Delhi was the first destination of our Indian-Nepali adventure and got me equally fascinated and horrified. It was shocking to see the conditions of some people living on the chaotic streets of the capital, that is also home to some of the most magnificent temples I have ever seen. I was amazed to see the remains of buildings with so much history and to witness the influence of Hinduism in the lifestyle and culture of one of the most populous cities in the world
How to move around: Delhi has a comfortable, reliable and cheap metro system that I would highly recommend for moving around the city or going to the airport. Another option is taking a taxi, tuk tuk or rickshaw, just remember to haggle and close the price before starting the ride.
The chaotic traffic and lack of sidewalks and traffic lights make crossing the roads in Delhi a challenge. After waiting for a few minutes in a zebra cross nearby Connaught Place, we had to eventually just start walking and hoping for the cars, bikes and other vehicles not to run us over. This kamikaze way of crossing somehow works, and eventually it becomes normal to walk the roads avoiding cows, goats, bikes, rickshaws, cars, buses, etc
What to see
Lodhi Garden is a peaceful city park that contains several architectural works of the 15th century built by the Lodhis, an Afghan dynasty that ruled the Delhi Sultanate from 1451 to 1526. The complex includes the tombs of the former rulers Mohammed Shah and Sikandar Lodhi, as well as the temples Shisha Gumbad and Bara Gumbad. As there is little architecture from these two periods remaining in India, Lodhi Gardens is an important place of preservation. The gardens are located near the Afdarjung´s Tomb and the Khan Market, being a popular spot for morning walks in Delhi.
Humayun’s Tomb was the first garden-tomb of the Indian subcontinent and was constructed to keep the remains of the Mogul Emperor Humayun in 1570. This UNESCO Wold Heritage Site represented a leap in Mogul architecture never seen before in India, with typical Persian gardens and several smaller buildings including mosques creating a pathway leading to the impressive mausoleum.
The Tomb of Safdar Jang, the ruler of the Indian state of Oudh, is the last monumental tomb garden of the Mogul Empire, a Muslim dynasty with Indo-Persian culture considered Indian last golden age (1526-1858). This sandstone and marble mausoleum was built in 1754 in line with the style of Humayun´s Tomb, with a mausoleum at the center, a ninefold floor plan, a five-part façade, a large podium, a hidden stairway and a closed garden. I found this tomb a beautiful example of Mogul architecture and a very peaceful place, with far less visitors than the famous Humayun´s Tomb.
If you are looking to visit a Hindu temple in Delhi, I can´t recommend enough Swaminarayan Akshardham Mandir, a spiritual and cultural complex displaying modern and traditional Hindu culture, spirituality and architecture. It was built in 2005 according to the Vastu and Pancharatra traditional styles and its one of the most visited temples in the country. Getting there is easy by metro to the station named Akshardham. Be aware is closed on Mondays and no electronic devices are allowed inside, so before entering the complex you must queue to place them all in a locker. I found this rule frustrating as I would have loved taking pictures of such a beautiful place. Luckily, this blog article has some shots of the temple:
Jama Masjidis one of the largest mosques in India and another masterpiece of the Mogul architecture in Delhi, as it was built by the emperor Shah Jahan between 1644 and 1656. The mosque has three great gates, four towers and two 40 m high minarets constructed of strips of red sandstone and white marble. The courtyard can accommodate more than 25,000 persons. There are three domes on the terrace which are surrounded by the two minarets. On the floor, a total of 899 black borders are marked for worshippers. The architectural plan of Badshahi Masjid, built by Shah Jahan’s son Aurangzeb at Lahore, Pakistan, is similar to the Jama Masjid.