Considered one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, and elected as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal is a living testament to grandeur, romance, and historical significance. As India’s most recognizable structure, the Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory to his favorite wife. Its interior is complete with blossoming and vibrant exotic gardens, reflecting pools, and an impressive mosque.
Although the Taj Mahal has been photographed time and time again, photography does no justice to the majesty of this awe-inspiring tomb. The wells of unfathomable emotion are drawn from its exterior, as the sun from dusk until dawn radiates an exquisite reflection upon its white marble composite, proudly coating itself in divine shades of red, orange, gold and pink.
Down a small, unsuspecting street in the Chandni Chowk area of Delhi, a throng of eateries selling the Indian fried bread classic, parantha, draws in locals and visitors in their droves. Gali Paranthe Wali is a bustling narrow lane lined with stalls and shops selling this flatbread street food favorite straight from the tawa (hotplate).
This is a place to surrender to the crowds as you indulge in a parantha smothered in ghee, choosing from an array of fillings ranging from the savory to the sweet, including paneer, mixed vegetables, and bananas – to name but a few. Wash it all down with a lassi before strolling along the shops, stopping off only to sample more classic Indian street foods along the way.
Designed by British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, India Gate sits at the center of New Delhi in the middle of a traffic circle at one end of Rajpath. Built in 1931, the Arc-de-Triomphe-like gate commemorates the 90,000 members of the British Indian Army killed during World War I and the Third Afghan War.
Another memorial, the Amar Jawan Jyoti or eternal flame, was added to India Gate in the early 1970s as a memorial to India’s unknown soldiers, particularly those who died in the Indo-Pakistan War in 1971.
Opened in 2005, Delhi’s Swaminarayan Akshardham was built in only five years with the help of army of some 11,000 volunteers and artisans. The resulting temple is considered one of the most beautiful in Delhi and a must if you plan to do any temple visits during your stay in the capital.
Quite unlike most modern temples in India, Swaminarayan Akshardham is equal parts working temple, interactive museum and theme park. The Hall of Values depicts the values of Swaminarayan through a series of animatronic dioramas, while a giant IMAX-style screen shows a short film of the life of Swaminarayan from when he was an 11-year-old boy. The temple even has a 12-minute boat ride recounting India’s 10,000 years of history.
According to local Sikh belief, a boy prophet by the name of Sri Guru Hari Krishan Sahib moved among poor Hindu and Muslim communities during a time of small pox and cholera in New Delhi in the seventeenth century, distributing sanctified water to the sick which was believed to cause miraculous healing. Gurudwara Bangla Sahib his dedicated to his memory.
The most important place of worship for Sikhs in New Delhi, this golden-domed gurudwara still distributes sanctified water to devotees who come from around the world seeking its healing properties. Unlike many Hindu temples, non-Sikhs are welcome into the gurudwara, where it’s possible to listen while hymns are sung from the Granth Sahib (the Sikh scriptures) or take prasad, the Sikh equivalent to Communion.
ISKCON, short for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (a.k.a. the Hare Krishna movement), erected a flamboyant and eclectic temple in New Delhi in 1998 using a range of architectural styles, including Gupta, Mughal and Delhi’s own signature style, Punjabi Baroque.
One of the largest temple complexes in Delhi, ISKCON Temple of New Delhi features an inner sanctum with three idols, each a different incarnation of Vishnu in the form of Lord Krishna, as well as an art gallery and an upstairs “Vedic Expo” where visitors can learn about ISKCON scriptures, namely the Bhagavad Gita and the larger Mahabharata, through dioramas and audio-visual displays. Govinda, the temple’s onsite restaurant, serves buffet-style vegetarian fare.
Once a royal city filled with gilded structures and brightly painted buildings, Feroz Shah Kolta now lies mostly in ruins, and the towering fort erected to protect its people is no exception. Still, travelers say this historic site is worth a visit, since its crumbling remains are situated amid lush landscapes that provide a bit of respite from an otherwise crowded city.
Visitors can wander the grounds and examine the famed Ashoka Pillar, which still stands tall amid fallen buildings. An impressive baoli with cobblestone walls that once served as protection from violent introducers is a study in ancient architecture and the pyramid structures that house quiet shaded rooms, as well as the Jami Masjid mosque are equally interesting features to this historic site.
Recognized as the most expensive shopping district in Delhi, travelers in search of glitz and glam will find it inside the confines of Khan Market. What started as a complex of roughly 150 stores and half as many apartments eventually transitioned from a Mecca for the middle class to a costly commercial real estate locale.
Visitors can wander the storefronts of popular brands like Nike and Reebok, comb through silver shops, books stores, electronic depots and cloth houses. Afterwards, tuck into savory plates of upscale local cuisine at one of the well-known restaurants like Salim’s Kebabs.
Delhi Zoo opened its gates in 1959, changing its name to the National Zoological Park of Delhi in 1982. Located near India Gate in the heart of New Delhi, the zoo is spread out across more than 170 acres and is home to almost 130 species of animals and birds from around the world.
The National Zoological Park aims to house animals in a similar way to which they would live in their natural environments. It houses a number of endangered species, which it helps to breed in captivity with the aim of eventually releasing them to thrive again in the wild.
The grounds can be explored either on foot or by using one of the zoo’s electric buggies. Just some of the larger mammals visitors can expect to encounter include chimpanzees, lions, hippopotamus, African buffalo, Indian elephants, giraffes, spider monkeys, and zebras. There are also a number of migratory bird species of note, along with water birds, crocodiles, hyenas, macaques, and jaguars.
Born in 1835, Shirdi Sai Baba was an Indian spiritual guru and saint who gained a following based on his teachings on the goodness of life, peace, forgiveness, charity and love for God in all his forms. Today, long after Sai Baba’s death in 1918, he remains a popular master worshiped by devotees around the world.
In New Delhi, Sai Baba Temple on Lodhi Road is the oldest and most popular of the city’s many temples dedicated to the spiritual guru. The temple began as a memorial for Shirdi Sai Baba, and its foundations were laid in 1972. Just as Sai Baba served as a leader for both Hindus and Muslims of all castes, everyone is welcome into the temple regardless of race, religion or social status.
St James’ Church, also called Skinner’s Church after James Skinner, the British-Indian colonel who commissioned the church, is the oldest churches in Delhi and one of the few examples of a Palladian church in India. Colonel Skinner, while lying wounded on the battlefield of Uniara, vowed to build a church should he survive; he did so at his own expense. Construction on the church building, designed by Major Robert Smith, began in 1826, and the church was consecrated in November of 1836. The church, located near the Kashmiri Gate, features many design elements of the Renaissance Revival, including a cruciform floor plan, porticoed porches, interior stained glass windows and an octagonal dome at its center. The church cemetery houses several tombs of British officials as well as members of the Skinner clan.