New Delhi

The capital city of India interweaves old and new with seamless ease. Just take a short drive around the city to see different eras comfortably sit next to each other. See if you can spot the 100-year-old carved arches standing next to modern fashion boutiques in Connaught Place; or shop for clothes at Chandni Chowk while passing 17th century monuments like Jama Masjid and the Red Fort.

Delhi is among the world’s oldest cities and some believe that it dates back to over 5000 years. It has been the capital of many empires, including the majestic Mughal empire, a strong imprint of which can be seen even today. In fact, it’s the Mughal architecture that gives the city such a distinct look. The Mughal influence on the city doesn’t end with its architecture. The cuisine of the city can also be traced back to them. From flat bread to flavorful curries, almost all dishes have traces of spices that were used by the Mughals themselves.

A walk through the old city without any itinerary is enough to fascinate any visitor. The streets and houses are a few centuries old and the monuments are even older. The food is unbelievably diverse. Stuffed paranthas, crispy savories, and rich desserts fill the street-side shops. Irresistible souvenirs like embroidered fabrics, handmade carpets, and mirrored artifacts will easily find a place in your bags.

The preserved history doesn’t mean that Delhi is stuck in the past; it is one of the most modern and convenient cities to travel to in India. The roads are wide, the metro system is extensive and easy-to-use, hotels are contemporary, and restaurants serve cuisines from around the world. Delhi is also the center of fashion in the country and home to several high-end fashion boutiques and labels.

From the hustle and bustle of its market to its rich history and modern architecture, New Delhi isn’t just the capital of the country—it is the perfect preview into what the whole country has to offer.

Sights & Activities

Built entirely in red sandstone, the Lal Qila a.k.a Red Fort is the oldest and one of the most magnificent Mughal-era monuments in the walled city of Old Delhi. It dates back to 1638, when it became the residence and political centre of the Mughal Empire, and retains its significance as the site of hoisting of India’s national flag on the country’s Independence Day (August 15th). Preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fort fuses the Islamic, Persian and Hindu styles of architecture, and is best visited at sunset, when a sound and light show reinstates the fort to its original glory.

A bazaar unlike any you can imagine, Chandi Chowk, literally meaning “moonlit square”, is among the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi. Its labyrinth of by-lanes, with ancient crumbling havelis (mansions), forts, temples and churches, transport you back to the 17th century when it was built, sans the canals which once divided the market and shone in the reflection of the moon. Once you get accustomed to the overwhelming crowds and chaos, unleash the foodie and shopaholic in you – you’ll find everything from Indian street food delicacies and traditional sweets, to spice markets that overpower your senses, to clothes at a bargain, old books, leather goods, electronics, and the quirkiest Indian souvenirs to carry back home.

Built entirely in red sandstone, the Lal Qila a.k.a Red Fort is the oldest and one of the most magnificent Mughal-era monuments in the walled city of Old Delhi. It dates back to 1638, when it became the residence and political centre of the Mughal Empire, and retains its significance as the site of hoisting of India’s national flag on the country’s Independence Day (August 15th). Preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fort fuses the Islamic, Persian and Hindu styles of architecture, and is best visited at sunset, when a sound and light show reinstates the fort to its original glory.

A memorial dedicated to the great Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi, the Raj Ghat is a black marble platform on the banks of the Yamuna River. Located on the site of Gandhi’s cremation after his assassination in 1948, it symbolizes a significant milestone in Indian history, and has an eternal flame alight at one end. Roughly translated as “the riverbank of the royalty”, it also houses the memorial of India’s first male and female prime ministers. As a sign of respect, visitors are required to take off their shoes before entering the walls of the Raj Ghat.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient Qutab Minar is India’s tallest minar (tower) at 237.8 feet. Made of red sandstone and marble, the Qutab Minar is covered in intricate carvings, and is inscribed with the verses from the holy Quran. Standing among medieval ruins, the minar was once used as a watchtower. Now, it stands as an ode to modern Delhi’s glorious past. Visitors are not allowed to climb to the top, but witnessing this grand structure stand at a 60cm tilt, is an experience in itself. Nearby, the Iron Pillar, which has not yet rusted despite centuries of exposure to rain and wind, is a metallurgical marvel from medieval India.

The tomb of the great Mughal Emperor Humayun, is not just a mausoleum. It was India’s first ‘paradise garden’ tomb, built in the late 1500s on the orders of the emperor’s grieving wife, in Persian garden style. Made with Indo-Islamic architectural elements, of red sandstone and a white marble dome encircled by minarets, the tomb is surrounded by Charbagh (four square) gardens, which acquired a more English look during India’s colonial era, and lies on the banks of the Yamuna River. Within the complex are cenotaphs and monuments dedicated to other Mughal rulers, and the tomb has gained popularity in recent years as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for its old-world charm within the busy heart of Delhi.

A modern day architectural marvel, the Akshardham Temple is an ode to centuries of traditional culture, spirituality, art, music and architecture in India, and uses modern science and technology to depict their evolution. It was officially opened to the public in 2005. Built by 7,000 artisans on the eastern banks of the Yamuna, the central temple is made entirely of stone, and showcases the spiritual history of India through state-of-the-art IMAX movies, musical fountains, and artistic sculptures. The temple complex is housed in lush, sprawling gardens, and is popular with worshippers and non-worshippers alike.

True to its name, the Lotus Temple has a spectacular, award-winning, lotus-shaped architecture. The temple is actually a Bahá’í House of Worship, designed in the late 1980s by an Iranian architect, and welcomes people of all religions and faiths to worship ‘God’. As per the Bahá’í texts, no rituals, music, sermons, or image worshipping can be showcased within the house, making a visit within its nine-sided circular shaped structure a tranquil, introspective experience. Accordingly to some statistics, the number of visitors to the Lotus Temple has surpassed those to the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal in recent years!

LODGING IN Delhi

Related Tours