One of the largest cities in the world today, Delhi is a futuristic cosmopolis with a rich and distinctive history of its own. Several prehistoric sites dating back to the ancient times have been found in different corners of the city. It was in the 12th century when the Delhi Sultanate set up its base here. Since that time, Delhi has continued to exist as a premier site of the Indian subcontinent’s illustrious past. Today, it boasts some of the most spectacular forts, monuments and mosques built by various powerful dynasties that have ruled it down the centuries. Here is a list of the top historical monuments one should definitely visit in Delhi.
The Qutab Minar Complex
Constructed in the year 1206, the Qutab Minar is the tallest brick minar in the world and a fine testimony to the excellence of Indo-Islamic architecture. The Minar is 72.5 meters tall and has five storeys. It was built by India’s first Muslim ruler Qutb-ud-din Aibak, followed by his successor Iltutmish and completed by Feroz Shah Tughlaq who built the fifth, and the last, storey.
Adjacent to the Minar is Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, the first mosque to be built in India. This is another magnificent structure also built by Aibak. The 13 metres high Ashoka Pillar is one of the other important highlights of the Qutab complex. It has seven main edicts of Ashoka, the emperor of Mauryan dynasty, who ruled almost all of India in around 200 BC. The Qutab Minar complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Feroz Shah Kotla
Located near the famous Feroz Shah Kotla Cricket Stadium on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, this fortress was built in 1354 by the emperor of Tughlaq Dynasty, Feroz Shah Tughlaq. The fortress was an effort in building his own city called Ferozabad. As such, it has a mosque, also known as the famous Jami Masjid, a citadel, a number of quarters for shelter and an Ashokan pillar surrounded by a garden complex. The Feroz Shah Kotla is located very close to some of the finest 5 star hotels in Delhi including The LaLiT New Delhi which also arranges for tours for visiting historical places of the city.
A precursor to the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra, the Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi is a perfect testimony to the brilliance of Mughal architecture. The monument is a complex of buildings housing the tomb of Humayun, the second emperor of the Mughal dynasty. Built in the 1560s, it was commissioned by Humayun’s widow Hamida Banu Begum and designed by a Persian architect Mirak Mirza Ghiyath. This beautiful garden-tomb complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
The Red Fort stands tall in the heart of the city as a proud bearer of the Mughal legacy. A brilliant building in red sandstone and mesmerising interiors made of precious stones and marble, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. The fort was built in 1638 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and has a unique design which is very intriguing to the eyes. To provide visitors with an insight into the history and heritage of the Mughal era, there is a light and sound show every evening.
A major market street, and perhaps one of the oldest existing market areas in India and the world, Chandni Chowk is a veritable delight. There are wholesale and retail markets where you can shop to your heart’s content. Besides shopping, one can admire the cultural heritage of the place and savour authentic traditional Indian delicacies. Hop on a rickshaw and enjoy the delightful sights and smells in the jam-packed lanes of this city within a city.
Located next to Chandni Chowk, Jama Masjid is another treasure of Delhi. It is one of the largest mosques in south Asia. It was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, a noted patron of Islamic architecture in India, and completed in 1656. Its unique design includes a large courtyard which can hold up to 25,000 people at once. The tower on its southern side gives you a sensational glimpse of the city. One can enjoy authentic Mughal cuisine in the outskirts of this Masjid. Besides, some of the best restaurants in CP like Nizam’s and Khan Chacha serve delectable Mughlai delicacies in plush and comfortable settings.
Located in the hub of modern-day Delhi, India Gate was built during the era of British Raj as a memorial dedicated to the 90,000 martyrs of the British Indian Army who fought in the World War I. After independence, India Gate has become the site of the Indian Army’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, known as the ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti’ (Immortal Soldier). Designed by Edwin Lutyens, it is one of the largest war memorials and a national monument of India.