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DELHI TOUR >> Delhi Sightseeing Tour

The Laxmi Narayan Temple (Birla Mandir)

The Laxmi Narayan Mandir (temple) built by B.D. Birla is a modern Hindu temple dedicated to Laxmi (goddess of wealth) and Narayana (the preserver). It was inaugurated by Gandhi with the stipulation that it should be open to all castes (including the untouchables) and all faiths, so it is more welcoming to foreigners than the average temple.

After visiting so many ancient Hindu temples, it was fun to see a modern functioning one. The whole temple was quite garish, and noisy with chants over the loud speaker system, but it was also strangely peaceful. In the garden there was a tree wound with coloured strings, and two women were praying at the foot.

History
This temple was built over a six year period (1933 - 1939) and was opened by Mahatma Gandhi.

Temple Architecture
The highest tower in the temple reaches a height of 165 feet while the ancillary towers reach 116 feet. The Geeta Bhavan, a hall is adorned with beautiful paintings depicting scenes from Indian mythology. There is also a temple dedicated to Buddha in this complex with fresco paintings describing his life and work. The entire complex, especially the walls and the upper gallery are full of paintings carried out by artists of Jaipur in Rajasthan. The rear of the temple has been developed as an artificial mountainous landscape with fountains and waterfalls.

Significance
This is one of the landmarks in the nation's capital New Delhi. It was built in the 20th century by the Birla family of industrialists known for its many other temples in India. It is modern in concept and construction. It attracts several devotees and international tourists. The presiding deity here is Lakshmi Narain (Vishnu).

Other Shrines in the temple
Durga and Shiva are the other major deities housed in this temple.
Access and Accommodation: Accommodation is available in the temple guest house for out of town travellers especially for international scholars pursuing knowledge in Sanskrit or in the Hindu religion.

BANGLA SAHIB

Bangla Saheb GurudwaraNear Connaught Place in New Delhi, a vast and magnificent building that once belonged to Raja Jai Singh of Amber now stands stately Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, in memory of Guru Har Krishan ji. Guru Har Rai ji had two sons, Ram Rai was elder and the younger Har Krishan. Ram Rai had displeased his father on account of his manifesting miracles despite strict instructions not to do so as it was against the Sikh faith. Guru Har Rai ji had thus ordained Guruship to his younger son Har Krishan. Through a cunning and crafty design, the deranged and distraught Ram Rai involved Emperor Aurangzeb against the succession. The Emperor ordered Raja Jai Singh to get Guru Harkrishan ji to see him in Delhi. The Raja was a great devotee of the Sikh Guru's and he knew the true story of the succession too. The Raja instead of presenting the Guru before the King, made him his own guest. It so happened that at time Delhi was inflamed with the epidemic of smallpox and people in large gatherings had been visiting the Guru continuously. The Guru thus could not escapee the attack of smallpox and he left for his heavenly abode in 1664 at the tender age of just eight. It is at this place where the Guru breathed his last and the big palace was converted into an inspiring Gurudwara now known as Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, which is a sacred place for pilgrimage with the Sikhs.

SIS GANJ GURDWARA

It is believed that the ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur was murdered along with three of his disciples when it was raining very heavily. Because of the fear of the Mughals nobody came to pick the bodies up that night.On next day the head of the Guru was taken to Anandpur Sahib and the body taken where Gurudwara Rakab Ganj is now situated. A century later a devotee named Baba Baghel Singh searched and found this place and had this place of worship constructed here.

Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib embraced martyrdom in Delhi on 11th November, 1675. Bhai Jaita and his associates brought his head to Chakk Nanaki. The cremation of the head of Guru Sahib was held here on November 17th, 1675. The trunk of that tree under which the Guru was martyred and the well where he took his daily bath while in prison are preserved here today.

3 km to the south of Humayun tomb and west of Mathura Road, the Rock Edict of King Ashoka which was discovered in 1963. At a little distance, there is 18th century Kalkaji Kali Temple.

HUMAYUN'S  TOMB

Humayun TombThis tomb, which was built by emperor Humayun's wife, took eight years to complete and is regarded as an example of the early Mughal architecture. The emperor's wife, Begai Begum, was buried in the tomb and the structure is the first of its kind built in the centre of a well-planned garden. The combination of white marble and red sandstone was a great influence on later Mughal architecture. It is generally regarded as a prototype of the famed Taj Mahal of Agra.

Rajghat 

4 km away from Janpath to the N-East of Feroz Shah near Delhi Gate at Ring Rd on the bank of Yamuna situated Rajghat. Jawaharlal Nehru Rd also ends opp. Rajghat. On 31st Jan. 1948, Mahatma Gandhi's last rites was performed here. The memorial stone of Gandhi is square in shape made of black stone. His last word 'Hey Ram' is inscribed on it.

Ordinary people, VIPs, foreign tourists all come here at Rajghat to pay their homage to him. On every Friday (the day of his death) a prayer is being held. Except Monday, a regular feature of projecting Gandhi philosophy in the form of picture, sculpture and photos is being performed at Rajghat between 10-00 to 17-00 hrs.Besides this, there is Gandhi Memorial Museum projecting his life and the philosophy of Sarvodaya Movement in film from 9-30 to 17-30 except on Thursday and on Sunday at 16-00 in Hindi and 17-00 in English.

Another Gandhi memorial is Gandhi Balidansthal or assassinated spot at Tis January Marg of the city.

Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observatory with masonry instruments, built in 1724 by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur. It houses a huge sundial and other instruments intended to show the movements of the sun, moon etc. This massive salmon coloured structure is only a short stroll down the Sansad Marg (parliament street). A short stroll down Parliament Street from Connaught Place, is a strange collection of salmon-coloured structures called Jantar Mantar, consisting of several strange looking constructions which are infact very accurately and scientifically devised astronomical instruments for carrying out an organised study of celestial bodies in absence of the telescope. It is also known as the Yantra Mandir. A huge sundial known as the Prince of Dials which dominates it. Other instruments plot the course of heavenly bodies, the paths of stars and predict eclipses. It is said that the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah had entrusted Maharaja Jai Singh with the task of revising the calendar. Jai Singh made observations for 7 years and built this observatory in 1725. At first sight, the Jantar Mantar appears like a gallery of modern art. Jai Singh II, a keen astronomer and a noble in the Mughal court, was dissatisfied by the errors of brass and metal astronomical instruments. Under patronage from the emperor, he set on himself the task of correcting the existing astronomical tables and updating the almanac with more reliable instruments. Jantar Mantar contains four chief instruments - The Samrat Yantra - a simple equal hour sun dial. The Ram Yantra determining the position of the sun and also those of moon, planets and stars. The Jai Prakash gives local time, the sun's declination and the zodical sign or group of the stars on the meridian. To the north of the Samrat Yantra is the Misra Yantra, which is a combination of four scientific gadgets.

Chandni Chowk

Chandni ChownkIt was the eyes and ears of the Mughal's commercial instincts and is today one of the country's best known wholesale markets for textiles, electronic goods and watches. The entire area was designed by Jahanara Begum, Shah Jahan's favourite daughter and was then inhabited by the well-to-do families of that time.

Safdarjung's Tomb

This monument built in red and brown sandstone with two storeyed towers in the corners is one of the last examples of the Mughal architecture, which houses the tomb of Safdarjung. This tomb is adjacent to the small Safdarjung airport. Down the road from Humayun's Tomb lies the mausoleum of  Safdarjung , the second Nawab of Avadh. Situated on a high terrace faced with arched openings leading to series of cells inside, the  Safdarjung  Tomb which is often described as the `Last flicker of Mughal Architecture in India'. The Nawab of Avadh built the  Safdarjung  Tomb in 1753-54 for his father,  Safdarjung . The tomb stands on a high terrace in an extensive garden. The tomb has spacious pavilions with ceilings ornamented with incised and painted plaster. The polygonal towers are inlaid with marble and the building is topped with a bulbous marble dome on a 16-sided drum.

Purana Qila (Old Fort)

It is believed that this place was Indraprastha the capital city of Pandavas. Many of the present standing monuments were built during the period of Sher Shah Suri. The double-storeyed octagonal towered mosque is cited in history as the tower from where, Emperor Humayun accidentally fell to his death. The lake at the foothills has boating facilities. The Purana Qila is rectangular in shape having a circuit of nearly two kilometres. The walls are thick and the three gateways are provided with bastions on either side. The northern gateway called the Talaqui Darwaza or the forbidden gateway combines the typically Islamic pointed arch with Hindu chhattris and brackets. Whereas the southern gateway, called the Humayun Darwaza, had a similar parel with elephants. Humayun who laid the first brick of his new capital Dinapanah in 1534 built the massive gateways and walls of Purana Qila. Sher Shah, who defeated Humayun in 1540, built a few buildings in the complex. Busy traffic runs along this ancient defensive wall built by Sher Shah Suri. The fort, has massive walls and three large gateways. There is a small octagonal red sandstone tower, the Sher Mandal, inside the fort near the South gate. Humayun as a library later used it. While descending the stairs of this tower one day in 1556, he slipped, and received injuries from which he later died. The Qila-i-Kuhran Mosque, or Mosque of Sher Shah, lies just beyond it. There's a small archaeological museum just inside the main gate. There are good views of New Delhi can be seen from the top gate.


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