The best itinerary to explore Delhi!
I’d had my eye on the alluring capital of India for many years, but I was discouraged from visiting it for the many obvious reasons that Delhi had become infamous for.
Crime rate is really high, crimes against women are really high, and goes virtually unpunished, it’s extremely dirty, and of course the pollution that could potentially be fatal.
But I made it there nevertheless, not paying heed to any and all warnings, and the following is my experience of India’s city of power.
I landed in Delhi in June, and though I thought it might be cooler than the scorching temperatures the city is famous for, I realise I was a fool not to have checked the weather forecast. The weather for the 3 days that I would be there was upwards of 37℃.
But I powered through the unforgiving heat, which I probably shouldn’t have because I ended up with a minor heat stroke.
1. Rashtrapati Bhavan
It is the official residence of the President of India. The grounds are beautifully kept, & lined with government quarters. The streets reminded me of a quaint English town, & it certainly is a world of a difference from the real Delhi beyond the high walls of its compound.
I could only visit the museum which has some interesting artefacts, but for the most part just has some portraits. It can be finished fairly quickly. To tour the Rashtrapati Bhavan you have to book online in advance. Walk-ins are not allowed. I should have done some research before I turned up at their doorstep.
2. Chandni Chowk
This is the one place I knew I wanted to visit, even without doing any research. Chandni Chowk is the place to get anything you want at a bargain. It is a wholesale market for everything you could imagine! It is wedding central- there are streets dedicated to imitation jewellery, clothing, wedding cards, silver jewellery, shoes, and everything else you could think of!
Asia’s Largest wholesale spice market is also here. The market at Khari Baoli Road has been in operation since 17th century.
The best street food in Delhi is in Chandni Chowk too! I had the best Mughlai food here, and I would definitely come back here every time I visit Delhi!
Where to eat in Chandni Chowk
Exploring Chandni Chowk can be done in many ways, through photography tours, wandering aimlessly through its tiny by-lanes, a cycle rickshaw tour, or my favourite- through its food! There are small restaurants almost at every corner, and it is impossible to eat everywhere in one trip. I ate at a few places that I heard were popular, but my favourite restaurants were right next to the Jama Masjid.
Address: 8 Near Matia Mahal Road, Bazaar Matia Mahal Road, Jama Masjid, Old Delhi.
Address: 16 Urdu Bazaar Road, In front of Jama Masjid Gate no. 1, Gali Bhairo Wali, Kababiyan, New Delhi
Easier way to find the restaurants, is to get to the Jama Masjid, and ask someone. The kebabs, & mutton & chicken dishes I tried were truly delicious! I wish I could go back just to eat at these two restaurants!
Also, I went to the 'Paranthe wali Gali' famous for its parathas in Chandni Chowk, and I absolutely hated it! The restaurants there sell fried parathas, which is what they are apparently popular for, and they don't have a regular pan toasted paratha on the menu. So if you like fried parathas, make your way there, else, please, avoid it! The curry & vegetables that they served the paratha with were less than ordinary as well. Overall, a horrible experience!
3. Qutub Minar
The construction of this infamous minaret of Delhi started in 1199. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is thronged by people. When I visited, the line was so long that it would have taken close to 2 hours to get inside. I decided to peek at the minaret from outside, and go elsewhere. If the Qutub Minar is a must visit for you, then plan to be here really early to avoid the crowds.
4. India Gate
This has to be one of my favourite places in Delhi to visit in the evenings. The whole world seems to be here walking around the premises. The atmosphere here is electric, and people are evidently having the time of their lives. It is almost like a carnival, with vendors selling food, jewellery, balloons & toys. This is the best place to people watch- there were young boys swimming in the manmade pond on the premises ( the water looked really dirty, but they didn’t seem to care- which I found absolutely amusing!)
Around sunset, the gate is swathed in the tricolour, and is a beautiful sight!
5. National art Gallery
For a collective representative of the art of the country, you absolutely have to visit this gallery. There is no better place to see such an impressive collection, some of which have gained the country international attention.
6. Humayun’s Tomb
The tomb of Mughal Emperor Humayun was commissioned by his wife Empress Bega Begum in 1569. It was the first garden tomb on the subcontinent and after being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it underwent extensive restoration.
The red sandstone structure and its architecture are unique to this era. The beauty of this structure is unparalleled and if like me, this is your first visit to a piece of Mughal architecture, you are sure to be floored!
The tomb of Isa Khan Niyazi an Afghan noble, was constructed on the pathway leading up to Humayun’s tomb among others.
7. Red Fort
Constructed in 1639 by emperor Shah Jahan, it was the main residence of the Mughals. It is from here that the Prim Minister hoists the Indian Flag on Independence Day, & delivers his national broadcasted speech.
The grounds are beautifully maintained, and vast, but it was a quite the task exploring it on the scorching hot day that I was there. There is a bazaar as soon as you enter the Red Fort, where people sell everything from postcards to pashminas & silver jewellery.
Expect long lines to enter the Red Fort- I waited about 40 minutes under the hot sun to get tickets.
The shopkeepers here were quite nice- even though I didn’t buy anything from them, they allowed me refill my bottle with some much needed ice cold water!
8. Jama Masjid
This was my first visit to a masjid and as excited that I was, I went equally unprepared!
There is a strict dress code, which in hindsight, I feel I should have known, but I apparently didn’t! Women should wear clothing that covers their shoulders & their ankles, else they will loan you an abaya to wear for your visit.
The masjid is absolutely stunning, similar in architecture to Humayun’s tomb, and extremely photogenic!
Go up to the watch tower for a bird’s eye view of the mosque and the surrounding neighbourhood of Chandni Chowk.
It is an absolute must visit when in Delhi!
Footwear has to be left outside, which means you will have to walk on scorching hot stone! Please bring a pair of socks, or walk to the shops nearby and find yourself a pair to make the visit easy on your feet. (it may not be easy to find a sock seller walking about at the time of your visit-so bring socks!)
9. Lodi Colony
Located between Khanna Market & Meharchand Market, this neighbourhood has been transformed into an open air art gallery by the works of local & international artists. There are over 20 murals facilitated by St+Art India here, and the otherwise quiet streets are now the locations for fashion & Instagram shoots!
I came here with a friend, and spent a lot of time walking the streets, finding the murals, & of course taking some fun pictures!
It is best to come here with a friend, as it is a quiet neighbourhood, where you seldom see locals walking about (or it could have been the time of day that I was there), so it is difficult to find someone to ask for a picture. I’m glad I had my friend with me to click my pictures!
Address: 261 Block 15 Lodi Colony, New Delhi-110003
9. Khan Market
A hip area with shops & a wide range of restaurants-I loved hanging out here!
10. Hauz Khaz Village
Hauz Khaz is a small area with a few restaurants and bars. I stayed at a hostel here, but didn't really love the place, and didn't understand the hype around the area.
11. Connaught Place
I liked Connaught Place for its colonial architecture! Shops & restaurants now occupy the the buildings that were constructed in 1774.