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MONUMENTS OF DELHI
Jama Masjid

The main entrance is through the 54-meter-high Buland Darwaza, the Gate of Victory, constructed to commemorate Akbar's victory in Gujarat. This impressive gateway is reached by an equally impressive flight of steps. A Koranic inscription inside the archway includes the useful thought: 'The world is a bridge, pass over it but build no house upon it. He who hopes for an hour may hope for eternity'. Just outside the gateway is a deep well and, when there is a sufficient number of tourists assembled, local daredevils leap from the top of the entrance into the water.

The courtyard of the mosque has a capacity of 25,000 people. For Rs 5 it’s possible to climb the southern minaret, and the views in all directions are superb Old Delhi, the Red Fort, and New Delhi to the south. You can also see one of the features that the architect Lutyens incorporated into his design of New Delhi the Jama Masjid, Connaught Place and Sansad Bhavan are in direct line. There’s also a fine view of the Red Fort from the east side of the mosque.

Qutub Minar

Delhi is also a major center for domestic travel. A soaring tower of early Muslim vintage, the Qutub Minar attracts many visitors from all across the world. Work on the minar was started by Qutub-ud-din Aibak in 1199, celebrating the advent of Muslim dominance in Delhi, but the construction was completed by his successors in the 13th century. The Qutub Minar is covered with intricate carvings and deeply inscribed verses from the Koran. Beautiful calligraphy adorns the adjacent edifices.

The Minar rises over 230 feet and can be ascended by a circular stairway for a view that is breathtaking. The monument tapers from a 15-meter diameter base to just 2˝ metres at the top The tower has five distinct storeys, each marked by a projecting balcony. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone, the fourth and fifth of marble and sandstone.. It was also a minaret, from which the muezzin called the devout to prayer. Today, this impressively ornate tower has a slight tilt, but has otherwise remained remarkably well preserved over the centuries.

Red Fort

The Lal Quila lies in the northeast corner of the original city of shahjahanabad. Entrance to the fort is through the imposing Lahore Gate, which as its name suggests faces Lahore, now in Pakistan. This gate has a special significance for India, since the first war of independence, and has been the venue of many an important speech, delivered by freedom fighters and national leaders of India.

The main entrance opens on to the Chatta Chowk, a covered street flanked with arched cells, that used to house Delhi's most skilful jewellers, carpet makers, weavers and goldsmiths. This arcade was also known as the Meena Bazaar, the shopping centre for the ladies of the court. Just beyond the Chhata Chowk, is the heart of the fort called Naubat Khana, or the Drum House. Musicians used to play for the emperor from the Naubat Khana, and the arrival of princes and royalty was heralded from here. The Fort also houses the Diwan-i-Am or the Hall of Public Audiences, where the Emperor would sit and hear complaints of the common folk. His alcove in the wall was marble-paneled, and was set with precious stones, many of which were looted, after the Mutiny of 1857.

The Diwan-i-Khas is the hall of private audiences, built with white marble, was the luxurious chamber where the Emperor held private meetings. The center-piece of the hall used to be the magnificent Peacock Throne, which was carried away to Iran by Nadir Shah in 1739. Today, the Diwan-i-Khas is only a pale shadow of its original glory, yet the famous Persian couplet inscribed on its wall reminds us of its former magnificence: &If on earth be an eden on bliss, it is this, it is this, none but this." Among the other attractions are the hammams or the Royal Baths three large rooms surmounted by domes, with a fountain in the center. Then the three storeyed octagonal tower of Shahi Burj, which used to be Shahjahan's private working area, and the Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque, built by Aurangzeb for his personal use.

The ‘Rang Mahal’ or the 'Palace of Colors' housed the Emperor's wives and mistresses. This palace was crowned with gilded turrets, delicately painted and decorated with an intricate mosaics of mirrors, and a ceiling overlaid with gold and silver, that was wonderfully reflected in a central pool in the marble floor. Even today, the Lal Quila is an eloquent reminder of the glory of the Mughal era, and its magnificence simply leaves one awestruck. It is still a calm haven of peace, which helps one to break away, from the frantic pace of life outside the walls of the Fort, and transports the visitor to another realm of existence.

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