Delhi being the capital city of India is also famous for the history of Mughals. The entire city is covered with various historical monuments of the Mughal era and the Delhi Sultanate period, which makes the city a popular tourist attraction. The Stunning architectures and the mysteries associated with them thrill the visitors across the world. There are so many historical places in Delhi, the most popular among them are the Red fort, Jama Masjid, Qutb Minar, India Gate, Humayun’s tomb, etc.
However, there are also many other places which are lesser known. So let us have a look at the famous and non-famous historical places in Delhi.
Famous Historical Places in Delhi
The Red Fort is a No.1 Heritage site of Delhi built by Shah Jahan in 1963. The Red Fort is situated in the center of Delhi, it is a historical fort made of red sandstone hence named as Red Fort. It lies on the banks of river Yamuna. It was the main residence of Mughal Dynasty. Red fort blends Indian, Persian and Timurid style architecture perfectly.
It is octagonal in structure with different gates like Lahori, Ajmeri, Kashmiri, Mori, Turkman, and Delhi. It houses various structures in its premises known as Dewan-I-Khas, Dewan-I-am, Moti Masjid and Nahr-i-Bashisht. The site is a major tourist attraction and also marked by UNESCO as the World Heritage Site. The fort also consists of museums displaying the artifacts of Mughal Era. It is one of the most visited historical places in Delhi.
The Qutub Minar, also spelled as Qutab Minar, or Qutb Minar, is the tallest minaret in the world made up of bricks and the most visited tourist spot. It was constructed by Qutb Ud-Din-Aibak who was the founder of Delhi Sultanate. The Qutb Minar stands tall in the Qutb complex with other antique structures like Iron Pillar and Alai Darwaza.
The place reflects India’s past with its vintage architecture. It has a height of 240 ft., a base diameter of 14.3 m and a top diameter of 2.7 m. There is a spiral staircase inside the tower of 379 stairs climbing to the tower top. It is built with red sandstone and marble. The entire tower has 5 storeys with a balcony in each floor. It reflects Indo-Islamic architecture.
The tower is inscribed with the verses from Holy Quran and Parso-Arabic letters. It is one of the most popular historical places in Delhi.
India Gate holds the pride of the country. It is also known as All India War Memorial with a huge gate like structure standing erect on the ground. The sight is an inspiration for the Indians dedicated to the Indian armed forces and also British soldiers who gave their life for the country during the First World War and Third Anglo-Afghan War.
The structure is 42m in height and the largest war memorial of India. The structure also includes the 13,300 names of the servicemen inscribed on it. There is a structure known as Amar Jawan Jyoti under the archway of India gate dedicated to the soldiers of India. It has become the most popular tourist attraction due to its history and amazing architecture.
It is the grave of the Mughal Emperor Humayun. The tomb is surrounded by a garden located in the eastern side of Delhi. It follows typical Mughal architecture inspired by Persian style and built completely in red sandstone. This place due to its astonishing architecture and great historical background has been marked as the World Heritage site by UNESCO.
The tomb was built on the orders of his wife Baga begum during 1569-70. The inspiration behind Humayun’s Tomb was Mirak Mirza Ghiyath who was a Persian architect. The Majestic tomb lies in the middle of Mughal Garden on the banks of river Yamuna. The best time to visit this place is during the winter season. It also includes graves of his wife, descendants of Shah Jahan and many other Mughals.
Jantar Mantar is located in the parliament street to the south of Connaught Circle in New Delhi. It is a famous observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1724 and a part of the famous observatories in Jaipur, Ujjain, Mathura, and Varanasi. It has 13 astronomical instruments which can be used for astronomical table compilation to make predictions about the timing of sun, Moon and all the other planets in the universe.
It was built for an improvised study of time and space. The instruments are known to be constructed in such a way that it enables any observer to note the position of the planets just by looking at the sky, the instruments follow Egypt’s Ptolemaic astronomy and three celestial coordinates to find the position of planets and other heavenly bodies. It is one of the most unique historical places in Delhi.
Old Fort/Purana Qila
It is an Old fort located at Indraprastha famous for its ancient glory and magnificent Mughal architecture. It lies on the Yamuna river banks covering a total area of 1.5 km. This fort is believed to be the assembly hall during the era of Mahabharata as the place Indraprastha is said to be constructed by the Pandavas.
The fort holds historical significance of the legendary facts during the medieval period. It has 3 entrances with the beautiful trees planted in the green lawns surrounding it. The fort is a perfect place to spend some quality time during the summer season. It also attracts the tourist with light and sound show every evening on “the seven cities of Delhi”. The show highlights how New Delhi evolved from Indraprastha.
It is a park popularly known as Lodhi Gardens located in New Delhi. It covers a total area of 90 acres. The garden contains the Tomb of Sikander Lodi which is known as Lodi Tomb and also tombs of Mohammad Shah with Shisha Gumbad and Bara Gumbad. The Lodi tomb was built by Ibrahim Lodi in 1517 who was the son of Sikander Lodi.
The tomb has a rectangular structure with no of steps built on a raised platform. The British renovated Lodi’s tomb and added the inscription of Lodi’s defeat to Babar by renovating it in 1866. This tomb is believed to be the foundation of Mughal as Ibrahim Lodi was the last emperor of Delhi Sultanate era and was defeated by Babur in Panipat war.
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It is the second largest mosque of India and an important tourist attraction in Delhi. It is the main Masjid in Delhi for the Muslim communities where they gather for prayer on Fridays. The courtyard of Jama Masjid has 30 stair steps giving a spectacular view of the mosque to the visitors. It is mainly built in red sandstone along with some white marbles.
The East gate of the Masjid is a large one with a courtyard which can accommodate up to 25,000 people. The eastern gate was known to be the Royal gate while the north-south gates are small in size. The Masjid has a large prayer hall with three marble domes rising from the roof. The structure is oriented towards the holy city of Mecca in the west. It is one of the most popular religious historical places in Delhi.
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It is a giant fort which was earlier founded by Ghitaz-Ud-din Tughlaq in 1321. The fort was abandoned in 1327. It is made of stones with walls of 10 to 15 meters in height. The stone walls are crowned with battlement parapets and bastions. The fort city had a planning of building maximum 52 gates in the city while we have only 13 gates at the present remaining.
History says Nawazuddin Auliya wanted every labor of this city to participate in building the fort which triggered anger in one of the labor and he cursed Nawazuddin Auliya that either the fort remains unoccupied or it becomes a residence for the herdsmen. It is believed due to this curse the city could not flourish anymore and got abandoned.
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Agrasen ki Baoli
It is an interesting tourist destination with its historical beauty located in New Delhi. It is an old water reservoir with 103 steps from the depth of the ground. It is built of stones and rocks. This is a quiet mystical place in the busy city of central Delhi and is perfect for photography. The reservoir is surrounded by historical old brick walls.
A drop from normal temperature is also experienced in going down the steps. It is 60 meters lengthwise and 15 meters breadth-wise. The reservoir is still believed to be active till date as in some occasions the lower parts of the reservoir are seen having water. The site is believed to be haunted as many visitors felt a strange presence in the site.
This is one of the holy sites of Delhi visited by thousands of people across the world. The Masjid is dedicated to Nizamuddin Auliya who was a Sufi saint. The Dargah also consists of tombs of other people like Amir Khushroo who was a poet, Princess Jahan Ara who was Shah Jahan’s daughter and Inayat Khan.
The Dargah is lead by the streets with shops selling different items like chadars, polychrome clocks, Mecca prints, and flowers. The pavilion inside the Dargah is made of marble and Kawali singers can be seen performing in the honor of Nizamuddin Auliya. Women are not allowed to go inside the Dargah. They can reach up to the outer verandah and peek through the nets to see the grave of Nizamuddin Auliya.
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It was built by Shah Jahan as a dedication of his immortal love for his wife Mumtaz. It is located in Red Fort which means Jewel Palace. It is situated on the banks of river Yamuna and comes in the category of the six places which are connected to Yamuna River. It has a place called Chotti Baithak located to the north of the Mumtaz Mahal which at present doesn’t exist.
Mumtaz Mahal is made of white marble in its lower half and also in the pillars. It has six apartments which are divided by an arched structure. The interior of the apartments is painted with floral decorations. The Mumtaz Mahal is now used for exhibitions displaying various arts and crafts of the Mughal period.
It is also known as “Safdarjung ka makbara” which stands amidst the garden located in New Delhi between Safdarjung road and Aurobindo Marg. It is dedicated to Safdarjung who was a statesman during the ruling period of Ahmad Shah Bahadur. The tomb was built in traditional Mughal architecture with marble and sandstone during the 18 century. It is known as the last garden tomb by the Mughals. It is built on a raised platform surround by 280-meter garden on either side.
It has a huge courtyard and three dome-shaped mosque house enclosed within a wall inside the compound. The terrace of the tomb is very high with a bid central dome in it. The entry gate has two storeys which give a grand view of the tomb.
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Lesser Known Historical Places in Delhi
Tomb of Nizamuddin Auliya
Hazrat Nawazuddin Auliya tomb is also a Dargah situated near Mathura road in New Delhi. The mausoleum is dedicated to Hazrat Nawazuddin Auliya who was a Sufi saint. The famous tomb was built by Muhammad Tughlaq. The Dargah also houses other tombs of Begum Jahan Ara and Mirza Ghalib.
This place holds high religious importance to the devotes of Nizamuddin Auliya. The two popular festivals celebrated here are Id and Urs. The best time to visit this place is on Thursdays when the Kawali Singers perform outstandingly after the evening prayers.
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Tomb of Mirza Ghalib
The famous Mirza Ghalib Tomb is located at the north end of Chausath Khamba Enclosure lying very close to the shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin. Mirza Ghalib is known to be the popular Urdu and Persian poet during the Mughal era. The tomb is small in structure compared to other royal tombs in Delhi.
The structure is made of marble enclosed in a small courtyard which is locked. Tourists need to use a narrow lane through Nizam Basti to enter into the tomb area. The area also marks the Famous “Ghalib Academy” located next to the tomb.
Grave of Jahanara Begum
Jahanara Begum’s Grave is located in the southern part of the Tomb of Nizamuddin Auliya but unfortunately, it is visited by fewer people, unlike the Nizamuddin Auliya’s Tomb which is overcrowded by devotees. It is in the form of a marble slab with writings inscribed in Persian.
The grave is built in a simple style with no cover except green grass as princess Jahan Ara served the poor and she wanted her grave to be as simple as possible. The place is very elegant and holds a high historical importance which carries the beauty of her spirit.
Popularly known as “The Tower of Thieves” it is located in the Hauz Khas area in New Delhi. It is a 13th-century tower which is believed to be haunted. The history says it used to be the place of beheading where the heads of thieves and prisoners of war were displayed through the 225 holes in the tower as a punishment of serious crime like theft and an example to others thinking about theft. The place with the dangerous past is now a tourist attraction and meeting point for the local people.
The Khirki Masjid is named after Khirkis, an Urdu term for Windows. It spans a total area of 87 square meters located at Jahanpanah in Delhi. The Masjid consists of 4 majestic courtyards providing the maximum amount of light and air ventilation to the praying halls in the interior.
It stands on a raised platform with a square shaped structure which is divided into quarters. Each of the quarter has their own courtyards and also there are passageways from northern to southern part dividing the entire structure of the mosque.
Tomb of Adham Khan
The tomb is located to the west of Quwwat ul Islam Masjid on the border of Mehrauli village. The tomb was built by Akbar as a memory of Adham Khan who was the son of Akbar’s Nurse. When Adham Khan assassinated Akbar’s Prime Minister he was thrown out by Akbar from his Fort and built this tomb as a memory for Adham Khan’s beloved mother. The tomb is octagonal in structure with a wide dome. It is the oldest architecture of the 14th century.
It is an old monument situated at the Lodhi Gardens in Delhi. It is also a part of the Jama Masjid known as Friday mosque and Mehman khana known as the guest house of Sikander Lodhi. This monument was built in 1490 during the period of Lodhi dynasty. It is one of the earliest structures in Delhi with a full dome.
The history behind Bara Gumbad is not much clear till date. There are no signs of tomb inside the monument but the platform present in the center of its courtyards gives an indication of the burial place.
It is a palace situated in the northeast corner of Hauz-I-Shamsi inside the Mehrauli complex in South Delhi. The Jahaz Mahal has its beautiful reflection on the reservoir lake giving an image of a floating Ship. It has a U shaped courtyard at the center of the palace connected to the eastern side of the complex.
The corners are decorated with Two Chattris with 6 pillars, the next two with 8 pillars and finally the last one with 12 pillars. It also has its own private mosque with a Mihrab on the western wall directing towards Mecca.
Zafar Mahal is believed to be the last architecture of Mughal era. The building has two parts. The first floor constructed by King Akbar Shah II consisting of few rooms, Moti Masjid and Naubat Khana. The second floor was built by King Bhahdur Shah Zafar with a huge Hathi Gate and Chhatri in the center.
Moti Masjid which lies on the east side adjoined with Hz. Kaki’s Dargah wall has two exit points, one towards the Naubat Khana in the south and other towards Hz. Kaki’s Dargah towards the north. 70% of the palace is destroyed.
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