The other day some friends asked for my advice on what to do in Delhi if you’re having family or friends visiting. Like what are the best museums, places to visit etc. So I thought I’d put together some different posts for you. After 4 years in India I actually think I can work as a guide….I think I have visited all the famous and known tourist sights but also some of the hidden and unknown gems in this huge city with millions and millions of people. Did you know that more than 26 million !! people live in the greater Delhi area. (Delhi,Gurgaon,Noida and Faridabad) But this post is only about Delhi.
I’m not ranking my tips so I guess you have to pick and choose depending on your interest. Here we go…..
Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi is a mind blowing experience. Climb on board a bicycle rickshaw and have them take you on a ride of a lifetime. Stop at the Gurudwara (Sikh temple) and have a walk inside. Help out with baking the bread in the kitchen. Next have them park the bike and walk into Khari Baoli Bazar – Asias largest spice market. Bring a shawl so you can cover your nose from the chilli smell and spice dust that can be quite overwhelming. Buy some of the best tea blends,masala mixes, dried chlli or almonds. Ride through the narrow alley’s in Kinari Bazar and don’t forget to peek at Jama Masjid, the mosque while riding by. If your blood sugar level is low at this point have the driver take you to Karim’s and try authentic Indian food. You wont be disappointed I promise. A tour of Chandni Chowk fills you with impressions and smells like you’ve never experienced before.
Visit Majnu Ka Tilla or the Tibetan Refugee Colony in the northern part of Delhi and walk through the yellow portal into the winding narrow alley’s that leads up to their market where you can buy jak shawls-blankets for a few rupees. Try freshly made momos (dim sum’s) at any of the small restaurants along the alley’s. Pay a visit to the temple in the small “town square”. Spin the praying wheels and chat with the monks.
One of the areas in New Delhi is filled with restaurants, cafe’s and small boutiques and that’s Haus Khaas Village. Khaas means tank so in the middle of the village and among old ruins from the Mughal area there’s a “lake”. You get the feeling of being in the Jungle Book. Walk around the winding alley’s of this district and have a look inside some of the small stores, enjoy a coffee at one of the cafe’s or relax at one of the many restaurants. Haus Khaas village has a vibe and a pulse of it’s own that you don’t want to miss.
If you want to see some ruins from the Mughal era you should pay a visit to Humayuns Tomb in Nizamuddin. You wont believe that you are right smack in the middle of Delhi once you walk inside. Beautiful architecture, nice park area around and usually not so crowded.
Dilli Haat is a state run out door market where you can find treasures from all over India. Some of the vendors shift every other week. You can buy everything and anything and if you’re good at bargaining you can make some good deals. The market has a huge out door food court with food from the different states in India.
I have two museums where I bring my visitors. It’s the Crafts museum (arts and crafts museum)in New Delhi. A unique museum displaying arts, crafts and textile items. One of the largest crafts museums in all of India. Usually vendors from different parts of India sell their crafts on the ground. Observe that it’s closed on Mondays ! If you want to have lunch while here they have a restaurant with really good food.
The other museum I recommend is Birla House or Gandhi Smriti, the house where Mahatma Gandhi stayed while in Delhi and also the place where he was shot. You actually feel the wings of time when walking around the grounds which is in the diplomatic enclave in New Delhi.
Lodi garden is a huge park also in the diplomatic enclave in New Delhi. It holds trees, flowers, birds but also ruins from ancient times. Just have a stroll and walk to the alley with the huge emperor palm trees surrounding the Tomb of Muhammed Shah (1414-1451). I promise it’s worth the short walk from the main entrance on Lodi Road. Have a lunch at the Lodi (garden) restaurant right next to the entrance. Sit outside and enjoy the feeling of sitting in the jungle. (they do have fans outdoors!)
If you want to do something of the beaten track and get a feel for the reality for many Indian kids you should sign up for a walk with Salaam Baalak Trust and join their walk in the alleys of Delhi and visit one of their centers for street kids. It’s actually kids who lived on the streets but got help from the trust who now are the guides on the tours. A truly memorable walk and encounters with kids. Have a look at Salaam Baalak Trust city walk
You can also sign up for a heritage walk with Surekha Narain. She does private ones but also group walks. Get all the historical facts and info from a lady who knows it all and who takes you to places and alleys you wouldn’t go otherwise. Have a look at her website: Delhi metro walks
Close to Connaught place right in the heart of New Delhi there’s a step well worth visiting. Agrasen ki baoli (on Hailey Lane off Hailey street) is just one of many step wells (baolis) in India.If you are in the area have a walk down the alley and see a dobhi ghat. A laundry place with dobhis washing by hand the old way. Ironing with irons heated with coal. Drying the wash on the ground or hanging in the midst of traffic. Truly fascinating.
I will recommend one temple In Delhi for you and it’s the Lotus temple due to it’s architecture. Amazing building and a serene spot. Have a look inside the little museum where they have a 3D display of how it was built.
Are you up for some shopping and for bargaining then you should visit Janpath market (starts right next to Imperial Hotel close to Connaught Place). Again everything and anything Indian and at good prices depending on your bargaining abilities of course. If you want to get into a crowded Indian market and find cheap clothes from famous brands then head for Sarojini Nagar market. Dress in such a way so you easily can try on your findings right there on the street. You will not find any dressing rooms with mirrors around here.
Hope you will have fun and remember it’s a big city. Traffic is chaotic and it’s a city where the noise is constant and the smells are intense. Carry tissue paper since it’s rare in wash rooms in certain areas and stay hydrated.
Please let me know if you found anything of interest from my post.