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One of the oldest churches in Delhi, dating back to the 19th century, St James Church is a prominent site on the tourist circuit. Located amidst the bustling neighbourhood of Kashmiri Gate, the church has a serene and tranquil ambience that draws visitors from all over the area. It boasts a charming facade and has been built in a Renaissance Revival style on a cruciform plan. It boasts three exquisite porticoes entrances, an octagonal dome in the centre and delicate stained glass windows above the altar. Other notable features are a cross hanging on the top and a copper ball, both of which are believed to be inspired by the facets of a church in Venice.
The church complex is bordered by lush, well-manicured lawns that invite people to sprawl back and soak in the serenity of the surroundings. It is said that the lawns can easily accommodate 1,200 people at a time. They often turn into a venue for baptism, birthday, anniversary, wedding and thanksgiving ceremonies.
Dedicated to Goddess Katyayani, an incarnation of Goddess Durga, Chhatarpur Temple is said to be the second-largest temple complex in India, spread over an area of 60 acre. Constructed from marble, the temple boasts Dravidian and Nagara styles of architecture. It has 20 small and large temples in three complexes, along with a room that houses tables, chairs, a bed and a dressing table carved in silver. The sanctum sanctorum houses an idol of the goddess, who can be seen riding a lion and holding a sword in her hand. After paying obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum, devotees can also visit the temples of Lord Rama, Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha and Lord Hanuman in the premises. Chhatarpur Temple was built in 1974 by Baba Sant Nagpal Ji. Thousands of devotees flock to the temple, particularly during the Navratri (a holy nine-day festival) season.
A quiet and serene spot amid the bustling marketplace, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is possibly the most popular attraction of Connaught Place. You can spot it from a while away as its high golden dome glistens in the sun. As you enter the premises you will be enveloped in a sense of peace. After paying homage at the sanctum, where the holy book is kept, you can stroll along the tranquil pond in the Gurudwara. Other prominent features are a cooking area, a big art gallery and a school. A langar (holy food) is offered to devotees who come to visit.
Legend has it that the Gurudwara area was once Jaisinghpura Palace, the residence of Raja Jai Singh, the ruler of Amber. It is said that in 1664, the eight Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Har Krishan Sahib, stayed in this palace.
An architectural marvel, ISKCON Temple in Delhi is one of the many temples of its kind scattered all over the country. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, it is affiliated with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The temple is noted for its architectural splendour and invites devotees from far and wide. Its interior walls have been adorned with works of Russian artists that represent scenes from the lives of Lord Krishna, Goddess Radha, Lord Rama and Goddess Sita.
The main attraction of the temple is its prayer hall and museum. Gaze in awe at the beautifully sculpted idols of Lord Krishna, Goddess Radha and other deities. The museum is known for its multimedia shows that help visitors understand the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata. They also aid in acquainting visitors with the philosophy, views and practices of the sect of Hare Krishna. This temple was established in 1988 with an aim to spread the teachings of Bhagwad Gita.
One of the largest mosques in India, Jama Masjid is situated in Old Delhi. Its construction was started in 1644 and completed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Made of red sandstone and marble, this gorgeous mosque is also called Masjid-I-Jahanuma, meaning the mosque commanding the view of the world. The courtyard of the mosque has been built with red sandstone and can be accessed from the north, the south and the east, via flights of stairs that were once venues for house markets, food stalls and entertainers. The courtyard is so huge that it can easily accommodate 25,000 devotees at one time. Jama Masjid has been built on an elevation of 10 m and has three gates, two 40-m-high minarets and four towers. From the tower, one can get a splendid view of bustling streets of Old Delhi.
The mosque houses many relics of Prophet Mohammad and draws devotees from far and wide. Some of these relics include a Quran written on deerskin, sandals and a footprint of the Prophet embedded in a marble slab, and a red hair, which is said to have been from his beard.
Holding the Guinness World Records as the world's largest comprehensive Hindu temple, the Akshardham temple complex is a stunning piece of architecture. Sprawled over a vast area, the complex looks like a splendid heavenly city when viewed from above. The temple itself has been constructed in pink sandstone and marble and is laid amidst neatly manicured lawns, pristine waterfronts and open courtyards. It has been designed in the traditional Hindu style of architecture and follows vaastu shastra and pancharatra shastra. As you stroll along the breathtaking complex, you will spot intricate carvings of animals, flowers, dancers, musicians and deities that adorn the walls. It is said that the stone used in the construction of the temple was brought from Rajasthan and weighed about 6,000 tonne. The Italian Carrara marble used in the structure adds to the beauty of the grand temple.
Some interesting features of the temple are a musical fountain, the Sahaj Anand Water Show at Yagnapurush Kund and the breathtaking Light and Sound Show. Starting at 7:30 pm, the show narrates stories from ancient Hindu scriptures. It is a spectacular rendition that uses colourful lasers, underwater flames, water jets and video projections.
One of the most prominent spiritual sites in Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah is the shrine of Muslim sufi saint, Nizam-ud-din Auliya (1238 - 1325 AD). It is a beautiful structure comprising intricate jaalis (lattice screens) and a vast courtyard framed by marble arches. Dating back to the 14th century, this dargah has been built in the Islamic style of architecture. It is a square-shaped building with a dome-shaped roof. A particular attraction is a 13th century room, called Hujra-e-Qadeem, which makes for an interesting visit.
The dargah draws devotees from far and wide and they can be seen tying a red thread on the jaalis so their prayers can be answered. While performing the prayers, they also light incense sticks and shower rose petals. Offering a chadar (a large sheet of fabric) at the shrine is considered especially auspicious. The best time to visit the dargah is on Thursday, when qawwali performances are held in the evening. Such is its renown that the dargah has been a cinematic backdrop for several movies like Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) and Rockstar (2011).
Built in the shape of a gigantic lotus, the Bahai Lotus Temple is a serene stopover that invites tourists from far and wide. It belongs to the Bahai religion, which aims at the unity of all the races and people in a universal cause and a common faith. People from all religions and faith can enter this temple, regardless of their gender, and can chant their respective religious mantras. Designed by Iranian-Canadian architect, Fariburz Sahba in 1986, the temple is shaped like a lotus flower with 27 white marble petals. There are nine doors that open into a central hall that is approximately 40 m high and has a capacity to host 2,500 people. There are nine pools of water that look breathtaking at dusk. The temple is famous all over the world for its architectural design.