Swami Akshardham Temple - Delhi
Akshardam Temple is located at the banks of River Yamuna in Delhi, this huge temple was bulit at a staggering cost of 45 Million US$, the pink sandstone cultural complex spread over 100 acres showcases the grandeur of Indian history, art, culture and values.
It took over 7,000 master craftsmen and thousands of volunteers from all over the world almost five years to complete the marvel. The main monument, depicting ancient Indian "vastu shastra" and architecture, is a marvel in pink sandstone and white marble that is 141 feet high, 316 feet wide and 370 feet long with 234 ornate pillars, over 20,000 sculptures and statues of deities, eleven 72-foot-high huge domes (mandapams) and decorative arches. And like a necklace, a double-storied parikrama of red sandstone encircles the monuments with over 155 small domes and 1,160 pillars. The whole monument rises on the shoulders of 148 huge elephants.
It is one of the biggest and most intricate religious places of worship ever constructed. Combining several completely different and contrasting architectural styles of Hindu temple architecture of northern India --Rajasthani, Orrisan, Gujarati, Mughal and Jain. The Akshardham Monument is entirely constructed of marble and the red sandstone that Delhi is famous for, and that so many of her monuments are constructed of. It was completed in only 5 years a world record of sorts. This temple is an architectural wonder in itself, as it has been made without the use of cement.
Swaminarayan Akshardham in Delhi epitomises 10,000 years of Indian & Hindu culture in all its breathtaking grandeur, beauty, wisdom and bliss. It brilliantly showcases the essence of India’s ancient architecture, traditions and timeless spiritual messages. The Akshardham experience is an enlightening journey through India’s glorious art, values and contributions for the progress, happiness and harmony of mankind.
The best day-long plan, a private car/driver
If you're going to be needing transport for much of the day, or if you're going out to eat and will need return transport, THE best idea is to get a private car/driver. By Indian standards, this is considered a bit of a luxury. But, the prices are very very reasonable, especially if you're visiting from Europe or North America. You'll be amazed how far your dollars and Euros will take you in a private car in New Delhi.
For the most part, you'll be able to get a car and driver for about 500 Rs per day, which is ONLY US$10. (...or about 1/5th the cost of a single cab ride from JFK airport to downtown New York City, to put it in perspective) The price can vary a bit.... you can save money by hiring a driver with a smaller or older car - or God forbid, a car with a non-functioning air conditioner in the summer. Or, if you need something larger, say a van or a family sedan, the cost could be a 100 Rs or so higher, it really all depends.
My advice for hiring a car on-site is to enlist the help of the concierge at your hotel, or the front desk folks if your hotel doesn't choose to call someone the "concierge". Tell them what you need, and state your particular interest in someone "good and dependable". The hotel will not sully its reputation by putting you into the wrong car, so to speak. They'll get you set up with a good driver and a comfortable car.
Be sure to give the driver a little additional tip beyond the negotiated price.
A special note, auto-rickshaws, cabs and such are fine during the daytime. But if I'm motoring around Delhi at night, especially later - I really do recommend using a private car and driver. Put your hotel to work finding the right person and car.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO NEED A DRIVER FOR SEVERAL DAYS, please see my India country tips. Contact Navin Pandey at Gatik Eventures, and get him to find Hawa Singh. Hawa is a terrific driver.
All India War Memorial [India Gate]
Remind me about Arc de Triomphe in Paris! This India Gate became a landmark of New Delhi. The original name's All India War Memorial. It's a huge gate designed by Edwin Lutyens [1869-1944] in 1911 as a monument for Indian and British soldiers who died in World War I and in battle of the North-West Frontier Province and Afghan War III. Their names are captured on the four sides of the wall and an eternal flame burns in memory of unknown soldiers who passed away in Indo-Pakistan War . And facing this gate can be seen a sandstone canopy where's statue of King George V was placed on top. Now this statue moved to Coronation Park.
Inside Red Fort - Pearl Mosque
The Pearl Mosque (aka Moti Masjid) was built in marble in 1659 for the personal use of the Shah, and for his security….
One curious feature of the mosque is that its outer walls are oriented exactly in symmetry with the rest of the fort, while the inner walls are slightly askew, so that the mosque has the correct orientation towards Mecca.
For those visiting the Redfort, one of the important attractions inside is the Diwan-i-Aam, the hall of public audience of the Mughal emperors. It is here that the emperors used to meet their subjects and listen to their complaints, applications etc. It is a large open space with 60 impressive pillars supporting the roof. There is also the throne of the emperor here.