Delhi is a city that bridges two different worlds. Old Delhi, once the capital of Islamic India, is a labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with crumbling havelis and formidable mosques. In contrast, the imperial city of New Delhi created by the British Raj is composed of spacious, tree-lined avenues and imposing government buildings. Delhi has been the seat of power for several rulers and many empires for about a millennium.
Modern Delhi popularly known as Lutyens’ Delhi, bears a striking contrast to Old Delhi with respect to architecture, building materials and layout. However, Modern Delhi itself dates back to over a century when the British shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi. New Delhi, as it is known today, designed by Lutyens, has wide-open lanes, avenues and buildings that are worth traveling across the globe for.
Besides the usual tourist attractions of Modern Delhi – India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House, North and South Block – which are stunning examples of British architecture, you can also visit the various museums, temples and memorials that provide a comprehensive and entertaining insight into the lives of Delhites.
Modern Delhi has some popular temples of Modern India that are known not only for their religious significance but also for their experimental designs that challenge conventional architectural standards. The Lakshmi Narayan Temple (Birla Temple), built by the Birlas, is dedicated to the worship of Lord Lakshmi Narayan (Vishnu). Another temple worth a visit on your tour of Modern Delhi is the Lotus Temple built by followers of the Bahai faith. Built in the shape of a blooming lotus, the temple draws thousands of tourists each day.
National Museum is the greatest collection of Indian art. It has a rich and diverse collection representing different eras, regions, cultures and aesthetics in the history of India. It also has significant collections of Central Asian and South American art. Located in the heart of Delhi, in Janpath, the Museum is intended to be a socio-cultural hub of the city, and attract and engage visitors from the rest of the country and abroad.
National Rail MuseumOne of the best Delhi tourist places for lovers of railways. The fine outdoor museum has on view a range of locomotives and carriages ranging over the 150 years of the railways in India. A toy train takes children around the museum.
The National Gallery of Modern ArtLocated in the stately Jaipur House the museum has a splendid collection of contemporary art. The gallery is open from 10 am-5 pm and remains closed on Mondays and makes for one of the most endearing places to visit in Delhi for art lovers.
Some of Delhi’s museums tell the story of the architects of modern, independent India, whose memorials are set in spacious gardens along the Yamuna river front- Mahatma Gandhi’s at Rajghat, Jawaharlal Nehru’s at Shanti Van, Indira Gandhi’s at Shakti Sthal, Lal Bahadur Shastri’s at Vijay Ghat and Rajiv Gandhi’s at Vir Bhumi. A steady stream of visitors pay homage to the leaders at these memorials, which are all beautifully landscaped.
The capital has a charming mix of old and new world. On one side you can see Old architectural sites, buzzing streets and exotic markets, and on the other side Delhi has magnificent Malls, swan by overbridges, modern opulent high rise buildings and lots of greenery.