It’s rather difficult to slot Delhi – whether Old Delhi or New Delhi –in one particular category. To some it is a “city that never sleeps” dotted with glass-mirrored skyscrapers which house stylishly luxurious offices of multinational companies, to others it’s a metropolis with tree-lined boulevards while to many more it brings back pleasurable memories of bustling streets and bazaars of Chandni Chowk.
Take your pick and Delhi, whether old or new or in-between, will never disappoint you…
Strategically located between the deserts of Rajasthan, ‘the land of the five rivers’ Punjab (and now Haryana too) and the plains of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi was a frontier town stretching back to the 12th century. The city’s architecture and lavishness were awe-inspiring. It was reaved time and again but then, on the other hand, some rulers gave world-famous heritage buildings such as the Qutub Minar and Red Fort while ‘Raj’ continues its legacy in the form of Rashtrapati Bhawan and the Parliament Building.
Delhi’s perspective is not of a few centuries – there is a lot, lot more in the form of modern steel-and-glass towers, art galleries and a flourishing centre for the performing arts. Add to that engrossing music festivals, the modern-day so-called ‘food festivals’, and vibrancy of the ‘gen next’ youth. For this reason, New Delhi – one of the most happening cities in the continent welcomes you to take a b-i-g slice of it anytime!
A SPLASH OF COLOURS: FESTIVALS IN NEW DELHI
Delhi, the capital city of India celebrates almost all the festivals pertaining to every religion irrespective of any prejudice or bias. Throughout the year, the city remains immersed in the festivities. From the Diwali of the Hindus, to the Eid of the Muslims, the Christmas of the Christians and the Guru Nanak Jayanti of the Sikhs, distinctive in almost every way there are certain festivals that are celebrated only in Delhi like the Mango festival, Qutub festival and the Garden tourism festival.
- Fun-Fiesta :
Well, the Mango Festival, held every July is just one of the many festivals held in New Delhi. Visitors assemble in thousands to relish the dozens of varieties of this exotic fruit. In February, there is the Garden Tourism Festival which is organized by the tourism ministry of Delhi which continues till four to five days. This festival is a sheer delight for all the garden lovers bringing them together under one roof with flowers dominating the show marking the arrival of the much-looked-to ‘Holi’, which is the festival of colors and has a number of legends associated with it carrying the message of destroying the evil and celebrating the good. This festival involves smearing each other with gulal and dancing to the beats of some traditional songs.
Coming to October, there is the Qutub Festival of classical music and dance in the Qutub Minar complex followed by Dussehra and Diwali – the ‘festival of lights’. The city looks beautiful with decorated houses where crackers, fireworks and diyas form the major part of the festival. The famous Bihari Chhat festival is celebrated six days after Diwali to honour the Sun God.
- Flag-waving festivals :
Days like 26th January and 15th August are celebrated as national festivals where the city dwellers enjoy the national holiday with patriotism and enthusiasm. The Beating Retreat ceremony is held every year in New Delhi at Vijay Chowk, three days after Republic Day, marking the end of festivities – signifying the tradition and hard work of the dedicated armed forces. Identically, on Independence day, the Prime Minister addresses the nation from the Red Fort hoisting the flag on behalf of all the legends and fighters who sacrificed their lives selflessly for their country.
- A medley of love from every rim:
Majority of the population of Delhi consists of punjabis which is why festivals like Lohri, Navratri and Guru Purab bring life to the city of Delhi and are celebrated with great faith, fervour and ecstasy. Eid is celebrated with equal enthusiasm by Delhiites at Jama Masjid.
The immense diversity of our rich culture is reflected in other festivals – Pongal and Onam to Basant Panchmi and Teej … the list is virtually never ending and the sheer magic of New Delhi also never seems to fade.
NEW DELHI: A MAGICAL MAGNET
A multi-facetted city with a grandeur of historical tradition coupled with raw vitality, New (as well as ‘Old’) Delhi has something for everyone.
Heritage is on view at the Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar, ambience is reflected in the Garden of the Five Senses and Lodi Gardens, modernity in the Metro, flyovers and the chic shopping malls, history stretches from Chandni Chowk to Rashtrapati Bhawan and entertainment is on display at the Kingdom of Dreams and the various festivals. Delhi is an intricate weave of history, culture and dreams ; the capital of a young nation which cherishes its proud roots. Like the Jantar Mantar, it is an endless maze of wonderful discoveries and a magical magnet for those living or just passing by.
- Red Fort
Lal Qila or Red Fort was a part of Shahjahanabad and played a prominent part in the first uprising against the British ‘Raj’. Romanticised over the years, it has a string of mahals or palaces – Mumtaz Mahal, Rang Mahal, Khas Mahal, Zafar Mahal – alongwith the Diwan-e-Aam (Hall of Public Audience) and Diwan-e-Khas (meant to hear petitions of nobles). The Light and Sound Show (adults Rs. 60/children Rs. 20) is worth watching and the one hour passes before one knows it.
- Humayun’s Tomb
The Taj Mahal is said to have been inspired by Humayun’s Tomb (entry Rs. 10/foreigners Rs. 250), and in many ways this recently refurbished red and white World Heritage monument is as spectacular as the Taj itself. It is a memorial built by the emperor’s grieving widow and is said to have cost Rs. 5 lakhs way back in the middle 1500’s. It stands on a 8 metre high platform and is surrounded by lush gardens.
- Qutub Minar
What can one say of the Qutub Minar except let out ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ ? It is open from sunrise to sunset and is packed by hundreds of visitors who willingly shell out Rs. 10 for the entry (Rs. 250 for foreigners) to the 72.5 metre high, 379 steps tall ‘minar’ (minaret) and ‘qutub’ (pole of justice). Nearby is the Iron Pillar which despite being 1500 years old has not rusted!
- Rashtrapati Bhawan
The 340-room Rashtrapati Bhawan (entry on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with registration fee Rs. 25) is the pride of Raisina Hill and is the palatial home of the President. The most magnificent room is the Durbar Hall which is directly under the Central Dome and every Saturday there is a must-see event when the President’s Bodyguard changes guards.
- Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid being the India’s largest mosque is a sight to behold and is definitely among the places to visit in Delhi. The mosque constructed by Mughal ruler Shah Jahan stands tall at 40 ft with 4 angles, 2 minarets and can contain 25,000 devotees at a time. One can reach Jama Masjid easily through the Rajeev chowk metro station or the chawri bazaar metro station. Also, no entry fee makes it more accessible for the local people.
- India Gate
At the centre of New Delhi stands the 42 m high India Gate. The entire arch stands on a low base of red Bharatpur stone. Surrounding the imposing structure is a large expanse of lush green lawns, which is a popular picnic spot. India Gate not only looks beautiful in the bright sunlight but also manages to display it’s beauty in the dim light of the moon.
- National Rail Museum
Apart from historical monuments one must visit the National Museum once to catch glimpses of the rich historical past of India, from the ancient period to the medieval ages. The National Rail Museum also documents the 150-year-old history of Indian railways, including the first steam engine that ran from Thane, Mumbai in 1853 that marked the beginning of Indian Railways.
Modern Delhi also has some popular temples of Modern India that are known not only for their religious significance but also for their experimental designs that challenge conventional architectural standards. The Lakshmi Narayan Temple (Birla Temple), built by the Birlas, is dedicated to the worship of Lord Lakshmi Narayan (Vishnu). Another temple worth visiting is the Lotus Temple built by followers of the Bahai faith. Built in the shape of a blooming lotus, the temple draws thousands of tourists each day. Akshardham temple, yet another very popular destination for tourists and Delhites is situated on the banks of Yamuna River, and is besides the Common Wealth Games village.
- Local Markets
For youngsters, the city has a lot to offer including places to shop and relax like the Cannaught place, Haus Khaz Village, Sarojini nagar market and Lajpat nagar market which is famous for its historical establishment by the refugees who came to India after the partition. For Foodies, there is a vast menu of irresistible delicacies offered by Chandini Chowk and Khan market.
No doubt the city has ample of things to attract people of every age group!