India can be a full on assault on the senses with all its colour, noise and frenetic activitiy. The Baha'i Temple in new Dehli is a startling and wonderful contrast. Shaped like a huge lotus flower its milk white marble petals opening to the sun it is an awe inspiring sight as you approach it through immaculate gardens. Inside it is simple and beautiful with vaulted walls lit by shafts of light streaming through the star shaped window high above. And it so peaceful, inviting you to sit and rest, think, perhaps pray or just marvel. At night it's just as beautiful, lit by thousands of lights and reflected in the pools surrounding it.
In 1948 'Bapu' was murdered at the Old Birla House. The beautiful building and gardens are now a museum and memorial to Gandhi. His spartan furniture is neatly displayed in his light-filled room. On the wall is a cabinet of his “worldly goods”, among them his specs and a spoon.
Following the concrete footsteps which trace the Mahatma's last walk is a moving experience. Before he reached his daily place of prayer he was shot, and today an unassuming memorial to the great man marks the exact spot.
Inside the house, his last days are documented by text and photography displayed on wall panels, including images from the great Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the last people to meet Gandhi before his death.
There is a multimedia museum on site, with plenty of exhibits to keep the children interested.
+91 11 2301 2843
Hours: Tues.-Sun., and 2nd Sat. of every month, 10-5
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During autumn, the weather in Delhi is perfect: the monsoon rains have passed and the temperature is in the high 20s. There are some lively festivals at this time of year, including Navaratri (October 16th-23rd), during which there are ten days of street festivals, dancing, Ramlila plays and finally the burning of giant effergies of the God Ravana. The largest celebration during autumn is Diwali (November 3rd this year.) To celebrate the Hindu New Year and the triumph of good over evil, the city is filled with glittering lights - tiny clay lamps flicker from every window - and fireworks fill the skies. Delicious sweets such as the milky burfi are sold on every street corner and the roads are strewn with marigold and rose petals or colourful Rangoli patterns made from coloured sand or chalk. It's a good time to visit as hotels offer deep discounts on rooms and shops have sale bonanzas of up to 40%. I would recommend the recently built Radisson Blu hotel in Paschim Vihar, where there is a tourist concierge who will arrange independent travel by car to all the local sights as well as the Golden Triangle. We were there last Diwali as practically the only guests -Indian families prefer to stay with relatives during this special period, so we were thoroughly spoiled with cakes, fruit and sweets and the undivided attention of dozens of hotel staff.
Just behind Qutub Minar and off the beaten track. A bit filthy but an absolute treasure house with old tombstones, forts, water bodies.
If you are hungry, look for the 'Royal Dakshin Restaurant' at one of the edges of the park.
If you decide to brave it until night falls then the djinns come out.
After the Chishtiyya Shrine in Ajmer this is the most important Muslim shrine in India, attracting thousands of worshippers (Muslim and Hindu) every day. Nizamudin Auliya, a Sufi shaikh of the Chishtiyya order, lived the latter part of his life during the reign of the brutal Sultan Muhammad ibn Tughluq (1325-1351), whom he infuriated by refusing to acknowledge his authority, using a Persian expression which has become a byword in India "Hanuz Dilli dur ast" (Delhi is yet far away).
The shrine also contains the marble tomb of Amir Khusro, the great Persian poet of Delhi, and a number of fine Mughal buildings. On Thursday evenings Qawal (devotional music) is sung, from about 6.00-7.30pm.
Nizamuddin is a Muslim enclave in south Delhi, near the railway station of the same name. Once you enter its narrow alleys (where you can get superb kebabs and other muslim dishes) just follow the stream of people heading for the shrine, which lies down several long and twisting passage-ways. You don't need to take off your shoes until you get to the entrance, despite what the shopkeepers along the route may say. Just look at what the pilgrims are doing
Home to the Kutub Minar, this 11th century 239 ft tower still stands amidst the ruins of a crumbling fort. Mehrauli is an urban vllage with small streets and shops. An interesting place to explore.
Mehrauli - 14 kms south of Connaught Place
Retro urban village setting, with a variety of antique shops, designer boutiques, home furnishings, jewellery stores, painting galleries and restaurants. Take time off to walk among the old ruins of the nearby Deer Park, and through the Rose Garden. A perfect lazy winter afternoon programme.
Off Aurobindo Marg, near IIT, entrance from Aurobindo Place market. Ample car parking, conveniently located on the way to Qutb Minar from the city centre.
Visit the President’s Palace, known as Rashtrapati Bhawan. No one ever does as most think the only section open is the beautiful terraced Mughal gardens that becomes free to the public for one month, February, every year. But visitors are welcome to visit its biggest rooms provided they make an appointment with the invitation secretary. Built in the dying days of the empire it celebrated, its size and splendour still overwhelms.
Tel: 2301 5321
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