Delhi is India’s capital city and covers a huge area. Delhi is situated in north central India. Old Delhi to the north and New Delhi to the south together create this huge metropolis. Delhi is India’s second largest city and India’s second wealthiest city after Mumbai.
Delhi is a real melting pot of different cultures and religions, and just by walking down one street you can see a whole range of different faiths being displayed from Mosques, Hindu Temples, Sikh Gurdwaras, Catholic Churches and many more and everyone just seems to live peacefully, and has a certain level of respect for one another which is lovely to see.
I have always wanted to travel India fully and my husband and I have always said we want to save India as a holiday for when we both can get an extensive amount of time off work, as both of us have said ideally we would love to spend at least 4-6 weeks or more exploring India from north to the very south of this huge country.
With my work I am fortunate enough to get to travel to Delhi, we only get a 24 hour layover in the city, however it’s enough time to venture out for a few hours to seek out many of Delhi’s top landmarks and attractions. Every layover I have in Delhi I always try and venture out to explore this incredible city and I’m never disappointed. I love India’s culture and Indian cuisine is one of my absolute favourites! I have visited Delhi serval times now, and it has definitely wet my appetite to explore much more of India.
Sights & Activities
Akshardham Temple was built back in the early 2000s but is built in a traditional old style. The work that went into creating this temple is immense and intricate and is made of sandstone and marble, which has all be hand carved. There is a boat tour and lots of information all about Hindu teachings and history. Unfortunately you aren’t allowed to take photos of the temple but it’s a must visit when in Delhi as it really is a work of art both outside and inside the temple! Most nights there is also a water and light show after sunset which is meant to be incredible.
Chandni Chowk is a bustling chaotic shopping street and market area in the heart of Old Delhi, selling everything from traditional Indian sweets, jewellery, saris, spices and everything in between. There is so much going on it’s a real shock to the senses – the noises, the smells and the amount of people, but this to me felt like real India. Even though I was only in the area for a short while it was great to see the locals going about their day to day lives, and getting an insight into what it’s like day to day on the busy streets of Delhi.
The area is great to come and explore down the alleyways and streets and to sample some typical Indian street food. Chandni Chowk was once a grand promenade and was the route of royal processions during the Mughal era, it was created in the 17th century, and its hard to believe when you visit it today. Yes it’s busy, dirty and chaotic but somehow it’s also charming and I really enjoyed visiting this part of the city.
Chandni Chowk can easily be reached when visiting the Red Fort it’s directly across the road from the main entrance. Although Chandni Chowk’s maze of lanes and alleyways can come across intimidating, many of the markets and bazaars tend to group the vendors together in accordance to what they sell. This makes it a little easier to find what your looking for, however if you still think you may struggle there are plenty of personalised shopping tours you can book onto.
You could easily loose a day in this part of the city, we just walked around after visiting the Red Fort, but I would love to come back and book onto one of the many street food and historical tours there are available. When visiting my best bit of advice would be to wear comfortable shoes, dress conservatively and ladies try and carry around a scarf or pashmina incase you want to enter any of the many temples or places of worships dotted around the area. Also go with an open mind as I’m really not exaggerating it really will be a shock to all of your senses!
Connaught Place is a busy business and shopping hub in the heart of Delhi and set in a ring of colonial Georgian style buildings. It’s full of big name shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and cinemas etc, there are also lots of markets near by too selling plenty of traditional Indian wares. I have to admit I wasn’t blown away by this area it was great to see but was a bit too commercial for my liking, however if you want abit more authenticity head up the road to Janpath Market.
Delhi Haat C.C.I
Delhi Haat C.C.I is a small shopping mall with a few floors selling various Indian crafts and souvenirs made from Craft Cottage Industries. It sells clothes, homewares and much more all at affordable prices and you can pay cash or card, it’s great if you know what your looking for and it’s easy to shop there hassle free. I bought the most beautiful brint pink pouffe cover with lots of sequins and patchwork for only about £15.
Humayun’s Tomb is the resting place of the Mughal Emperor Humayun, and was commissioned by his wife. Today it’s a UNESCO world heritage site and it’s thought this tomb inspired the Taj Mahal. The tombs are set in the most beautiful and pristine gardens, it is one of the best preserved Mughal monuments in India and the many buildings are still in really good condition with many of the small details still intact. The build took from 1565 and was completed in 1572.
The gardens from the 17th to 19th centuries were filled of Humayuns descendants and entourage, and there is approximately 150 graves throughout the tombs and gardens. There is a small entrance fee to enter the grounds and it was absolutely stunning to wander around the buildings. It also didn’t feel over crowded and full of visitors which makes a nice change from the busy streets of Delhi.
India Gate is located in the heart of New Delhi and is a 42 meter high war memorial, it’s similar to the Arc De Triumph in Paris. The gate commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers that lost their lives fighting for the British army in World War 1. The construction started in 1921 and was complete in 1931. When in Delhi this is a must visit, it’s easily accessible and doesn’t take up much time at all to walk around it.
As the name may suggest Lotus Temple is built in the shape of a lotus flower set in lush green gardens and surrounded by pools of water. It was built back in the 1980s and is a Bahia temple, it’s a really beautiful and quirky temple and the inside is simplistic and welcomes all religions to come and worship. The temple is free to enter and while we visited there was some speakers and singers there.
Parliament House is the Houses of Parliament for all of India, it isn’t located too far away from India Gate so the two can easily be done at the same time. The main building is a circular shape and construction started in 1921 and was completed in 1927. There is also a parliament museum and library located next to the parliament building. When we visited Parliament House you couldn’t get up close to the main building as there were lots of security, so we only got to see the outer buildings.
Qutub Minar is the highest tower in India standing at 73 meters high and built in 1193. The tower was built to celebrate Muslim dominance in Delhi after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu ruler.
Apart from the tower, the Qutub Minar complex comprises the first mosque to be built in India – Quwwat-us-Islam Mosque. There are also lots of tombs and pillars and ruins on the site , and the detail carved out into the red sandstone is still really clear to this day.
Qutab Minar is one of the main sites to see in Delhi, arrive early to avoid crowds. Entrance costs about £5 per person and it was one of my favourite places we visited in Delhi, this should be at the top of your itinerary when going to the capital.
Red Fort is a historical monument in the heart of Delhi it gets its name from the red coloured sandstone it’s made from. The Fort was constructed by the Mughals back in 1639, the Fort was used for ceremonies for the royals, today it is used for national and political functions. There is more to the Red Fort than just the red fortified walls on the outside, once inside the Fort there are lots museums, halls and palaces within the grounds.
There is a small entrance fee to pay to enter the Fort and you can pay a few pence to get one of the many tuk tuks to drive you from the ticket booth up to the main entrance of the fort. Once inside there is lots to explore, while visiting the Red Fort allow time to explore Chandni Chowk which is within close walking distance. I would recommend between 2-3 hours to explore inside the Red Fort fully.
Food & Drink
Chaayos is a chain tea house which are located all around Delhi and also other parts of the country. They provide lots of chai tea options aswell as lots of snacks, meals and a variety of traditional Indian drinks. All Chaayos are clean inside and make delicious chai.
Delhi Street Food
The bustling streets of Delhi are filled with vendors selling a huge variety of snacks and food for on the go! I would suggest having a research of street food before venturing out so that you know what your eating and have an idea of what you want to try. While out and about I tried Bhelpuri which is a savoury snack made of puffed rice, vegetables and a tangy tamarind sauce.
Be open minded to trying new food in India as more than likely it will be vegetarian, and the only thing you might want to consider is if any tape water has been used in the ingredients as that is what can cause Delhi belly.
Haldirams started out as a traditional Indian sweets and snacks shop back in the early 80s and today it is now a huge chain with shops and restaurants all around the world. There are several in Delhi, I visited the shop and restaurant in Chandni Chowk. It’s fast food is quick and easy to order and the menu has lots of traditional Indian food to try, I ordered the Thali and the Ray Kochori.
As well as delicious food there is a good selection of Indian drinks I couldn’t resist a chai and mango lassi. If your a little worried of eating in Delhi or on the streets but want to try traditional Indian food then head to one of the Haldirams around the city to help build your confidence with Indian food m, as its loved by locals which is always a good sign.
Pindi is a chic little restaurant serving a whole range of Indian cuisine and specialising in lots of chicken dishes. The little restaurant is tucked away in Pandara Road. It’s a nice and quiet with good service and ambience, and a great place to escape the crazy streets of Delhi. The Pineapple Raita was really tasty and a good way to cool down the spiciness of the curry.
Transport & Getting Around
The only way to describe India’s road and transport system is congested and chaotic! If your short on time and only on a quick trip then I would suggest getting drivers as they’re vehicles should have air con and comfortable seats, and the drivers will know and understand how the roads work. If your travelling India for longer then there is a whole range of various transport options available for getting around and to suit all budget types, although if you have the budget splurge out and pay a bit more for a nicer seat or cabin!
When visiting India try and go as prepared as possible, as some of the streets can be a hard to navigate and sometimes there can be a slight language barrier, so go armed with google translate, guide books, maps.me app etc. I always have maps.me downloaded as it’s a great app that works offline and when I’m walking around Delhi or in taxi I always check it to make sure I’m heading in the right direction.
Other tips for India would be to always carry a scarf or pashmina for ladies that would like to enter various temples, also dress modestly when exploring India. I always tend to wear either a long maxi dress, or loose fitting trousers and T-shirt.
There is a huge amount of tours available throughout Delhi, however whenever I go I always opt to use Taj Mahal Trip which is a tour group that provides drivers to take you around Delhi or to the Taj Mahal or they can tailor make tours to your preference. They can be contacted either on Facebook or by WhatsApp (+91 91402 08445). I have used them serval times and they are always reliable and quick at getting back to you with any questions you may have.