How to Spend 5 Days in Delhi, India

Change of Guards at the President's official residence, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi
Change of Guards at the President's official residence, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi | © Ankur P / Flickr
Photo of Mridu Rai
23 March 2018

Delhi is a city with hundreds of years of history and a fascinating melange of culture. With each visit, you’ll discover something new here and have tons of memories to take back home. But if you only have five days in the city, here’s a guide to help you get the most out of your trip.

Day 1: Take a Lutyens’ Delhi tour

Start your trip in the capital by visiting one of the most important addresses in the country, the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence and workplace of the President of India. Before visiting, book your tickets online and read this guide to help you plan better as some sections of Rashtrapati Bhavan remain open only on select days. If you’re here between the months of August and March, make sure you don’t miss the famed Mughal Gardens, known as the soul of the Presidential estate. When you’re done with the tour, head to India Gate, the First World War memorial and one of the most celebrated monuments in Delhi.

After this, it’s time to explore another important area of Lutyens’ Delhi, the shopping district of Connaught Place. Lutyens’ Delhi is named after architect Edwin Lutyens who was responsible for planning and designing New Delhi when the British shifted the capital from Kolkata. At Connaught Place, you can shop for souvenirs, admire the distinct architecture, check out exciting street art and be fascinated by the 18th-century observatory, Jantar Mantar. Connaught Place also has some great bars and restaurants where you might want to spend the evening at.

Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official residence and workplace of the President of India | © Ankur P / Flickr

Day 2: Discover the historic Old Delhi

In the 17th century, the fifth Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan decided to transfer his seat of government from Agra to Delhi. With the Red Fort as the focal point, he gave the orders for the construction of a new city that he named Shahjahanabad. The famous market of Chandni Chowk was the pride of Shahjahanabad back then and today, the place is renowned as one of the busiest markets in Asia selling everything from exotic spices to silver jewellery and handmade perfumes.

Known as Old Delhi today, the place has lost the grandeur it once possessed during the Mughal era, but in the serpentine bylanes, run down havelis (mansions) and bustling markets, its old world charm can still be found. Do try some delicious food at Paranthe Wali Gali, said to have the best street food that Delhi has to offer.

Jama Masjid in Old Delhi once served as the royal mosque to the Mughal emperors | © Public.Resource.Org / Flickr

Day 3: Explore iconic monuments

Delhi is a city that has seen the rise and fall of some of the most powerful empires in India. Each successive dynasty constructed new capitals and historically, there have been seven smaller cities which make up today’s modern Delhi. From the Delhi Sultanate to the Mughals, every empire left behind their own unique legacy in the various monuments they built across the capital. It would almost be sacrilegious to skip these stunning monuments during a trip to Delhi.

Start from Mehrauli, the capital of the first Sultan of Delhi, Qutb-ud-din Aybak. The world’s tallest brick minaret, Qutub Minar, is located here and adjacent to it is the Mehrauli Archaeological Park. Humayun’s Tomb, Purana Qila and Nizamuddin Dargah are some of the other prominent spots you can visit. Apart from these famous monuments, Delhi also has a host of other structures, often overlooked by tourists. But these occupy an important place in the city’s history and each has their own distinct story to tell.

Qutub Minar is the world’s tallest brick minaret | © Stefan Rüdiger / Flickr

Day 4: Take a day trip to the Taj Mahal

While you’ll never run out of things to do in the capital, if you’re here for five days, it makes sense to take a quick day trip to Agra to see the beautiful Taj Mahal. The distance between the two cities is approximately 230 kilometres and it takes about four hours to cover this length. If you start early, you’ll easily make it back to Delhi by evening. Also, you’ll escape the crowd at the Taj Mahal if you reach the place before hundreds of tourists start flooding in. The Taj Mahal, the monument of love, was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Historians believe that this marble mausoleum is the pinnacle of Mughal architecture in India.

You can also take this opportunity to visit the nearby Agra Fort, which was the seat of the Mughal empire before the capital was moved to Delhi. Shah Jahan was imprisoned in this same fort by his rebellious son Aurangzeb. It is believed that the old monarch could catch a glimpse of the Taj Mahal from his place of confinement and he found solace in that view.

Taj Mahal is said to be the pinnacle of Mughal architecture in India | © vivekgeddam / Pixabay

Day 5: Visit the capital’s museums and galleries

Spend the final day of your trip by visiting some of Delhi’s leading museums and art galleries. History buffs can head to the National Museum, which houses artefacts right from the ancient Harappan Civilisation. The National Gandhi Museum and the Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum are a couple of other places that shed light on two important historical figures. If you’re more into crafts, the National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum would be more suited to your taste and those into literature should visit the Ghalib Museum and Library. Delhi also has some offbeat museums like the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets and Shankar’s International Dolls Museum.

For art lovers, some of the places to check out are the National Gallery of Modern Art, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Nature Morte, Exhibit 320 and Khoj.

Rare artefacts like this Nataraja sculpture are on display at the National Museum, New Delhi | © verseguru / Flickr

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