Old Delhi was the ancient city of Shahjahanabad that spreads west from the Red Fort and was surrounded by a sturdy wall at one time. Old Delhi is predominantly Muslim and most rarely venture beyond the ancient walls.There are many mosques, monuments and forts within Old Delhi that relate to India's Muslim history. The notable attractions include Red Fort, constructed in 1638; Chandni Chowk, the main thoroughfare, with the temples and bird hospital; Jama Mosque, the largest in India and Sunehri Masjid, with its three gold domes.
The Red Fort or Lal Qila was started in 1638 by Shah Jahan and completed in 1648. The Red Fort was the seat of Mughal power from 1639 to 1857.The red sandstone walls of the fort vary from 18m to 33m and the fort covers over 2 kilometers. The entire fort is a crescent shape surrounded by a moat.The main entance to the Red Fort is the Lahore Gate, named for the fact that it faces towards Lahore in Pakistan. Delhi Gate is similar to Lahore but grander in design and the gate was used by the emperor, every Friday, for ceremonial processions to the Jama Masjid.Once entering through the Lahore Gate of the Red Fort, visitors reach the Covered Bazaar also known as Chatta Chowk. The Chatta Chowk was one of the first covered bazaars of the 17th C and items sold include silks, jewelry, gems, silver ware and other artistic objects. Today the bazaar carries souvenirs and food items.The Naubat Khana, within the Red Fort, housed the musicians who played for the emperor each day. The galleries contain large musical instruments like kettledrums, hautboys (shehnai) and cymbals.Diwan-i-Am is the Hall of Public Audiences where the emperor would receive his subjects and listen to complaints or disputes. The Diwan-i-Khas or Hall of Private Audience was built with white marble and used for private audiences with the emperor.
The Qutub Minar was started in the 12th C and it was completed in the 13th C. This ornate tower attracts many international visitors who climb to the top for breathtaking views of the surrounding area.The Qutub Minar rises over 230 feet in the air, has five stories and is covered with intricate carvings. The first three stories are made of red sandstone, the fourth and fifth stories were built with marble and sandstone. The carvings feature the history of Qutub and inscriptions from the Koran.The complex surrounding the Qutub Minar includes the Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid, a mosque located at the base of the tower; the gateway built in 1310; the tombs of Altamish, Alauddin Khalji and Imam Zamin, and a 2000 year old Iron Pillar- the Alai Minar.It has been struck by lightning and survived several earthquakes, despite the wear and tear the Qutub Minar has a slight tilt but has weathered the centuries well.
OId Delhi - Jama Masjid
The Jama Masjid is one of India's largest mosques and was the final architectural feat for Shah Jahan. Construction began in 1644 and the project was completed in 1658.The Jama Mosque features three gateways, four angled towers and two 40 meters high minarets. It was built using red sandstone and white marble, which were alternated in vertical stripes. Visitors can climb to the top of the southern minaret for spectacular views of Old Delhi.The central pool of Jama Masjid is for washing hands, face and feet. The main prayer hall contains the mihrab for prayer leaders.Visitors must take off their shoes and make sure that they are properly dressed before entering the mosque. Non-Muslims may not enter during prayers but visitors would be in awe to see 25,000 worshippers fill the great expanse.
Chandni Chowk is Old Delhi's main thoroughfare dedicated to shopping, trading and eating. Chandni Chowk is a massive area packed with shops, bazaars, and people. As Asia's largest wholesale market, Chandni Chowk features an array of goods available at the shops and stalls.Naya Bazaar and Gadodial Market are the spice markets with hundreds of spices available including aniseed, ginger, pomegranate, saffron, lotus seeds, pickles and chutneys. Chawri Bazaar on Chandni Chowk was notorious for the ladies who beckoned men from above the street; today the shops specialize in brass and copper Buddhas, Vishnus and Krishnas.The nearby bird hospital is run by the Jains who believe in preservation of all life.
Humayun's Tomb is a lofty mausoleum set in a square garden. The tomb was constructed with white marble and red sandstone, and was designed as a prototype of the Taj Mahal in Agra. It is an excellent example of Mughal architecture.Humayun's Tomb is a memorial that was built by Haji Begum, Humayun's senior widow, in the mid-16th C. The tomb is surrounded by formal gardens and other tombs including Humayun's barber and the Tomb of Isa Khan, the architect of Taj Mahal are also located in the garden.Isa Khan's tomb is an example of Lodi architecture and octagonal in shape.