The 17th century-old walled city of Delhi, formerly known as Shahjahanabad, is situated along the western river bank of the Yamuna.
It is abundant with many beautiful monuments, magnificent forts, and majestic mosques with historical and cultural significance, most of which were built during bygone era of Mughal Empire and other dynasties. If this is your first-time visit to the national capital, then you will surely find the contrast between the congested ‘Purani Dilli’ and the urbanized New Delhi quite striking!
Nevertheless, the charming Old Delhi region, with its world-famous historical sites, amazing shopping bazaars, and popular street-food joints attracts hordes of tourists from all over the world, every year.
Here is the list of 7 most visit-worthy places in Old Delhi that you will love to explore!
1. Red Fort
This colossal fortress made of red sandstone is also called ‘Lal Quila’ by the locals. It was built by the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan during 1638-1648 A.D. and covers over more than two kilometers of land. It houses many buildings such as the Deewan-e-aam, the Rang Mahal, the Moti Masjid, and the Royal Bath. This marvelous place is adorned with various Persian, Indian and European artworks. On 15th of August, every year, the Prime Minister of India hoists the Flag of India, to commemorate the country’s Independence Day.
The Red Fort is situated opposite the Chandni Chowk and remains closed on Mondays. The visiting hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The special attraction is the one hour-long light and sound show of the Red Fort’s history.
2. Jama Masjid
It is the largest mosque in India that easily accommodates up to 25,000 Muslim devotees in its courtyard. This elegant structure was designed and commissioned by the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan and nearly 5000 artisans were hired to complete its construction. The entire structure of the mosque is made of alternating strips of white marble and red sandstone It has wide red sandstone steps leading up to its three gates and is surrounded by two minarets and four angular towers with a height of 40 meters.
The central structure houses a main prayer hall which is sheltered with three marble domes along with their front-side arches. From the top of the Jama Masjid’s southern tower, you can enjoy a thrilling and fascinating rooftop view of the Old Delhi region.
However, you will have to follow a strict dress code if you want to enter this place of worship. Only barefoot visitors, with their heads, arms, and legs covered are allowed inside the premises.
This grand old mosque is located near the Red Fort, opposite the Chandni Chowk bazaar. You can throng this masjid complex any time of the day except between 12.15 p.m. to 1.45 p.m. which is the Islamic prayer time, and is open to tourists all year round.
3. Chandni Chowk
It is one of the oldest and most bustling market place in the city of Delhi. Its narrow winding alleyways are always crowded with tourists, shoppers, and commuters, throughout the year. Here you can buy artistic clothes, jewelry, artifacts, and souvenirs at a bargained price. You can also binge on many mouth-watering street foods and other local cuisine without spending a lot of money. The Chandni Chowk is also scattered with many havelis belonging to famous persons such as Mirza Ghalib (renowned Urdu poet) and Hakim Ajmal Khan (Unani practitioner).
4. Humayun’s Tomb
This beautiful memorial marks the burial site of the Mughal emperor Humayun. His wife Hamida Banu Begum appointed Mirak Mirza Ghiyath, a Persian architect to build the tomb complex between 1562 and 1570 A.D. This beautiful tomb is surrounded by many picturesque and well-kept lush-green gardens. It is also believed that the Humayun’s Tomb was the inspiration for the creation of the world-renowned Taj Mahal in Agra.
It is located near Nizamuddin train station, off Mathura Road and is open all days to visitors, from morning till evening hours.
5. Qutub Minar
This 72.5 meters high architectural wonder is believed to be the first monument built by a Muslim ruler in medieval India. Its construction began in the year 1206 by Qutub-ud-din Aibak of the Slave Dynasty and was later completed by his successors. There are five stories in this tower and its winding staircase consists of 380 steps. You will also find little openings and balconies throughout the tower for allowing light and air to enter. Based on Indo-Islamic style of architecture, its inner walls are carved with intricate drawings and verses from the Quran. The Qutub Minar also holds the distinction of being the world’s tallest brick minaret.
This historical landmark is situated in the Qutub complex, in Mehrauli, south New Delhi. You can visit this place every day and no visitors are allowed after the sunset.
6. Raj Ghat
An elegant square-shaped black platform made up of marble stone, marks the cremation site of the legendary Mahatma Gandhi. His last rites were performed here, near the western riverbank of the Yamuna, on 31st January 1948. His last spoken word “Hey Ram” is inscribed in the memorial and the entire platform is surrounded by plants and walls. All foreign dignitaries visiting India come to this memorial site to pay their homage to the Father of the nation. You can also walk through the halls of the two nearby government-owned museums dedicated to him.
This place is open for tourists all days of the week and remains open till sunset.
7. St. Stephen’s Church
This red-colored church was built in the year 1862 in the memory of the pious Christian preacher Saint Stephen. It has rose-colored stained glass windows and tall columns made up of sandstone. Its interiors are decorated with beautiful carvings and well-maintained furniture.
This glorious building is situated on the left-side of the Church Mission Road, near the Old Delhi Railway station. The church is open only on Sundays and visiting hours are from sunrise till sunset.