Guide to Discovering Delhi’s Rich 1000-year Heritage

Image of Mughal architecture courtesy of Al-Sawat Times

In a city that has close to 22.2 million ‘Delhi-ites’, Delhi can surprise and delight you with its rich heritage, stunning architecture and diverse cultures. But, digging deeper into its gritty exterior, you will quickly discover a rich tapestry from the bygone era of the Mughals and beyond, leaving one mesmerized with its fascinating artifacts, archaeological monuments, minarets, museums and arts.

Delhi- A glorious future and rich history

Delhi has been the beneficiary of the cultural, social, political, religious and economic prosperity provided by various rulers and dynasties.

The city has been abundantly gifted with architecture as seen in the monuments, mosques and tombs. These are architectural wonders, some of which have become world heritage sites bring millions of international and national tourists to Delhi as they marvel at the city’s magnificent past. If you are a lover of history then Delhi beckons.

Image courtesy of tourmyindia dot com

To the uninitiated, Delhi was not the original capital of India during the time of the British Raj. The city became the capital when the British decided to move the seat of power from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911.

Delhi actually consists of two cities, the historic Old Delhi in the north and New Delhi situated in the south. It sits across the west bank of the River Yamuna; a tributary of the River Ganges and 160 kilometers south of the Himalayas.

The name ‘New Delhi’ was coined in 1927 and was made an important commercial hub. It officially became the capital when India gained independence on 15 August 1947.

Delhi’s must see top 10 historical sites

To experience Delhi is to appreciate its glorious past. Here are the top ten sites that you must visit.

India Gate

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The India Gate is a war memorial to honor the 82,000 fallen Indian soldiers during World War 1. It was built in 1931 and designed by the British architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens. The India Gate is very popular with locals and tourists alike during the summer and a favorite hot spot for picnics with the family.

Rashtrapati Bhavan

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The Rashtrapati Bhjavan was formerly known as the Viceroy House. It is the official residence of the President of India. The British architect, ‘Sir Edwin Lutyens’, designed the palace, which draws numerous tourists each year.

Every year on India’s Republic Day, 26th of January, the whole building gets illuminated and a parade to mark the occasion starts from the Bhavan.

Lodhi Gardens

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Lodhi Gardens is the architectural work of the 15th century by Lodhis from the Afghan dynasty and contains the tombs of Mohammed Shah, Sikander Lodi, Sheesh Gumbad and Bara Gumbad.
It is an historical landmark and has a park spanning 90 acres. It is currently under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Red Fort (Lal Qila)

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The Red Fort or ‘Lal Qila’ built in 1648 was the second architectural accomplishment by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan after the Taj Mahal. The construction of the fort reflects that of Persian, Indian and European designs.
Whilst at the Red Fort, you can explore The Mumtaz Mahal, The Rang Mahal, The Khas Mahal, The Diwan-i-Am, The Diwan-i-Khas, The Hamam, and The Shah Burj.
Every year on 15th of August, the flag is raised at the Red Fort to mark India’s Independence Day. The sound and light show held every evening is one not to be missed as it showcases the grandeur of this glorious past.

Purana Qila

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Purana Qila is Delhi’s oldest fort and sources say it has connections with the fabled city of Indraprastha as told in the ancient Sanskit script of Mahabharata.
The fort is also known as ‘Qila-i-Kuhna Masjid’, which bears semblances of the Lodhi style architecture with influences from the Hindu, Afghan and Mughal designs.
There are three gates, Bada Darwaza (Big Door), Talaqi Darwaza (Forbidden Door) and Humayun Darwaza (Humayun’s Door) that provide access to the fort.
Like the Red Fort, the sound and light show is one spectacle not to be missed. Purana Qila is the sixth of the seven cites that make up New and Old Delhi, and the location of this majestic fort has various affordable budget hotels and service apartments around it,  one such option is the Perch Service Apartments stay options around it as well

Humayun Tomb

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The design of the Humayun Tomb was the stimulus for the creation of the Taj Mahal. Built in 1570, it was the first garden tomb built in the Mughal “Char Bagh” style or an ‘enclosed four part’ garden with pools joined by channels.
The design has its roots in the Quaranic Paradise Garden or also known as the ‘Universal Garden’ with strong inspiration from Persian architecture. The site was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

Jama Masjid

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Jama Masjid also known as Masjid-i Jahān-Numā carries the Persian meaning of ‘mosque commanding the view of the world’. It is the largest mosque located in the heart of Old Delhi and faces the famous Red Fort. Emperor Shah Jahan constructed it in 1656; it is built of sandstone and marble bearing designs of Indo-Islamic architecture and can accommodate up to 25,000 worshipers.

Qutab Minar

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Standing at 73 meters tall, the Qutb Minar is the tallest black minaret in the world and the second highest minar in India after Fateh Burj at Punjab, India.
Known as the ‘Tower of Victory’, its’ construction of the minaret marked the inception of the Muslim rule in India. It is located at Mehrauli where around 3.9 million people visit the minaret every year.
Qutb Minar is constructed of red sandstone and marble and has been designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Jantar Mantar

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One could be mistaken to view this as an abstract art gallery of sorts but Jantar Mantar is in fact an observatory built between 1699-1743 by the keen astronomer, Maharajah Sawai Jia Sigh II of Jaipur.
The main purpose of the masonry structure was to predict the times and movements of the sun, moon and planets.

Akshardham Temple

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‘Akshardham’ means the divine abode of God. It is a Hindu Temple in Delhi, which pays homage to the much-revered Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781- 1830) as well as other great sages of India.
The inspiration for the design of the temple, delicately carved out of sandstone and marble came from His Holiness Yogiji Maharaj (1892 -1971CE) and was created by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Mahara.
It took 300,000 volunteers to build the temple and was opened in 2005. Visiting the Mandir is a spiritually uplifting experience and one not to be missed when visiting Delhi.

About the Author:

Shaurya Singh is a founding partner in successful real estate start-ups  www.theperch.in and  www.aparmenthub.in in India. An MBA in marketing from the FT World ranked #26 –Indian School of Business, an avid traveller as well as a professional golfer and contributor to top Digital Marketing and Hospitality blogs.

The Sim Card Shuffle: How to Travel and Stay Connected

A smartphone is fast becoming the most versatile machine a traveler can own. It is our telephone, stereo, messenger, high resolution camera, and POS system. And in a turn that makes the smartphone even more valuable to our everyday functioning, even mythically-so, there’s this: it’s not constrained by nationality.

From buying a local SIM card, to signing up for an international mobile plan, to wifi hopping, there are all sorts of ways to use your smartphone to stay connected when traveling around the world.

Local SIM Cards

A SIM card, short for subscriber identity module card, is that square plastic wafer nestled inside your smartphone. Its job is to store information and connect the device to the carrier network.

The thing that makes a SIM card so great for travel is that it’s entirely interchangeable. If you’re taking a vacation to Italy and want your phone to put on a fancy Italian jacket and speak to all the right Italian cell towers, you can simply buy a local SIM card and for all intents and purpose it will be an Italian phone. Yes, you’ll even get a new, local phone number.

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Frugal Vacation: 3 Ways To Cut Costs On Your Next Road Trip

With summer around the corner, many families are considering their next vacation. Vacation can be a wonderful time to get away from work and hectic schedules and to bond as a family. They can also be money traps that can get hard-working individuals far off their budgets and even into debt. However, the family that plans ahead can find frugal ways to cut costs on their next road trip without cutting out fun.

Beware of Food Traps

Food seems very insignificant to the person planning a trip. In fact, for most, it is only an afterthought. However, when one considers three meals a day plus a couple of snacks, all of which are eaten out, the costs can skyrocket for a family. Eating at a sit-down restaurant can increase costs further when one adds on a tip. Consider saving money on two smaller meals each day as well as on snacks, and only eat out for dinner. Breakfast can be easily managed with cold cereal, yogurt or oatmeal for families who have access to a microwave or mini fridge in their hotel rooms. For those without these conveniences, a breakfast bar and juice box can do the trick. Peanut butter and honey sandwiches or prepackaged tuna salad on bread or crackers can make a tasty and nutritious lunch. Bags of popped chips, whole wheat crackers, 100% fruit snacks or nuts can make delicious snacks and can be paired with a dark chocolate candy bar for those with a sweet tooth.

Choose Reliable Personal Transportation

Because the gas price has gone down compared to a few summers ago, many families are opting for car trips rather than air travel. Therefore, families going on road trips need to consider the best routes and times to travel to avoid excessive traffic jams and congestion, which can significantly pull down gas mileage. In addition, one should have the family vehicle fully checked over before heading out for a long trip. Small problems can turn into significant costs when they are not taken care of immediately. For example, driving with a dirty air filter can shave 10% off the gas mileage. In addition, driving on tires that are not filled to the correct pressure can decrease gas mileage. Individuals should also check tire tread, fluid levels, headlights, brake lights and transmission fluid levels. Individuals who do not have a reliable family car should consider visiting professional like those at this St George KIA dealership, and investing in a new one for overall savings over time.

Get Deals on Hotels and Attractions

Families should be sure to book hotels and entertainment ahead of time to avoid terrible rates on last-minute sales. Most families can find great rates on their own by visiting popular websites, such as Priceline, Expedia and Travelocity. For some major trips, a travel agent can actually be worthwhile because he or she will able to find the best overall deals and can often find all-inclusive options. To save on entertainment, a simple online search for the attraction with the word “discount” attached can unlock great savings, or Groupon is another great option. Local visitor’s bureaus may offer coupons for popular area attractions as well.

Families should be setting money aside all year long to spend on a vacation and should be careful to stay on budget while away from home. A prepaid credit card can be a great way to ensure that costs do not exceed the planned amount. With a little extra research and some hands-on preparation, families planning road trips can shave costs from food, travel, lodging and entertainment.

 

About the Author:

Emma is a freelance writer currently living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on education and business. To see more from Emma, say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2

The Do’s and Don’ts of Travel

If this is your first time venturing into a  new city or country, it is a must that you are prepared with some travel do’s and don’ts. Remember that you are out of your comfort zone whenever you travel and it is not wise to be unprepared for different situations.

Here is some travel advice that will come in handy as you go and discover the world.

Travel Do’s:

Always Wear Your Passport:

Carry a small bag, or belt bag, that is attached to your body where you can put all of your necessary travel documents, like your passport and plane ticket.

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Pearls of Wisdom for First Time Travelers:

As somebody who has probably made every mistake known when it comes to traveling, I thought I would share a little bit of my wisdom that I have picked up along the way. Traveling is amazing (there’s no doubt about that) and if you have wanderlust, then there’s nothing better than getting out and seeing the world! But when you’ve broken your arm in Thailand and you haven’t got travel insurance, or you’re traveling across Europe and haven’t got enough money to pay for your hostel, then things need to change! Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way that I think you’ll appreciate.

Trying to see everything

Trying to see everything at once is one of the biggest rookie errors that you can make. I remember the first time I went to Italy, I had 5 days and the ambition to see everything, which ended in disaster. I ended up missing half of the places I had booked, and spent the whole time stressed out. Try and limit yourself to a few cities/ places wherever you are traveling so you can take the time to really appreciate where you are. One of the best places that I’ve ever been to is Lake Bled in Slovenia, it was so beautiful and scenic, and I honestly think that I enjoyed it so much because I took the time to relax and explore what it had to offer. Just remember, you don’t have to cram everything in!

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