Monuments like the Red Fort, Qutub Minar and Humayun’s Tomb are on everyone’s must-visit list when travelling to Delhi. But the capital has so many other structures which are often left ignored by everyone from authorities to residents and tourists, even though they have an equally important place in the city’s history. Here are 11 such monuments which definitely deserve a place on your itinerary when you visit Delhi.
Khooni Darwaza, which means “bloodstained door”, was constructed by Sher Shah Suri, who established the Sur Empire after defeating the second Mughal ruler Humayun. He ruled North India for 16 years before Humayun recaptured the throne. During the Mughal period, Khooni Darwaza became notorious for exhibiting decapitated heads of criminals. Emperor Aurangzeb even put his elder brother’s head on display here after he revolted against his father Shah Jahan. This was also the site where the British shot three Mughal princes’ in cold blood after the rebellion of 1857.
Adham Khan, the son of Emperor Akbar’s wet nurse and therefore his foster brother, was an officer in the king’s army. He was executed for murdering another general, considered to be one of Akbar’s favourites. Both Adham Khan and his mother were buried in the tomb before a British officer had the graves removed to set up his own residence at the place. The grave of Adham Khan was later restored but that of his mother never found its way back here.
Quli Khan’s Tomb was initially the resting place of Adham Khan’s brother before Sir Thomas Metcalfe, a British civil servant, bought it from the Mughals. He converted the 17th-century mausoleum into a retreat and often rented it to honeymooning couples. The once beautiful structure now lies in a neglected corner of Mehrauli and is completely overshadowed by the popularity of the nearby Qutub Minar.
Chor Minar or the “Tower of Thieves” was built in the 13th-century during Sultan Alauddin Khalji’s reign. It is believed that the tower once housed 225 windows where severed heads of criminal offenders were displayed to deter lawbreakers as well as to instil fear among the Sultan’s subjects. The dark history of the building has now been forgotten and the lawns surrounding Chor Minar are often used as a picnic spot by locals.
The dilapidated mosque was an important place of worship during the Tughlaq dynasty’s reign over medieval Delhi. The mosque, which was also used as a fortress, has been inspired by both Muslim and Hindu architectural designs, a rare combination for the era in which it was built. Over the years, the building has lost both its shape and its importance.
Modern Delhi is comprised of seven smaller cities built by different emperors who ruled at different periods of time in history. Ghiyath al-Din Tughlaq, the founder of Tughlaq dynasty, constructed one of these seven cities called Tughlaqabad in the early 14th-century. While his tomb is well-preserved, the rest of the fortified city lies in ruins. It is said that the famous Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya laid a curse on Tughlaqabad after he was upset by the king.
When someone mentions Feroz Shah Kotla today, more often than not, it’s the famous cricket stadium that comes to mind. The namesake fort next to the stadium was built in 1354 by Feroz Shah Tughlaq and many believe that the antiquated structure now houses genies who can grant wishes. There are people who still visit Feroz Shah Kotla Fort to pray and seek help from these spirits.
Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan may not be the most well-known figure from history today but he was a celebrated poet and an important minister in Mughal Emperor Akbar’s court. Abdur Rahim was one of the most erudite noblemen and also known to be a master of languages. He is even said to have spoken some Portuguese. His mausoleum, commonly known as Khan-e-Khanan’s Tomb, lies very close to Humayun’s Tomb and Nizamuddin Dargah.
Emperor Aurangzeb, who revolted against his father and elder brother to siege the crown, was the last powerful Mughal ruler. He ruled India for 49 years and after him the great Mughals were never able to restore their former glory. Aurangzeb had two coronation ceremonies, a grand one at the Red Fort and a more modest one at Sheesh Mahal. It is hard to imagine that such a historic place now lies in such a rundown state.
Gandhak ki Baoli is a one of the oldest stepwells in Delhi built somewhere between 1210 and 1235 AD. The story goes that Sultan Iltutmish once met Saint Qutub Sahib and noticed that the latter hadn’t bathed for a long time. When asked why, the saint said he had no place to wash himself. Hearing this, Iltutmish gave the orders for the construction of Gandhak ki Baoli. Alhtough the water in the well is quite dirty, people still tend to use it. Unfortunately, there’s also a garbage pit next to the old structure.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.