There is a lot to love about Delhi. It has its problems; pollution, and safety issues, and terrible traffic. But beyond these modern problems that have arisen out of population density, income inequality, and poor environmental management, Delhi is a historian’s paradise, artist’s and writer’s muse, and a city that so many people cannot have enough of.
It is an ancient city that has withstood many wars, lived through India’s historic empires, and continues to stand tall, its red sandstone tombs and other historic monuments a reminder of its legacy.
But not everything good about Delhi is in the past; it is a bustling metropolis that never sleeps. There’s always a gully with shops that will serve you hot food, a book reading, or a craft exhibition where you can lose yourself in the myriad colors that define this country. Here’s a motley list of places that you probably shouldn’t miss if you ever plan a trip there.
What To Do In Delhi: Visit Old Delhi
This area will give you an idea of what Delhi used to be in the olden times; when Mughal emperors ruled the country behind colossal forts and the town was made of an intricate system of small streets that continue to exist today. Visit the iconic Red Fort, which continues to host India’s Republic Day celebrations every year.
Jama Masjid, which lies right opposite the fort, is one of the largest mosques in India and was built by Shah Jahan in 1650. And just aside it is Chandini Chowk, an ancient marketplace that can only be truly experienced when you walk through its narrow roads and eat some of the best street food available.
Pro tip: Go to Parathewale Gully (Paratha Street) and eat at the famous Parathe stalls that have been doling out this local delicacy for more than 100 years. And don’t forget to try Daulat Ki Chaat, a winter delicacy that is indigenous to Old Delhi.
What To Do In Delhi: Visit Humayun’s Tomb
This beautiful tomb is a testament to Mughal art and architecture and houses the tomb of one of India’s greatest Mughal emperors, Humayun. Bask in the intricate designs on the walls and ceiling, the work of Mirak Mirza Ghiyas and his son, Sayyid Muhammad, who were Persian architects chosen by Humayun’s first wife to build his tomb. Stroll through the surrounding gardens for a rare moment of stillness in a restless city.
What To Do In Delhi: Visit Lutyen's Delhi
This is a part of Delhi that was named after a British architect who was responsible for the design and architecture of many of the buildings during the British rule of India.
Here, you can visit Rajpath, which houses the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Secretariat, National War Memorial, and India Gate, all iconic buildings that continue to be a part of India’s central government. You can also take a peep at the Amar Javan Jyoti at India Gate, an immortal flame that honors the soldiers lost in India’s wars.
What To Do In Delhi: Visit Majnu-Ka-Tilla
This Tibetan colony is a great place to shop for affordable winter clothing (many of which are hand-knit by the local women), used books, and try authentic Tibetan, Thai and Korean cuisine in one of the many cafes. Experience this area by walking through its windy roads, praying in the Tibetan temples and mingling with the locals, and tasting the food.
What To Do In Delhi: Visit Hauz Khas
A true example of the old blending in with the new, this South Delhi spot is not just a great hangout area for youngsters but is also an ancient water reservoir that has remnants of Islamic architecture in the old buildings that dot the Hauz Khas complex.
But right next to it are trendy clubs, cafes, bars, and fine dining restaurants, that make it a popular spot to be in especially during the weekends.
What To Do In Delhi: Visit Shahpur Jat
This area is extremely popular among the locals as a shopping destination, especially for wedding lehengas and dresses. But not many outside the city know that this area is also a great spot to find authentic Indian food from different regions and hang out in some cafes.
What To Do In Delhi: Visit Connaught Place and Khan Market
Two high-end shopping and eating destinations if you’re really in the mood for that. Connaught Place is an open Central Delhi mall that spans over a ring of Colonial buildings called the Connaught Circle.
Connaught Place also houses a secret within its walls; an ancient stepwell called Agrasen Ki Bauli, dating back to the 14th Century. It was originally built to store water and be a resting place for weary travelers.
What To Do In Delhi: Visit Qutub Minar and Jantar Mantar
These heritage buildings are a part of any amateur Delhi traveler’s itinerary. The Qutub Minar, at 72.5 meters, is the tallest minaret in the world that is built of bricks. Jantar Mantar is an ancient complex of architectural astronomy instruments. It is one of five that was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur in the 18th Century.
What To Do In Delhi: Visit Khari Baoli
Asia’s biggest open spice market is one of Delhi’s best-kept secrets. Close to the walls of Old Delhi, this market is run by shopkeepers who come from 9 or 10 generations in the spice trade. Feast your eyes on the earthen hues of India’s spices and rediscover a cuisine that you thought you knew about.
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