Hawa Mahal By Manudavb - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28188851

Top Attractions In Jaipur

Amber Fort 

Amber Fort By A.Savin – Own work

 

Started by Raja Man Singh, this imposing 16th century fort & palace complex, was declared a UNESCO world heritage site as part of a group of six Hill Forts of Rajasthan. Located near the town of Amer (11 km from Jaipur), the Fort has many structures that are worth seeing –

  • Jaleb Chowk – It’s the first of the four courtyards of the Amber Fort Palace designed as a parade ground which now houses a Shila Devi temple. Designed for protection, Jaleb chowk had only two entry points – the Suraj Pol and the Chand Pol. The wall connecting the two Pols served as the living quarters of the soldiers and guards of the fort. Suraj means sun in Hindi, hence the Suraj Pol faces east and pays homage to the rising sun. Entry through this gate was normally reserved only for the King.
  • Diwan-e-Aam – The main components of the second courtyard are the Diwan-i- Aam (common in Mughal structures), the arcaded hall and the Ganesh Pol. Diwan-i- Aam is the “Hall of Public Audience” built in the mid-1620s by Mirza Raja Jai Singh I. This was where the Raja and nobles interacted with their subjects. In addition to addressing problems faced by the residents of Amber city, this platform came alive with music and dance on religious festivals and special occasions, like the Raja’s birthday and victory celebrations.
  • Ganesh Pol – The Ganesh Pol is the large entrance that separates the private and public domains of the Amber Palace. The public was not allowed entry beyond this point. The grand gateway is covered in intricate fresco paintings; the depiction of floral motifs have been adopted from the Persian paintings and are again a marker of Mughal influence.
  • Suhag Mandir – Tradition was very clear about elite women not being seen outside a very small group of people. Therefore, they were confined to a part of their palace residences demarcated as the Zenana with rather limited access to other areas of the palace. The Suhag Mandir was one such space outside the Zenana that they could visit. In addition to praying for their king and showering flower petals at him when he returned home through the Ganesh Pol, the Suhag Mandir doubled up as a window, quite literally, into the outside world. The rectangular chamber has one wall made up of three large ceiling to floor latticed windows called Jaalis. The Suhag Mandir is situated above the Ganesh Pol, and allowed women to watch the events taking place in the courtyard and the Diwan-i- Aam without being seen themselves.
  • Jai Mandir or Sheesh Mahal – Jai Mandir is made from creamy marble, and with delicate designs inlayed in the walls and ceilings with Belgian glass. Hence, it is also known as Sheesh Mahal. It is visually distinct from the rest of the fort that is decorated with bright coloured paintings on the walls.

Amber Fort – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for a minimum of 2 hours
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
8 AM to 6 pm (sound and light shows 7 and 9pm)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 100)/ Foreigners (INR 500)
Cameras: 
Indians: Still camera INR 50/Video INR 100

Foreigners: Still camera INR 70/Video INR 150

Address:
Delhi Road, Amber City, Jaipur
How to get there:
Located 11 km north of Jaipur, buses leave Hawa Mahal every 30 minutes to the Amber Fort. Alternately, you can also opt for a taxi or an autorickshaw and cover this as part of a 1-day tour including a short stop to take pictures of the Jal Mahal and monkey temple

City Palace

City Palace, By A.Savin  – Own work

Built by Maharaja Jai Singh II in 1932 and expanded in later years, the City Palace occupies almost a seventh of Jaipur’s old city area. Constructed as a blend of Mughal and traditional Rajput architecture, the Palace is a huge complex of courtyards, gardens and a number of buildings including the famous Chandra Mahal and Mubarak Mahal.

  • Chandra Mahal – A seven storeyed building where the descendants of the royal family still reside, this houses some of the finest paintings, floral decorations and mirror work -only ground floor is accessible to general public.
  • Mubarak Mahal – Originally built as a reception centre for visiting dignitaries by Maharaja Madho Singh II, this currently houses a rich collection of garments in a variety of textiles worn by the Maharajas of Jaipur – ranging from Sanganeri Block Prints to stunning Kashmiri Pashminas.
  • Diwan-i-Aam has a collection of manuscripts including as miniature copies which can easily be hidden from invading armies. Diwan-i-Khas is famous for the two sterling silver vessels, 1.6m in height and considered largest in the world. These were used to take water from the Holy Ganga for the 1902 coronation of England’s Edward VII.

Also worth visiting are the weaponry display at the Maharani Palace or the Sileg Khana and the Baggi Khana, a museum of the Maharaja’s buggies

City Palace – Key Information

 

Expected time spent:
Allow for 2-3 hours
Opening days:
All days of the week
Opening hours:
9.30 AM to 5 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 100)/ Foreigners (INR 400)
Cameras:
Still Camera Fee included in ticket. Video camera : INR 200.Address:
Kanwar Nagar, Pink City, Jaipur 
How to get there
Depending on your starting point, you can use any mode of transport you prefer – bus, taxi or auto rickshaw as the City Palace is well connected to most locations in the city

Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal By ManudavbOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Constructed as a part of City Palace, by Maharaja Sawai Singh in 1799, Hawa Mahal was an extension of the women’s chamber to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life and processions in the street below – without being seen. Rising to five-storeys, the red & pink sandstone structure has around 953 windows decorated with very fine lattice work and built in a honeycomb or beehive structure. This lets breeze circulate through the windows, giving the palace its name. You can enter from the back of the complex but the narrow corridors inside can get extremely crowded – so keep that in mind if you decide to climb the cramped stairs

 

 

 

Hawa Mahal – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Around 1 hour
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
9 AM to 5.30 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 50)/ Foreigners (INR 200)
Cameras: 
Indians: Still camera INR 10/Video INR 20

Foreigners: Still camera INR 30/Video INR 70

Address:
Hawa Mahal Road, Badi Choupad, Pink City, Jaipur
How to get there:
Located on Badi Chaupad intersection, very close to the City Palace.

Jantar Mantar

By Hans A. Rosbach – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The name Jantar Mantar is derived from the Sanskrit terms ‘Yantra’ and ‘Mantra’ meaning ‘instruments or machine’ and ‘calculate’ respectively. This is the largest of five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh during the period 1727-1734. It has 14 major geometric devices for measuring time, tracking constellations, observing orbits around the sun and determining the celestial altitudes. While the accuracy of the structures here is questionable, it is still used by local astronomers to make predictions for farmers.

 

Jantar Mantar – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for 30-45 minutes
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
9 AM to 5 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 40)/ Foreigners (INR 200)
Cameras: 
Indian (Still- INR 20/Video – INR 50) Foreigners (Still- INR 50/Video – INR 100)

Address:
Near City Palace, Tripolia Bazaar, Jaipur
How to get there:
A short walk from the City Palace

Nahargarh Fort

Overlooking the city, Nahargarh Fort located at the edge of the Aravalli hills, offers spectacular views of Jaipur. Built by the founder of Jaipur, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1734, the fort served as a summer retreat while also helping strengthen the city’s defense with its extended wall connecting to the Jaigarh fort. Don’t forget to take a look at Madhavendra Bhavan built by Sawai Madho Singh, which has suites built for the wives and children along with a majestic suite for the king himself.

Nahargarh Fort – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for 1-1.5 hours
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
10 AM to 5.30 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 20)/ Foreigners (INR 50)
Cameras: 
Indians (INR 10)/ Foreigners (INR 30)
Address:
Aravali Hills, Near Jal Mahal, Jaipur
How to get there:
Easiest to take an auto rickshaw from City Palace (distance around 2.5 km)

Jaigarh Fort

To protect the Amber Fort and its palace complex, Jaigarh fort was constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh II in 1726. Jaipur was a major weapon production region during the Mughal reign especially under Shah Jahan due to abundance of iron ore mines in the vicinity. Artillery specimens can be seen inside the fort museum including what was then the world’s largest cannon on wheels, the Jaivana. Amongst the most well preserved monuments of medieval India, Jaigarh has beautiful gardens along with spectacular views of the Amber Fort and the hills around

Jaigarh Fort – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for 45 mins to 1 hour
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
9 AM to 4.30 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 35)/ Foreigners (INR 85)
Cameras: 
Indians (Still – INR 20/Video – INR 100); Foreigners (Still – INR 30/Video – INR 100)
Address:
Above Amber Fort
How to get there:
Jaigarh Fort is around 4 km from Amber Fort and is connected by a tunnel. If you wish to go by road, you can take an auto rickshaw from Amber

 

Panna Meena Ka Kund (Stepwell)

Built in the 16th century, Panna Meena ka Kund, or Panna Mian Ki Baoli, is an eight storey staircase pool. The uniquely designed stairs are arranged as criss-cross steps with small niches in the walls.  The stepwell served the dual purpose of a water source and a community gathering area, where people would come to swim and relax. It also provides a picturesque view of the Amber Fort & Palace and mountains.

Panna Meena ka Kund – Key Information

Expected time spent:
1 hour
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
Visit during the day
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Free (no tickets)
Cameras: 
Free
Address:
Above Amber Fort
How to get there:
Located on the Jaipur-Amber road near Anokhi museum

 

Jal Mahal

By A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace) - Own work, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48912481

By A.Savin  – Own work, FAL,

Translated as Water (Jal) Palace (Mahal), this low-rise symmetrical palace was once a shooting lodge for the Maharajah and appears to float in the centre of the man-made Sagar Lake. At the top, there is a garden which has semi-octagonal towers in every corner. The pink sandstone palace is not open to the public anymore but worth stopping to take some pictures on the way back from Amber Fort. Though the palace only appears to have a single storey, it has four submerged levels with specially designed lime mortar preventing water seepage

 

Jal Mahal – Key Information

Expected time spent:
30-45 mins
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
9 am to 5 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 10)/Foreigners (INR 50)
Address:
Amber Road
How to get there:
Located 8 km off the Amber Fort, you can cover this as part of a 1 day autorickshaw tour including the Fort and monkey temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

Itimad ud Daulah

Top Attractions In Agra

Taj Mahal 

Taj Mahal

 

Grand tombs were rarely built for women, and the equation of tomb-beauty would’ve stayed overwhelmingly in favour of the men, had it not been for this one structure, this one monument that blew all competition out of the park – the Taj Mahal built to immortalize Shah Jahan’s love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Before the Taj, the Mughals mostly built using red stone with marble being used mainly for decoration purposes or to break the monotony. By choosing to build the Taj Mahal entirely from marble, Shah Jahan intended to blur the distinction between royalty and divinity and elevated Mumtaz to the level of a saint. The white marble is transluscent, and loves to play with light – so depending on the sunlight and weather conditions when you visit, you may see a different Taj!

The river provides a serene backdrop to the Taj Mahal, and the cool breeze emanating from the river has a soothing effect. But the location next to the river gave rise to the greatest technical challenge to the Taj. The sand banks and the issue of river flooding. The Mughals came up with an ingenious way to secure the foundation. They made hollow cylinders of wood (large enough for a person to fit in) and thrust them into the soft sand. These wells were then filled with stones and iron, giving them strength.

The entire tomb is situated on a two-level platform, known as a chabutra. The first level, around 1.5m high is made of sandstone, while the second one, around 6m high, is clad with marble. The two platforms bestow a look of majestic grandeur to the main tomb – almost as if the architect is positioning the tomb and its occupant at a plane higher than earth and closer to heaven.

Taj Mahal – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for a minimum of 1.5 hours if you intend to cover only the highlights
Opening days:
Open daily expect Friday
Opening hours:
Sunrise to sunset (typically 7 AM to 6 pm)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 40)/ Foreigners (INR 1000) and free for children under 15 years
Cameras: 
Still camera allowed for free, Video camera Rs 25. Shooting with a tripod is not allowed
Address:
Taj Road, Agra
How to get there:
Most common options are a 3-4 hour road trip from Delhi to Agra (204 km) by bus/ taxi or the Taj Express/ Shatabdi trains from Delhi. From the main parking area of the Taj, it’s a 7-10 min walk to the main Western Gate. You can also reach the Taj via the Eastern Gate or the Southern Gate

Agra Fort

Agra Fort

Agra Fort was built in 1565 – around 7 years before Fatehpur Sikri – at a time when Akbar was still expanding his foothold in the empire. Potential threats were still very high and the royal capital needed protection with massive fortifications, moats and defensive features. The Fort has many structures that are worth seeing –

  • Anguri Bagh – Angur means grapes, and those were grown here at some point of time and Bagh means garden. The garden itself has a design that resembles a carpet. Each of the quadrants have unique bed-dividers forming cartouches, which when planted with flowers look like a carpet.
  • Shish Mahal or Mirror Palace – This chamber had a lot of water devices inside to keep the royal family cool during Agra’s scorching summers. Keeping the heat out and ensuring privacy meant no windows, so the place would’ve been dark all day. How to provide adequate light? Solution: Mirrors!
  • Muthamman Burj – This octagonal tower that projects out of the fort is called either Muthamman Burj or Shahi Burj (Royal Tower). In this building, the Emperor would meet the highest dignitaries and his sons in secret council and also work with his main historian on editing the history of the reign.
  • Khas Mahal – The Khas Mahal was one of the early buildings in the Agra Fort with Shah Jahan’s imprint on it. The clear differentiation was marble – Red sandstone was discarded in favour of this smoother, more reflective and translucent stone.

Other points of interest if you have time are the Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas and the Masjids or Mosques.

Agra Fort – Key Information

 

Expected time spent:
Allow for 1.5-2 hours
Opening days:
All days of the week
Opening hours:
Sunrise to sunset (typically 7 AM to 6 pm)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 40)/ Foreigners (INR 550) and free for children under 15 years
Cameras:
Still camera allowed for free, Video camera Rs 25. Shooting with a tripod is not allowed

Address:
Rakabganj, Taj Road 
How to get there
It’s a 20-25 minute walk from the Taj Mahal complex, quite close to the Agra Cantt railway station.

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri

A magnificent complex on a hill, Fatehpur Sikri was for a brief period of 14 years in the 16th century, the nerve-centre of the mighty Mughal empire, then the world’s 2nd largest economy.

And then, for reasons that are still not clear, it was unceremoniously abandoned and gradually became a surreal, ghostlike complex.

The main palace complex is essentially 3 courtyards (with multiple buildings), plus a mosque.

– The first is the Public Courtyard, housing the Diwan-e- Aam or ‘Hall of Public Audience’ where ordinary people could get an audience with the Emperor to air their grievances, settle disputes and complaints, and the Emperor would proclaim his judgment.

– The second is a vast private courtyard called the Daulat Khana (or Abode of Wealth), which houses many interesting structures and was primarily restricted to the Emperor and his close, male nobles.

– A third courtyard houses the female quarters with palaces for the various queens, and living accommodations for their staff

– and finally, outside this complex, a short walk away, is the main mosque or Jama Masjid, which houses the tomb of the Sufi Saint Shaikh Salim Chishti

 

Fatehpur Sikri – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for a minimum of 1.5 hours if you intend to cover only the highlights
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
Sunrise to sunset (typically 7 AM to 6 pm)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 40)/ Foreigners (INR 510) and free for children under 15 years
Cameras: 
Still camera allowed for free, Video camera Rs 25. Shooting with a tripod is not allowed
Address:
Fatehpur Sikri
How to get there:
Around 45 km from the Taj Complex, about 1 hour by road. You will need to hire a taxi for the trip, or you can take a local bus from the Idgah bus station in Agra. Buses are frequent but ensure you take a bus that goes to Fatehpur Sikri town, as many buses bound for Bharatpur will drop you 1 km away from the monument.

Itimad ud Daulah

Itimad ud Daulah

This tomb was built in honor of Mirza Ghiyas Beg, by his daughter Nur Jahan, Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s wife. It is her most significant architectural contribution.

It is called Itmad-ud- Daula meaning ‘pillar of the government’ in reference to the title conferred on her father by Jahangir. It is the first tomb in India made entirely of marble (as opposed to red stone) with an elaborately carved tomb. It has octagonal shaped towers and uses arched entrances signifying the Persian influence while the Indian influence is evident from the absence of a dome despite being a tomb.

Itimad ud Daulah – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for 60-75 minutes
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
6 AM to 6 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 10)/ Foreigners (INR 250) and free for children under 15 years
Cameras: 
Still camera allowed for free, Video camera Rs 25. Shooting with a tripod is not allowed
Address:
Moti Bagh, Etmadpur, Agra
How to get there:
It is located in the Old Agra area, about 30 minutes from the Taj Complex, close to the Agra Fort

Sikandra, Tomb of Akbar the Great

Akbar’s Tomb via Ekabhishek

Akbar was the third Mughal Emperor and generally regarded as one of India’s greatest monarchs in its five-thousand-year history. A key factor driving the Mughal Empire’s longevity was Emperor Akbar who ruled for 49 long years, conquering a large part of the sub-continent including access to seaport for trade with Europe, and during his time established a centralised bureaucracy and other imperial institutions, especially in land revenue management.

The construction of this tomb, located about 10 km from the city centre, was started by Akbar himself and completed by his son, Jahangir. The gateway has large mosaic patterns set into it while its four minarets are built of red sandstone inlaid with marble patterns. The garden is laid in the Char Bagh style, common for all the famous Mughal tombs including the Taj Mahal and Humayun’s Tomb.

Akbar’s Tomb – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for 45-60 minutes
Opening days:
Open daily
Opening hours:
6 AM to 6 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 10)/ Foreigners (INR 250) and free for children under 15 years
Cameras: 
Still camera allowed for free, Video camera Rs 25. Shooting with a tripod is not allowed
How to get there:Located on the main Mathura Road, it’s about 18 km/ 45 min drive from the Taj Mahal complex

Diwan-e-Aam Pillars

Top Attractions In Delhi – South Delhi

Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar

Located in the Mehrauli Archeological park, the principal attraction in South Delhi is the Qutub Minar, an iconic 800-year-old tower that has endured earthquakes and lightning for eight centuries.

The Qutub tower at 72.5 meters (tallest stone tower in India) is a stunning example of collaboration across generations. It was started by Qutubuddin Aibak in 1193, to commemorate his victory over an Indian Rajput King, Prithviraj Chauhan, but he could only complete the first floor, before he died. Iltutmish then completed the rest of the tower by building three more floors (yes, it originally had only four floors). It is believed that the tower is named Qutub Minar, not after Aibak, but his namesake, Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, a much revered Sufi saint, who lived around that time, and whose tomb is built nearby.

In any case, it’s a testament to Iltutmish’s humility to build 60% of the tower and not name it after himself! Around a hundred and forty years after he built it, the fourth floor was damaged in a lightning strike – it was repaired by the then ruler, Firuz Shah Tughlak, who added the fifth floor and made a few changes.  In fact when further lightning strikes and earthquakes damaged the Minar, there were other rulers down the line who repaired it. In the sixteenth century, Sikander Lodhi undertook some repair; while the British did some repairs in the nineteenth century. Having been started by Qutubuddin Aibak and then built on by further Kings, the Qutub Minar is a wonderful example of collaboration among multiple rulers.

Qutub Minar – Key Information

Expected time spent:
1-2 hours
Opening days:
All days of the week
Opening hours:
Sunrise to sunset (typically 7 AM to 6 pm)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 30)/ Foreigners (INR 500) and free for children under 15 years
Cameras: 
Still camera allowed for free
Address:
Aurobindo Marg
Closest metro station:
Qutub Minar
How to get there:
The nearest metro station is Qutub Minar station which is around 2.3 km away. You can hire an auto from the metro station to reach the site.

Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb is India’s first garden tomb, and a worthy precursor to the Taj – built around seventy years before the Taj, in the year 1571.

This beautiful building stands majestically on the banks of the Yamuna river perfect in its symmetry and awe-inspiring grandeur.

Built in the rather unique octagonal shape, it stands out among the hundreds of tomb structures in Delhi.

That symmetry, however, could not be more ill-suited to describe the life of the ruler for whom it was so lovingly created: the Mughal Emperor, Humayun, second ruler of the Mughal dynasty, and the son of its founder, Babur.

Humayun’ means ‘fortunate’. However, many believe that, given his tragic life, Humayun was quite unfortunate. A ruler who would’ve remained forgotten had it not been for this extraordinary tomb built for him, redeeming his legacy forever.

Humayun’s Tomb – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Around 1-1.5 hours
Opening days:
All days of the week
Opening hours:
7 am to noon, 1:30 pm to 6:30 pm (tourists are not allowed during prayer hours)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Free
Cameras:
Still camera is free
Location:
Mathura Road, opposite Nizamuddin Dargah
Closest metro station:
JLN Stadium (Violet Line)
How to get there
You can take an autorickshaw from the JLN Stadium metro (about INR 50). Alternate metro stations include Khan Market and Jor Bagh.

Hauz Khas

The Hauz Khas complex contains the ancient ruins of Alauddin Khilji’s historic city, Siri, which dates back to the 13th century. In addition to its numerous ancient stone monuments, the entire village is dotted with domed tombs of minor Muslim royalty, who were laid to rest here from the 14th to 16th centuries. Other highlights include the water tank, remnants of an ancient college and the tomb of Firoz Shah, who ruled Delhi in the 14th century, as well as Ki Masjid, a fine mosque built in Lodi style.

Once famous for ancient ruins and architecture, Hauz Khas is now one of the most vibrant places in Delhi with a number of art galleries, fashionable restaurants, and boutiques.

Hauz Khas – Key Information

Best time to visit:
Any time of the day
Expected time spent:
Allow for at least 1-2 hours, more if you plan to visit the shops and boutiques.Opening days:

Monday to Saturday (closed on Sunday). Restaurants are open on all days till 11 PM

Opening hours:

10:30 AM to 7 PM

Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Free

Cameras:
Free

Closest metro station:

Hauz Khas (yellow line)

How to get there:

Drive along Aurobindo Marg towards the Hauz Khas enclave. Follow the signages for the village or ask a local. If you’re taking the metro, the Hauz Khas and Green Park stations (on the Yellow Line) are just a 5-minute auto-ride away.

 

 

Lodhi Gardens

Spread over 90 acres, Lodhi Gardens is a beautifully landscaped city park strewn with ancient monuments belonging to the Sayyid and Lodhi periods. Located on the main Lodi Road, about 1 km east of Safdarjang’s tomb, it contains – Mohammed Shah’s Tomb, Tomb of Sikandar Lodi, Shisha Gumbad and Bara Gumbad – architectural works of Lodhis who ruled parts of northern India & Pakistan, from 1451 to 1526.

Muhammad Shah’s Tomb

The tomb of Muhammad Shah (1434-44), the third ruler of the Sayyid dynasty is located in the southwestern part of the garden. Built in 1444 by Ala-ud-din Alam Shah as a tribute, it is a typical octagonal tomb with the central chamber surrounded by a verandah having three arched openings on each side. There are stone lintels (chhajjas) along the arches of the verandah with the sloping buttresses at the corner and a chhatri on the roof over the center of each side. The tomb definitely shares its prominent features with the previous octagonal tombs but the beauty of this tomb lies in its proportions, the crowning lotus and decoration on the domes. There are eight graves inside the tomb of which the central one is said to be the grave of Muhammad Shah.

Bara Gumbad

Bara Gumbad is a square tomb surmounted by a large dome, situated 300 meters northeast of Muhammad Shah’s tomb. Though often considered as a gateway of Bara Mosque, which it is not, the tomb has facades and turrets and was supposedly built during the reign of Sultan Sikandar Lodi (1489-1517). According to the records, the interior of the tomb was beautified with stuccowork and paintings. Since the tomb had no graves, the person buried inside is till date unidentified. It is assumed that he must be an officer of high rank for whom such a magnificent structure was constructed.

Sheesh Gumbad

Few meters north of Bara Gumbad Mosque lies another Lodi period tomb, the Sheesh Gumbad also known as ‘glazed dome’ because of the beautiful blue tiled decoration of the tomb, of which now only traces remain. Very similar to Bara Gumbad in appearance, the western wall of the tomb has the mihrab that served as a mosque. The tomb is surmounted by a dome, which was originally decorated with blue tiles. Some of the similar decoration can be seen today but only above the main façade. The interior of the tomb was also decorated with incised plasterwork containing floral designs and Quranic inscriptions.

Sikandar Lodi’s Tomb

Located in the northwestern corner of Lodi Gardens, this octagonal tomb lies about 250 meters north of the Sheesh Gumbad. It has a central octagonal chamber with each side opening in three arches with sloping buttresses at the corner. The tomb is enclosed within a square garden and has a wall-mosque on the west.

Athpula
Athpula is further located east of Sikandar Lodi’s tomb. As the name suggests (Ath-eight, Pula-piers), the stone bridge has eight piers and seven arches and crosses the small waterway running through the garden. The bridge is said to have been built during Mughal Emperor Akbar’s reign by Nawab Bahadur.

 

Lodhi Gardens – Key Information

Best time to visit:

Mornings

Expected time spent:
Around 1-2 hours
Opening days:
All days of the week
Opening hours:
6 am to 7 pm
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Free
Cameras:

Free

Location:
Lodhi Road
Closest metro station:
Jor Bagh (yellow line) or Khan Market (Violet line)
How to get there
This landmark garden is situated right between Khan Market and Safdurjung’s Tomb on Lodhi Road. Jor Bagh (on the Yellow Line) and Khan Market (on the Violet Line) are the closest metro stations.

Lotus Temple

Bahai Temple or the Bahai House of worship, is literally constructed in the shape of a large, white lotus flower. Like all other Bahá’í Houses of Worship, the Lotus Temple is open to all, regardless of religion, or any other distinction. It is a gathering place where one is allowed to read or chant from holy scriptures belonging to any religion, but nobody is allowed to play musical instruments, give sermons or hold religious ceremonies inside the hall. The main temple area prohibits visitors from making any noise whatsoever and lays emphasis on meditation as a means to experience divinity.

Lotus Temple – Key Information

Best time to visit:

Late evening, when it is lit up

Expected time spent:
Around 1-2 hours
Opening days:
All days of the week except Monday
Opening hours:

9 AM to 7 PM (Summer); 9 AM to 5:30 PM (Winter)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Free
Cameras:

Free

Location:
Lotus Temple Road, Shambhu Dayal Bagh, Bahapur, Near Kalkaji Temple
Closest metro station:
Kalkaji Mandir (Violet line)
How to get there
The temple is located close to the Kalkaji Mandir metro station (on the Violet Line) and right next to the Kalkaji Park. Entry to the temple is via parking lot.
Diwan-e-Aam Pillars

Top Attractions In Delhi – Old Delhi

Red Fort (Lal Qila)

Red_Fort_A00C01P01_Red_Fort_facade
If you have limited time in Delhi and are looking to do only one sightseeing excursion, choose between this and the Qutub complex. This is a monument with a tumultuous past that has seen dizzying heights of power followed by a steep fall from grace and terrible tragedy.

The Mughals ‘headquarters’ was at Agra (the city of the Taj) for most of their rule but in 1638, Shah Jahan felt that Agra’s cramped streets were too narrow for his grand processions. By then, Delhi had already been the site of 6 earlier habitations, or ‘cities’ – but instead of using the previous sites, Shah Jahan decided to build a whole new city on the bank of the Yamuna river.

And thus, in the year 1648, a new city, rather modestly named Shahjahanabad, was unveiled. At its heart was the towering Red Fort palace complex. It was called Qila-e-Mualla or Qila-e-Mubarak – the Auspicious Fort. The imposing and regal edifice pays testament to the vision of its creator, Shah Jahan, the same man who built the Taj Mahal.

Before it fell into ruin, the Red Fort was an ultra-luxury palace complex and the residence of one of the richest persons on the planet. However, the name was utterly inappropriate. It was neither auspicious – given the tragedies that were to unfold here; nor was it a rugged Fort. Rather ironically, however, the name Red Fort (given by the British), with its connotation of the color of blood, would become a more appropriate name.

Red Fort – Key Information

Expected time spent:
Allow for a minimum of 1 hour if you intend to cover only the highlights
Opening days:
Open daily expect Monday
Opening hours:
Sunrise to sunset (typically 7 AM to 6 pm)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Indians (INR 30)/ Foreigners (INR 500) and free for children under 15 years
Cameras: 
Still camera allowed for free
Address:
Netaji Subhash Marg
Location:
Off Netaji Subhash Marg, opposite Chandni Chowk
Closest metro station:
Chandni Chowk
How to get there:
At the Chandni Chowk Metro Station, take the exit towards the Fountain/Gurudwara Shishganj Saheb. After existing, walk east past the Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) towards Netaji Subhash Marg. The Red Fort is across the Netaji Subhash Marg. The entrance and ticket counters are on the left of the imposing central structure with the national flag.

Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid - via Wikipedia

Jama Masjid – via Wikipedia

Across the road from the Red Fort and at the center of the erstwhile capital city of the Mughals, Shahjahanbad, stands Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. Built in red sandstone and marble, Jama Masjid is one of the last architectural works of the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan.

Jama Masjid is approachable from any one of three gates, though the one near Dariba Kalan is the usual entrance. The Jama Masjid has a huge courtyard, capable of holding 25,000 worshippers & usually fills up on Fridays, Eid, and other important festivals.

Eleven arches form the façade, a set of five each on either side of the large, central arch. Bands of calligraphy and inlay work in white and black marble form most of the decoration, mainly intricate carvings with verses inscribed from the holy Koran. Three massive white marble domes, with fine black lines of inlay, top the mosque.

Climb the 122 steps up the narrow southern minaret for a bird’s eye view of the city around. If you are interested in attending a prayer session, be there before 7:45 am when non-muslims are allowed. Visitors should be fully clothed & must remove their shoes before entering while women need to cover with a tunic that is provided & accompanied by a male (“guides” are available for a tip).

Jama Masjid – Key Information

 

Best time to visit:
Less crowded in the morning
Expected time spent:
Allow for 45 minutes to an hour
Opening days:
All days of the week
Opening hours:
7 am to noon, 1:30 pm to 6:30 pm (tourists are not allowed during prayer hours)
Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Free
Cameras:
INR 200 (Fee must be paid even if you carry a phone with a camera or don’t intend to photograph anything!)
Address:
Netaji Subhash Marg
Location:

Off Netaji Subhash Marg, West of Red Fort, near Chandni Chowk
Closest metro station:
Chawri Bazaar
How to get there
You can walk from the Chawri Bazaar metro station (1.2km), or take a 5-10 minute cycle rickshaw ride to the Jama Masjid

Old Delhi Markets

Chhatta Chowk: India’s first shopping mall

As you see the shops on either side, you’d be forgiven for berating the Indian government – after all, why would they allow such a historic monument to be desecrated with these shops selling trinkets of dubious authenticity? But wait, you are actually walking through a 17th Century market, which was built by Shah Jahan as part of the Fort Complex. Why build a market in a Fort complex? There was a large retinue of women in the Mughal palace, who were relatives of the Emperor and other nobles. Shah Jahan was keen that the ladies have a place to hang out, gossip and basically have a blast. The natural choice: A nice market to shop in. But Mughal royal women seldom ventured outside, to visit public markets; so, Shah Jahan decided to build the market within the Fort walls. But, with an innovation as markets in India in the 17th century were open air. But Shah Jahan was inspired by the great covered markets in Persia. And thus, the Chhatta Chowk Bazaar was born (Chhat means roof) – the vaulted arches giving a regal look to a market that would be frequented by royalty. In fact, you know what? This was India’s very first shopping mall! Today, the market has 40-odd shops selling artificial and semi-precious jewellery, embroidered bags, hand-painted wall hangings and ‘antiques’ with dubious authenticity.

Chandni Chowk: Experience the sights & smells of India along with a bit of souvenir shopping!

From the main entrance to the Red Fort, head down the principal street to the Chandni Chowk market, one of the oldest & busiest markets in India. This chaotic market built in the 17th century and designed by Jahan Ara (Shah Jahan’s favorite daughter) was once visited by merchants from Turkey, China and even Holland. During Shah Jahan’s reign, a tree-lined canal ran down the market’s centre, shimmering in the moon light, hence the name Chandni Chowk, or ‘moonlight place’. Best explored on foot, Chandni Chowk’s specialty is its variety: roads/ bazaars with many shops specializing in certain types of products/ goods – sarees with chikan & zari work (Kinari Bazar), spices & dry fruits (Khari Baoli), jewellery/ gold & silver shops (Dariba Kalan), shops selling books & stationery (Nai sarak), brass/ copper & paper products (Chawri Bazaar), Daryaganj (Sunday book market), clothing (Katra Neel), electronic, consumer goods (Bhagirath palace), shoes and leather goods etc. Most shops do not accept cards so keep cash handy and take care of your belongings as it gets really crowded.

Chandni Chowk: A microcosm of India’s different religions

Along this busy commercial street, you can experience a microcosm of India’s different religions – mosques, a church, and a number of temples. First up, opposite the fort, is a Digambar Jain Temple, established in 1656 by Agarwal Jain merchants invited by Shah Jahan to come and settle in the city. This temple is the oldest of its kind in Delhi and easily recognizable by its red sandstone material. It is surprisingly simple compared to other Jain temples, which are renowned for the intricacy of their carvings but has some attractive paintings related to Jainism. If you visit this temple please make sure you do not carry anything related to leather as leather goods (purse, valet, belts) are not allowed inside. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple. However, you can take snaps outside the temple. Also attached is a bird hospital established in 1929, where injured birds brought in by locals are treated before releasing them again.

If you’re pressed for time, skip these and proceed to vibrant Gauri Shankar Temple (built by a Maratha general Appa Gangadhar in 1761), which has an 800-year-old lingam. You have located it if you see mounds of marigold being sold to worshippers. Or stop at Sisganj Gurudwara, an unassuming but superbly atmospheric and welcoming Sikh temple, which marks the spot where Guru Tegh Bahadur, the 9th Sikh guru and his followers were executed by Aurangzeb for refusing to convert to Islam. The Gurudwara in the form of a memorial was built in 1783 when the then Mughal capital Delhi was captured by the Sikhs. You need to wash your hands and feet at the cheap taps plumbed right at the temple entrance. You are then briefed on what is and is not permitted in the temple. All visitors, both male & female are required to cover their heads. Before leaving the site, do take time to visit the community kitchen which feeds thousands of people across religions/ communities three times a day. Then, either turn left into Kinari Bazaar or head the length of Chandni Chowk to Fatehpuri Masjid, designed by one of Shah Jahan’s wives and built in 1650.

Chandni Chowk – Key Information

Best time to visit:
Less crowded on Sundays when most shops are closed

Expected time spent:
Allow for at least 2-3 hours

Opening days:
Monday to Saturday

Opening hours:
10 am to 7 pm, except eateries which are open late

Entry fee/ Ticket price:
Free

Cameras:
Free

Location:
Near Chandni Chowk Metro Station

Closest metro station:
Chandni Chowk

How to get there:

The best way to reach the markets is by Metro either to Chawri Bazaar or Chandni Chowk stations, and then explore on foot.

Dariba Kalan

This is a 17th-century street in Chandni Chowk area of Old Delhi or Shahjahanbad connecting the market to Jama Masjid. The street witnessed the bloody massacre of Delhi, ordered by the Persian invader Nadir Shah, when hundreds of innocent civilians and soldiers were killed and the gold shops were looted. The year was 1739 – it was 33 years since Aurangzeb’s death and the throne had already seen 7 occupants. The well-oiled military machine of Nadir Shah easily defeated the much larger, but ineffectual Mughal army in a battle near Delhi. The triumphant Nadir Shah entered Delhi with the captive Mughal emperor, and took residence in the Khaas Mahal in Red Fort. While Nadir Shah and his generals were inside the Red Fort, there was unrest in the city streets outside. In the unrest, some Persian soldiers were killed by a mob. The next day, an enraged Nadir Shah showed up at the main market, Chandni Chowk, to enforce discipline. He may have carried his battle axe, which now is displayed in Delhi’s National Museum! Apparently, when Nadir Shah was addressing the crowds, some mischief-makers shot at him from the rooftops, injuring a soldier standing by him. Nadir Shah completely lost it, and ordered a total, merciless massacre. The soldiers went berserk in their annihilation of the ordinary citizens, slashing and burning everything that came in their way. Today, Dariba Kalan is famous for costume jewellery – make sure you bargain hard for the gorgeous baubles.

 Kinari Bazaar

Turn into the jam-packed street, adjacent to the Gali Paranthe Wali, near Gurudwara Sisganj and stop to admire the zari, zardozi trimmings, lacework and cheap gold (mostly tinsel). This bazaar is known for its wedding shopping – all kinds of Indian wedding dresses like Kurtas, Sherwanis, Lehenga Dupatta, Salwar Kameez & groom’s turbans are available here. During the wedding season, there are hordes of eager shoppers flocking in locally as well as from far & distant places. After shopping here, you can try the famous Paranthe Wali Gali for some piping hot fried Paranthas and Natraj for its thick ‘n’ creamy Dahi Bhalle chaat.

Khari Baoli: Asia’s biggest spice market

Situated adjacent to Fatehpuri Masjid and operating since the 17th century, Khari Baoli sells all kinds of spices, nuts, herbs and food products like rice and tea. Reputed to be Asia’s biggest spice market — the colors, textures, and aromas are worth the side trip for a different experience. As an added incentive, though it is a wholesale market, you can buy smaller quantities of any item with great choice, quality & price unmatched anywhere else in the city.

Chawri Bazaar: Wholesale market for brass, copper & paper products

Chawri Bazaar, originally known as Chawdi (wide road) Bazaar, was established in 1840 and runs along a long stretch with Hauz Qazi Chowk at one end and the backyard of the Jama Masjid at the other. Chawari Bazar’s paper market is said to be the biggest paper mandi in the world and has grown from 7 paper merchants who set up shop in 1911, to over a 1000 merchants today with some of them tracing their lineage as paper suppliers to Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. In the 19th century, Chawri Bazaar was a promenade of the Walled City, a place for the rich and the young to enjoy their evenings. The ground floor comprised shops occupied by merchants and the floors above were kothas, a place where courtesans lived and performed mujras (a dance form). As the British rule became stronger, particularly after the 1857 mutiny, the mujra culture faded away and the upper floors of Chawri Bazaar were reduced to brothels. Eventually, even these were closed down by the British including five other “red light” areas of Delhi. Cluttered with electricity wires today, the market is famous for its hardware shops and paper market that sells wallpapers, decorative/ gift wrapping paper, office stationary and more. You can also head up to Nai Sarak, a popular book shopping and stationery destination in Old Delhi. Back then, this market was popular for watchmakers and tailors. Even today, a number of tailors have their shops in this market, also popular for showrooms of lehenga-chunni, salwar suits and second-hand books.

Churiwali Galli: Lane of Bangle sellers

Ask for the Churi Walan Chowk where most of the bangle shops are, dismally few in number though, as compared to the ancient times where the bangle sellers were known to have accessorized even royalty! Make a final stop at Karim’s to sample the authentic Mughlai cooking that has kept patrons coming back for over 100 years.