Unknown facts about Delhi city – Part1

Age old baolis

Visiting back in time, several magnificent age old Step well (baolis)  are still visible  in Delhi. The history of Delhi, its rise & fall, victories and defeat would remain incomplete without the presence of these baolis.

Rajon Ki Baoli

Rajon Ki Baoli

Agrasen ki Baoli

Located midst of busy marketplace of Connaught place surrounded by office towers and shopping malls, the Agrasen ki Baoli, named after Raja Agrasen of the Mahabharata, is believed to have been built during the 10th century BC. But historians feel that the Baoli was built in the 14th century AD by the Agarwal community. The well was surrounded by cool corridors where the locals lounged on hot summer afternoons

Agrasen ki Baoli: Located off Hailey Road. Nearest metro station:  Barakhamba Road.

Hazrat Nizamuddin ki Baoli

Dedicated to the legendary Sufi saint who made generous use of this water tank, it lay in ruins and was all but forgotten till the year 2009. The Delhi administration in consultation with the Dargah officials undertook a massive cleanup exercise and repaired the crumbling edifices of the Baoli. This drive exposed the blocked passage and underground springs which had been choked with garbage and filth. Today this is one of the few remaining baolis which despite its 800+ years of history has an active underground spring. You can find it next to the Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah.

Hazrat Nizamuddin ki Baoli : Nizamuddin West, New Delhi-13

Rajon Ki Baoli

The Rajon ki Baoli, deriving its name from the word masons is a 3 story step well, that has made its own niche among various monuments, as a relic of the last pre-Mughal dynasty, the Lodhis.. It is believed to have been built by Daulat Khan during the time of Sikander Lodhi. The first impression you get of this baoli is of a medieval courtyard surrounded by many-pillared verandahs, arches done in a stylized fashion.

Rajon Ki Baoli : Mehruli Archelogial Park,  Mehrauli, New Delhi-30 ,  Nearest Metro Station : Qutub Minar

Gandhak ki Baoli

Currently used by neighborhood, the Gandhak ki Baoli was built by Iltutmish for Bakhtiar Kaki (a Sufi mystic responsible for establishing the Sufi order in Delhi). The Gandhak ki Baoli got its name from the smelly sulphur springs that fed the well. It is located at one edge of the vast Mehrauli Archaeological Park and remains a trailer to the ruins of a settlement that had developed in the 16th & 17th Century.

Gandhak ki Baoli :  Mehrauli, New Delhi-30 , Nearest Metro Station : Qutub Minar

Anangtal Baoli

Located in Mehrauli, on record it is the oldest existing baoli in Delhi, dating back to the 10th century. It was built by the Rajput King Anang Pal II of the Tomar Dynasty. Legend has it that the king commissioned the construction of many such baolis, big and small, all over his kingdom, at the behest of his favourite courtesan whose family of meagre means died of thirst and impoverishment.

Anangtal Baoli : Near Jogmaya Temple, Mehrauli, New Delhi-30,  Nearest Metro Station : Qutub Minar

Tughlaqabad Fort Baolis

Out of the 13 Baolis which were constructed in the 14th century on the order of Ghazi Malik, only 2 survive in the fort. The remaining baolis have died in the human made smoke, some ruins still lie in the background of the rural villages but it is strictly prohibited for the locals. In the current scenario, the existing two baolis are situated on either side of the fort – at the east or west side.

Tughlaqabad Fort Baolis : Tughlaqabad Fort, New Delhi-19, ,  Nearest Metro Station :Tughlaqabad

Lal Qila Baoli

This opulent baoli dating back to the Mughal period witnessed a lot of havoc until it was restored by the ASI. It is quite a unique structure made of Delhi Quartzite with perpendicular staircases from two sides, lined with chambers at the intersection of which lies a pit, attached to the well. The water was fresh and clean and there were fish inside it.

Lal Qila Baoli :  Red Fort Complex, Netaji Subhash Road, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi-06, Nearest Metro Station : Chandni Chowk

Hauz Khas Village, Delhi

Hauz Khas Village is a glamorous village with Pubs, Night clubs , Narrow colorful streets and street arts all around. The ambience of this place is simply amazing with narrow streets, graffiti walls, crowded with foreigners, cafes and lounges, numerous art galleries, upscale boutiques, restaurants, antique shops added to the beauty of the place. A variety of food options ranging from the street foods (rolls, momos, pani puri) to traditional South Indian and North Indian and continental food are available here.
Apart from the cafe’s lane you have hauz khas lake to see, which is very fascinating lake amidst surrounding greenery. The water tank (Hauz Khas Lake) was excavated during Alauddin Khilji‘s reign (1296–1316) in the second city of Delhi to meet the water supply needs of the newly built fort at Siri. Now the tank size has substantially reduced due to encroachment and siltation but is well maintained in its present state.
Hauz khas village also houses an Islamic seminary, a mosque, a tomb and pavilions built around an urbanized village with medieval history traced to the 13th century of Delhi Sultanate reign. It was part of Siri, the second medieval city of India of the Delhi Sultanate of Allauddin Khilji Dynasty (1296–1316).

Picture journey through the street of Hauz Khas :

Tomb of Feroz Shah

Tomb of Feroz Shah Kotla

Tomb of Feroz Shah Kotla

Tomb of Feroz Shah Kotla

Tomb of Feroz Shah Kotla

Tomb of Feroz Shah Kotla

Hauz Khas Lake

View of Lake from the tomb


Street design at Hauz Khas

Street design at Hauz Khas

Street design at Hauz Khas

Street design at Hauz Khas

Street food of Delhi

Delhi, capital of India besides its historical important is also popular among the street food lovers. Specially, the old city streets of Chandni Chowk are a hub for the city’s best street food. Begin with mouth-watering dahi bhalla, gol guppas,  paratha, kashori, lassi, rabdi  faluda and crispy papri chaat . The streets are lined with halwais (sweet-sellers), namkeenwallahs (sellers of savouries) and paranthe wallahs.

 The real flavor of the Delhi street food lies in the chaat.  Chaat is basically a mixture of potato pieces, crispy fried bread, Dahi Bhalla, gram and tangy-salty spices. The mixture is garnished with sour Indian chilly, fresh green coriander leaves and yoghurt. However, there are several other variants also available. Let us explore a few of the chaat shops. Shree Balaji Chaat Bhandar (1462),  Bishan Swaroop (1421) is perhaps the best and most popular chaatwallah in Chandni Chowk.   Nearby in Chawri Bazaar, Hira Lal Chaat Corner and Jugal Kishore Ramji Lal have perfected variations of fruit chaat. You cannot afford to give a miss to the authentic chaat at Lala Babu Chaat Bhandar (77, Chandni Chowk, Near McDonald’s).

Indian Street Food : Gol Gappas and Chaat

Street Food : Gol Gappas and Chaat

How can you forget  Gol Gappe (served with a type of Jal Jeera that’s packed with harad (a digestive) kachoris stuffed with potato and chana), Gobhi-Matar Samosas, Dahi Bhalla and Matar Paneer Tikki. The delicacy called Dahi Bhalla is a deep-fried urad dal dumpling smothered in whipped curd. Often, it is streaked with chocolate brown laces of sweet-sour tamarind chutney. Pink pomegranate seeds  added with curd.  Kachori, usually stuffed with pulses and served with potato curry, is another delicacy that makes your mouth water. Jung Bahadur Kachori Wala (1104, Chhatta Madan Gopal, Chandni Chowk) is perhaps the most famous for its Urad Dal Kachori, which is served with Aloo Subzi. This place is surely worth visiting.

On the sweeter side, Rabdi Faluda is a must. And the place to have it is ‘Giani di Hatti’ near the Fatehpuri Mosque. It has now become an ice-cream parlor specializing in exotic flavors like Litchi and Bubblegum. Apart from standard ice creams, they also serve milkshakes, fruit shakes, ice-cream shakes and sundaes. If you like kulfi – a flavored frozen dessert made of milk. The popular destination here is Siya Ram Nannumal Kulfiwale (629, Gali Lodan, Ajmeri Gate) They offer flavor including – Kesar, Pista, Rose, Kewra, Banana, Mango, or Pomegranate.

Let’s visit the world famous Paranthewali Gali. It became a famous gourmet locality when the parantha shops moved here in the 1870s. This lane has been the haunt of many celebrities of India. Paranthe Wale Gulli’s fried, crisp parantha comestuffed with the usual (Aloo Parantha, Gobhi Parantha and Matar Parantha, stuffed with potato, cauliflower and chana respectively potato or paneer) and there are several new variants including lentils, fenugreek, radish, papad, carrot and mixed. Besides, there are paranthas which cost slightly more and include those stuffed with paneer, mint, lemon, chilly, dry fruits, cashew, raisins, almond, rabdi, khurchan, banana, karela, lady’s finger and tomato. The paranthas are fried in pure ghee in cast-iron pans. They are served with Mint Chutney, vegetable pickle and Aloo Subzi. Perhaps the oldest shop among these is Pt Gaya Prasad Shiv Charan, established in 1872. Others include Pandit Devi Dayal’s (1886) and Kanhaiya Lal Durga Prasad’s Parantha Shop (1875).

In Chandni Chowk, you meet the Old and Famous Jalebiwala just before you enter Dariba Kalan. Refresh yourself with a delicious plate of hot jalebis – a sweet made by deep frying batter in a kind of round shape and then soaked in sugar syrup. Also, don’t miss the Jama Masjid area that buzzes with activity. The aroma of food come to your nose from the Urdu Bazaar facing Gate No. 1 of the Masjid and a side street called Matia Mahal. The smell of fresh fish, aromatic kebabs and fried chicken is in the air. Vendors sell kebabs and tikkas (made of buffalo meat) wrapped in rumali roti (paper-thin bread) at throwaway prices. The Mutton Burrahs,Mutton Korma, Shammi Kabab and Shahjahani Korma available here are worth testing.

Don’t forget to visit Ghantewala sweet shop at Chandni Chowk, which is more than 200 years old. The sweets here are prepared in pure desi ghee. Highly recommended are the Sohan Halwa Papdi, Pista Samosa and Badam Burfi – truly sinful pieces of heaven on earth.

Other best places in the hunt of street food include, South Delhi’s Bengali Sweets, Evergreen Sweet House and Haldiram’s. Varieties of Momos and Pork dishes available in the street of Sarojini market.

Delhi Travel

Delhi, locally called as Dilli , also by the official name National Capital Territory of INDIA is famous for its culture, tradition and effervescent history.
Located on the banks of the River Yamuna, Delhi with a spectacular architecture of monuments and an amalgamation of different cultures has been continuously inhabited since at least the 6th century BC. Delhi has always had a mysterious eternity that has witnessed empires rise to glory and fall to ashes. The culture of Delhi reflects the rich heritage of the past coupled with the influence of modern lifestyle. Delhi has always been a cosmopolitan city where one would find people from all parts of India. Overall, Delhi is a very multi-linguist and multi-cultured society which has now opened itself to embracing every new custom and tradition. New Delhiis famous for its planned landscape and spacious streets with shades of greenery. Major commercial establishments are situated in New Delhi’s business hubs likeConnaught Place, Nehru Place, Bikaji Kama, South Extension and ITO.

New Delhi is also the place where the new big international businesses are concentrated and extended spacious residential areas are located as contrasted with the swarming life in Old Delhi.

The southern parts of Delhi i.e. South and South West Delhi, are the most up-coming and prosperous areas in Delhi. The Qutub Minar and Siri Fort besides many a ancient monuments and Gumbads are there in South Delhi. The Humayun’s tomb which is adjacent to the South Delhi . The wife of Humayun built the tomb for her husband and it is and it served as inspiration for the Taj Mahal in Agra that was built later. It can easily take up to four days when you want to see all the sights of Delhi.

With more and more tourists coming to Delhi, the government has a special ministry to look into the well being of visitors. Tours and travel agencies in the city provide tourism services ranging from accommodation to guide and sight-seeing. Delhi tourism department has set up help desk services for foreign tourists who can find all necessary information about the city.

General Information of Delhi :

» Capital – New Delhi. Area: 491 sq km.
» Population – 9370475.
» Language – Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, English is equally in the use.
» Touring season – Oct, Nov, Feb and March. However, winter is severe and long from Nov to early March.

Climate :

The summer season begins from April and ends in the month of June. During the summers the average maximum temperature is 40°C and minimum temperature is 25ºC. The monsoon arrives the city in early July and continues till the end of September. The winter extends from late November to February. The temperature in winters varies between 21°C to 5°C. January is the coldest month when the temerature drops to a minimum of 0 °C.

How to get there ?

» Air – Delhi has an extensive network of international and domestic flights. All the major airlines in the world fly through Delhi and it is easily accessible from anywhere in the world. Domestic air links cover Delhi from all the major cities in the country.
» Train – The Indian Railway with their modern and organized network connects Delhi to major and minor destination in India. There are three important railway stations in Delhi to all major and minor destinations in India, namely New Delhi Rly. Station, Old Delhi Rly. Station and Hazrat Nizamuddin Rly. Station. Trains run from all the parts of the country to Delhi. For nearby places like Chandigarh, Dehradun, Gwalior, Bhopal, Lucknow and Kanpur, the Shatabdi Express is recommended.
» Bus – Delhi is well connected by road to all major destinations in North India. The Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT) is located at Kashmiri Gate, Sarai Kale-Khan and Anand Vihar. Delhi Transport Corporation and Road Transport Corporations of the neighboring States provide frequent bus services through Air Conditioned, Deluxe and Ordinary Coaches

Best Season :

The best season to visit Delhi is between October to March. Summers in Delhi are very hot humid. It is not recommended to visit it during May, June or July.

Places to See in Delhi


India Gate

Built as a memorial to commemorate the 70,000 India soldiers killed in World War I, India Gate was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and completed in 1931. Built from sandstone, the arch also houses the Eternal Flame, a gesture in memory of the Indian soldiers who laid their lives in the 1971 war with Pakistan.

Rashtrapati Bhawan

Formely the Viceregal Lodge, the building is the highlight of Lutyen’s New Delhi and was completed in 1929 at a cost of 12,53,000 pound sterling. Located in an area of 130 hectares, the palace has 340 rooms.

Red Fort

The Red Fort is one of the most magnificent palaces in the world. India’s history is also closely linked with this fort.

Qutab Minar

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.

Purana Quila/ Old Fort

The fort is said to be constructed on the historic site of Indraprastha (900BC) by Humayun and Sher Shah. Covering a circuit of about a mile, the walls of the fort have three gates and are surrounded by a mat fed by the river Yamuna.

Jantar Mantar

It is  an observatory constructed by  Sawai Jia Singh II of Jaipur (1699-1743), a keen astronomer and a noble in the Mughal court, was dissatisfied by the errors of brass and metal astronomical instruments.

Humayun‘s Tomb

An beautiful Mughal architecture in India, Humayun’s Tomb was built by the emperor’s grieving widow, Haji Begum, in 1565 AD.

Jama Masjid

Work on the Jama Masjid mosque was begun in 1650 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan . More than 5,000 workers toiled for six years to complete the largest mosque in India. Every Friday, the emperor and his retinue would travel in state from the fort to the mosque to attend the congressional prayers.

Safdarjung’s Tomb

Representing the last phase of the Mughal style of architecture, Safdarjang’s Tomb stands in the centre of an extensive garden.

Rajghat

The mortal remains of mahatma Gandhi were cremated on this spot on the west bank of the river Yamuna on the evening of January 31, 1948.

Lakshmi Narayan Mandir

Built in 1938, the temple contains a large number of  idols and visitors can also watch priests performing ritualistic prayers.

Near by Excursion

Taj Mahal , Agra

Taj Mahal, one of the most fabulous monuments in the world, history and time. Thronged by visitors year round, Taj Mahal is 200 km from Delhi. It was built by the fifth Mughal emperor Shahjahan, in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz. The monument is a perfect piece of architecture. It took 22 years, 41 million rupees, 50 kilos of gold and around 20,000 workers to complete this marvel of marble.

Situated by the river Yamuna, Taj Mahal sits on a high red sandstone terrace, topped by marble terrace. It is flanked by four minarets. The jewel in-laid cenotaph of the empress lies within the dome. The entire mausoleum is decorated with inlaid design of flowers and calligraphy with semi precious stones like jasper and agate.
One can take a train, either the Shatabdi or Taj Express.

Location: Tajganj, Agra
Timings: 6:00 am to 7:30 pm
Entrance fee: Rs 20/-. Rs 750/- (at sunset or sunrise).
The monument is closed on Fridays.

Agra Fort, Agra

Situated on the west bank of the Yamuna river and two km from Taj Mahal, the Agra fort was started by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1565. The impressive red sandstone fort extends for about 2.5 km and is surrounded by a deep moat which was once filled with water of Yamuna. Though Akbar built it mainly as a military centre, it was under Shahjahan’s rule that the fort became more of a mini city.

Of the many gates, the only one open to public is the Amar Singh gate, which leads into the fort. Immediately on the right is the Jahangiri Mahal. The other impressive monuments within the fort are the Diwan-i-Khas, where the emperor met the dignitaries, the Diwan-i-Aam, Nagina Masjid (built by Shahjahan for his harem) and the Moti Masjid. Towards the northeast of the fort is the Musamman Burj, where Shahjahan was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb.
Location: Agra

Mathura (146 km southeast of Delhi)

Mathura is the birthplace of the world’s popular deity, Lord Krishna. With a history that traces itself to the beginnings of world trade, Mathura is one of the most ancient cities of India. It is situated on the banks of the Yamuna, in Uttar Pradesh, and is one of the most important pilgrimage centers in India.
Mathura is famous for the Krishnajanmabhumi Mandir, Vishram Ghat and Sati Burj. It is believed that Lord Krishna rested at Vishram Ghat after killing the tyrant Kamsa. Evenings at the Vishram Ghat are generally a very beautiful sight with hundreds of diyas floating on the river. The Ghats offer very picturesque sights with long flight of stairs leading to the river’s edge. You can find many pilgrims bathing in the river and from a distance you can see the temple spires silhouetted against the sky.

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri was built by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1571 in honour of the Sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chisti. It was the Mughal capital for 14 years after which it was abandoned, probably due to the lack of water. The capital is amazingly beautiful with its palaces and it reflects the architectural style Akbar patronised.

Even to this day, the entrance to the fort is through the road that Akbar built. The road leads to the Buland Darwaza, a huge 54 metres gateway. It later inspired other lofty gates. Today young daredevils jump from its ruins into the deep tank to earn money from the tourists. Other inspiring monuments in Fatehpur Sikri are the Hiran Minar, that Akbar built in memory of his favourite elephant, Tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti, Birbal’s House and the Diwan-i-Khas.