India is a world-famous destination, but not many can give you a list of the things to see there, except for the Taj Mahal and the rudimentary lifestyle. But after spending my first time in India in several different cities, I can tell you there’s more than it meets the eye.
Delhi is the largest Indian city, and it offers plenty of sights to be discovered. I will offer you my starting points of what to see in New Delhi, India. The rest, you will decide once you get there.
If you are planning to visit India, check out my other posts to better understand what is India all about:
- Tips for your first trip to India
- My first contact with India
- What to see in Jaipur, India
- What’s like to visit Taj Mahal
- I witnessed the largest human gathering on Earth (Kumbh Mela 2019)
- Discovering the holy city of Varanasi in India
- Discover the Indian cuisine
Before I start recommending some places, you have to keep in mind that Delhi is absolutely huge it has so many more place to see and discover, that you would need to move to Delhi for probably more than one month and to visit something each day.
And if you have the time (and when you are done with everything Delhi has to offer), there are other great places to visit near Delhi. Renting a scooter or a car might be a good idea.
Because Delhi is so big, it takes a long time to commute and seeing more than 2 or 3 places in one day can be a bit of a stretch, unless they are within a walking distance. Looking at the map, you will not realize just how big the distances are.
Also, besides the main roads, don’t take into consideration the smaller one, if you want to commute by car. Chances are that the car can’t drive on those, because they are too narrow and full of street vendors. That’s why you will have to walk a lot.
Make sure to have a pair of very comfortable shoes and just so you know, you will get dirty/muddy/dusty.
The metro system is very good, and once you get a metro card and charge it, it will be easy to use it. Try to use the metro whenever you can. The other option for small to medium distances are the tuk-tuks, but you have to refine your bargaining skills.
If you are near a major attraction, the prices are crazy high and mostly they don’t want to lower them, because they know they will find someone else willing to pay them that price.
What to see in New Delhi
The Red Fort is a historical fort of Delhi. It was the primary home of the emperors of this Mughal dynasty for almost 200 decades, until 1856. It’s in the middle of Delhi and many museums. Also, it had been the political centre of the Mughals.
Constructed in 1639 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the Red Fort is known because of its enormous surrounding walls of red sandstone.
Expect it to be crowded. Indian and foreign tourists visit it massively. There is a special counter for foreign tourists, and the price is 600 IND for foreigners, which is 10x more than the cost of the tickets an Indian would pay.
Beware of the local guides. Lots of tourists are offered private tours by these guides, and they approach you near the tickets office. They have an official guide badge and everything. I really don’t know if they are really official, but they show the badge which has the price of the tour on it. We hired one of these guides at the Taj Mahal, and it cost 1000 IDR (~13 Eur) and he expected a tip.
India Gate is a memorial to 70,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who died between 1914 and 1921 in the First World War, in France, Flanders, Mesopotamia, Persia, East Africa, Gallipoli and in the East, along with the Third Anglo-Afghan War. 13,300 of their names, including some soldiers and officers from the UK, are inscribed on the gate.
The India Gate, Although a war memorial, evokes the architectural design of the triumphal arch like the Arch of Constantine, outside the Colosseum in Rome, and is often compared to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and also the Gateway of India in Mumbai.
In 1972, following the Bangladesh Liberation warfare, a small simple structure, consisting of a black marble plinth, with a reversed rifle, capped by a war helmet, bounded by four eternal flames that were assembled beneath the towering Memorial Archway. This is known as Amar Jawan Jyoti, or the Flame of the Immortal Soldier. India Gate is counted among the largest war memorials in India.
The Qutub Minar, also called Qutab Minar, is part of the Qutb Complex, included in the UNESCO World Heritage, located in Mehrauli Region of Delhi, India.
Qutb Minar is a 73m tall tower. Its layout is supposed to have been predicated on the Minaret of Jam, in western Afghanistan.
I hope you have better weather when you visit it, unlike me. It was raining and I was feeling sick, but I didn’t want to miss it, since it was my last day in India.
‘Akshardham’ signifies the celestial God. It’s hailed as an eternal place of loyalty, purity and calmness. Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi is a Hindu house of worship, along with a religious and cultural campus specializing in dedication, learning and stability.
The Lotus Temple (1986) is a Bahá’í House of Worship.
Famous for the flowerlike form, it has come to be a dominant attraction from Delhi. Like most of Bahá’í Houses of Worship, the Lotus Temple is available to all, irrespective of faith or some other qualification. The building consists of 27 freestanding marble-clad “petals” arranged in clusters of 3 to form two sides, with two doors opening onto a central hallway with a height of 34m and it has a capacity of 2500 people.
The Lotus Temple has won many architectural awards and has been featured in several magazine and newspaper articles. In 2001, CNN reported as the most visited building in the entire world.
Jama Masjid Mosque
As in any mosque, you have to take your shoes off at the entrance. I never left my shoes there, and I always carried them with me. Also, you are not allowed to take photos with a camera (I’m assuming a dslr), and the guys at the entrance wanted to charge 200 rupees because I had my camera in my hand. I left my camera outside, with my boyfriend and everything was fine. They don’t even check and inside everyone is taking pictures with their phones.
After some days in India, you get used to the constant hassle, and you learn to not pay anything if it isn’t written. I am sorry for the reputation, but in these touristic places, there are a lot of people trying to make some money out of the tourists.
Humayun’s tomb is the grave of the Mughal Emperor Humayun.
The grave was commissioned by Humayun’s first wife, Empress Bega Begum. It had been the very first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It was also the initial structure to utilize red sandstone at this scale. The Humayun has been announced part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1993.
Apart from the primary tomb enclosure of Humayun, many bigger temples dot the pathway leading to it, in the primary entry in the West, for example, one which pre-dates the major tomb itself, by twenty-five years; it’s the tomb complex of Isa Khan Niyazi, an Afghan imperial in Sher Shah Suri’s courtroom of this Suri dynasty, that battled against the Mughals, built from 1547 CE.
Hauz Khas Village
Hauz Khas is a rich area in South Delhi, its own centre being the historical Hauz Khas complex. Hauz Khas is surrounded by Green Park, SDA (Sri Aurobindo Marg) to the west, Gulmohar Park (Balbir Saxena Marg) towards the north-west, Sarvapriya Vihar (Outer Ring Road) towards the south-west and Asiad Village (August Kranti Marg) and also Siri Fort) to the east.
I think it is necessary that visitors of Delhi visit also neighbourhoods like Hauz Khas and get a complete perception over the city and the lifestyle of the locals. Unfortunately, the social differences between those less fortunate and the people living in places like this one are huge.
Agrasen ki Baoli
Agrasen ki Baoli (or Ugrasen ki Baodi), is a 60m long historic place, close to Connaught Place. The architecture is something that photographers and Instagrammers love. So make it there early, if you don’t want lots of people in your pictures.
1911 The Imperial Hotel
The Imperial was built in 1931 and is a luxury resort in India. It is situated near Connaught Place. It was New Delhi’s first lavish grand resort.
Now it’s the greatest assortment of Hawaiian and post-colonial artwork and artefacts everywhere in Delhi, also contains a museum and a gallery.
Markets to check out in Delhi:
- Dilli Haat
- Chandni Chowk Market
- Khan Market. This is the western market. It’s not cheap. Here you will find Anokhi, a store with Indian clothes for women. Another place for nice Indian clothes is Fabindia.
- Spice Market
- Sarojini Nagar Market
- Masjid Janpath Market
But Delhi has also a more western face, where you forget you are in India
- Lodhi Gardens
- Connaught Place
- Parliament Of India
- Gandhi Smriti
- Select Citywalk Mall
These are some places I visited in Delhi, or at least had on my map, in the few days I was there. There are many more and walking would be the greatest way to discover Delhi, but it’s so huge that it’s impossible.
Either way, please take these places as a guideline and a starting point for your Delhi trip and for sure you will discover so much more on things to do in Delhi and what to visit in the city.
Where to stay in Delhi?
Trust me when I say that the neighbourhood you choose to stay in will shape your perception over Delhi.
First impressions matter and it’s true also for cities and countries.
AS for Delhi, as in any city, if you look on the map you will notice lots of accommodations in the centre. But after exploring the area, I understood why others before me wrote on their blogs to not stay there.
The centre of Delhi is part of the old town, and it’s therefore dirty and crowded. Most accommodations are below any kind of standard, even for India. Not to mention that one of the biggest issues for me was to book a place with real reviews and pictures. It sounds weird, but I was spending endless hours just to pick a hotel for the next day.
I have to mention a few great areas to stay in Delhi: Connaught Place, Hauz Khas, Greater Kailash, and most places in South Delhi are surprisingly better than the old part of Delhi.
I stayed in the Green Park area the first time and it was a shock. Even so, it is much better than near the train station. It was a budget accommodation in a good enough area and close to the metro. It’s important to have a metro station nearby.
The second time we stayed in Kailash at the Legend Inn and it felt like another city. So if you are more into comfort then definitely go for this one!
This sums it up, for now, please feel free to leave a comment with any questions you might have or contact me on social media. India is so much and I have so many details about it, that it would be impossible to address all of them in one blog post.
I also uploaded daily vlogs from India on my YouTube channel, so make sure to check it out if you are serious about travelling to Delhi.
Curious about Indian cuisine? Make sure to check out my experience discovering real Indian cuisine with locals thanks to Authenticook.