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Delhi Travel Guide - Things to See
New Delhi is both the best and worst place to begin an itinerary in India: the best, because making the transition from a Western environment to an Indian one is easier in a city that is relatively clean and uncluttered; and the worst because in some respects New Delhi is at once the least exotic and least "Indian" town in India.

Delhi is actually two cities: New Delhi with its broad boulevards, parks, fountains, impressive government buildings, and embassies; and Old Delhi with its historic landmarks, crowded streets, bazaars, and all those cows.

American Embassy: Designed by Edward Durrell Stone and opened in 1959. It's a graceful building, cool, spacious, dignified, and welcoming. It is fronted by a mosaic grillwork of white stone and enhanced by a fountain-lined reflecting pool

National Gallery of Modern Art: Jaipur House, near India Gate, deals with Indian art from the middle of the last century on, and is a lesson in the sensitivity of artists to foreign influence. Daily, except Monday, from 10-5.

Humayun's Tomb: The enormous sandstone and marble mausoleum of Emperor Humayun began a new style in monuments and this design may have been the inspiration for the later Taj Mahal at Agra. The tomb holds not only the body of Humayun, but also that of his widow and later members of the dynasty. The tomb is set in an attractive garden and its symmetrical dome is lined on the bottom with what appear to be guest rooms but which are actually different vaults for members of the royal line.

Qutb Minar and vicinity: The fluted tower of Qurtb Minar was built of hard, red sandstone nearly 800 years ago. The tower is fat at the bottom and tapers to a narrow platform at the top, 230 feet above. Its interior spiral stairway is as sound today as when it was first built. The beautiful tower stands in the attractive gardens of India's first mosque which is now partially in ruin. In these ruins stands a 24-foot shaft of iron, worn shiny about a fifth of the way up, by the arms of countless people who believe the legend that it brings good luck to join their hands behind their back behind the pole.

New Delhi: Go through the India Gate and you'll be on Rajpath, scene of numerous parades and the site of the main governmental buildings. India's Parliament is the circular structure where members of the two houses come from every region. Nearby is the impressive Rashtrapatl Bhavan, the Presidential Palace, with 340 rooms and 330 surrounding acres of gardens. This was the imperial abode of the viceroy when India was the jewel in England's crown of colonies. About l 1 kilometers from Parliament is the Nehru Memorial Museum, where the late Prime Minister Nehru lived for 16 years. The interior has been preserved just as he left it. That's about it for New Delhi. Now move on to the far more interesting Old Delhi.

Old Delhi: The Red Fort, an immense, heavily guarded palace built of red sandstone. It is magnificent, with inner gardens, marble buildings and interesting architecture. But it was once more impressive and housed the famous Peacock Throne in a room whose ceiling was solid gold. The Persians invaded and looted these and almost everything of value. The Jama Masjid Mosque, begun in 1644 and completed in 1658 is an impressive building almost opposite the Red Fort. Its two 130 foot high minarets dwarf the hundreds of jam-packed stalls nearby. On the other side of town, the Sri Lakshmi Narayan Hindu Temple houses a colorful collection of carved and decorated marble, plus turrets and towers of red and yellow sandstone. It was built in 1938. It is always thronged with white-robed pilgrims, some of who will invariably be squatting before the full-color statue of Lord Krishna in the main hall.

Mahatma Gandhi's Cremation Site: This site is maintained as a tranquil open-air shrine open to all every day. It is not far from the Red Fort. After a walk through a grassy park, you come to the Gandhi Shrine proper, a stone-enclosed garden in the center of which is a black marble slab in scribed with Gandhi's last words, "O God". Gandhi was shot by a Hindu fanatic at a meeting in 1948.

The Delhi Zoo: The zoo is like a spacious park in which many of the animals appear to roam free. It's a lovely place to wander around. Don't miss the rare white tiger.
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Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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