Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Golden Triangle Tour (Part 1 – Delhi): A Tale of 8 Cities

Delhi - Centre of Power“Here we stand in Delhi city, symbol of old India and the new. It is not the narrow lanes and houses of old Delhi nor the wide spaces and rather pretentious buildings of New Delhi that count, but the spirit of this ancient city. Delhi has been an epitome of India’s history with its succession of glory and disaster and with its great capacity to absorb many cultures and yet remain itself.”
(Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, From Convocation Address of Delhi University, December, 1958)
Old DelhiDelhi is a city that connects two diverse worlds of past and present. Old Delhi, once the capital of Islamic India, is a labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with crumbling havelis and formidable mosques while the city of New Delhi created during the British rule is an architectural marvel comprising of spacious, tree-lined avenues and imposing administrative buildings and complexes. Delhi has been the seat of power for several rulers and many empires for about a millennium. Many a times the city was built, destroyed and then rebuilt here.
Delhi - Parliament HouseThe city’s importance lies not just in its past glory as the seat of empires and magnificent monuments, but also in the rich and diverse cultures. The chroniclers of Delhi culture from time immemorial – from Chand Bardai and Amir Khusro to present days writers – have never been at a loss for topics.

The present Delhi city is an amalgamation of 8 cities which were established at various periods of history. Historians speak of the “Seven Cities of Delhi” but, between 1100 A.D.and 1947 A.D., there have actually been eight of them:
  • The oldest city near the site of the Qutab Minar
  • Siri
  • Tughlqabad
  • Jahanpanah
  • Firozobad
  • The city around Purana Qila
  • Shahjahanabad
  • New Delhi
Each of these cities grew round the palace – fortress of a particular dynasty and every dynasty wished to have a new headquarters for consideration of prestige. Even the Kings of the same dynasty had such ambitions, and realized it if they had the means to do so. With each successive reign, some distinctive architectural features were added or some change in urban morphology occurred. Often some important new buildings would, rise, something monumental – whether a mosque or a tomb, a palace, a fortress or a victory-tower.
Jama MasjidIn the present times, Delhi or more precisely New Delhi is the political & administrative capital of India. It is also the starting point of the Golden Triangle Tour and travellers (both domestic and international) usually commence on the tour from Delhi. On arriving in Delhi, the traveller will discover that the city is sprinkled with dazzling gems: captivating ancient monuments, fascinating museums and art galleries, architectural wonders, a vivacious performing-arts scene, fabulous eating places and bustling markets.
Qutab Minar

The city is dotted with many archaeological gems, however, the most famous monuments in Delhi are:
  • Qutub Minar
  • Humayun’s Tomb
  • Red Fort
  • Jantar Mantar
  • Old fort
  • Purana Qila
  • Tughluqabad Fort
  • Feroze Shah Kotla
  • Safdarjung Tomb
  • Sultangiri Tomb
  • Rahim-Khane-Khanam Tomb
Lodhi GardernThere are also some monuments which have been beautifully made part of the urban landscape and these are a good example of living heritage. The most popular of these are Lodhi Garden, Hauz Khaz Complex and Jawali Kawali.
Indian Habitat CentreThe art and culture scene of Delhi is a thriving and vibrant one, with many art galleries, auditoriums and amphitheatres hosting a plethora of events all year round. The National Gallery of Modern Art, National School of Drama, Kamani Auditorium, Siri Fort Auditorium, Sahitya Kala Academy and India Habitat Center are some of the prominent venues where art events are organized regularly.
Pandara MarketDelhi is a food lover’s paradise. From age-old eateries in the by lanes of the Walled City to glitzy, specialty restaurants in five-star hotels, Delhi offers a choice of Indian and International Cuisines in different ambiences to suit varied budgets.
For gourmets, Delhi is synonymous with Mughlai and Frontier Cuisine. The best of Mughlai cuisine can be enjoyed at Karim, (both in Jama Masjid and Nizamuddin) where the recipes, dating from the times of the Mughals have been the closely guarded secrets of generations of chefs. Delhi ka Aangan (Hyatt Regency), Darbar (Ashoka Hotel), and Corbetts (Claridges) are among the many options available in the expensive range, while Gulati Restaurant (Pandara Market), Angeethi (Asiad Village) and Degchi (Regal Building) are among those catering to more modest budgets. The finest Frontier cuisine is available at the Bukhara (Maurya Sheraton), Frontier (Ashoka Hotel) and Baluchi (The Hilton).
North India FoodAt the other end of the scale, there are the many popular roadside eateries around Jama Masjid and Nizamuddin where kababs, rotis and biryani are the order of the day. A delightful spot offering a range of Indian Cuisine are the food stalls at Dilli Haat.
Another interesting way to learn about Delhi culture is to book your stay in Homestays. Some of the options are The EstateRoshans Homestays and Incredible India Homestay.
So, Delhi has everything for everyone and it is the perfect place to experience the best mix of history, art and entertainment.
After experiencing all this, the traveller definitely has to go on the next level of emotion and experience immortal love; so, come to Agra, home to the immortal love story of Shahjahan and Mumtaz!!


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