1. Explore Old Delhi
Most of the popular attractions in Delhi are actually in New Delhi, the part of the city built by British rulers which still has lots of the old-style colonial architecture. Old Delhi, the original part of the city, is about 7km from the city’s current center but is entirely different in its atmosphere and style. It’s much more pedestrian friendly so the best way to explore is on a walking tour with a local guide.
2. Visit Lotus Temple
This temple consists of 27 marble petals that are folded together to create the shape of a lotus flower. It’s also called the Bahá’i House of Worship, after the Bahá’i religion. The lotus flower is also linked to Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, so the temple – which took a decade to build – is popular with most faiths and even took the title of most visited religious building in the world in 2001!
Address: Lotus Temple Rd, Bahapur, New Delhi, Delhi Opening times and entry: Tuesday through Sunday, 9am – 5:30pm. Closed on Mondays.
3. Check out Hauz Khaz village
On most of the little streets in this funky neighborhood you’ll find independent stores selling original Bollywood posters, old maps of India and the rest of the world, handmade leather goods and trinkets. There’s also a few great options for food; the momos and dumplings at YETI – The Himalayan Kitchen, which recently opened again, are our favorite! If you just want a coffee, try Social or Kunzum Travel Cafe. All Arts sells most of the market’s Bollywood posters, the majority of which come with brilliant English translations such as Prabhat – Story of a Wife Seller. The list of stores in this funky neighborhood has consistently grown but staples such as Nappa Dori, which sells incredibly stylish leather goods, and clothes boutiques like Bodice are still the most popular. For contemporary art, check out the Delhi Art Gallery.
4. Stop at the India Gate monument
This War Memorial is another of the most popular places to visit in New Delhi for both local and foreign tourists, and is something of a symbol of the city. The monument, which resembles Paris’s Arc de Triomphe, was built in memory of the 82,000 soldiers in the Indian Army who died in WWI and in the Third Anglo-Afghan War. The names of more than 13,300 soldiers are inscribed on the memorial, including the names of some British nationals who were serving in the Indian Army. It was also designed by a Brit, Sir Edwin Lutyens, the man behind many of New Delhi’s buildings. The surrounding gardens are popular with picnickers and at night the Gate is lit beautifully. It’s free to visit but security can often be very tight around the area so be mindful of this when you visit.
Address: Near Rajpath Marg, India Gate, Delhi
5. Have lunch at Khan Market
This is where the well-heeled Delhiites hang out. Latitude °28 Cafe, upstairs at Good Earth on the corner to the left of the market entrance, serves a delicious lunch with fresh salads and soups. The Good Earth shop downstairs stocks some of India’s finest homeware brands but without the price tags to match. While you’re in the shopping mood, head to Anokhi and check out their floral design bedding and blankets; the latter are perfect on a cold evening and roll up to next to nothing so will fit in your suitcase! For book lovers, there’s the small but plentiful Faqir Chand and Sons book stores, one of the city’s best.
Address: Rabindra Nagar, New Delhi, Delhi 110003
6. Visit Humayun’s Tomb
Delhi’s Humayun’s Tomb is believed to have been the inspiration for the Taj Mahal, predating it by around 60 years. Its red sandstone is totally different to the white marble color of the Taj but the tomb is set in equally beautiful and symmetrical gardens. It was designed and built according to strict Islamic geometry which uses the number 8 as its focus. You can read up on the garden’s design here.
Address: Near the crossing of Mathura Road and Lodhi Road, New Delhi Opening times and entry: Open daily, between sunrise and sunset. Entry costs Rs30/Rs500 (Dh2/Dh29) for Indians/non-Indians.
7. Go fabric shopping
We know there isn’t a shortage of fabric shops in the UAE but nowhere does fabric like HP Singh. Their large shop in Nehru Place is split into sections and each has its own (very knowledgeable) staff who focus on one particular type of material. There’s everything for every taste: bamboo cotton (great for bedsheets!), fine silks, modern jersey patterns and delicate Indian lace. The prices are all marked on the fabric rolls so the bill won’t shock you at the end.
8. The Red Fort
It’s immediately obvious why this fort was named the Red Fort – it was built with the red sandstone synonymous with some of Delhi’s most impressive buildings, and is still as bright and vibrant. It was built some time between 1638 and 1649 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who put the beheaded bodies of prisoners inside its foundations for good luck. It didn’t pay off; he was later imprisoned somewhere else before he could move. There’s a great light and sound show at the Red Fort every evening with a voice-over from the “Shahenshah of Bollywood” (Emperor of Bollywood) Amitabh Bachchan. As with lots of Delhi’s best places to visit, security at the Red Fort is tight. Because of this, we don’t recommend you visit in the middle of the day unless you’re happy queuing in the heat.
Address: Netaji Subhash Marg, Lal Qila, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi Opening times and entry: Open Tuesdays to Sundays, from sunrise to sunset. Closed on Mondays. Entry costs Rs30/Rs500 (Dh2/Dh29) for Indians/non-Indians. English audio guides are Rs69/Rs114 (Dh4/Dh7) for Indians/non-Indians. Sound and light show times: 6pm > 7.30pm in November – January, 7pm > 8.30pm in February – April and in September – October, and 7.30pm > 9pm in May – August.
9. Qutub Minar
If you haven’t had your fill of beautiful and old monuments in Delhi, add the Qutub Minar to your list. There’s more than one tomb and monument in the large Qutub complex but the most stand-out of these is the 73m Minar itself. Constructed in around 1192 by the sultans of Mehrauli it is currently the tallest brick minaret anywhere.
Address: Mehrauli, Delhi Opening times and entry: Open daily. Entry costs: each day costs Rs30/Rs500 (Dh2/Dh29) for Indians/non-Indians.
10. Shop at Dilli Haat
If you want to go shopping in Delhi but can’t face the craziness of the traditional bazaars of Old Delhi (although we think you’d be missing out!) head to Dilli Haat instead. There are dozens of stalls at this outdoor market, selling clothing, paintings and prints, jewelry and other home wares. The prices are higher than you’d find at smaller markets but feel free to haggle down to a figure you’re comfortable with. There’s also a fantastic momo stall for you to refuel at.
Address: Opposite INA Market, Laxmi Bai Nagar, Delhi Opening times and entry: Open daily from 11am > 9pm. Entry is Rs20 (Dh1) for adults and Rs10 (57 fils) for children.
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Published August 2017. Information correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.