The Ultimate Delhi Travel Guide
Reasons why Delhi’s gonna rock you, even though it might – at first – shock you!
Delhi is haste, Delhi is lethargy, Delhi is serene, Delhi is bustling; a million words too would fall short, if we intend to parallelize the vastness of what this city is comprised of. The city is the seat of Indian Government, mainstream media channels, India’s topmost universities, sky-soaring industries, superabundant shopping scenario, pious shrines, deafening parties, toothsome foods and this list expands every millisecond here. With every line you read in this article you will proceed an inch forward in knowing this city better. Call this a full-fledged Delhi travel guide and go ahead.
A Tale of Two Cities
Delhi has two faces. It’s like two faces of a gold coin; part of one thing, having equal glint and significance. You can experience splurging in the world’s most expensive brands in the New Delhi; or in the Old Delhi area you might walk or let the crowd walk you, as your shoulder gets pressed against hundreds of other folks.
This dichotomy of the two worlds carried in the palm of one city, makes Delhi fulfill all the needs or wants of its travelers and locals. All of the vastness Delhi is compiled with, has made it a totally livable place for all the classes of the society. Even if you are a budget traveler or a wealthy personality, just take a back seat and let this city offer you the best, without having to compromise.
Old Delhi has an old-world charm which lies unscathed. The simplicity of the area has lured a million travelers and locals to its narrow streets and blingy aura. The area is renowned for its palatable and wide food options, its magnificent monuments like Red Fort and Jama Masjid, its superabundant markets, its captivating Islamic dazzle; and if I try to list out all of its assets, I might end up writing at least a tonne-weighed book.
The opposite world of Lutyen’s Delhi has an equally vigorous captivity; but different ingredients. You can walk parallel to some of the hi-tech edifices, up-market shopping destinations (With flea shops around it too. Delhi is all about stealing the deals), some eminent political spots and scurried metal roads. New Delhi or The Lutyen’s Delhi is a well planned area of the city, which houses some world-class facilities and world-known buildings.
Delhi Heritage Walks
Not all heritage lovers are historians! There are people who would rather swirl their finger-tips over the walls of a dilapidated fort, they least know of. Every city, every town; indeed even a minute atom too has a story. New Delhi has got stories to startle. So, if you are up for a heritage walk, Delhi has a bag triple the size of a Santa’s bag. The whole city is dotted with 174 monuments, many of which lie unexplored and lack the attention they deserve.
I am listing out the best of Delhi’s monuments which you need to put at the top of your list for a heritage walk worth looking back to.
The fusion of Persian and Mughal architecture has lured its visitor since its creation, which started in 1565 and ended in 1572. The tomb was commissioned by Humayun’s wife Bega Begum, and it was the first gardened and heavily red-stoned tomb in that era. Many famous Mughal emperors rest here in peace. UNESCO too was moved by the structure and listed Humayun’s Tomb as a World Heritage Centre.
Qutb Complex and Mehrauli Archeological Park
This UNESCO World Heritage Site has got it all to captivate you. The Qutub Complex is dotted with architectural marvels built to commemorate the victory of Mohammed Ghori, by Qutub-Ud-Din Aibak, in the year 1192. The most notable structure here is Qutub minar, made up of red-sandstone and marble. This is the second tallest minar in India, with a height of 73 meters and having 379 steps.
Adjacent to the Qutub Complex is Mehrauli Archeological Park, this is spread over 200 acre. The park has about hundred ruins like Tomb of Quli Khan, Jamali Kamal Mosque, Zafar Mahal, Jahaz Mahal etc.
Red Fort (Laal Quila)
Red Fort was the residence of Mughal Emperors for about two-hundred years. What else could talk about its flawlessness and Grandeur?! Red fort is not just a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also is a major iconic symbol of India. This is where the prime minister of India hoists the Indian flag in the occasion of Independence Day, every year. The fort exhibits the impeccability of Mughal architecture in every inch of the complex. Delhi, gate, Water gate, Chhatta Chowk, Naubar Khana, Diwan-i-aam, Nahir-i-behisht, Rang Mahal, Khas Mahal are the most notable spots inside the fort.
India Gate was designed by Edwin Lutyens, a British architect who headed the architectural projects of New Delhi plan. The monument commemorates 82,000 soldiers of the Indian Army and officers from the UK, who sacrificed their lives in the Third Anglo-Afghan War. There are names of such brave soldiers inscribed in the walls of the monument.
In the center of the monument lies an eternal flame “Amar Jawan Jyoti”, beside a rifle topped with a war cap. The best time to visit India Gate is during early morning, when people flock around in yoga pants and relax in the park. Or visit it in the night, when the monument is decorated with lights and people come with their families to have a good picnic time.
Old fort, as its name says, is the oldest known monument in Delhi, said to be dating back to 5000 years. The fort is well maintained by the Indian Government and is adorned with beautiful forts, gardens and a museum. It is said that the fort was rebuilt by Sher Shah Suri and was completed by his son Humayun or Islam Shah. The Old Fort is beside National Zoo, and you can easily find a food court or catch autos/ buses around it.
This is a famous picnic/ tourist spot of Delhi. The park is spread over an area of 90 acres. You can indulge in many rejuvenating activities like yoga, jogging, cycling, in here. Lodi Garden is revered because of the Lodi Tomb inside it. The ruins date back to 15th century. The remnants in the park are Mohammed Shah’s Tomb, Sikander Lodi’s Tomb, Bara Gumbad and Sheesh Gumbad; all of which are enough to tug you to the enigmatic chapters of what the vicinity is witness of.
Bargain Shopping in Delhi
One thing that you are definitely going to experience is some elegant personalities offering a bargain-battle to the sellers. And interestingly, most of the time the buyers bag a great deal. There are two possibilities; either the Delhi-ites master the art of bargaining, or Delhi actually offers an expansive scope in bargaining. Not sure about the Delhi-ites but the latter part is unarguably true.
A pinch of funds might make you get a pocketful of stuff you would totally love. Some of the markets famous for its cheap but quality stuffs are:
Best place for shopping for males and techno-geeks.
Doesn’t matter what your age is, or what your gender is, you can get something for yourself here.
There are two Janpath Markets, one is arrayed in the street-corners and one is located in a field. The latter one offers affordable and trendy stuffs for young guys and girls.
Yet another market where you can get branded and local things, irrespective of gender or age.
There is no end to what Chandni Chowk offers to the shoppers. You can hop here for a wide range of variety in everything related to wedding, stationary, books, pets, electronics, spices, and what not!
Visit this place for jaw-dropping deals in gadgets and electronics.
Karol Bagh/ Gaffar Market
Karol Bagh is a typical wedding-shopping destination but also has a lot of things for anyone and everyone. Just adjacent to Karol market is Gaffar Market, famous for its deals in mobile phones and gadgets.
Lip Smacking Street Food in Delhi
Right from the streets to the dense silence of exquisite restaurants, there is a flood of food that would make you drool in a flash of time. New Delhi is a hub of foodies, some like to dive in to similar cuisine and some would try out newer things without hesitating; whichever category you fall in to, New Delhi has everything to soothe your senses and treat your taste buds. Though Delhi itself is an ocean of food; it is nearly impossible to list all of the spots of the city meant for the foodies, but listed below are the famous stopovers of the foodies:
This is the main hub of the foodies. You can get mouth-watering veg and non veg dishes at very reasonable rates. The nominal rates and perfection of the food make the people demand it more, and let it come, until their stomach bursts.
This urban village has some elegant and exquisite restaurants. With captivating view of the Hauz Khas Lake, you not only treat you taste buds, but your eye balls and heart too. Some of the popular restaurants of the area are Smoke House, Gung the Palace, Hauz Khas Social, Ace of Flames and Coast Café.
New Delhi’s Bengali town offers a wide range of Bengali cuisine, one hundred person genuine and two thousand percent drool-worthy.
Anything and everything surviving on the planet earth can be found in Central Delhi; and food makes the survival an easy thing, and that’s what CP masters in too. Right from the Dhabas to sophisticated cafés and restaurants, CP has all of it.
Culture, Museums & Galleries in Delhi
Just like every other city, Delhi too flaunts a culture but the difference is that this metropolis is the repository of art and culture encompassing entire India and its civilization. Call me bias or anything, but the culture that this city thrives on, is worth thrice more than what you get after accumulating all the exuberant folks of the world.
National Gallery of Modern Art
The gallery exhibits over 14,000 works of art by artists like Gaganendranath Tagore, Nadalal Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, Raja Ravi Verma, Thomas Daniell and many others. The oldest artwork it houses, dates back to 1857. National Gallery of Modern Art is the primary art gallery of the state managed by Ministry of Culture.
There is a lot to flaunt, and a significant part of those million things that Delhi boasts of is showcased in its museums. Rail Museum has a collection of trains and its equipments belonging to different ages and regions. Sulabh Toilet museum spreads the knowledge and importance of sanitation through its toilet seats since its emergence. There are many museums mastering in their fields like the Air Force Museum, National Museum of Natural History, Archeological Museum, National Children’s Museum, Nehru Museum and Planetarium; the alone has about 21 museums in total.
Nizzamuddin Dargah Qawwali
Nizzamuddin Dargah is associated with the eminent saint Nizammuddin Auliya. Apart from its soulful aura which pours the heart with sheer nirvana, Nizzammuddin Dargah’s qawwalis seeps into the senses and gets the people captivated. This is your chance to experience the sanctity of Islam, your chance to let the sound of magic caress your eardrums for the good; you better don’t let this slip by.
Delhi is amongst the major hubs of theatre and nukkad natak. Its people are involved in these activities with all of their heart and dedication. There is much beyond glamour, these theatres justifies the existence and significance of acting skills to a parameter unexplainable. Delhi’s famous theater groups are National School of Drama, Drama tech, Akshara Theaters; in fact there are theatre groups from schools and colleges, which have proven to be strong competitors for the same.
Changing of Guards
Similar to the one in Wagah Border, changing of guard of Delhi takes place in Rajpath. Every Saturday, the presidential guards on the horses march, and the old and new guards swap their places. This is an utterly brilliant sight, because of the precision of army men. You might need special permissions to witness this awe-inspiring event also confirm the timings as there is no fixed schedule.
India in a Microcosm
Delhi has its own culture, which is born out of the accumulation of several cultures of India, and beyond. The city is less a capital and more of an elder brother which treats all his siblings equally. And this state has its arms wide spread, for all the other states, and exhibits every state’s culture and specialty with equal indulgence. Some of best ways through which you can experience the gems of every state in India are:
Delhi Haat/ Dilli Haat
An open-air area, where you can find the artifacts, handlooms and much more, all relating to the Indian tradition. Here you can also savor cuisines from different parts of the country, fun activities like cultural performances, braiding, contests etc.
Right in the heart of city in Central Delhi, is the States Emporium. This shopping complex has different showrooms for different states like, Kashmir, Gujarat, and Punjab etc; these will acquaint you with the handcrafts and artifacts of the said state.
For the foodies, there is State’s Bhawan, where you can find the local cuisines of the state. Some of the State’s Bhawans’ canteens are open for visitors and offer sumptuous delicacies in reasonable rates and simple ambience.
Surajkund Crafts Mela
An open ground having every possible hue on the face of earth. This colorful crafts mela is a major attraction of Delhi and this takes place in the month of February, every year. You can find folk arts, local cuisines, folk performances and much more, from every state of this beautiful country.
Urban Villages in Delhi
With constant honks and bustles around the city, there are some places in Delhi which allure with their simplicity. Urban villages are a fusion of the charm of the villages with the glint and glamour of the cities.
The whole area is filled with lavish restaurants and showrooms. Don’t be heartbroken if you are tight on money; because there always is a corner for budget travelers here in Delhi, in its every corner. The area is developed by DLF and with the introduction of famous designers’ boutiques; Hauz Khas started getting more popularity. Hauz Khaz Fort is a major attraction here; spend some time in the fort and enjoy the view of its lake and love songs of the birds around it.
This village is located near Hauz Khas in South Delhi. Siri fort, the ancient capital of the city is its major attraction. Siri fort ruins and Siri Fort auditorium are bustling sensation of the area. Similar to Hauz Khas, Shahpur Jat is a Fashion Hub of the city, where you can find boutiques of famous designers. Most prominent shops of Shahpur Jat are antarDESI, Little Umbrella and Om creations.
Religious Places in Delhi
And as the rush of life continues to blow our minds, there is divinity dotted in the city which is a real savior. Delhi not only has splendid restaurants, bars, lounges and malls, but there are religious places well known all over the country. The entire city is illuminated with divine holy places where devotees of different faith gather to pay obeisance to almighty.
These places are a must visit whether or not you are a theist; because the peace and sanctity they are filled with, will make you believe in the existence of god around you.
Bangla Sahib Gurudwara
This is a very significant worship place for the Sikhs; in fact, not just the Sikhs, but people following other religions too. The Gurudwara is associated with Sikhs’ eighth guru, Guru Har Krishan. The domes of the edifice are covered with gold and reflect in the adjacent pool, weaving a panorama worth hailing. The pool, also known as “Sarovar”, is believed to have medicinal qualities and you can see people having a dip here too.
This is an ancient Hindu temple, dedicated to Goddess Aadi Shakti (an incarnation of Durga Mata). Name of the temple is derived from Jhanda, means flag. There are prayer flags which are offered to the deity, since the reign of a famous ruler Shah Jahan. This temple binds the faith of millions of pilgrim.
Lotus Temple tops the charts, not only in terms of its enlightening lessons it teaches, but also in the field of architecture. The building has won many awards already. Lotus temple is shaped as a lotus, with immaculate petals. This temple is also known as Baha’i Temple. Baha’i teaching talks about oneness of god, religion and humanity.
Akshardham is yet another holy place topping the charts in the architectural field too. It is a Hindu temple and an iconic structure of Delhi. The lessons taught by Guru Swaminarayan are represented and enacted through movies and moving figurines in realistic environs; and also through lights and sound show in the evening.
Dedicated to Sufi Saint Nizamuddin Auliya, this Dargah is a highly revered holy place in Delhi. There are about hundreds of Muslims and people following other religions, who visit this shrine every day. The Dargah is a peace-bestowing place, which is most lively during its very popular and rejuvenating qawwalis.
Sacred Heart Cathedral Church
This is amongst the oldest churches in New Delhi and is located in the centre of the city. Sacred Heart is a Roman Catholic Cathedral designed by British architect Henry Medd. The church is peaceful and touches the soul with its holiness.
This mosque was built in 1656 by the famous Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The courtyard of the mosque is so big that twenty five thousand followers can be there at once. Especially during the festival of Eid, this mosque becomes the top-most highlight of the city.
Nightlife & Parties in Delhi
With some of the finest restaurants and bar, you’d find an indestructible verve for party animals in Delhi.
Party Hysteria stays intact even when the sun comes up. Youngsters have wide options to spend their nights in clubs with great food, sizzling crowd and groovy music; and turn the fantasy into reality. Some of the best and popular night clubs of Delhi are listed below. Have a look.
Kitty Su is located in The Lalit Hotel. It is open from 9 Pm and 12: 30 am, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Cost for two will be approximately around Rs. 3000.
Skooter is located in hotel Samrat. It is open all days from 9 Pm to 1:30 am, everyday. Cost for two will be approximately Rs 3000.
Blue frog is located near Qutub Minar, Mehrauli. It is open only on Fridays, Saturday and Sunday. Cost for two will be approximately Rs 3000.
Shiro is located in Hotel Samrat. It is open all the days of the week and has different time slots for the same. Cost for two will be approximately Rs 4000.
Club Pangaea is in Chanakyapuri. It is open from 9 pm to 4 am, on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Cost for two will be approximately Rs 4000.
G Bar is located in Vasant Kunj. It is open from 6 Pm to 4 am, all week long. Cost for two here will approximately be around Rs 2000.
A Canvas for the Bibliophile (Libraries)
The city has its arms wide open for book lovers. No matter where you are in the city, there is a fair chance that you can find a book stall or a library around. You can spend your money in freshly pressed novels, or can choose to buy second hand book or probably take that on rent. Some of the finest libraries of Delhi are listed below.
Delhi Public Library
With 35 branches across the city, Delhi Public Library is managed by the Government of India. This is a depository library and receives a copy of all the newspapers, books, and periodicals of India.
British Council Library
This is a famous establishment with its direct links with the English men. You can not only find satisfactory amount of books here, but British Council also offers different short term courses and a canteen with yummy food.
This is not actually a library, but indeed a treasure for the lovers of book and food. Cha Bar has expansive collection of books, tasty food and cool interiors.
A fair for the bibliophiles, Book Fair takes place annually in Pragati Maidan. Make sure that you’re wearing comfortable shoes so that it gets easier to lose yourself in the expanse of typography.
Traveling in Delhi with Kids
Traveling with kids need patience; and Delhi’s attractions for kids not only entertains the kids, but parents too.
Located in Northern Delhi, Adventure Island is a hot-spot. There are enthralling rides to keep you occupied the whole day. Outside the amusement park is Metro Walk, having different showrooms and restaurants. Adventure Island is open every day and the tickets range from Rs 250 to Rs 999.
National Science Center
This is where knowledge and fun go hand in hand. National Science Center exhibits the magic and tricks of science that also gives better understandings of the theories.
Children’s Park India Gate
A popular picnic spot of India, India Gate is adjacent to Children’s Park. People come here in the evenings to spend their time with the family and indulge in different games to make the most of it.
Having its name derived from India’s PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, this planetarium has different ways to educate kids and adults about the world beyond earth’s atmosphere. This is a fun way to enhance your knowledge about the surroundings.
Fun and Food Village, Wet n Wild and Splash Water Park
There are indeed many water and amusement parks in and around the city. You can spend the whole day here, without realizing how it went by. These water parks have various water slides, rides, and food courts. They have professional and trained life guards.
National Rail Museum
This is favorite place for children. Delhi has many museums exhibiting startling collection. National Rail Museum has static and working models of train, antique furniture, signaling equipments, literature, old photographs and a lot of other things too. The museum is open every day from 9:30 am to 5:30 Pm; except Mondays.
Events in Delhi…umm… for almost every occasion
This city does not really need a reason to celebrate; we have our party shoes on, even we are half asleep. Other than funky parties and weddings happening all year round, we have got some renowned events, taking place annually.
Trade Fair in Delhi
India International Trade fair takes place every year in the month of November. This is a significant event, not just for the businessmen, but for the media organizations, locals and tourists of Delhi. The fair has unending varieties in garments, household, textiles, chemicals, furniture, sports goods, toys, automobiles, beverages, confectionaries, pharmaceuticals, healthcare products and WHAT NOT; just name it and spin your mind with the uncountable options in that thing.
Delhi Book Fair
Book fair is what a lover of books dreams of; so many books that you lose the counts. Different halls have different sections and genre of books. In fact not just books, you can find stationeries, handicrafts and food to drool over.
Republic Day Parade
This is a big day not only for Delhi, but the whole country. On 26th January every year, in Rajpath, Prime Minister of India hoists the national flag; this is followed by the parade performed by different states of the country to flaunt their ethnicity and Indian Army showcasing its swift, neat and graceful march.
In the month of October or November, streets of Old Delhi get surged even more than usual. This is because of the enactment of Ramayana during the festival month of Navratra, Dussehra and Diwali. There are many areas where you would find Ramleela in full swing, but the one in Chandni Chowk is the most popular. This one was started by the Mughal Emperor Bagadur Shah Zafar, 180 year back.
And how can you miss the raw beauty of the village. Surajkund Mela is a rather grander version of Delhi Haat. Right from the camel rides to local cuisines, handicrafts, handlooms, artifacts, folk performance of every state of the country; the fair is enlivened with every bit of itself.
Wherever your neck turns to, it turns around with a mouth wide open. Auto Expo is the master in astonishing its visitors with its collection of automobiles; sports, vintage and luxury. This fair too is organized in Pragati Maidan and is highly acclaimed. This is a must visit for the people who talk, dream and breathe cars from all round the world and centuries.
This fruit has a variety so diverse that it is impossible to count them all. And would you freak out and drool over an ocean, if you find all of them under ONE roof?! I bet you would. Mango Festival is a two-day festival, organized every year in early summer days. Activities like mango eating competition, magic show, mango carving, mango quiz, mango slogan writing etc are common in this event.
Phoolwalon ki Sair
This is a unique festival. People irrespective of their religion offer sheets of flowers and pankha, canopy to the Dargah of Khwaja Bakhtiar ‘Kaaki’ and Devi Yogmaya. This three day festival takes place in the month of September. It is celebrated by performing dance, prayers and sounds of shehnais.
Getting around in Delhi
Traveling within the city can be a great experience too. You can choose the best, in terms of money, time and convenience.
Delhi metro is the best way of getting around Delhi. This not only has great connectivity, it also has air conditioned carts running around its line, without the fuss of traffic. Metro also offers really cheap fares for the travelers. However, some of its route can be really jam-packed during the office hours.
Auto (tuk tuks)
The auto-rikshaws of Delhi are run on CNG gases. This can be a comfortable mode of travelling, if you know the routes well enough, there is least traffic on the roads and if you don’t mind spending 100 rupees for a journey of about 12 kilometers.
HOHO stands for hop-on-hop-out. These buses are air-conditioned and run majorly around Delhi’s top tourist attractions; a great option for the travelers out there looking for an easy and affordable tour.
Cycle rickshaws and electric rickshaws
This is basically to cover short distances. Fares usually have a variation of five to ten rupees.
Best Time to Visit Delhi
Delhi experiences extreme weather condition. Whereas the summers from April till October remains hot and humid with mercury soaring to above 40 degree Celsius, the winter sees mercury dip to 2-3 degrees. Delhi receives very little rain but monsoon are once again humid and hot.
The best time to visit Delhi from tourism point of view is from November till February when the weather remains cool. Most of the tourism in Delhi is about sightseeing and visiting forts and monuments that require traveling. Hence the winter months are ideal for tours to Delhi.
How to Reach Delhi
Delhi is well connected with domestic and international flights, to all the major cities within and outside India. Almost all the major airlines have their flights operating from Indira Gandhi International Airport at New Delhi.
Delhi is connected via rail from almost all the cities of India. There are 4 railway terminal in Delhi ferrying millions of passengers in and out of the city.
Delhi is well connected via national highways and expressways to major cities of India. There are several bus terminus in Delhi and state buses from major cities and neighboring states ply frequently in and out of Delhi.