New Delhi, the capital city of India, may overwhelm most visitors on first sight, but it has its own way of growing on you. The mesmerizing balance between history and modernity makes New Delhi one of the most unique cities on the planet. You can find breathtaking forts, palaces, gardens, temples and mosques that are steeped with history and explore cosmopolitan delights, exciting nightclubs, international cuisines, fantastic shopping and a beautiful culture while in Delhi.
If you’re planning to take that much anticipated trip to the Indian capital anytime soon, here are just some of the top things to do in New Delhi. Each attraction and adventure on this list is known to offer an entirely unique experience, be it in terms of its architecture, its historical importance, its beauty or its significance.
India Gate, one of the most popular Indian monuments and one of the first stops on most traveler itineraries, is famous for its majestic structure, beautiful fountains that have been carved in sandstone and plush lawns. The gate was built by Lutyens to commemorate the thousands of Indian soldiers who died during World War I and during the Afghan war. The names of each soldier has been inscribed on its walls and an eternal flame burns below the gate ever since 1971. An ideal time to visit the India Gate is during the evening, once the structure is bathing in the surrounding lights.
The Lotus Temple
The Lotus Temple, a sanctuary for those looking for some peace and quiet, is considered to be one of the most recognizable landmarks in Delhi because of its unique architecture. The temple has been designed to resemble the shape of a lotus, with 27 petals created out of marble making up the structure. The temple might be dedicated to the Bahá’í people, but people from all sorts of religious backgrounds come here for worship. Don’t forget to leave your shoes in the shoe room before entering the temple and spend some time in its beautifully manicured gardens.
The Akshardham Temple, one of the most famous Indian temples, occupies an area of 100 acres on the banks of the river Yamuna. It is known to epitomize approximately 10000 years of Indian culture through its fantastic designs, breathtaking beauty and captivating grandeur. The temple offers an enlightening journey of Indian values and arts and is also famous as the Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple in the world. Its architectural beauty and peaceful atmosphere are two of the main reasons why most visitors love to come here. The temple has been created using marble and pink sandstone and is home to as many as 20000 statues. The most remarkable features of the Akshardham Temple are its two gates – the Twin Peacock Gate and the Gate of Devotion. Other popular attractions worth exploring include the Hall of Values (offering an animated show describing the values of humanity with the help of robots), the Yagnapurush Kund (known for its surreal musical fountain) and the Sanskruti Vihar boat ride.
This enchanting park is considered to be one of the most favorite hangouts in Delhi. From power yielding politicians to ardent teenagers, you can find all sorts of people at the Lodi Gardens. The gardens were created to host the tombs of Lodi and Sayyid rulers, but are mostly famous as a much needed respite of green in an oasis of concrete. The tombs of Sikander Lodi and Mohammed Shah are also known to be worth a watch. There’s an ancient eight piered bridge known as the Athpula which dates back to the time of Emperor Akbar as well.
An exciting way to understand any city, its history and its culture is through the fascinating museums found there. The usual museums and art galleries such as the National Museum, National Museum of Natural History and National Gallery of Modern Art are seen on most Delhi travel itineraries, but we would recommend you to explore Delhi through its unusual museums. There are a number of unique and quirky museums in Delhi that offer interesting insights into things like the development of toilets over the centuries and dolls from all over the world. Some of the best options to add into your list of things to do include the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets (home to all sorts of toilets made between 2500 B.C. and the modern era), the National Rail Museum (houses a fascinating collection of old-world coaches and engines), the Crafts Museum (a place where you can try out your skill at crafts such as pottery together with Indian crafters) and Shankar’s International Dolls Museum (home to approximately 6000 dolls from 85 different countries).
Humayun’s Tomb is famous as the most captivating and perfectly proportioned mausoleum in Delhi. The tomb has been built in such a way that it seems to float over the lush gardens that surround it. This tomb was designed for the Mughal emperor Humayun and is known to date back to the mid-16th century. It features Mughal and Persian elements and is totally worth a visit. The entire complex follows the rules of Islamic geometry and special emphasis has been provided to the number 8. To the right of the complex, you can also find the Isa Khan tomb, which is considered to be one of the best examples of Lodi-era architecture.
Street Food Tour
Not all tourists would be comfortable to step into the various by-lanes of Delhi and satiate their taste buds with its fantastic street food, but those who are willing to go the distance have something truly special in store for them. There are a number of street food tours that take you to Old Delhi and showcase some of its best and most delectable street food. From checking out the largest spice market in the world to tasting the very best of Mughlai Cuisine, from brushing up on your bargaining skills to enjoying the mind-blowing taste of the various “chaats”, a street food tour of Old Delhi is unlike any other that you will ever experience. Be sure to stop for dinner at Karim’s Restaurant, a place that was once responsible for producing royal cooks for the Mughal rulers, and try out dishes such as chicken korma, mutton burra and seekh kababs.
The Following food tours are highly recommended:
The ancient Qutub Minar finds its way into most of the things to do in Delhi lists because of the experience that it offers. Considered to be the tallest brick minaret in the world, the Qutub Minar is an exciting example of Indo-Islamic architecture. It features 5 distinct stories, with each story covered with writings from the Koran and intricate carvings. The complex is full of ancient ruins and monuments and the architectural magnificence on display is truly special. Other popular sights in its immediate vicinity include the Ashokan pillar, an iron column which is believed to be about 1600 years old, and the Quwwat-ul-Islam, the very first mosque of India.
Hauz Khas Complex
The Hauz Khas Complex, previously known as the Hauz-e-Alai, is a set of ancient ruins that consists of a water tank, tombs and a mosque. The complex was built in the early 1300s with the water tank being designed to store rainwater which could later be used during the dry season. Today, the complex plays the role of a public park and is always full of locals. The Hauz Khas Village that surrounds the ruins is full of high-end restaurants, boutique stores and unique cafes, and is famous for offering some of the best shopping opportunities in Delhi.
The Red Fort of Delhi, or Lal Qila, is a Mughal fortress which surrounds an ancient city. Tourists are allowed to view its ancient mosques, architecture, halls and structures and discover the rich history associated with the Mughal-era Delhi. This massive fort might be a shadow of its former self, but it is still known to evoke feelings of splendor and remind visitors of the grandeur of this historic Delhi. Although most of the precious stones and gold that once decorated this fort were cleared out by its conquerors, the fascinating architecture still manages to make the fort stand out among the countless historic wonders located all over the Indian capital. We recommend you to visit the fort on a Monday evening so as to catch the exciting sound and light show that highlights the main events that took place in the history of the Red Fort.
Mehrauli Heritage Walk
Mehrauli is an ancient neighborhood that has been continuously inhabited for thousands of years. As a result, it is home to some of the most unique sights on the planet. The Mehrauli Heritage Walk is an ideal way to explore this exciting area and uncover its breathtaking monuments such as the Jamali Kamali mosque that was built by Shaikh Fazlullah (a Sufi saint), and an ancient royal tomb. Another exciting attraction is the Dilkusha cantonment which was landscaped by none other than Thomas Metcalfe.
Any trip to India is never complete without paying your homage to the founding father of modern India, the great Mahatma Gandhi. The leader of the Indian Freedom Movement left his mark all over the globe because of his ideals of non-violence and his attitude of caring for others. The Raj Ghat is a beautiful memorial that has been dedicated to the great Mahatma and is the very place where he was cremated. While visiting the Raj Ghat, walk into its central courtyard in order to walk around the black marble memorial.