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Get a date with history

Forts, tombs, museums and havelis... these are a reflection of the Capital’s rich history. Here’s the low-down on some of its great architectural wonders and how you can get involved

education Updated: Jul 10, 2012 16:12 IST
Hindustan Times

If you find history boring, dull and textbookish, then it’s time to go for a Dilli Darshan! With a rich cultural heritage that is exhibited through its forts, monuments, parks and havelis, to name a few, the city has seen several historical events unfold across centuries.

The Red Fort, that formidable symbol of the Mughal era; India Gate, located in the heart of the Capital; the soaring Qutab Minar and Rashtrapati Bhavan, home to the president of the largest democracy in the world, are places you must visit, especially if your are visiting Delhi for the first time.

Most of these monuments and buildings are architectural marvels, designed and built by some of the great emperors and leading architects of the bygone era.

Other than these monuments, the city also houses offices of several institutes of history, conservation and museology, museums and libraries. Some of these institutions also give you a chance to get closer and familiar to the history of the city and also work towards heritage conservation and archaeological research through workshops, seminars, and some exciting courses!

10 great places to visit

1 Red fort

The Red sandstone walls of the massive Red Fort add grandeur and remain an awe-inspiring symbol of Old Delhi. The main gate, Lahore Gate, is one of the focal points of modern India and attracts a major crowd on each Independence Day. Within the monument is a treasure trove of buildings, including the Drum House, the Hall of Public Audiences, and the White Marble Hall of Private Audiences

Location: Netaji Subhash Marg
Open: Tuesday to Sunday
Nearest Metro station: Chandni Chowk
Entry fee: Rs. 10 (Indians), Rs. 250 (foreigners)

2 safdarjung’s tomb

Built in 1753-54, as mausoleum of Safdarjung, the viceroy of Awadh under the Mughal Emperor, Mohammed Shah, Safdarjung’s Tomb is the last enclosed garden tomb in Delhi in the tradition of Humayun’s Tomb. It has several smaller pavilions with evocative names such as Jangli Mahal, (palace in the woods), Moti Mahal (pearl palace) and Badshah Pasand (king’s favourite). The complex also has a madarsa

Location: Intersection of Safdarjung Road and Aurobindo Marg
Open: Daily
Nearest Metro station: Jor Bagh
Entry Fee: Rs. 5 (Indians)

3 India Gate

Located in the heart of the Capital, India Gate commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during the World War I. The memorial bears the names of more than 13,516 British and Indian soldiers killed in the Northwestern Frontier in the Afghan war of 1919. Another memorial, Amar Jawan Jyoti was added much later, after India got her independence. It attracts huge crowds during the day

Location: Near Rajpath
Open: Daily
Nearest Metro station: Pragati Maidan
Entry fee: Free

4 Qutab Minar

It is a soaring, 73 m-high tower of victory, built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak immediately after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom. The minar is a five-storey building with a height of 72.5 metres and each storey is marked by a projecting balcony. A 7 metre-high iron pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque. It is listed among the World Heritage Monuments

Location: Mehrauli
Open: Daily
Nearest Metro station: Qutab Minar
Entry fee: Rs. 10 (Indians), Rs. 250 (foreigners)

5 Rashtrapati bhavan

Home to the President of the largest democracy in the world, the Rashtrapati Bhavan is a vast mansion and its architecture is breathtaking. The present day Rashtrapati Bhavan was the erstwhile residence of the British Viceroy. Its architect was Edwin Landseer Lutyens. The decision to build a residence in New Delhi for the British Viceroy was taken after it was decided that the capital of India would be shifted from Calcutta to Delhi

Location: Raisina Hills
Nearest Metro station: Central Secretariat

6 Lodhi Tomb

The old Lady Willington Park, now known as Lodhi Garden, is dotted with monuments of Sayyid and Lodhi eras, which include tombs mosques, and bridges. The tombs of Muhammad Shah and Sikandar Lodhi are the good examples of octagonal tombs. Shish and Bara Gumbad are square tombs with imposing dome, turrets on corners and facades giving the impression of being double storeyed. The tomb is situated amid the Lodhi Gardens

Location: Main Lodi Road
Open: Daily
Nearest Metro station: JLN Stadium
Entry fee: Free

7 Parliament House

Parliament House is one of the most magnificent buildings in the Caiptal which has one of the brightest clusters of architectural gems possessed by any country. Visitors to Delhi invariably pay a visit to this building as the two Houses of Parliament — the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha are located within its walls. The building was designed by two famous architects — Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker

Location: Sansad Marg
Nearest Metro station: Patel Chowk

8 Purana Quila

Built on the site of the most ancient of the numerous cities of Delhi, Indraprastha, Purana Quila is roughly rectangular in shape having a circuit of nearly two kilometre. The massive gateway and walls of Purana Quila were built by Humayun and the foundation laid for the new capital, Dinpanah. The work was carried forward by Sher Shah Suri, who displaced Humayun

Location: Mathura Road
Open: All days
Nearest Metro station: Pragati Maidan
Entry Fee: Rs. 10 (Indians), Rs. 100 (foreigners)

9 Humayun’s Tomb

This is the final resting place of the Mughal emperor Humayun. It was commissioned by Humayun’s wife Hamida Banu Begum in 1562 AD. This garden-tomb is located in Nizamuddin East, close to the Purana Qila. The tomb has undergone extensive restoration work, which is still underway. Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian, was the architect employed by his wife for this tomb

Location: Nizamuddin East
Open: Daily
Nearest Metro station: JLN Stadium
Entry fee: Rs. 10 (Indians), Rs. 250 (foreigners)

10 Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar was constructed in 1724. Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur, who built this observatory, went on to build other observatories in Ujjain, Varanasi and Mathura. Jai Singh had found the existing astronomical instruments too small to take correct measurements and so he built these larger and more accurate instruments. The structure is a great masterpiece of Indian architecture which shows the scientific acumen of ancient India. It consists of geometric devices used for measuring time, forecasting weather changes, predicting behaviour of planets and finding extraterrestrial altitude.

Location: Parliament Street
Open: Daily
Nearest bus stop: Janpath
Nearest Metro station: Patel Chowk
Entry fee: Rs. 10 (Indians), Rs. 100 (foreigners)

Off the beaten track

Mutiny memorial
Rani Jhansi Road
It was built in memory of British soldiers killed during the First War of Indian Independence (Sepoy Mutiny) in 1857. Its architecture has a Gothic influence

Mirza ghalib ki haveli
This is the place where the legendary poet spent hours lost in thoughts — penning down verses that changed the world of Urdu poetry forever

Old Secretariat
Civil Lines
It was the seat of the legislative council after the capital shifted from Calcutta to Delhi about a century ago. The building has been given several face-lifts

Coronation park
Burari Road
The park was the venue of the Delhi Durbar of 1877 when Queen Victoria was proclaimed the Empress of India. The site has witnessed three coronation durbars

Take the HOHO bus

The Hop On Hop Off Dilli Dekho Bus takes you across 19 destinations including Red Fort, Jantar Mantar, Safdarjung's Tomb, India Gate, Purana Quila, Qutub Minar and

Humayun’s Tomb
Buses every 30 minutes at each attraction
Ticket price: Rs. 300

Get involved

National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology
Address: National Museum, Janpath
Courses/activities: Offers three short-term courses of five months duration viz. India: Art & Culture, Art Appreciation and Bhartiya Kalanidhi (Hindi medium). Each of these courses consists of 20 lectures (each lecture of two hours duration). No minimum qualifications other than age (candidates should not be below 19 years of age) are prescribed for admission to these certificate courses


India National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach)
Address: 71, Lodi Estate
Courses/activities: INTACH Delhi Chapter conducts heritage walks for students on a regular basis. The frequency of walks increases after September/ October. Lectures/presentations to propogate the concept of Delhi- A World Heritage City. The Heritage Education and Communication Services of INTACH conducts programmes/workshops for students all over India. INTACH has also recently set-up a division for training interested people under conservation training and capacity building. It will design and run training courses and capacity building programmes on issues in heritage conservation.

Archaeological Survey of India
Address: Janpath
Courses/activities: Conducts heritage walks, visit to monuments, exhibitions and lectures regularly. The ASI, under the department of culture, ministry of tourism and culture, is a leading organisation for the archaeological researches and protection of our cultural heritage.


National Archives of India
Address: School of Archival Studies, Janpath

* Archives management
Duration: 6 weeks (session: February – March)
Course fee: Rs. 300 for Indian trainees
* Records management
Duration: 4 weeks (May and September)
Course fee: Rs. 200 for Indian trainees
* Reprography
Duration: 6 weeks (April-May and September-October)
Course fee: Rs. 300 for Indian trainees
* Care and Conservation of Books, Manuscripts and Archives
Duration: 8 weeks (July-August and November-December)
Course fee: Rs. 300 for Indian trainees
n Servicing and Repair of Records
Duration: 6 weeks, (May-June and September-October)
Course fee: Rs. 300 for Indian trainees

First Published: Jul 10, 2012 14:44 IST