guide to delhi red fort

Guide to Delhi: Sightseeing, Shopping and Accommodation

Most international tourists who visit Delhi for the first time spend only a day in the capital city, after which they quickly move on to Agra in the south to see the renowned Taj Mahal, and to Jaipur in the west, a city in the Rajasthan desert. This tour is called the Golden Triangle Tour and is typically conducted over a period of six days, sometimes four days. As a result, regular tourists don’t get the opportunity to experience Delhi. Instead, what they usually see is a quick drive past Rashtrapati Bhawan, the President’s home; a thirty-minute photo op at the war memorial India Gate and a stopover at Raj Ghat, a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi; a drive past Old Delhi and an hour visit at the Red Fort.

Those sights are covered as much as possible in the morning, following which there would be a lunch break, perhaps a tour of the Lotus Temple post-lunch or onward travels to Agra.

Some tourists may spend more time exploring Old Delhi – a chaotic maze of tiny lanes and crumbling havelis with Jama Masjid looms large in the background – but still, Delhi is so much more than the old quarter.

To have some idea of what Delhi is like, one needs to explore the capital city in small bites over a period of at least two or three days at a leisurely pace. In this way, you would not feel overwhelmed by the throngs of people, noise and congestion.

So, what are the fascinating sights that tourists can explore in Delhi? Here are my recommendations:

Sightseeing

#1 India Gate

At the centre of New Delhi stands a 42-metre high archway called India Gate, a war memorial that commemorates and honours more than 13,000 British and Indian soldiers who died during World War I and on the Northwest Frontier in the Afghan War of 1919.

guide to delhi india gate image via flickr by bryan allison
India Gate. Image via Flickr by Bryan Allison

#2 Old Delhi

Old Delhi is extremely crowded with people jostling, merchants hawking goods such as spices, bread, religious articles, jewellery, fabric, brasswares, pretty much everything.

Have lunch in Karim’s Restaurant which still serves excellent Mughlai food and order their signature dish mutton korma, seekh kebab (minced mutton with coriander cooked on flat skewers) and the crepe-like rumali roti. Karim’s restaurant is easy to find among the labyrinth of narrow lanes in Old Delhi – a stone’s throw away from Gate No. 1 of Jama Masjid.

guide to delhi karim's restaurant old delhi
Karim’s Restaurant, Old Delhi

#3 Jama Masjid

Towering over Old Delhi is one of the largest mosques in India – Jama Masjid. Made of red sandstone and white marble, Jama Masjid serves as a reminder of grand Mughal architecture during the rule of Emperor Shah Jahan in the mid-1600s.

guide to delhi jama masjid
Jama Masjid, Old Delhi

*Also Read: Bhopal and Begums

#4 Red Fort

The majestic Red Fort is a 17th century fort built by Emperor Shah Jahan and is the largest monument in Old Delhi. The main attractions inside the Red Fort are Diwani-i-Aam, a large hall for the emperor to meet the public and Diwani-i-Khas, a pavilion made of marble with floral carvings and inlay work of semi-precious stones.

guide to delhi red fort
Red Fort – Diwani-i-Aam

#5 Humayun’s Tomb

Another red sandstone structure, Humayun’s Tomb was commissioned by Emperor Humayun’s wife, Hamida Banu Begum in the 16th century to honour his death. The tomb was where the emperor was finally laid to rest and is set in a 30-acre garden complex inspired by Persian architecture, comprising four gardens divided by walkways and water channels.

guide to delhi humayun's tomb
Humayun’s Tomb

#6 Safdarjung Tomb

Following the architectural tradition of Humayun’s Tomb but less grand is Safdarjung Tomb. The mausoleum was built in the mid-1700s as a mausoleum for Safdarjung who was the Prime Minister of the Mughal empire under the rule of Ahmad Shah Bahadur.

guide to delhi safdarjung tomb
Safdarjung Tomb

#7 Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar is the tallest stone tower in India with a height of 238ft and 379 steps. Initially commissioned by Qutbud-Din Aibak in the late 1100s and early 1200s, the construction of this red sandstone minaret was finally completed 400 years later. Interestingly, the height of the tower is just 5 feet less than that of the Taj Mahal!

guide to delhi qutub minar
Qutub Minar

#8 Lotus Temple

Popularly known as the Lotus Temple for its flower-like shape, this Bahai house of worship is set amongst nine pools and gardens which gives the impression of a floating half-open lotus flower surrounded by outspread leaves. The temple is open to all faiths and an ideal place for meditation as its atmosphere is simply peaceful and tranquil.

guide to delhi lotus temple
Lotus Temple

Shopping & Chill Out

After some time, you would invariably experience heritage fatigue, then it’s time to take a break for some shopping, and Delhi has no dearth of places for you to spend your cash. Or you can simply chill out to have some food and drinks.

#1 Dilli Haat

Dilli Haat is a craft bazaar selling crafts from all over India. Products sold here are sandalwood carvings, drapery, fabric, gems and beads, bangles, brasswares, paintings, just to name a few. Prices of the items sold in Dilli Haat are fixed – government-controlled – so you can be sure of not being ripped off.

guide to delhi dilli haat

#2 Lajpat Nagar

Numerous stalls and shops selling sarees, embroidered fabrics and herbal cosmetics in Lajpat Nagar’s Central Market. And if you’re tired from the shopping, you can always recharge with varieties of food and snacks in the area.

#3 Khan Market

A popular shopping destination in Delhi especially among the expats community, Khan Market is upmarket, classy and posh with boutiques, cafes, restaurants and bakeries.

Accommodation

Apart from Old Delhi, majority of the historical sites are located in New Delhi particularly South Delhi, thus it is recommended to stay in South Delhi area. Accommodation is aplenty in South Delhi ranging from luxurious 5-star hotels, boutique and business hotels to Airbnb homes.

Look for an accommodation that is close to a metro station – within walking distance or a short rickshaw ride – so that it is convenient for you to travel to the historical sites or shopping places. Metro connectivity in Delhi is rather extensive, hence it is easy to get around in the capital city.

#1 Luxury Hotel

Located right in the Diplomatic Enclave is the prestigious Taj Palace Delhi, a 5-star hotel that represents world class luxury and top-notch hospitality. Taj Palace Delhi exudes a regal ambience, rooms are of royal comfort and classy interiors.

guide to delhi taj palace delhi
Taj Palace Delhi. Image Credit/Resource: Taj Hotels

#2 Boutique/Business Hotel

If you are a business or solo traveller looking for cosy and compact accommodation, Bloomrooms@Link Road is a 4-star hotel located in South Delhi and within walking distance to Jangpura metro station.

guide to delhi bloomrooms at link rd
Bloomrooms@Link Rd

#3 Airbnb

But if you want to rent a room and stay with a local family or rent a self-contained apartment, Airbnb is another option. You can a wonderful experience getting to know a local family or have access to unique homes.

guide to delhi airbnb home
Airbnb home in Hauz Khas

The trick to not feeling overpowered by the crowds and noise in Delhi or anywhere in India at least is to go with the flow. The chaos here is often called “organized chaos”, hence if you avoid having to continuously control time or avoid wanting constant efficiency, you will be able to enjoy Delhi with all its heritage, congestion…and honking.

This post was written in collaboration with Cleartrip, and my stay at Bloomrooms @Link Rd was complimentary for one night only. Opinions expressed in this post are my own 

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This article is also available as a GPS-guided article for your convenience when you travel to Delhi. For more information, click here.

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*Linking with #CityTripping, #FarawayFiles, #TheWeeklyPostcard.

Wander Mum
Hilary Style
Two Traveling Texans

32 comments

  1. Wow that Lotus Temple is awesome! I love lotus flowers so I’d love to see that! I bet from above it looks awesome! These are all some unique sights in Delhi I have never read about before! Pinned! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

  2. You always write about very exotic places, Kat. I’ve never been in India, so I am going to save your post for future reference. I’d love to see Delhi. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  3. I visited Delhi for work so I was there a bit longer but didn’t have that much time to sight see. I was impressed by the red fort and India Gate though. I can’t remember the hotel we stayed in but it was nice. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    1. Hi Bea, I’m setting up my tour website to South Asia (India, Nepal Sri Lanka) and will be launching within a month or so. If you’re interested, I can send you an email about it once it’s ready 🙂

  4. I love the arches of the Red Fort – so beautiful. And you would definitely find me perusing the wares in the craft market. I love that prices are fixed, I’m not very good at haggling! Thanks for the great tips, I can almost smell the korma from here! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin #FarawayFiles

  5. What a comprehensive post! I think I like the idea of the luxury hotel! That pool looks heavenly! I would really like to visit these places someday and I will definitely be referring to your site before I do. #farawayfiles

    1. Oh yes, trust me, after a full day’s of sightseeing in Delhi, you need to jump into that pool! 🙂 If you’re planning to travel to India, do let me know and I’d be more than happy to share tips and info.

  6. Great to know about what you can see in Delhi when you’re not rushing. I love the sound of the food and I like the idea of the bazaar with set prices too!
    #citytripping

    1. India can be an assault on the senses, so it’s always best not to rush and see the larger cities within a short period of time. That said, not everyone has the luxury of time but it is recommended though to go with the flow in India 🙂

  7. Thank you for this great guide Kat! So interesting to see what else Delhi has to offer. I particularly like the sound of the Lotus Flower temple where all faiths can visit and pray. I’d love to go shopping at all the markets too. Thanks for the inspiration. #citytripping

    1. You’re welcome, Liz, glad that you found the post useful. The Lotus Temple is indeed unique in terms of architecture and philosophy – one of the great places of worship in Delhi to see and experience 🙂

    1. I agree, India is an assault on the senses but after a while we get used to it. Once we go along with the flow, we typically end up loving India 🙂 That said, I know of some people not liking the experience at all. It will be great for you and family to return to India with the kids.

    1. Oh India is so diverse – the culture, food, language, customs, physical features, landscape change as one moves from a region to another. I have been to India so many times that it’s almost a second home to me! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, I’m glad that you enjoyed my post 🙂 The last time I was in Dili Haat was 8 years ago and Hauz Khas last Nov. Unfortunately, the turnover of shops in Hauz Khas is high – some shops along the main road are closed but there are several good finds in the alleyways.

  8. I’m a fan of slowly exploring a place instead of breezing past it! Never knew there was so much to see in Delhi – especially those tombs. Hard to believe those weren’t built for people to live there! The architecture is simply stunning, and the arches of the Red Fort remind me of the Real Alcazar in Seville, strangely enough!

    1. The architecture of the Red Fort are by the Mughals – the Mughals were Muslim emperors who had conquered many parts of Pakistan and North India for many centuries. Their architecture and decorative styles were very much influenced by Persian-Islamic designs. That is why you find the architecture of Red Fort sharing similarities with Moorish architecture especially the use geometrical patterns – the Islamic influence 🙂

  9. My only trip to Delhi was way back in 2007 and I was guilty of being part of a tour group. We only explored the capital briskly for one day, covering a few of the heritage places mentioned.

    I do hope to return to Delhi in the future and fully explore its rich history and heritage.

    1. Hi Danial, we are all guilty of tour groups haha…In fact, my first trip to India was in 2003 with my mum on a Golden Triangle tour group 🙂 Over the years because of my previous corporate job and personal trips to Delhi, I have had been fortunate to experience more of the city. Do let me know when you are planning your next trip to Delhi – I will be able to assist you with tips and recommendations.

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