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Bhopal
(STD Code: 0755)

Introduction:

Bhopal

Delhi has been the political hub of India. Every political activity in the country traces its roots here. This was true even of the mythological era. The Pandavas of the Mahabharata had their capital at Indraprastha, which is believed to have been geographically located in today's Delhi.

There are several places to see, visit, and explore in New Delhi. New Delhi is an international metropolis with excellent tourist spots, recreational facilities, and a history that goes back to antiquity. A remarkable feature of New Delhi is the extent of greenery all over. New Delhi is also a dream city for visitors looking for items of handicrafts, not only the rich artistic crafts of its own craftsmen but also of craftsmen from all over the country. New Delhi offers a multitude of interesting places and attractions to the visitor, so much so that it becomes difficult to decide from where to begin exploring the city.

Akshardham Temple:

Akshardham

Swaminarayan Akshardham reflects the essence and magnitude of India's ancient architecture, traditions and timeless spirituality.

The main monument, depicting ancient Indian "vastu shastra" and architecture, is a marvel in pink sandstone and white marble that is 141 feet high, 316 feet wide and 370 feet long with 234 ornate pillars, over 20,000 sculptures and statues of deities, eleven 72-foot-high huge domes (mandapams) and decorative arches. And like a necklace, a double-storied parikrama of red sandstone encircles the monuments with over 155 small domes and 1,160 pillars. The whole monument rises on the shoulders of 148 huge elephants with 11-feet tall panchdhatu statue of Swaminarayan presiding over the structure.

Location: On NH 24, Mayur Vihar Phone: 011-22016688, 011-22026688
Nearest Metro Station: Akshardham Timings: 11AM to 8PM
Entry Fee: Free (For exhibition halls and theatres, adults & kids: Rs.125, senior Citizens: Rs.75)
Days Closed: Mondays Photography: Not allowed

Bahai Temple (Lotus Temple):

Bahai Lotus Temple

East of Nehru place, this temple is built in the shape of a lotus flower and is the last of seven Major Bahai's temples built around the world. Completed in1986 it is set among the lush green landscaped gardens.

The structure is made up of pure white marble The architect Furiburz Sabha chose the lotus as the symbol common to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Adherents of any faith are free to visit the temple and pray or meditate.

Around the blooming petals there are nine pools of water, which light up, in natural light. It looks spectacular at dusk when it is flood lit.

Location: Near Kalkaji Temple, East of Nehru Place Nearest Metro Station: Kalkaji Mandir
Entry Fee: Free Timings: 9AM to 7PM
Days Closed: Mondays Photography: Permission required

Red Fort (लाल किला):

Red Fort

The Red sandstone walls of the massive Red Fort (Lal Qila) rise 33-m above the clamour of Old Delhi as a reminder of the magnificent power and pomp of the Mughal emperors. The walls, built in 1638, were designed to keep out invaders, now they mainly keep out the noise and confusion of the city.

The main gate, Lahore Gate, is one of the emotional and symbolic focal points of the modern Indian nation and attracts a major crowd on each Independence Day.

The vaulted arcade of Chatta Chowk, a bazaar selling tourist trinkets, leads into the huge fort compound. Inside is a veritable treasure trove of buildings, including the Drum House, the Hall of Public Audiences, the white marble Hall of Private Audiences, the Pearl Mosque, Royal Baths and Palace of Color.

An evening sound and light show re-creates events in India's history connected with the fort.

Location: Netaji Subhash Marg Nearest Metro Station: Chandni Chowk
Entry Fee: Rs.10(Indian), Rs.250(Foreigners) Timings: Sunrise to Sunset
Days Closed: Mondays Photography: Nil (Rs.25 for video filming)
Sound & Light Shows: 6PM onwards in English and Hindi, Ticket: Rs.80(Adults) Rs.30(Children)

Qutab Minar (क़ुतुब मीनार):

Bhopal

Qutab Minar 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 tower has five distinct storeys, each marked by a projecting balcony and tapers from a 15 m diameter at the base to just 2.5 m at the top. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone; the fourth and fifth storeys are of marble and sandstone. At the foot of the tower is the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, the first mosque to be built in India. An inscription over its eastern gate provocatively informs that it was built with material obtained from demolishing '27 Hindu temples'. A 7 m-high iron pillar stands in the courtyard of the mosque. It is said that if you can encircle it with your hands while standing with your back to it your wish will be fulfilled.

The origins of Qutab Minar are shrouded in controversy. Some believe it was erected as a tower of victory to signify the beginning of the Muslim rule in India. Others say it served as a minaret to the muezzins to call the faithful to prayer.

No one can, however, dispute that the tower is not only one of the finest monuments in India, but also in the world. Qutab-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced the construction of the Qutab Minar in 1200 AD, but could only finish the basement. His successor, Iltutmush, added three more storeys, and in 1368, Firoz Shah Tughlak constructed the fifth and the last storey.

The development of architectural styles from Aibak to Tughlak is quite evident in the minar. The relief work and even the materials used for construction differ. The 238 feet Qutab Minar is 47 feet at the base and tapers to nine feet at the apex. The tower is ornamented by bands of inscriptions and by four projecting balconies supported by elaborately decorated brackets. Even though in ruins, the Quwwat Ui Islam (Light of Islam) Mosque in the Qutab complex is one of the most magnificent structures in the world. Qutab-ud-din Aibak started its construction in 1193 and the mosque was completed in 1197.

Iltutmush in 1230 and Alla-ud-din Khilji in 1315 made additions to the building. The main mosque comprises of an inner and outer courtyard,decorated with shafts and surrounded by piller. Most of these shafts are from the 27 Hindu temples, which were plundered to construct the mosque. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Muslim mosque has typical Hindu ornamentation. Close to the mosque is one of Delhi's most curious antiques, the Iron Pillar.

Location: Mehrauli Nearest Metro Station: Qutab Minar
Entry Fee: Rs.10(Indian), Rs.250(Foreigners) Timings: Sunrise to Sunset
Days Closed: None Photography: Nil

Jantar Mantar:

Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar (Yantra - instruments, mantra - formulae) was constrcted 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 instruments at Jantar Mantar are fascinating for their ingenuity, but accurate observations can no longer be made from here because of the tall buildings around.

Location: Parliament Street, Connaught Place Nearest Metro Station: Patel Chowk
Entry Fee: Rs.5(Indian), Rs.100(Foreigners) Timings: Sunrise to Sunset
Days Closed: None Photography: Nil (Rs.25 for video filming)

India Gate:

Bhopal

At the centre of New Delhi stands the 42 m high India Gate, an "Arc-de-Triomphe" like archway in the middle of a crossroad. Almost similar to its French counterpart, it 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.

The foundation stone of India Gate was laid by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught in 1921 and it was designed by Edwin Lutyens. The monument was dedicated to the nation 10 years later by the then Viceroy, Lord Irwin. Another memorial, Amar Jawan Jyoti was added much later, after India got its independence. The eternal flame burns day and night under the arch to remind the nation of soldiers who laid down their lives in the Indo-Pakistan War of December 1971.

The entire arch stands on a low base of red Bharatpur stone and rises in stages to a huge moulding. The cornice is inscribed with the Imperial suns while both sides of the arch have INDIA, flanked by the dates MCMXIV (1914 left) and MCMXIX (1919 right). The shallow domed bowl at the top was intended to be filled with burning oil on anniversaries but this is rarely done.

During nightfall, India Gate is dramatically floodlit while the fountains nearby make a lovely display with coloured lights. India Gate stands at one end of Rajpath, and the area surrounding it is generally referred to as 'India Gate'.

Surrounding the imposing structure is a large expanse of lush green lawns, which is a popular picnic spot. One can see hoards of people moving about the brightly lit area and on the lawns on summer evenings.

Location: Near Rajpath Nearest Metro Station: Pragati Maidan
Entry Fee: Free Timings: Morning to Night
Days Closed: None Photography: Nil

Birla Mandir (Laxmi Narayan Temple):

Bhopal

Laxmi Narayan Temple, also known as Birla Mandir, is one of Delhi's major temples and a major tourist attraction. Built by the industrialst G.D. Birla in 1938, this beautiful temple is located in the west of Connaught Place.

The temple is dedicated to Laxmi (the goddess of prosperity) and Narayana (The preserver). The temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi on the condition that people of all castes will be allowed to enter the temple.

Location: Near Gole Market, Mandir Marg, Connaught Place Nearest Metro Station: RK Ashram Marg
Entry Fee: Free Timings: 6AM to 10PM (best to visit during morning and evening aarti)
Days Closed: None Photography: Not allowed in prayer hall

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