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About city Gallery Where to stay

Delhi – today’s capital of India – was established in the northern part of the country more than 3,000 years ago on a large and fertile lowland, situated at the foot of the Himalayas. This ancient city is home to people of different cultures and religions that not only compete and fight with each other, but also comprise a colourful mosaic of people, smells, colours and tastes.

India’s capital Delhi has around 17 million inhabitants. The city is divided into two parts: Old Delhi, located near the River Yamuna, and New Delhi, home to the national government. Both parts are connected by the so-called Connaught Place, which has many restaurants, bars, shops and hotels. The most popular means of transportation in Delhi are buses and rickshaws.

New Delhi is known for its crafts – it’s both an industrial and a residential district. Buildings here are low and chaotically dispersed, the streets – narrow and full of people. Here you can also find many oriental markets and monumental structures, built during the times of the Mongol Empire.

Dense smog at Connaught Place, New Delhi
Photo taken by Ville Miettinen / wikimedia.org.  Dense smog at Connaught Place, New Delhi

In 1912–1929, a modern, Western-style suburb was developed in accordance with the plans of the English architects E. Lutyens and H. Baker, which soon became part of the city and was called New Delhi. In 1912, the British chose it as the new colonial administration centre of India, previously located in Calcutta, which sped up the city’s development. New Delhi became the capital of the Union of India in 1947, and the capital of the Republic of India in 1950.

New Delhi consists of three neighbourhoods – commercial, residential and governmental – separated from each other by city parks. Straight and wide streets connect circular squares and well-maintained parks.

Delhi has well-developed industries and crafts. Textile (mostly cotton), sewing, leather, footwear, glass, ceramics, food, electrical engineering and chemistry (mineral fertiliser and rubber) industries are the most popular. Precision instrument, machine-tool, automobile and bicycle manufacturing, and metalworking industries are also significant. The locals of Old Delhi are especially keen on ivory etching, filigree gold and silver articles, and home-made weaving handicraft.

In terms of what to see, worthy of mention are the Friday Mosque, the presidential residence the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Rajpath Boulevard, the Qutb Minar Tower (the world’s tallest stone tower), the Jai Singh Observatory and the Lotus Temple.

Dawn at Lotus Temple, Delhi
Photo taken by Bikash Das / flickr.com/creativecommons.  Dawn at Lotus Temple, Delhi

Hindus and Buddhists hold the lotus to be holy. The lotus-shaped temple with 27 giant marble-covered “blossoms” is one of the best-known symbols of Delhi. Even though this spectacular temple is modern in spirit, it’s still a place that can make one slip into a truly special state of mind.

The Red Fort (or the Lal Kila), one of Delhi’s most interesting tourist attractions, was built in 1648 and served as the residence of the Mughal Emperor of India until 1857. Its name stems from the red sandstone that was used to build its walls. The fort is 2 km long and 18-33 m tall.

The recently restored Jama Masjid (the Friday Mosque) is the largest mosque in India. It can fit around 5,000 people inside, and another 25,000 in the courtyard. The mosque was built in 1651-1658. On Fridays, it can be accessed via the eastern gates, which were only used by emperors in the past. For 10 rupees (20 Euro cents) you can also climb the southern minaret (women can enter only if accompanied by a man and dressed appropriately, covering their shoulders and legs).

Streets of Delhi
Photo taken by Travis Wise / flickr.com/creativecommons.  Streets of Delhi

Delhi’s symbol – the Qutb Minar Tower – was built in 1199 by the city’s first Muslim ruler Qutb al-Din Aibak to honour its turn to Islam. The tower is decorated with expensive ornaments and passages from the Koran. This 71-metre-tall tower, illuminated by floodlights at night, is not only Delhi’s oldest monuments, but also a symbol of the clash of different worldviews.

Located near the tower is the famous Iron Pillar, conquered neither by time, nor rust. Tourists are told of a legend, which holds that those who can reach around it with their hands will live happily and have all their wishes come true.

Another object worthy of your attention in Delhi is the Raj Ghat – the place where the Indian patriarch Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Neru and Indira Gandhi were cremated.

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