Delhi, between old and new

The modern side of the city of Delhi and capital of India, New Delhi was built in the early 20th century by a royal decree of George V, king of Great Britain at the time. The worksite intended to make New Delhi the capital of the Empire of the Indies. That explains the Western look of its streets and buildings. New Delhi currently has a population of 250,000. It is part of the city of Delhi and its greater area, the Territory of the National Capital of Delhi. Often, the name New Delhi is used to refer to the entire city, with a population of 18 million. The gigantic megalopolis, one of the largest in the world, and the third largest city in India, is composed of 5 administrative territories: East Delhi, North Delhi, South Delhi, New Delhi and the Canton of Delhi. All that was built before the 20th century and British colonization is called "Old Delhi". The first signs of human inhabitants in the area dates back to the 1st century BC. The city's history was made by political upheavals and various successions of ruling dynasties. Today Delhi is made of a motley assortment of buildings.

New Delhi and its colonial past

Many of the buildings in New Delhi were built during the British colonial period, in particular, those related with power. However, there are some older buildings as well. Among them, visitors can admire:
India Gate: impressive monument to the unknown soldier built by architect, Edwin Lutyens. It commemorates Indian soldiers who died during Word War I and the Afghan wars. It is a crossroads for many avenues.

Akshardham Temple: this magnificent complex was built in honor of Swaminarayan, the founder of modern Hinduism. The latter is represented by a golden statue. The building is made in pink sandstone and white marble, in the shape of a cross. The sanctuary has more than 20,000 sculptures.

Humayun's Tomb: possibly a model for the Taj Mahal, Humayun's Tomb was built in 1570 by the widow of the Mughal emperor, Humayun. The building is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Jantar Mantar: Jantar Mantar is an amazing complex. It is in fact a set of 14 astronomy instruments built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1710. Each tool has a precise function: calculation of time, determining the position of planets, predicting weather changes, etc. The observatory is a superb tribute to Indian science in the 18th century.

Jama Masjid: Superb mosque, the Jama Masjid is also called the grand mosque of Delhi, or Shahjahanabad. It was inspired by Mongolian architecture and is topped with three domes. The courtyard can hold 25,000 people.

Red Fort: particularly touristic, the Fort of Shahjahanabad owes its red color to the sandstone that was used to build it. Built in the 7th century by the Mughal emperor, Shal Janan, it covers and area of 49 hectares / 122.5 acres and is composed of a large number of political or religious buildings. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Qutab Minar: the highest minaret in India and one of the most famous towers in the world. It was built in the 13th century and is part of a funerary and religious complex that no longer exists today.

Some of the more recent buildings to visit:

Lotus Temple: the temple is remarkable for its architecture. It takes inspiration from the lotus flower and is composed of numerous golden petals that make up the building's roof. Another particularity: this temple is open to all monotheist religions.

Connaught Place: in the shape of a star, is the emblem of New Delhi. It also has luxury shops as well as a huge shopping center.

Look, taste and live New Delhi's culture

There are so many things to see in Delhi that it is almost impossible to tour the city in one week. However, you may appreciate the rich, ancient Indian culture through its religion, its costumes and its cuisine. Among the latter, don't miss some of the typical dishes such as biryani, a complete dish with rice, meat and vegetables, or dosa, a pancake made with black lentil flour that Indians eat at different times of the day.
Leave for India thanks to daily flights to India's capital. US citizens need a valid passport and visa that can be filled out on the embassy's website before the flight.

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