier was designed according to his style and the characteristics of that era.
The ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) Temple is a peaceful complex where you can walk and relax. It is interesting to wander, look at the ministry, visit the commercial show that is something like "Bhagavad Gita for Dummies" -- a mixture of many elements intended to summarize the Bhagavad Gita story, all according to the wisdom of the Hare Krishna. (The Bhagavad Gita is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of a much longer epic poem containing spiritual lessons woven into a ethical/moral/dramatic tale.) The show is not free, it costs about 300 rupees.
Also in this complex is a special dining room where you can order from a vegetarian food menu. It is also not cheap -- but it is not just an ordinary commercial restaurant. The temple has a large bookstore with literature available to buy. Overall, the architecture of the temple has a rather unusual but striking appearance. There are altars inside with plastic dolls of Krishna & Co., paintings; in general, it is a typical Indian temple.
Rashtrapati Bhavan (Royal Haven)
The Rashtrapati Bhavan is an impressive structure built in the style of India’s colonial legacy. Around this building everything is all neat and clean with lots of armed guards. The Presidential Palace is located a bit less than 2 miles from the Gateway of India, the central avenue in New Delhi that is cut into two halves. On the one hand is the Presidential Palace, on the other hand is the famous India Gate, a monumental arch. You can also visit the Mughal Gardens outside the grounds of the Presidential Palace.
The palace can be seen only through the bars of a surrounding fence, but situated near it are the imposing buildings of various government ministries and the parliament office. The official residence of the President of the Republic of India is visible even from afar as it is actually standing on top of a small hill (Raisina Hill). A visit is necessary even if only on the outside, it's worth it. You must have a special permit to be able to visit the inside -- or you can wait for February, when it is kept open to the public for the whole month.
The India Gate is a simple brick arch that leads to a very high marker created to memorialize those Indians who were among the fallen of the first World War and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. The names of the almost 90,000 fallen are written inside the monument. This historic arch is an Indian version of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and an important place for the Indians. It can be seen throughout the area, with the avenue in front of the monument leading up to the presidential palace.
The arch is surrounded by manicured gardens and is a popular subject of photographs for thousands of tourists and locals. Try to visit in the evening because sometimes there is a show of lights and water that really adds a lot to the ambience. The arch is located in the center of New Delhi, where it is usually very crowded and there are many traders who are trying to attract the tourists with what they sell. Nevertheless, this monument projects a unique atmosphere that is worth seeing.
Bahai Lotus Temple
Situated in the southern part of New Delhi, the Bahai Lotus Temple rises in simple elegance. Access is possible for everyone and staff members who protect the devout character and serenity of the place easily regulate the crowds. Before entering one learns the most important information about the Bahai Religion in a few words.
You may have the good fortune to be able to attend a small devotion. This house is made for believers of all religions as well as the faithful devotees of the Bahai religion. It resembles an image of the blooming lotus and appears somewhat similar to the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Taking pictures inside is not allowed. It is the absolute highlight of a visit to New Delhi; many of the tourists who flock to the temple not only observe silence but are actually overwhelmed by the fantastic architecture of the building.
The Chandni Chowk is a place where there are many shops selling almost everything. It is conveniently located close to the metro, but the path from there to the market is quite complicated. Perhaps it is not always so crowded, but if you go on the eve of the Diwali festival it is not possible to walk! There are immense crowds, incredible noise, and the smells of incense are extraordinary. This quintessential Oriental bazaar is all mixed up with people, rickshaws, hawkers, and local products. This is the boiling point of New Delhi.
You can mingle with the crowds, endure the blare of horns, witness the rough trade and the haggling, see porters with incredible bags over their heads, and visit an alley of spices and mysterious unknown items being sold by sidewalk vendors. This is a parallel world that cannot be described in words and pictures. One of the top things to do here is to ride a trishaw (it's slower than a rickshaw, but then you will have plenty of time to soak up all the enterprising spirit of the place) from this area to the Red Fort, to the Spice Bazaar -- or especially just to tour the entire market.
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