There are quite a few historic monuments in Delhi. Here are some lesser known facts about some famous ones.
Hope it helps traveldudes who are planning their next trip to Delhi.
To start with, the Red Fort:
- Initially was called ShahJahanabad for obvious reasons, named after its creator, Shah Jahan
- It was apparently the 7th City of Delhi, assuming it is the 7th avatar of this historic city.
- Tourists enter, and for that matter the Prime Minister addresses the nation from a place interestingly called, the Lahore Gate. There is a Delhi Gate too, but it is its poorer and lesser known cousin. No less well crafted and grand, it is at the left side of the fort when you enter through the Lahore Gate. Most people miss it, but its worth a look. Interesting observation, the tricolor flutters atop the Lahore Gate :)
- Aurangazeb's private place of Worship, is the moti masjid, make sure you read the information stones, they're quite interesting!
- The buildings East India Company built inside the fort was where, armed forces officers who defected to the Indian National Army were tried, courtmarshalled and sentenced.
- Red Fort was the place where the famed peacock throne and the kohinoor diamond were located, only to be looted by the many invaders, significantly the British.
The Qutb Minar:
- It might be the world's largest brick minaret, but its about 5 feet shorter than the Taj Mahal (Qutb Minar:238 ft, Taj Mahal:243 ft)
- Though entry inside the minar to the top is banned now, owing to a stampede that took place years ago (sigh!), it actually has 379 steps to the top, quite a bit aint it?
- The Qutb Complex houses the maqbara(tomb) of Allah-ud-din Khilji, who also built the Alai Darwaza, Iltutmish and Imam Zamin
- The Alai Minar was supposed to be taller than the Qutb Minar, but due to the death of its creator(Allah-ud-din Khilji at it again) and the indifference of his successors, it never reached more than a storey.
The Metro Museum:
- Located inside Patel Chowk Metro Station
- World's first metro museum to be located inside a working metro station
- A showcase of the hardships, the challenges, the solutions they came up with, the awards can be seen here. A huge source of info if you're interested in the railway system, rail engineering et al.
- Photography is strictly, I mean STRICTLY prohibited, cams and men are watching you constantly. So no pics of what I saw.
- You get good memorabilia here if you're a big fan of the Metro.
Swaminarayan Akshardham complex:
- World's Largest comprehensive Hindu Temple.
- It preaches a way of life called Swaminarayan Hinduism
- The musical fountain show, also called the Yagnapurush Kund, is a perfect embodiment of the Hindu trinity(Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma) [a personal opinion this]
- No gadgets are permitted inside, with a capital NO (you are frisked worse than what u can be in the airports)
- The place is built as per a section in the Vedas called Sthapathya Shastra, dealing with the creation and consecration of buildings/temples
- Swaminarayan's life history is brought to life using talking robots in the Sahajanand Pradarshan hall.
- The water complex that surrounds the swaminarayan temple has water mixed from all the 108 holy rivers of India. Water pours through gaumukhs, with each gaumukh signifying a river.
I'll skip Birla Mandir and the Rail Museum for they don't seem to have any or lesser known interesting facts.
Coming to the Jantar Mantar:
- It consists of 13 architectural astronomy instruments, built by Maharaja Jai Singh the 2nd of Jaipur. Interestingly, a similar complex is present in Jaipur as well.
- It seamlessly combines astronomy and astrology.
- The instruments have predicted distance from us to the sun to an accuracy of 10kms
- It can very accurately calculate what sun-sign the day is under.
- Unfortunately people seem to find it funny to inscribe their love on such precious monuments. Yeah, pure sarcasm I know. But its a sad fact.
- One good thing is, this very precious monument has come under a private partnership with ASI and a 5-star hotel nearby.