TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE

Exploring Delhi
Vol: 1

Deepanshi Ahuja, Travel Writer, India

09 January 2018

Delhi, India’s capital territory, is a massive metropolitan area in the country’s north. In Old Delhi, a neighborhood dating to the 1600s, stands the imposing Mughal-era Red Fort, a symbol of India, and the sprawling Jama Masjid mosque, whose courtyard accommodates 25,000 people. Nearby is Chandni Chowk, a vibrant bazaar filled with food carts, sweets shops and spice stalls.

Most visitors to India land in Delhi and it is from the city that they glean their first impressions; and in this city that they learn the ropes of travel in India. Tourists admire the beauty and essential charm of the city and they are provided with the keys to discover hidden treasures. I grew to love the city and I hope you will give it a chance, too. There are truly a lot of things to do in Delhi. Delhi is a glorious city. Like Rome, Delhi is also an eternal city. There are lots of things to do in Delhi, and many reasons to love the city. It’s also a very green city, criss-crossed by wide, leafy boulevards; and it’s the country’s cultural heart and political center. Plus, Delhi is known as a gastronome’s pleasure garden and a shopper’s paradise.

Delhi will never cease to amaze you. It happens to be the only city in the world with a unique distinction of having not one but three UNESCO World Heritage sites within its boundaries.

If you have the will and energy to explore Delhi, there is no dearth of interesting things to do here. The city is full of bars, cafes, bazaars and other fun places, which can make this culture capital give some better known cities of the world a run for their money. Delhi is a lot more than just a city of love. It is the absolute combination of tradition and modernity. A city with innumerable monuments on one hand and a world class airport and metro on the other. Street food, shopping malls, thrifty shopping places, religious places, theatre; you name it and Delhi has it! Here are some must-see places in Delhi. Take down your notes and visit them all when you drop by!

Let’s explore the Best things to do in Delhi:

RAJGHAT

This mausoleum is one without a tomb. It is the site of burial of our Father of the Nation. The location is beautifully kept with manicured lawns and red stone paths. Raj Ghat area also has memorials of other famous leaders like Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri etc.

Mahatma Gandhi is likely the most famous person associated with India, he’s on the front of all Rupee notes; He was the founding father of modern independent India and he’s known throughout the world for his philosophy of nonviolence and his attitude of helping and caring for others. Raj Ghat is a memorial dedicated to Gandhi, and it’s located in the place where he was cremated.

The entire area is a park, and there happened to be a lot of students running around the day. When you enter the memorial, you leave your shoes at the counter (for a small tip), and then walk into the central courtyard where you can walk around the black marble memorial of Gandhi.

Tip: If you don’t want to take a guide, eavesdropping on the ones accompanying foreigners is a good deal.

How to get there: To get take an auto rickshaw from Chandni Chowk to Raj Ghat and nearest metro station is Indraprastha (Blue Line).
Hours: 5:30 am – 7 pm daily
Price: Free

Raj Ghat makes a good place for a refreshing walk with a dose of some history trivia.

BANGLA SAHIB GURUDWARA

Make a stop at the beautiful white marble Sikh Gurudwara. The melodious chanting of hymns will transport you to a different world all together. The ‘Sarovar’ which is a holy water body in the Gurudwara premises keeps it cool all year long. The ‘Kada Prasad’ is too yummy, just melts in your mouth.

Unlike the uneasy feeling of visiting Jama Masjid (where someone always seems to be asking for money and your shoes are likely to get stolen if you leave them somewhere), the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Sikh Temple is about the friendliest, most inviting, and comfortable temple you’ll ever visit. Nobody will ask you for money, a donation, or anything. You just leave you shoes safely in the deposit room and walk around the temple.

There’s a huge pool of water outdoors on one side, a dining facility where many people share a meal together each day, and even a medical facility. Go inside the temple and you can sit and enjoy the Sikh band playing drums and singing as you sit there in peace.

Tip: A dip in the Sarovar early in the morning and a taste of the Langar is a must.

How to get there: Take the Metro to Patel Chowk, from there walk along Ashok Road until you reach the back side of the temple.

Hours: Daytime hours
Price: Free

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara is a really great experience, and I’d label it as a must visit when you’re in Delhi.

CONNAUGHT PLACE, JANPATH 

Shop, eat, watch a movie or just laze in the Central Park; Connaught Place is the perfect location for all that. Have a milkshake in a glass bottle at Keventers or a coffee at Starbucks, pick up a sweet treat from Wengers or a burger from KFC; you have too many restaurants to choose from! Walk through the corridors of the market to find some low priced trinkets and novels. Shop for branded clothes, footwear and accessories all that in one big circular market. Get out of the inner circle to walk towards Janpath market to shop for trendy clothes, jewellery and showpieces at throwaway prices.

While Delhi doesn’t exactly have a single downtown business district, if you did choose one area to label as that, it would probably be Connaught Place. Within the series of roundabouts which makes up the central framework of “CP,” are countless stores, delicious restaurants, and a dark underground shopping plaza known as Palika Bazar.

Tip1: Try out the popular Depauls coffee at Janpath.

Tip2: Sit in Central Park after sunset, the CP circle looks beautiful when lit up!

How to get there: Take the Delhi Metro to Rajiv Chowk station and take any number of exits
Hours: Shops and restaurants start to open at about 10 or 11 am daily

This mega series of roundabouts is honestly super confusing and a little overwhelming to the first time visitor.

RASHTRAPATI BHAWAN

The President’s residence is one place you better not miss. The mansion is open to tourists for visit on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Mughal Gardens with two channels and energetic fountains add to the beauty of the place. They are open to the public from February- March every year.

How to get there: Central Secretariat (Yellow Line)

They are open to the public from February- March every year.

HUMAYUN’S TOMB

This is the third UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE on our list. It was built after the death of Humayun by his senior widow Bega Begum. It is the first garden tomb in the Indian Subcontinent. The tomb stands in the centre of a square garden called ‘Charbagh’ which has shallow water channels running through it. Several rulers of the Mughal Dynasty lie buried here.

Persian designed, the tomb was built in the mid 1500’s to house the Islamic Mughal emperor known as Humayun. Along with Humayun, there are quite a few other Mughal rulers whose graves are also within the building.

You can walk around the surrounding gardens and then proceed to climb a flight of stairs to the main deck. Then you can walk around the inside of the building and see the many marble tombstones. Also, located at the entrance of the attraction is a small museum showcasing some old photographs including explanations of the tomb and its History.

How to get there: There’s no real Metro station that will take you very close to Humayun’s Tomb, the closest is either Khan Market or JLN Stadium, but you still need to take an auto rickshaw from there. If you go to the Lodi Gardens, just take an auto rickshaw directly from there to the tomb.
Address: Mathura Road, Nizamuddin, New Delhi, DL 110013, India
Hours: 6 am – 6 pm daily, all daylight hours
Price: 250 INR – expensive because it’s another UNESCO World Heritage Site

The tomb stands in the centre of a square garden called ‘Charbagh’ which has shallow water channels running through it.

RED FORT

Adding to the list of majestic monuments in Delhi, there is Red Fort. It is also a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE. It served as the residence for Mughal Emperors for nearly 200 years. The surviving structures of the fort are its walls and ramparts, the main gates, the audience halls and the imperial apartments.

Once you get inside the gate, you’ll be able to freely walk around and view some of the main structures, halls, and mosques. Along with being a place to learn and see the history of Delhi, it’s also just a quiet place to get away from the crowds and noise outside the walls.

Tip: Shop all day but do stay back for the light and sound show at 6pm at Red Fort.

How to get there: You can easily walk in about 20 minutes or take a quick auto rickshaw ride from Chandni Chowk metro station to the Lahore Gate of the Red Fort. Just get off the Metro and walk straight down Chandni Chowk road until you reach the large main road, and you’ll see the fort across the street.
Address: Netaji Subhash Rd, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday during daylight hours, closed Mondays
Price: 250 INR

The Red Fort in Delhi, known as Lal Qila, is a red sandstone Mughal fortress of walls that surrounds an entire ancient city.

CHANDNI CHOWK

Chandni Chowk, which leads up to the Red Fort is one of the oldest markets in Delhi. It houses many religious buildings like the Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib, Jama Masjid, historical mansions, shops and eateries. Paranthe Wali Gali is one of the most famous eating areas in the market. The market is an amazing place to shop for fabrics, stationary (at Nai Sadak), hardware and silver and gold jewellery.

Due to my passion for street food, I was like a kid in a candy store when walking around Chandni Chowk and Chowri Bazar in Old Delhi. This area is a dense chaotic center of trade, business, food, spices, and overall life. You’ll find some of the most interesting people and businesses in all of Delhi in this compact district. You can walk through the narrow ancient lanes, stop in at the inviting Sikh temple, and visit both the Jama Masjid and Red Fort which are both in the area. There are also a number of hotels and places to stay located in Chandni Chowk.

How to get there: Take the Metro to either Chawri Bazar or Chandni Chowk station and you’ll be in the midst of action.
Hours: Day and night, I’d recommend going late morning until afternoon

There are also a number of hotels and places to stay located in Chandni Chowk. But don’t miss the Paranthe Wali Gali or a chaat from Natraj!

QUTUB MINAR

Qutub Minar is the 2nd tallest minar in India. It has been declared as a UNESCO Heritage Site. At the foot of the tower stands a mosque which is the first mosque built in India. It has a 7 m iron pillar in the courtyard with a fascinating saying attached to it. It is said that if you can encircle it with your hands while standing with your back to it your wish will be fulfilled.

Among all the historical things to do in Delhi, the Qutub Minar is what you will enjoy the most. Along with a bunch of crumblings structures is the incredible 72.5 meter minaret that sort of looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The minaret is the tallest in all of India, and it was originally built nearly 1,000 years ago.

Though you can’t go inside, it’s really awe-inspiring to see from a distance and up close. Qutub Minar is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a proud icon of Delhi, India.

Tip: Read up about the history of Qutub Minar, it’s pretty interesting!

How to get there: Though there’s a Metro station named Qutub Minar, the actual site is sort of inconveniently located a bit of a distance away. It’s easiest to take the Metro and then take and auto rickshaw for 30 – 40 INR to the entrance.
Address: Mehrauli, New Delhi, Delhi 110030, India
Hours: 10 am – 6 pm daily
Price: 250 Rupees

Qutub Minar is constructed from red sandstone, here are detailed carvings and inscriptions throughout the tower.

INDIA GATE

Everyone knows of the glorious India Gate! Round the year one can see people picnicking or just enjoying a nice walk around the area. There are beautiful fountains around to make the area nice and cozy. If you happen to come around the October-November period do sign up for the Airtel Half Marathon; an early morning run at Raj Path is bound to stay etched in your memory.

The well respected India Gate is a 42 meter tall monument that was built in 1931 to honor Indian soldiers as a war memorial. Under the gate you can see a flame that’s continually lit and honors soldiers that have given their lives for their country.

Tip: Take a walk around India Gate with an ice-cream post sunset, you are sure to be mesmerized.

How to get there: The nearest Metro station is Central Secretariat, but it’s a bit of trek from there, I think it took about 30 minutes walking, but it’s not a bad walk and right along Rajpath. You can alternatively take an auto rickshaw or take a shared little motorcycle rickshaw up to the entrance of the India Gate.
Hours: Daylight hours
Price: Free

The India Gate attracts quite a number of tourists, both locals and foreigners, there are also quite a few beggars and overly pushy sellers that hang around.

INDIA HABITAT CENTRE

This place gives you a little bit of everything. An open air complex with huge solar panels on the roof, art exhibits in the galleries, yummy foods from the street of India and a good old American breakfast of bacon and eggs. Ever since 2011, the Delhi Photo Festival is held here. If you were wondering where the Rang De Basanti amphitheatre is, this is it!

How to get there: Jor Bagh (Yellow line)/ JLN stadium (Violet Line)

Ever since 2011, the Delhi Photo Festival is held here. If you were wondering where the Rang De Basanti amphitheatre is, this is it!

DILLI HAAT

This place is a walking tour of Indian culture. Shop for all the ethnic wear you wish, overload your bags with beautiful pieces of handicraft or just enjoy the weather while having a badam kulfi. There are food stalls dishing out scrumptious delicacies of different states of India. If you make an unplanned trip to Dilli Haat you might bump into a fancy exhibition or a dance/music performance.

Dilli Haat is the exact opposite shopping experience from Chandni Chowk and the Spice Market; It’s calm, clean, organized, convenient, and really nicely set up. It’s a bit like Asiatique in Bangkok, but less glamourous.

Along with being a great place to shop for souvenirs and handicrafts, Dilli Haat is known (even for local Indians), as a nice place to sample Indian food from around the entire nation. I think there’s a restaurant representing each of the states of India.

Tip 1: Bargain as much as possible, it’s legal.

Tip 2: Don’t miss the momos at the Shillong stall.

How to get there: Take the Metro to INA station and Dilli Haat is just a short walk from there
Address: Sri Aurobindo Marg, West Kidwai Nagar, Kidwai Nagar, New Delhi, DL 110023, India
Websitehttp://www.dillihaat.net.in/
Hours: 10:30 am – 10 pm daily
Price: They charge 20 Rupees entrance fee

Dilli Haat is kind of an outdoor shopping plaza where vendors sell high quality Indian handicrafts in a friendly, safe environment.

LAJPAT NAGAR MARKET

Set your budget and go crazy shopping for ethnic wear. You get great salvar kameez, sarees, kurtas and kolhapuri chappals in this market. Lajpat market momos are extremely popular so if you’re fond of street food, don’t miss them.

How to get there: Lajpat Nagar (Violet Line)

Tip: Get some henna on your hands on the way back from the popular mehndiwallas!

Lajpat Nagar Market is the best place for ethnic wear, so set your budget and go crazy shopping for ethnic wears.

SAROJINI MARKET

Delhi offers many places for inexpensive but quality shopping. Sarojini Nagar Market might just top that list. It is one of the most popular markets especially for clothes, footwear and accessories. One might simply describe it as a teengirl’s shopping paradise.

How to get there: INA

Tip: If you’re new to bargaining, take an experienced person along. Bargaining here could get real nasty!

Delhi offers many places for inexpensive but quality shopping.

PAHARGANJ

Paharganj is the hub for cheap shopping, cheap lodging and cheap hogging. If you love leather bags and footwear, this is the place for you. You can get an amazing leather satchel for as low as Rs 200! The market is well known for silver jewellery and thrift shops. The culture of this market is quite like that of hill stations like Kasaul and the fact that you’ll see quite a few foreigners at any time of the day, you might just forget that you’re in Delhi.

Located next to the New Delhi Railroad Station, Paharganj is a district in Delhi that is known for its crowded streets, shopping, and now its the budget backpacker center of Delhi. If you’re looking for where to stay in Delhi where you’ll have easy access to transportation and lots of action, head to Paharganj.

Have the best chole bhature (fried bread served with a luscious chickpea curry) in Delhi at a small restaurant known as Sita Ram Diwan Chand.

Tip: It’s best to see the market on foot.

How to get there: You could take the Metro to Ramakrishna Ashram Marg and then walk to Paharganj, but I just took the Metro to New Delhi Station, walked through the Railroad Station to the other side (which is the Paharganj side), then crossed the street, and you’ll be in Paharganj. The road is called Main Bazar or Baba Namdev Marg.

The area is yet another interesting area of Delhi to explore and includes a host of businesses and restaurants.

LODHI GARDEN

Here’s a great place for morning walks and family picnics! Lodhi Garden is spread over an area of about 90 acres, it has 5 beautiful architectural works of 15thcentury- Mohammed Shah’s Tomb, Sikander Lodi’s Tomb, Sheesh Gumbad and Bara Gumbad. You can soak up some sun with your family over a game of charades and some yummy sandwiches.

It’s similar to Hauz Khas Complex, but on a much grander and more impressive scale. The Lodi Gardens is a public park that’s scattered with ancient Mughal tombs and structures. Kids run around, people enjoy picnics, and artists become inspired by walking and sitting in these gardens. The park is large, and it’s easy to walk around for a few hours indulging in a breath of fresh air and exploring the 500 year old tombs.

How to get there: Take the Metro to Khan Market station and from there it is about a 30 minute walk to Lodi Gardens. If you don’t want to walk, take the metro to Khan Market station and then jump in an auto rickshaw.
Hours: Daylight hours
Price: Free

Along with Qutub Minar and Akshardham, the Lodi Gardens was one of my favorite things to do in Delhi.

ISKCON TEMPLE

Devotional songs play while you walk around the temple adorned with splendid portraits and idols of Lord Krishna. You will witness a calm environment with an inexplicable energy around you.

Located just a 15 minute walk from the Lotus Temple (though you have to walk around due to the fence), is one of the largest and most interesting temples dedicated to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

The religious movement was actually founded in the United States and is now represented throughout India. Visiting the temple, you’ll be able to freely walk around and sit in the sanctuary where you can listen to the ever present drum and chant of “Har-e-Krishna.” I think they also have a theater where you can watch a film.

Tip: Attend the Vedic sound and light show titled ‘Gita Saar’.

How to get there: The closest Metro station is Nehru Place and the temple is about a 10 minute walk from the station.
Websitehttp://www.iskcondelhi.com/
Address: Hare Krishna Hill Sant Nagar, East of Kailash New Delhi, India
Hours: Day hours
Price: Free

Your faith in God will reach new heights after you attend the ‘Arti’ at the ISKCON Temple.

HAUZ KHAS VILLAGE AND DEER PARK

Ranbir Kapoor and Nargis Fakhri shout out some drunken dialogues in the Hauz Khas Fort in their movie Rockstar. The Fort overlooks a beautiful lake where you can feed adorable ducks and swans. To reach the lake, take a walk through the deer park and admire the spotted animals. While you are on the go you will come across boards which will guide you to perform fitness exercises, if you are the playful type I suggest you to follow them on the way, it makes the walk absolutely fun-tastic.

The ‘Village’ offers great restaurants, dive bars, clubs, and shopping boutiques. After you enjoy your calm moments at the fort you can head out to one of the popular bars and enjoy a good drink. The historical complex of Hauz Khas (originally known as Hauz-e-Alai) is an ancient community of ruins which includes a mosque, various tombs, and the previously important water tank.

Built in the early 1300’s, the water tank was designed to store rainwater to be used when needed in the dry season. Nowadays, the complex is a public Delhi park, a place where lots of students go to just hang out with friends, and chat while sitting on ancients stones and tombs. Delhi just has so many ancient Mughal buildings of history that there are many that are just public and not fully preserved, but are just part of the daily lives of residents – such is the case when it comes to Hauz Khas.

When I was in Delhi, I stayed at a place near Hauz Khas. If you’re looking for where to stay in Delhi, South Delhi is a good area.

Tip: Take loads of photographs; this place makes everyone more photogenic.

How to get there: The easiest way to get to Hauz Khas Complex and Village is by taking the Delhi Metro to Green Park station and then hopping in an auto rickshaw to Hauz Khas. It should cost 20 – 30 INR.
Websitehttp://hauzkhasvillage.in/
Hours: Daylight hours
Price: Free

Hauz Khas Village, located surrounding the entrance of the ruins, is an upscale outdoor shopping area filled with boutique stores, high end restaurants, and cafes.

GARDEN OF FIVE SENSES

This garden is a treat to the eyes. It has 25 sculptures and murals on display and walkways surrounded by flowering and fragrant shrubs and trees. There is also a food and shopping court in the garden where you can enjoy a good meal while a light breeze awakens your senses. The garden is spotted as one of the most romantic places in Delhi.

How to get there: Saket (Yellow Line)

Hours: Daylight hours

Price: Free

There is also a food and shopping court in the garden where you can enjoy a good meal while a light breeze awakens your senses

AKSHARDHAM

This is a must-see site and should be high on your priority list. Akshardham attracts 70% of all tourists who visit Delhi (not surprising at all!). Once you enter, I bet you wouldn’t want to leave. It has jaw-dropping architecture, a fascinating fountain show, an informative boat ride, a huge garden, a food court that offers scrumptious dishes and much more.

This modern Hindu temple complex, which was built in 2005, is one of the things to do in Delhi that you don’t want to leave out seeing. Akshardham, with its elaborate architecture, construction, and its ridiculous amount of perfect detail and decoration will blow your mind.

They don’t allow anything inside the temple complex, but they do have a very secure (and free) place to store all your belongings – you’ll have to deposit your camera, phone, and everything, but they’re safe and their system is very organized. You then walk into the gates, proceed through the visitor center, and you’ll be standing directly in front of the stunning temple. Keep approaching, deposit your shoes, and enter the temple.

Tip- Try to reach early so that you can experience all activities before the complex closes.

How to get there: Take the Delhi Metro to Akshardham station (make sure you head towards NOIDA city center station), exit to the main street, turn right and then turn right again on the road and walk for about 10 minutes and you’ll be at the main entrance gate. Alternatively, you can take a rickshaw from the Metro to the temple.
Websitehttp://www.akshardham.com/
Hours: 9:30 am – 6:30 pm, closed on Monday
Price: Free

This modern Hindu temple complex, which was built in 2005, is one of the things to do in Delhi that you don’t want to leave out seeing.

PURANA QILA AND NATIONAL ZOOLOGICAL PARK

When you visit Purana Qila, don’t forget to walk upto the National Zoological Park or Delhi Zoo.  It is spread over an area of 176-acre and is very crowded on weekends. If you like long walks this place is perfect for it. Walk around enjoying the funny activities of hippos and the hysterical laughs of the hyaenas. You can also rent a battery-operated vehicle at the zoo to take a tour.

How to get there: Pragati Maidan (Blue Line)

Hours: Daylight hours

Tip: If someone wakes up the lion from his slumber, enjoy the thunderous ‘Rawwwwr’.

When you visit Purana Qila, don’t forget to walk upto the National Zoological Park or Delhi Zoo.

AGRASEN KI BAOLI

Baoli which means stepwell was constructed in order to preserve water in ancient times. What is special about this baoli is that it is situated right in the heart of the city, surrounded by tall buildings of Connaught Place. In the crowd you might spot poets and artists working their magic on paper thanks to the awesomeness of the location. This place is said to be one of the most haunted places of India.

How to get there: Rajiv Chowk (Yellow Line)

Hours: Daylight hours

Price: Free

In the crowd you might spot poets and artists working their magic on paper thanks to the awesomeness of the location.