“Incredible India!” they say; I would have added, “surprising”, “breath-taking”, “eye-opening” ; so you would have understood, my travel experience in India was just WOW and I wish yours to be even better!
I will be honest with you, first I was thinking I would never dare to visit India in my life as fear was leading my concerns! However, let me tell you that once I put my first step on this fabulous country, I never regretted my choice (and even loved it so much, I came back twice in the same year!)
India has an incredibly rich history, well-preserved architecture, vibrant spirituality and wonderful culture! So, to begin this journey in the “land of wonders”, let me introduce you to its capital’s iconic places to discover!
The Red Fort
Being one of the most iconic monuments in the capital, the Red Fort is easily recognizable with its massive sandstone walls – rising above 33 meters high above Old Dehli – reminding the magnificent power of the Mughal emperors to keep out invaders.
Enjoy a walk through the beautiful gardens and different parts of the Red Fort, where many buildings with incredible details await!
Entrance fees for foreigner: 500 INR
- The Red Fort was built in 1638 as the Emperor Shah Jahan decided to shift the capital from Agra to Delhi.
- Every 15th of August is celebrated India’s Independence Day – for the occasion, the Prime Minister of India hoists the national flag at the Red Fort and delivers a nationally broadcast speech from its ramparts.
The India Gate
Located in the centre of New Delhi, the India Gate is a symbolic monument that was built to pay tribute to the soldiers dead for the nations during World War I. Its architecture has been inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The tomb of the unknown soldier with the eternal flame under the arch is a memorial to honour the patriotism of all Indian men who fought next to allies to defend India interests.
Another iconic place to visit in Delhi would be the Emperor Humayun’s Tomb – classified as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
Many smaller but impressive temples come along the pathway to the tomb. The site is huge, with big trees to take rest under their shades. So just take a seat and enjoy the view of these jewels of architecture from the 16th century.
But obviously, you will be amazed by the main monument built in red stones and marble, standing in front of a massive pool with fountains. Continue your discovery by climbing the stairs that bring you to a platform on the top part of the impressive main building. You will get the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful view of the city from there. The interior architecture reveals so many details engraved on the walls until the ceilings. It is also on this floor that you can access the room with the white tomb of the Emperor, in the centre of the major dome.
Entrance fees for foreigner: 500 INR
The tomb was commissioned by Humayun’s wife, Empress Haji Begum in 1569 and designed by Persian architects chosen by her. It was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. Built closed by the Old Fort that Humayun found in 1533, it was also the first structure to use red sandstone at such a scale.
The Lotus Temple
Located more in the South of the City, you need to experience the Lotus Temple and discover one of the Baháʼí House of Worship. This majestic complex, designed as a giant white marble lotus flower surrounded by water tanks, is placed in the centre of large green spaces. On the way to enter the temple, you will even have the chance to meet the emblematic bird of India – as many peacocks enjoy the place!
Be ready to queue with hundreds of people (be patient, it is worth the wait!) before being able to get inside as the number of people entering the place is limited. Once in the main room, the atmosphere is soothing and prone to meditation. The large dome is decorated with a huge gold rosette in its centre. Doors are closed during prayer time for only ten minutes. Men and women sing in turn with angelic voices that transport you elsewhere; such an incredible experience you will remember forever.
- No entrance fees.
- Beware, pictures and video are forbidden inside the temple.
- You will have to remove your shoes before entering the temple.
While discovering Delhi, you will realize that spirituality has a massive place in the daily life in India. Being one of the most impressive jewels of architecture, Akshardham Temple is a must-see in the capital!
This magnificent temple was entirely carved in pink sandstone and marble by 8,000 volunteers from around the world and is nowadays the biggest Hindu Temple in India!
Located in the middle of beautiful gardens, this spiritual building impress from the very beginning with its ornated pillars! It has the particularity of having 148 real-size elephants sculpted all around the main platform – introducing the major place of this animal in the Indian wildlife, but also its association with humans and gods.
You will have to climb the main stairs to access inside the temple – and the scenery you will encounter inside has nothing to compare with whatever you have seen before, believe me! It is just stunning! The main dome harbours a giant golden representation of Swaminarayan deity sitting on a breathtaking green marble – while the other eight domes are entirely carved into the white marble.
- Entrance fees for foreigner: 170 INR
- Photo and video are forbidden in this temple – control at the entrance are very strict so do not try to bring any electronic device as you will be asked to pay extra fees for a locker to place your belongings.
- While entering the place, go directly to book your tickets for the sunset water show with lights and sounds – it is worth the additional 80 INR to complete your day!
- A small library is located on the way to the Exit – they have many beautiful books describing the history of the place with incredible pictures – so grab a memory of this special place before leaving!
If you look for a Hindu temple on a smaller scale, Hanuman Temple is located right in the centre of Delhi Connaught Place. Lord Hanuman is one of the most celebrated deities and is said to be the symbol of strength and courage. While entering the place, the massive entrance gate (also called “Dwar” in Hindi) will surely catch your eyes! It is entirely engraved with scenes of Ramayana (ancient sanskrit epic) – such a piece of art!
While walking through the place, you will be amazed by the beautiful attires put on many god’s representations. Also, don’t forget to look-up to discover the multitude of bells hanging from the ceiling and try to touch some for good luck.
- No entrance fees, but a small donation will be required while entering the temple.
- Ladies have to cover their head and wear covering clothes to show respect in the temple.
- Keep in mind the day of the week while visiting, as Tuesdays and Saturdays can be very busy with long queues of devotees who come to visit the temple.
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib
For another spiritual experience, head up to Connaught Place in New Delhi and discover the most prominent Sikh Pilgrimage of the capital.
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib fascinates by its beautiful architecture from the 17th century. The whole structure is made with white marble, and its main building is topped with a golden dome. While entering the praying area, you will be amazed by the devotees singing prayers in a colourful atmosphere, surrounded by gold, marble and precious stones designs. Don’t miss to look-up, as the ceiling details are wonderful!
Continue your visit outside, a huge water tank, also called “Sarovar”, has a central place inside the premises as it is surrounded by a promenade with sculpted arches and pillars in white marble, revealing the beauty of the place.
The Sikh religion believes deeply in helping society. The community kitchen in the gurudwara serves free vegetarian meals (Langar) to about 10,000 visitors each day regardless of their caste, religion, creed or economic standing. Additionally, there is a girls school, hospital and accommodation in the temple grounds. Devotees volunteer to help with cleaning, preparing food and to carry out other day-to-day activities.
- No entrance fees
- You need to dress modestly, cover your head for ladies, and remove your shoes while inside.
Thank you so much for reading this article, I hope it will help you plan your trip with more serenity to enjoy the capital of India! I highly recommend you to download the Best Travel Apps of 2020 for an even smoother experience! Wishing you a safe and wonderful journey!