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India’s capital city is home to nearly 22.2 million Delhi-wallahs. From the pompous architecture of British Raj to obscure shanty towns, modern diplomatic enclaves to splendid palaces, tombs and mosques of Mughal empire Delhi has plenty to offer. Here’s our guide to spending 24-hours catching a glimpse of this diverse and unique city.
Connaught place, one of the largest commercial, financial and business centers in India, as well as a showpiece of the stunning architecture of architect Edwin Lutyen’s Delhi, is a perfect spot to start. Filled with shops, fashion boutiques, an underground market, cinemas and restaurants, the Connaught place provides a great opportunity for a relaxed evening stroll and people-watching, introducing the beauty and rhythm of the city. After a short stroll down the busy streets, catch a rickshaw to Lodhi gardens, situated between upscale Khan market and Safdarjung’s Tomb. This lush green park, popular among locals for early morning walks and laughter yoga sessions, houses ancient monuments and tombs of 15th century Afghan rulers, as well as a small Japanese bonsai garden. Next to the bonsai garden, Lodi Garden restaurant offers delicious cocktails, perfect for an aperitif before catching a rickshaw and heading to the Hauz Khas village.
The hip and trendy Hauz Khas village, filled with showrooms and fashion boutiques, art galleries and exhibition halls, book and antiques shops, restaurants, bars and night clubs, is one of the favorite places to go out in New Delhi. Dining options are numerous, ranging from contemporary European restaurants to traditional Mediterranean taverns, from hefty North Indian meals to spicy East Asian cuisine, from tasty American burgers to lesser-known yet delicious Himalayan kitchen. For a unique and well-priced dining experience head to the Yeti, a Himalayan restaurant offering delicious Nepali and Tibetan dishes, including delicious momos and traditional mutton soups.
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In order to avoid the sweltering heat, obnoxious vendors and tourist crowds, skip the boring hotel breakfast and head to the impressive Jama Masjid, the largest and best-known mosque in India, early in the morning. Whilst walking up the Chandni Chowk, literally meaning ‘moonlit market’ take your time to explore small shops alongside the road. Enter the spice, jewellery or wedding markets in the nearby alleyways; admire the beautiful, yet run-down havelis; or visit some of the religious places of worship belonging to either Hindus, Sikhs or Christians. The small restaurants and street-food vendors alongside the way offer a large variety of authentic, delicious and diverse Indian breakfast options, including tasty stuffed parathas at Jai Hind Paratha Bhawan, and samosas at Old and Famous Jalebiwala. After a quick breakfast at the slowly awakening Chandni Chowk, climb up to the immense Jama Masjid and slowly explore the gates and towers of the mosque. Remember to dress conservatively, covering your knees, shoulders and head. If you have a photo camera with you, including a camera phone, you will be asked to pay an additional charge.
From the Jama Masjid, head back to the Red Fort. This colossal red sandstone residence for Mughal emperors is an iconic symbol of India and a true must see. Despite vast destruction by the British forces in the aftermath of the Indian rebellion in 1857, the size of Red Fort and its beautiful inner courts and pavilions, including private residences of Mughal emperor and his wives and mistresses, continue to mesmerize its visitors and transport them to the time of the great Mughal empire.
After a busy morning of exploring old Delhi, walk back to Chandni Chowk, take a break and have a relaxed lunch at Haldiram’s, a well known and well priced South Indian fast-food restaurant. The restaurant features South Indian vegetarian cuisine, including such tasty specialities as filled dosas and light idlis, as well as snacks and wide selection of sweets. If you feel more adventurous, head towards Karim’s, an easy going, simple restaurant, well known for serving delicious kebabs and meat curries.
After a lovely meal, catch a rickshaw to the National Gallery of Modern Art and on your way catch a glimpse of the majestic India Gate, a memorial arch to commemorate the Indian soldiers who lost their lives in World War I. The National Gallery showcases a variety of exhibitions, often providing an interesting insight in the Indian art history and development of modern Indian art, as well as introducing new talents and emerging contemporary artists. Remember to always negotiate the fare before taking rickshaw and always negotiate hard. The third or the fourth number offered is often the usual price.
After visiting the gallery, catch a rickshaw to Humayun’s Tomb nearby. The first garden-tomb complex in India and a direct inspiration for the magnificent Taj Mahal in Agra, Humayun’s Tomb is slowly returning to its previous glory due to the ongoing restoration works. Take a relaxed stroll alongside the walkaways and water channels of the Persian style garden in front of the tomb of the second Mughal Emperor.
Finally, take a long rickshaw drive or catch a taxi to Qutub Minar, the beautiful red sandstone and marble tower, considered the symbol of the first city of Delhi, founded in the 11th century by the first Muslim rulers of Delhi immediately after the fall of the last Hindu kingdom. Walk around the Qutub complex and explore ancient ruins of mosques and tombs, as well as a mysterious iron pillar, notable for its resistance to corrosion. Afterwards, go for a lovely meal at the nearby Olive Bar and Kitchen, famous for its wood-fired pizzas.
Click here for a detailed map of the itinerary
Click here for a detailed map of the itinerary