Travel Bucket List: India – Delhi Part 1

The last state in my series about the various Indian states, Delhi, or officially the National Capital Territory or NCT of Delhi, is a city and a union territory of India containing New Delhi, the capital of India. Straddling the Yamuna river, primarily its western or right bank, Delhi shares borders with the state of Uttar Pradesh in the east and with the state of Haryana in the remaining directions. Delhi’s urban agglomeration, which includes the satellite cities of Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gurgaon, and Noida in an area known as the National Capital Region (NCR), has an estimated population of over 28 million, making it the largest metropolitan area in India and the second-largest in the world, after Tokyo.

The topography of the medieval fort Purana Qila on the banks of the river Yamuna matches the literary description of the citadel Indraprastha in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata; however, excavations in the area have revealed no signs of an ancient built environment. From the early 13th century until the mid-19th century, Delhi was the capital of two major empires, the Delhi sultanate and the Mughal Empire, which covered large parts of South Asia. All three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the city, the Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, and the Red Fort, belong to this period. Delhi was the early centre of Sufism and Qawwali music and the names of Nizamuddin Auliya and Amir Khusrau are prominently associated with the city. The Khariboli dialect of Delhi was part of a linguistic development that gave rise to the literature of the Urdu language and then of Modern Standard Hindi.

Delhi was a major centre of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. In 1911, New Delhi, a southern region within Delhi, became the capital of the British Indian Empire. During the Partition of India in 1947, Delhi was transformed from a Mughal city to a Punjabi one, losing two-thirds of its Muslim residents, in part due to the pressure brought to bear by arriving Hindu refugees from western Punjab. After independence in 1947, New Delhi continued as the capital of the Dominion of India, and after 1950, the Republic of India.

Delhi has the second-highest GDP per capita in India after Goa and although a union territory, the political administration of the NCT of Delhi today more closely resembles that of a state of India, with its legislature, high court, and an executive council of ministers headed by a Chief Minister. New Delhi is jointly administered by the federal government of India and the local government of Delhi and serves as the capital of the nation as well as the NCT of Delhi.

There are several myths and legends associated with the origin of the name Delhi. One of them is derived from Dhillu or Dilu, a king who built a city at this location in 50 BC and named it after himself. Another legend holds that the name of the city is based on the Hindi or Prakrit word Dhili which means loose and that it was used by the Tomaras to refer to the city because the iron pillar of Delhi had a weak foundation and had to be moved. During the time of King Prithviraj, the name of the city was Dilpat, and Dilpat and Dilli are probably derived from the old Hindi word dil which means eminence which later became Dihli or Dehli. According to the Bhavishya Purana, King Prithiviraja of Indraprastha built a new fort in the modern-day Purana Qila area for the convenience of all four castes in his kingdom. He ordered the construction of a gateway to the fort and later named the fort Dehali with some historians believing that Dhilli or Dhillika is the original name for the city while others believe the name could be a corruption of the Hindustani words dehleez or dehali, both terms meaning threshold or gateway and are symbolic of the city as a gateway to the Gangetic Plain. The form Delhi, used in Latin script and strangely with an h following an l, originated under colonial rule and is a corrupt spelling based on the Urdu name of the city, Dehli.

Traditionally seven cities have been associated with the region of Delhi. The earliest, Indraprastha, is part of a literary description in the Mahabharata which was composed between 400 BCE to 200 CE but describes an earlier time which situates a city on a knoll on the banks of the river Yamuna. According to experts, the topographical description of the Mahabharata matches the area of Purana Qila, a 14th-century fort of the Delhi sultanate, but the analogy does not go much further. While the Mahabharata speaks of a beautifully decorated city with surrounding fortification, the excavations have yielded uneven findings of painted grey pottery characteristic of the eleventh century BC; no signs of a built environment, much fewer fortifications, have been revealed. The earliest architectural relics date back to the Maurya period, around 300 BC. In 1966, an inscription of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka who ruled between 273–235 BC was discovered near Srinivaspuri. The remains of several major cities can be found in Delhi with the first of these in the southern part of present-day Delhi. King Anang Pal of the Tomara dynasty built Lal Kot and several temples in 1052 which was conquered by Vigraharaj Chauhan in the mid-12th century who renamed it Qila Rai Pithora.

After Prithviraj Chauhan’s defeat in 1192 in the second battle of Tarain by Muhammad Ghori, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, was given the responsibility of governing the conquered territories of India until Ghori returned to his capital, Ghor. When Ghori died without an heir in 1206, Qutb-ud-din assumed control of Ghori’s Indian possessions and laid the foundation of the Delhi Sultanate and the Mamluk dynasty. He began construction of the Qutb Minar and Quwwat-al-Islam or the Might of Islam mosque, the earliest extant mosque in India. His successor, Iltutmish consolidated the Turkic conquest of northern India. At 72.5 m, the Qutb Minar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site was completed during the reign of Sultan Illtutmish in the 13th century. Although its style has some similarities with the Jarkurgan minaret, it is more closely related to the Ghaznavid and Ghurid minarets of Central Asia. Razia, daughter of Iltutmish, became the Sultana of Delhi upon the former’s death.

For the next three hundred years, Delhi was ruled by a succession of Turkic and an Afghan, Lodi dynasty. They built several forts and townships that are part of the seven cities of Delhi and Delhi was a major centre of Sufism during this period. The Mamluk Sultanate was overthrown in 1290 by Jalal ud din Firuz Khalji and under the second Khalji ruler, Ala-ud-din Khalji, the Delhi sultanate extended its control south of the Narmada River in the Deccan. The Delhi sultanate reached its greatest extent during the reign of Muhammad bin Tughluq between 1325 and 1351. In an attempt to bring the whole of the Deccan under control, he moved his capital to Daulatabad, Maharashtra in central India. However, by moving away from Delhi he lost control of the north and was forced to return to Delhi to restore order. The southern provinces then broke away. In the years following the reign of Firoz Shah Tughlaq and the Delhi Sultanate rapidly began to lose its hold over its northern provinces. Delhi was captured and sacked by Timur in 1398, who massacred 100,000 captive civilians. Delhi’s decline continued under the Sayyid dynasty who ruled between 1414 and 1451, until the sultanate was reduced to Delhi and its hinterland. Under the Afghan Lodi dynasty between 1451 and 1526, the Delhi sultanate recovered control of Punjab and the Gangetic plain to once again achieve domination over Northern India. However, the recovery was short-lived and the sultanate was destroyed in 1526 by Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty.

In 1526, Babur a descendant of Genghis Khan and Timur, from the Fergana Valley in modern-day Uzbekistan invaded India, defeated the last Lodhi sultan in the First Battle of Panipat and founded the Mughal Empire that ruled from Delhi and Agra for more than three centuries, with a sixteen-year hiatus during the reigns of Sher Shah Suri and Hemu from 1540 to 1556. Shah Jahan built the seventh city of Delhi which bears his name Shahjahanabad, which served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1638 and is today known as the Old City or Old Delhi. After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the Mughal Empire’s influence declined rapidly as the Hindu Maratha Empire rose to prominence. In 1737, Maratha forces led by Baji Rao I sacked Delhi following their victory against the Mughals in the First Battle of Delhi. In 1739, the Mughal Empire lost the huge Battle of Karnal in less than three hours against the numerically outnumbered but militarily superior Persian army led by Nader Shah of Persia. After his invasion, he completely sacked and looted Delhi, carrying away immense wealth including the Peacock Throne, the Daria-i-Noor, and Koh-i-Noor. The Mughals, severely further weakened, could never overcome this crushing defeat and humiliation which also left the way open for more invaders to come, including eventually the British. Nader Shah eventually agreed to leave the city and India after forcing the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah I to beg him for mercy and give him the keys to the city and the royal treasury. A treaty signed in 1752 made Marathas the protectors of the Mughal throne in Delhi. The city was sacked again in 1757 by the forces of Ahmad Shah Durrani, although it was not annexed by the Afghan Empire and was its vassal state under the Mughal emperor. Then the Marathas battled and won control of Delhi from the Mughals. By the end of the 18th century, Delhi had also come under the control of the Bharatpur State and the Sikh Empire.

In 1803, during the Second Anglo-Maratha War, the forces of the British East India Company defeated the Maratha forces in the Battle of Delhi. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Delhi fell to the forces of the East India Company after a bloody fight known as the Siege of Delhi. The city came under the direct control of the British Government in 1858 and was made a district province of Punjab. In 1911, it was announced that the capital of British-held territories in India was to be transferred from Calcutta to Delhi. The name New Delhi was given in 1927, and the new capital was inaugurated on 13 February 1931. New Delhi was officially declared the capital of the Union of India after the country gained independence on 15 August 1947. It has expanded since; the small part of it that was constructed during the British period has come to be informally known as Lutyens’ Delhi.

During the partition of India, around five lakh Hindu and Sikh refugees, mainly from West Punjab fled to Delhi, while around three lakh Muslim residents of the city migrated to Pakistan. Ethnic Punjabis are believed to account for at least 40% of Delhi’s total population and are predominantly Hindi-speaking Punjabi Hindus. Migration to Delhi from the rest of India continues, contributing more to the rise of Delhi’s population than the birth rate, which is declining.

Two prominent features of the geography of Delhi are the Yamuna flood plains and the Delhi Ridge. The Yamuna River was the historical boundary between Punjab and UP, and its flood plains provide fertile alluvial soil suitable for agriculture but are prone to recurrent floods. The Yamuna, a sacred river in Hinduism, is the only major river flowing through Delhi. The Hindon River separates Ghaziabad from the eastern part of Delhi. The Delhi ridge originates from the Aravalli Range in the south and encircles the west, northeast, and northwest parts of the city, reaching a height of 318 m and is a dominant feature of the region.

The National Capital Territory of Delhi covers an area of 1,483 sq km, of which 783 sq km are rural, and 700 sq km are urban, making it the largest city in terms of area in the country. According to the World Health Organization, WHO, Delhi was the most polluted city in the world in 2014 and downgraded the city to the eleventh-worst in 2016. The Archaeological Survey of India recognises 1,200 heritage buildings and 175 monuments as national heritage sites. Delhi witnesses extreme temperatures. While summers and winters are unbearable, monsoon restricts outdoor activities. The best months to visit Delhi are between February to April and August to November.

India Gate
Synonymous with Delhi, the All India War Memorial, popularly known as the India Gate, is located along the Rajpath on the eastern edge of the ceremonial axis of New Delhi, formerly called the duty path. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the 42 meters tall gate evokes the architectural style of the memorial arch such as the Arch of Constantine, in Rome, and is often compared to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and the Gateway of India in Mumbai. One of the largest war memorials in the country, it is famous for hosting the Republic Day Parade every year when the Prime Minister visits the gate to pay their tributes to the Amar Jawan Jyoti, following which the Republic Day parade starts.

India Gate stands as a memorial to 84,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who died between 1914 and 1921 in the First World War, in France, Flanders, Mesopotamia, Persia, East Africa, Gallipoli and elsewhere in the Near and the Far East, and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. 13,300 servicemen’s names, including some soldiers and officers from the United Kingdom, are inscribed on the gate. Following the Bangladesh Liberation war in 1972, a structure consisting of a black marble plinth with a reversed rifle, capped by a war helmet and bounded by four eternal flames, was built beneath the archway. This structure, called the Amar Jawan Jyoti or the Flame of the Immortal Soldier, has since 1971 served as India’s tomb of the unknown soldier. The memorial is guarded 24/7 by soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces. On 21 January 2022, the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate was merged with the Amar Jawan Jyoti at the National War Memorial.

Though India gate is breathtaking at absolutely any hour of the day, its magnificence is even more during the hours after sunset. The gate is illuminated every evening from 7 to 9:30 pm and serves as one of Delhi’s most important tourist attractions.

Red Fort
Lal Qila or Red Fort is a historic fort in Old Delhi, that served as the main residence of the Mughal Emperors. Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the construction of the Red Fort on 12 May 1638, when he decided to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi. Originally red and white, its design is credited to architect Ustad Ahmad Lahori, who also constructed the Taj Mahal. The fort represents the peak in Mughal architecture under Shah Jahan and combines Persianate palace architecture with Indian traditions.

The fort was plundered of its artwork and jewels during Nadir Shah’s invasion of the Mughal Empire in 1739 and most of the fort’s marble structures were subsequently demolished by the British following the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The fort’s defensive walls were largely undamaged, and the fortress was subsequently used as a garrison. The Red Fort was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 as part of the Red Fort Complex.

On 15 August 1947, the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, raised the Indian flag above the Lahori Gate. Every year on India’s Independence Day, the Prime Minister hoists the Indian tricolour flag at the fort’s main gate and delivers a nationally broadcast speech from its ramparts.

Formerly known as Quila-e-Mubarak or the Blessed Fort, the Red Fort lies along the banks of the river Yamuna, whose waters fed the moats surrounding the fort. It was a part of the medieval city of Shahjahanabad, popularly known today as Old Delhi. The entire fort complex is said to represent the architectural creativity and brilliance of Mughal architecture. Today, the Archaeological Survey of India is responsible for the security and preservation of this monument.

The Red Fort is surrounded by a 2 km perimeter wall which acted as an effective defensive measure. The structure of the fort is octagonal, and it has several gates, the prominent ones being the Lahori Gate, the Ajmeri Gate, the Kashmiri Gate, the Mori Gate, the Turkman Gate, and the Delhi Gate. The most prominent structures inside the fort are the Diwan-i-Aam, the Diwan-i-Khaas, the Moti Masjid, and the Nahr-i-Bashisht or the stream of paradise. Also known as the Hall of Public Audience, the Diwan-i-Am is a rectangular hall consisting of three aisles, with a façade of nine arches. There were six marble palaces along the eastern waterfront originally. A waterchannel, called the Nahr-i-Bihisht runs through it, with an ivory fountain fitted with a central marble basin. The Mumtaz-Mahal now houses the Delhi Fort Museum. The Diwan-i-Khas or the Hall of Private Audience is a beautifully decorated pillared hall, with a flat ceiling supported by engrailed arches. The Peacock Throne is said to have been kept here before being taken away by Nadir Shah. The Hammam or Bath consists of three prime sections divided by corridors and is completely built of marble and inlaid with coloured stones. The Moti-Masjid or Pearl Mosque, which was added later by Aurangzeb is to the west of the Hamman. The red-stone pavilion in the middle of the tank in the centre of the Hayat-Bakhsh-Bagh is called the Zafar-Mahal and was built by Bahadur Shah II in about 1842. Most of these buildings were inlaid with precious stones and intricate floral motives. The unique cusped arches, highly intricate ornamentation and the double domes are the most important features of the Red Fort’s architecture, something which became a trademark of Shahjahani architecture. To contain the older Salimgarh Fort inside its boundaries, the walls were built asymmetrically, unlike any other Mughal buildings. The Red Fort remained the seat of Imperial Mughal Rule till 1857 when the Great Revolt took place.

The Fort saw its degradation after Aurangzeb’s rule. In 1712, Farrukhsiyar replaced the silver ceilings with copper and in 1739, the Persian Emperor Nadir Shah invaded Delhi and looted the Red Fort, taking away with himself the precious Peacock throne. The Fort was captured, plundered, and attacked several times between 1739 and 1857 by Ahmad Shah, the Marathas, the Sikhs, and the British. To raise funds for the defence of armies from Ahmad Shah Durrani, the Marathas sold the silver ceiling of Diwan-e-Khas in 1760. The last Mughal emperor, and last Mughal resident of the Fort, Bahadur Shah II was exiled to Burma after the revolt of 1857, ending the rule of the Mughals after two centuries.

The fort was then occupied by the British Colonial Rulers, who plundered many precious artefacts including the Kohinoor diamond, the Jade Wine Cup of Shah Jahan, and the crown of Bahadur Shah II. They planned a systematic destruction of the Fort which included the destruction of furniture, gardens, harem apartments, and servant quarters. Except for the white marble buildings, almost all of the inner structure was destroyed. In 1899, when Lord Curzon became the Viceroy of India, he ordered the reconstruction of the buildings and the gardens were also restored.

There is a Light and Sound Show which is held every evening except on Mondays and is a must-see for visitors to the capital. A one-hour visual extravaganza of light and sound inside the premises is the best way to learn about the history of the Fort. The show in Hindi takes place between 7:30 and 8:30 pm and in English between 9 and 10 pm. Ticket prices during weekdays are INR 60 for adults and INR 20 for children while during weekends and government holidays it is INR 80 for adults and INR 30 for children.

Qutub Minar
A victory tower, the Qutub Minar forms part of the Qutub complex, which lies at the site of Delhi’s oldest fortified city, Lal Kot, founded by the Tomar Rajputs. It was begun after the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the first ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. Built between 1199 and 1220, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mehrauli and one of the most visited tourist spots in the city.

It can be compared to the 62-metre all-brick Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, which was constructed a decade or so before the probable start of the Delhi tower. The surfaces of both are elaborately decorated with inscriptions and geometric patterns. The Qutb Minar has a shaft that is fluted with stalactite bracketing under the balconies at the top of each stage.

The Qutub Minar is a symbol of the synthesis of traditional Islamic architecture and Southwestern Asian design. The architecture of the minaret varies greatly from that of the typical style and design of the mosques constructed in the Middle East with the style heavily influenced by local architecture such as the Indic temples which in turn affected the materials, techniques, and decorations used in the construction of the Qutb Minar.

The Minar is surrounded by several historically significant monuments of the Qutb complex. The Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, to the northeast of the Minar, was built by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak in 1198. It is the earliest extant mosque built by the Delhi Sultans. It consists of a rectangular courtyard enclosed by cloisters, erected with the carved columns and architectural members of 27 Jain and Hindu temples, which were demolished by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak as recorded in his inscription on the main eastern entrance. Later, a lofty arched screen was erected, and the mosque was enlarged, by Shams-ud- Din Itutmish and Ala-ud-Din Khalji. The Iron Pillar in the courtyard bears an inscription in Sanskrit in the Brahmi script of the fourth century, according to which the pillar was set up as a Vishnudhvaja or the standard of Lord Vishnu on the hill known as Vishnupada in memory of a mighty king named Chandra. The mosque complex is one of the earliest that survives in the Indian subcontinent.

The nearby pillared cupola known as Smith’s Folly is a remnant of the tower’s 19th-century restoration, which included an ill-advised attempt to add some more stories. Earthquakes damaged the Qutub Minar in 1505 and 1803 after which the tower was renovated in 1828 and a pillared cupola was installed over the fifth story, creating a sixth. The cupola was taken down in 1848, under instructions from Viscount Hardinge, who was the Governor General of India. at the time. It was reinstalled at ground level to the east of Qutb Minar, where it remains and is known as Smith’s Folly today.

The height of Qutb Minar is 72.5 m, making it the tallest minaret in the world built of bricks. The tower tapers, and has a 14.3 m base diameter, reducing to 2.7 m at the top of the peak. It contains a spiral staircase of 379 steps. At the foot of the tower is the Quwat Ul Islam Mosque. The Minar tilts just over 65 cm from the vertical, which is considered to be within safe limits.

There are many stories of the Qutb Minar which consists of five stories of red and grey sandstone. The lowest story, also known as the basement story, was completed during the lifetime of Ghiyeth al-Din Muhammad, a sultan during the Ghurid dynasty. It is revetted with twelve semicircular and twelve flanged pilasters that are placed in alternating order. This story is separated by flanges and by storied balconies, carried on Muqarnas corbels. The story is placed on top of a low circular plinth that is inscribed with a twelve-pointed star with a semicircle placed with each of the angles between the star’s points. There are also six horizontal bands with inscriptions inscribed in naskh, a style of Islamic calligraphy, on this story. The second, third, and fourth stories were erected by Sham ud-Din Iltutmish, the first Muslim sovereign to rule from Delhi, considered to be the first of the Delhi Sultan dynastic line. The second and third stories are also revetted with twelve semicircular and twelve flanged pilasters that are placed in alternating order. These red sandstone columns are separated by flanges and by storied balconies, carried on Muqarnas corbels. Before its reconstruction and reduction, the fourth story was also decorated with semicircular pilasters and was reconstructed in white marble and is relatively plain. In 1369, the fourth story was repaired after lightning struck the minaret. During reconstruction, Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq elected to reduce the size of the fourth story and then separated it into two stories.

Before 1976, the general public was allowed access to the first floor of the minaret, via the internal staircase. Access to the top was stopped after 2000 due to suicides. On 4 December 1981, the staircase lighting failed and between 300 and 400 visitors stampeded towards the exit, of which 45 were killed and some were injured, mostly schoolchildren. Since then, the tower has been closed to the public and rules regarding entry have been stringent. The Qutb Festival, held at the Qutb Minar during November/December is a three-day festival to celebrate the magnificence of the monument. Organized jointly by the Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation and the Sahitya Kala Parishad, the festival includes cultural shows and art forms.

The Qutb Minar is open between 10 am to 5 pm every day except Sundays and has an entranc fee of INR 40 for Indians and those from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries while foreigners need to pay INR 600 to enter. Children up to the age of 15 with a valid ID enter free.

Jantar Mantar
Located on Parliament Street, Jantar Mantar which means the instruments for measuring the harmony of the heavens is a vast observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1724. It forms a part of a collection of five observatories located in Jaipur, Ujjain, Varanasi, and Mathura and consists of 13 architectural astronomy instruments.

At a height of 723 feet, the primary purpose of the observatory was to compile astronomical tables and to predict the times and movements of the sun, moon, and planets. The Delhi Jantar Mantar decayed considerably by the 1857 uprising. The Ram Yantra, the Samrat Yantra, the Jai Prakash Yantra, and the Misra Yantra are the four distinct instruments of the Jantar Mantar. The Samrat Yantra, or Supreme Instrument, is a giant triangle that is an equal-hour sundial. It is 70 feet high, 114 feet long at the base, and 10 feet thick. It has a 128-foot hypotenuse that is parallel to the Earth’s axis and points toward the North Pole. On either side of the triangle is a quadrant with graduations indicating hours, minutes, and seconds. At the time of the Samrat Yantra’s construction, sundials already existed, but the Samrat Yantra turned the basic hug sundial into a precision tool for measuring declination and other related coordinates of various heavenly bodies. The Vrihat Samrat Yantra can calculate the local time at an accuracy of up to two seconds and is considered the world’s largest sundial. The Jaya Prakash consists of hollowed-out hemispheres with markings on their concave surfaces. Crosswires were stretched between points on their rim. From inside the Ram, an observer could align the position of a star with various markings or a window’s edge. This is one of the most versatile and complex instruments that can give the coordinates of celestial objects in multiple systems- the Azimuthal-altitude system and the Equatorial coordinate system. This allowed for an easy conversation about the popular celestial system. The Rama Yantra has two large cylindrical structures with an open top used to measure the altitude of stars based on the latitude and the longitude on the earth. The Misra Yantra or the mixed instrument is a composition of 5 instruments designed as a tool to determine the shortest and longest days of the year. It could also be used to indicate the exact moment of noon in various cities and locations regardless of their distance from Delhi. The Misra yantra was able to indicate when it was noon in various cities all over the world and was the only structure in the observatory not invented by Jai Singh II. In the Shasthansa Yantra, using a pinhole camera mechanism that has been built within the towers that support the quadrant scales, can be used to measure specific measurements of the sun such as the zenith distance, declination, and diameter of the sun. Built on the same principle as the Jai Prakash, the instrument in the Kapala Yantra is used more as a demonstration to indicate the transformation of one coordinate system to another and is not used for active celestial observation. At the Rasivalya Yantra, twelve of these structures were built, each referring to the zodiacal constellations by measuring the latitude and longitude of a celestial object at the very moment the celestial object crosses the meridian.

The apparatus here pertains to Egypt’s Ptolemaic astronomy and follows three classical celestial coordinates to track the positions of heavenly bodies, namely the horizon zenith local system, the equatorial system, and the ecliptic system. There also lies a small temple dedicated to Lord Bhairava to the east of the main site built by Maharaja Jai Singh II. The Jantar Mantar is open between 6 am and 6 pm and entry fees for Indians and visitors from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries is INR 15 per person while foreigners pay INR 200 per person. Videography costs are INR 25 per camera.

Loosely translated to Royal Steps, Rajghat lies on the banks of the River Yamuna and is a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. Originally the name of a historic ghat of Old Delhi or Shahjahanabad, it was the gate of the old walled city, opening at Raj Ghat to the west bank of the Yamuna River

Several other samadhis or cremation spots of other famous leaders can be found in the vicinity of Raj Ghat. Jawaharlal Nehru’s samadhi is to the north of the Rajghat and is known as the Shantivan meaning the garden of peace. Adjacent to Nehru’s memorial is Ekta Sthal, the site where Zail Singh, the 7th President of India, was cremated with full state honours in 2005.

The memorial at Rajghat is a humble black marble platform which is raised above the ground level and marks the spot of Mahatma Gandhi’s cremation and last rites on 31 January 1948, a day after his assassination. It also has his last words, Hey Ram inscribed on the platform. a day after his assassination. It is left open to the sky while an eternal flame burns at one end. A stone footpath flanked by lawns leads to the walled enclosure that houses the memorial. A prayer is held every Friday, the day he died at Rajghat.

At the Rajghat, one can also take a look at the National Gandhi Museum which has collections and artefacts relating to Mahatma Gandhi. There is a library with a collection of all that was written about or by him and has over 35,000 books or documents including 2,000 periodicals illustrating Gandhi’s life. A gallery in the museum showcases his artefacts such as paintings, one of Gandhi’s walking sticks, the shawl and dhoti worn by Gandhi when he was assassinated, one of the bullets that were used to kill Gandhi, his urn, some of Gandhi’s teeth and his ivory toothpick. Other exhibits related to India’s history are also on display here. One can also watch a film on Mahatma Gandhi’s life and philosophy of the Sarvodaya Movement in either English or Hindi. The films in both languages are shown between 9:30 am and 5:30 pm except on Thursdays. On Sundays, the film is shown in Hindi at 4 pm and in English at 5 pm. Rajghat is open between 6:30 am and 5 pm on all days and entry is free.

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