Right in the heart of North India is New Delhi, inaugurated India’s capital city by India’s Viceroy in 1931, Lord Irwin. It is now home to at least 20 million people according to the Census of India in 2017. A vibrant and beautiful city, British influences can be seen all around as the colonial rulers of the time had commissioned Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker to work on the initial design and engineering of the city in the early 20th century.
Mahatma Gandhi was the driving force behind India’s independence from Britain, and after his assassination, the house he was staying at was turned into the Gandhi Smriti museum. His room has been immaculately preserved and will give you insight into how the spiritual leader lived from day to day. The place where he was assassinated while at prayer is now a column called Martyr’s Column (above). The Raj Ghat, next to the Yamuna River, marks the final resting place of Gandhi. His cremated remains were buried at this place, marked by a large square platform with black marble.
The British and European influences are clear when you view the India Gate (above). The structure was inspired by the Arc de Triomphe and lies on the Rajpath, which is modelled after the Champs-Élysées. On World Yoga Day (June 21), the whole boulevard and adjoining gardens will be filled with people performing yoga – a spectacular sight to witness.
Amusingly, you can find Old Delhi within New Delhi, and it’s a fascinating travel back in time. The Chandni Chowk (Moonlight Square; above) is the oldest and busiest market in Old Delhi, and a haven for foodies. Besides the wonderful street food and restaurants, Chandni Chowk is where you can stock up on spices – the largest spice market in all of Asia is located here.
Tip: Spices here tend to be much hotter than you may be used to, so check your spice tolerance levels first.
On the back of your 500 rupee note, you will see the Red Fort (above). This impressive red sandstone fort hosted the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty for nearly 200 years and is now the largest monument in India. The site is so significant that the Independence Day speech is delivered by the prime minster from its ramparts every year. Queen Mary and King George V of England stood on the balcony of the Red Fort’s Shahi Burj tower in front of thousands of people, during their visit in 1911.
Religious monuments abound in New Delhi. The Jama Masjid (above) is considered the largest mosque in India and can host up to 25,000 worshippers. The Lal Mandir is the oldest Jain temple in India, and is also well-known for its avian veterinary clinic. It makes sense that New Delhi should have an avian clinic seeing as they are the second most bird-rich city in the world after Nairobi.
Tip: India is a conservative society, so when visiting religious sites, males are advised to wear longer shorts and sandals, while females should ensure their legs and shoulders are covered.
Ranked as the number one tourist and pilgrimage spot in New Delhi, the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib (above) is the most prominent Sikh house in the city. The pool inside the complex is famous for its healing properties and Sikhs from all over the world take these waters home with them to pass on to family and friends.