Unexplored Delhi: Far from the madding crowd
Delhi has no dearth of tourist attractions. With an abundance of monuments, heritage sites, shopping bazaars and restaurants, Delhi is every tourist’s first stop in India. These tourists end up visiting only the most popular destinations such as the Qutub Minar or Humayun’s Tomb and inadvertently miss out on the other gems that Delhi has to offer. Let’s look at some places that definitely should be on your list the next time you stopover in the city.
Old Fort or as it is commonly known, Purana Qila, is located in Indraprastha. Indraprastha is thought to be the capital of the Pandavas from the epic Mahabharata. It is also considered the ‘First city of Delhi’. Although it was most likely completed in 1545, painted greyware was found here from as long ago as 1000 BC, which leads to many speculations about the antiquity of the site. The fort has had several builders over the years, and most of the construction is unattributed.
The Old Fort has a two kilometre circuit and walls that rise up to 18 metres in height. It has a deep moat which used to be filled by the Yamuna River that used to flow by the fort. Just outside the fort is a lake. Now you can boat in the lake, with the fort as your backdrop making for a brilliant photo-op.
The Old Fort has two functional gates – The Talaqui Darwaza (Forbidden Gate) and The Humayun Darwaza. The Humayun Darwaza is called so either because it was constructed by Humayun or because Humayun’s tomb is visible from there. Both the gates have the archetypal Islamic arch and are complemented by Hindu style brackets and umbrella structures. The Old Fort also houses a Masjid as well as Humayun’s private library.
In the evenings, there is also a light and sound show that projected onto fort. It is available in both Hindi and English. Make sure to check the timing of the show before you plan a visit.
Feroz Shah Kotla Ground
Cricket is practically a religion in India. And where better to experience the fervour than at one of the oldest functional stadiums in India – The Feroz Shah Kotla Ground. It was built as long ago as 1883. Famous for its cauldron atmosphere, this ground is currently the home ground of Delhi Daredevils, one of the top contenders in the Indian Premier League. Just alongside is the Ambedkar Stadium which has a capacity of 20000 people. Whether you get the opportunity to watch a match or just stroll around, this stadium is definitely worth a visit.
Tomb of Safdarjung
Built in 1754, the Tomb of Safdarjung is a gorgeous marble and sandstone mausoleum. Built in classic Mughal architecture style, this tomb is one of the last constructions of the Mughal Empire before its demise.
Safdarjung was a Chief Minister of the Mughal Empire. The tomb was built by his son, as the empire was too livid with him to commission a tomb. His son’s painstaking efforts are visible to this day. The Tomb’s complex is a beautiful enclosed garden similar to Humayun’s tomb.
There are several pavilions in the complex that the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) now uses as offices. The ASI has established a library on the premises.
If you are looking for a dose of history and a place to relax, choose this handsome and less crowded alternative for your next excursion.
Delhi’s own version of Central Park, Lodi Gardens is located in the heart of Delhi. Although much smaller than Central Park in size at 90 acres, Lodi Gardens are not like any of your conventional gardens. Lodi Gardens is home to several historical structures from the Mughal period including several tombs, such as the Tomb of Mohammed Shah, the Tomb of Sikander Lodi, Bara Gumbad (Big Dome), the Three Domed Mosque and the Sheesh Gumbad (Glass Dome).
These monuments were built in the 15th and 16th centuries by the reigning royal families of the time. Slowly villages grew around the monuments, but they relocated themselves in order to make space for the beautiful gardens that stand there today. The gardens went through several rounds of landscaping, making it more beautiful each time.
There is a wide expanse of lawns, flowering shrubs and even a bonsai park. The chirping of the birds and scurrying of the squirrels that inhabit the gardens is a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of the city. Morning joggers and yoga enthusiasts frequent the gardens. It is also an ideal picnic spot for families. Its history, its beauty and its gushing water features give the garden quite a fairy-tale like effect!
Lodi Gardens is protected by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and they have done an excellent job of maintaining it. It is very close to the Safdarjung Tomb if you are looking for more historical places to explore. Also nearby is Khan Market which has a variety of restaurants and is famous for its bars.
So if you want to get away from the crowded city, spend a relaxing evening at Lodi Gardens with your friends and family or check out some place in Delhi that you have never heard of before. Go ahead, explore the unexplored!
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