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The Tailor-Made Guide to 17 Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi

Updated: Jan 19

Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi

Author: Barry Pickard

Red Fort

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Delhi is a city of contrasts. It is a bustling metropolis with a rich history and culture, but it can also be overwhelming and chaotic. When planning a trip to Delhi, be prepared for an experience that is both exhilarating and exhausting.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Bada Gumbad, Lodhi Gardens

Delhi is the capital of India and one of the most populous cities in the world. It is home to over 20 million people and is a melting pot of cultures and religions. The city is also a major centre for business, government, and education. It is the arrival point for many visitors, but most only spend a cursory amount of time in the city, before moving on to the likes of the Taj Mahal. However, this is such as shame, since Delhi is packed with interesting attractions and is full of history.




Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Safdarjung Tomb

Delhi’s long and rich history dates back to the 6th century BC. The city has been ruled by many different dynasties over the centuries, and this is reflected in the city's architecture and culture. Today, Delhi is a modern metropolis, but it still retains much of its old-world charm.



Delhi is one of the three most popular tourist destinations in India, along with Agra and Jaipur. These three cities form a triangle on a map, which is why they are called the Golden Triangle. Tourists typically start their trip in Delhi, then travel south to Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. After Agra, tourists travel west to Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Jaipur is known for its beautiful palaces, forts, and deserts. The Golden Triangle is a well-traveled route because it offers a good variety of experiences. Tourists can see historical monuments, experience different cultures, and enjoy the natural beauty of India. Unfortunately, in their rush to get to the Taj Mahal, it seems to me that tourists only spend a cursory amount of time in Delhi. I hope that after you see what I think are the attractions you should visit in Delhi, that you will plan to stay longer.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Lodhi Arts District

Golden Triangle Hints and Tips Guide


Don’t forget that Tailor-Made Itineraries delights in creating bespoke self-guided tours. So, if visiting any of these attractions appeals to you, reach out to me by email. I would be more than happy to design a self-guided tour around your requirements incorporating the attractions you should visit in Delhi, or indeed, a general tour of India.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi

Delhi is a city with something to offer everyone. Whether you are interested in history, culture, food, or shopping, you will find something to your liking in Delhi. So, in no particular order, here are my….


17 Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi


17. Qutub Minar


The Qutub Minar is a 73-meter-tall minaret and victory tower that stands as a testament to the rich history and culture of Delhi. It is the tallest minaret in the world made of bricks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built between 1199 and 1220 by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, the minaret was originally intended to be a victory tower to commemorate his victory over the last Hindu ruler of Delhi.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Qutub Minar

The Qutub Minar is a masterpiece of Islamic architecture, with its intricate carvings and inscriptions that tell the story of its construction and the rulers who commissioned it. The minaret is divided into five stories, each with a projecting balcony, and is surrounded by a fluted shaft. The first three stories are made of red sandstone, while the top two stories are made of marble. Access up the minaret is not allowed.




Tailor-Made Top Tip: Look out for the Iron Pillar of Delhi near the base of the minaret. This 7-meter-tall iron pillar dates back to the 4th century AD and is remarkable for its resistance to rust. The pillar is believed to have been made using a special technique that is now lost.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Iron Pillar of Delhi and Qutub Minar


16. Red Fort


The Red Fort, also known as Lal Qila, was built between 1638 and 1648 as the new imperial residence of Shah Jahan. The fort was constructed of red sandstone and marble, and it is decorated with intricate carvings and inscriptions. The fort is surrounded by a moat and has a high wall with 13 gates.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Red Fort Lahori Gate

The Red Fort was the centre of Mughal power for over 200 years, being used as a royal residence, a military base, and a government centre. The fort was also the site of many important events in Indian history, such as the coronation of Shah Jahan and the imprisonment of Aurangzeb.




The Red Fort is a huge complex that contains a number of palaces, halls, and mosques. Some of the most popular attractions at the fort include the Diwan-i-Aam (The Hall of Public Audience), where the emperor would meet with his subjects and foreign dignitaries; the Diwan-i-Khas (The Hall of Private Audience), where the emperor would meet with his ministers and advisors; the Mumtaz Mahal, a palace that was built by Shah Jahan for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal; the Naqqar Khana (The Drum House), where musicians would play music to announce the emperor's arrival and departure; and the Moti Masjid, a white marble mosque that was built by Shah Jahan for the use of his wives and concubines.




Tailor-Made Top Tip: There are also interesting museums within the fort, such as the Museum On 1857- India's First War of Independence and the Archaeological Museum, so you can easily spend half a day exploring this historic site. There is plenty to see!


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Diwan-i-Aam, Red Fort

15. Shri Digambar Jain Atishay Kshetra Lal Mandir


Shri Digambar Jain Atishay Kshetra Lal Mandir is the oldest and best-known Jain temple in Delhi, and it is located opposite the Red Fort in the Chandni Chowk area. The temple was built in 1656 by the Agrawal Jain community, and it is dedicated to Lord Parshvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara of Jainism.



The Lal Mandir was originally a small temple, but it was expanded and renovated in the early 19th century. The temple is now a large complex that consists of a main temple, a courtyard, and a number of other buildings. The main temple is made of red sandstone and marble, and it is decorated with intricate carvings and inscriptions.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Shri Digambar Jain Atishay Kshetra Lal Mandir

Tailor-Made Top Tip: Visitors are required to cover one's shoulders and knees. You should also remove your shoes before entering the temple, and there are shoe racks located outside the temple. Photography is not allowed inside the temple.


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14. Jama Masjid


Jama Masjid, also known as the Friday Mosque, is one of the largest mosques in India and the largest in Delhi. It was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan between 1644 and 1656, and it served as the imperial mosque of the Mughal emperors until the demise of the empire in 1857.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
East Gate, Jama Masjid

The mosque has three gates, the largest of which is the eastern gate, which was reserved for the emperor and his court. The mosque can accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers at a time.


Tailor-Made Top Tip: Tourists are not allowed to visit the mosque during prayer hours. As noted earlier, religious sites in India require covered shoulders and knees, and for you to remove your shoes.






13. Chandni Chowk


Chandni Chowk is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Delhi, and it is known for its narrow streets, crowded bazaars, and delicious food. Chandni Chowk was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan between 1638 and 1648. The market was originally named "Jahangir Shah's Bazaar", but it was renamed "Chandni Chowk" (Moonlight Square) by Shah Jahan's wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It served as the commercial centre of the Mughal Empire. The market is still a popular destination for shoppers today, and a visit can be a memorable experience for visitors.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Chandni Chowk

Tailor-Made Top Tip: Chandni Chowk is spread over a huge area, so it is best to have an idea of what you would like to see and target those specific areas. Highlights I would recommend are the Paranthe Wali Gali, with this narrow street known for its delicious paranthas; the Khari Baoli, which is the largest spice market in Asia; and the Dariba Kalan, a glittering silver market.




12. Lotus Temple


The Lotus Temple is a Bahai House of Worship, and, as its name suggests, it is known for its unique lotus-shaped design. The temple was designed by Fariborz Sahba and built between 1978 and 1986. This stunning temple is made of white marble, and it is surrounded by a nine-pool complex.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Lotus Temple

The Lotus Temple is a non-denominational house of worship, and it is open to people of all faiths. The temple is a place where people can come to pray, meditate, or simply reflect on their spirituality. The temple is popular and busy, so admittance into the building is regulated and you may have to wait around 10-minutes to get in, but it is definitely worth it.


In addition to the temple, the Lotus Temple is surrounded by beautiful gardens. The gardens are a great place to relax and take in the beauty of the temple. There is also an information centre, which gives an interesting insight into the Bahai faith and the temple itself.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Lotus Temple

Tailor-Made Top Tip: On the walk towards the temple, you will find a shoe depository, where you place your shoes into a bag, give to the attendant and then you will get handed your receipt.


If you are enjoying this list, remember and subscribe to my mailing list to receive my latest blog posts.




11. Sunder Nursery


The Sunder Nursery is a 90-acre heritage park, separate, but adjacent to Humayun's Tomb. The nursery not only has truly beautiful gardens and a diverse plant life, but it also has several historic and impressive monuments scattered across the park.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Sunder Nursery

The Sunder Nursery was originally built by the Mughals in the 16th century. The nursery was used to grow plants and trees for the Mughal gardens and palaces, and subsequently the British Raj. The nursery was also used to test new plant species that were brought to India from other parts of the world.




In the 20th century, Sunder Nursery fell into disrepair. The nursery was neglected, and many of the monuments were damaged. Thankfully, in the early 2000s, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) began a restoration project and now the Sunder Nursery is an absolutely glorious peaceful haven from the hustle and bustle of Delhi. It seems that it is still very much under the tourist-radar since opening, but the Sunder Nursery is definitely one of the attractions you should visit in Delhi.



Tailor-Made Top Tip: The Mirza Muzaffar Hussain Tomb and the Batashewala Complex are tucked away on the eastern part of the park and are easy to miss. However, these buildings and the trees that surround them are a must see.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Mirza Muzaffar Hussain’s Tomb, Sunder Nursery
Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Batashewala Complex



10. Humayun’s Tomb


Humayun's Tomb is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most iconic landmarks in Delhi. It was one of the first garden-tombs on the Indian subcontinent and is considered to be the precursor to the Taj Mahal.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun's Tomb was built in the 16th century by the Mughal emperor Humayun's first wife and chief consort, Empress Bega Begum. Construction began in 1565 and was completed in 1572. The tomb was designed by Persian architects chosen by her.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun's Tomb is made of red sandstone and white marble and is decorated with intricate carvings and inscriptions. The tomb is a four-story building with a central dome and is surrounded by a beautiful garden with four quadrants.




Tailor-Made Top Tip: Make sure to visit Isa Khan’s Tomb and Isa Khan's Mosque, which is on your right soon after you enter the complex and before you arrive at the main gateway to Humayun’s Tomb. Isa Khan’s Tomb is much smaller than Humayun’s, but I would argue that it is more appealing.




Golden Triangle Hints and Tips Guide


Read on to find out about Delhi’s striking artistic neighbourhood; the best place to discover India’s ancient art; and the tragic location where Gandhi was assassinated.


9. Lodhi Art District


The Lodhi Arts District (LAD) is an open-air art area located in the Lodhi Colony neighbourhood. The LAD was founded in 2014 by St+art India, a non-profit organization that promotes street art and public art. The goal of the LAD was to make art accessible to everyone and to transform the Lodhi Colony neighbourhood into a vibrant cultural centre.


Lodhi Art District Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Lodhi Art District Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi


The LAD is home to over 50 murals by artists from India and around the world. The murals cover a wide range of topics, from social and political issues to personal stories and reflections on the human condition.


Lodhi Art District Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Lodhi Art District Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi

Tailor-Made Top Tip: I struggled to find a definitive guide or map to all the murals in the LAD, so I would suggest walking the area between Second and Fifth Avenues, and between Jor Bagh Road and Blocks 12, 13 & 14 to see most of the murals.




8. National Museum, New Delhi


The National Museum is the largest museum in India housing a vast collection of artifacts that has grown steadily over the years, and now includes over 200,000 objects, dating back to the prehistoric era. The museum was founded in 1949, shortly after India gained independence from the British, with the aim of preserving and showcasing India's rich cultural heritage.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
National Museum, New Delhi

The National Museum's collection is divided into several sections, including: Prehistory and Archaeology, which includes stone tools, pottery, and sculptures; Ancient History, which includes coins, seals, and inscriptions; Medieval History, which includes weapons, armour, and textiles; Modern History, which includes paintings, lithographs, and photographs; Decorative Arts, which includes metalwork, jewellery, and textiles; and Anthropology, which includes artifacts from India's diverse tribal cultures.


Tailor-Made Top Tip: If you are only going to visit one place in Delhi to see and learn about India’s rich history and culture, then I’d recommend that it was the National Museum.




7. Gandhi Smriti Museum


The Gandhi Smriti Museum, also known as Birla House, is dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi and was where he spent the last 144 days of his life, before being assassinated on 30 January 1948. The main building, which was originally the house of the Birla family, Indian business tycoons, is now home to the Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum. This exhibition tells the story of Mahatma Gandhi's life and work through interactive exhibits, films, and photographs. There are also displays of his personal belongings, such as clothes, books, and glasses.




There is a beautiful lawn and gardens that extends beyond the exhibition building, with a small, simple shelter near the bottom, which is where Gandhi’s assassination took place. There is also a highly informative display that runs down the perimeter of the garden.



Tailor-Made Top Tip: Look for the footprints that lead out along the garden. These were the last steps taken by Gandhi before his tragic death.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Gandhi Smriti Museum

Read on to find out about Delhi’s little known answer to the Taj Mahal; the most peaceful area of the city; and one of the busiest areas!


6. Safdarjung Tomb


Safdarjung's Tomb is a magnificent Mughal-era tomb, and it was the last major monument built by the Mughals, and it is considered to be one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture. The tomb was built between 1753 and 1754 for Nawab Safdarjung, the Prime Minister of the Mughal Empire. The tomb was designed by the Persian architect Mir Mulla Sayyid.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Safdarjung Tomb

The tomb is made of red sandstone and white marble, and it is decorated with intricate carvings and calligraphy. The garden is a beautiful charbagh garden, which is a type of Mughal garden that is divided into four quadrants, and you can spend a pleasant half-hour wandering around it.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Safdarjung Tomb

Tailor-Made Top Tip: For such a splendid tomb, there were few people there when I visited. Subsequently, it seems to be the one place in Delhi where there were no taxis or auto rickshaws hanging about, so take this into consideration when planning how to leave.






5. Lodhi Garden


Lodhi Garden is a sprawling 90-acre urban park located in the heart of New Delhi. It is home to several well-preserved tombs and monuments of the Sayyid and Lodi dynasties, which ruled over Delhi from the 15th to 16th centuries. The garden is also a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to enjoy a picnic, go for a walk, or simply relax and enjoy the natural beauty.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Lodhi Garden

Sikander Lodi's Tomb is impressive and sits within its own walled compound in the garden. It was built in 1517 and is made of red sandstone and white marble. The tomb is decorated with intricate carvings and calligraphy.



Shisha Gumbad is a tomb thought to have been built in the 16th century, during the reign of the Lodi dynasty. Its name means glass dome, which refers to the blue enamel tiles that decorated the dome and reflected like mirrors. Unfortunately, today, there is little left of the tiles.


Shisha Gumbad Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi


Bara Gumbad is a tomb located opposite the Shisha Gumbad and is the largest tomb in the garden. The tomb is thought to have been built in the 15th century, during the reign of the Sayyid dynasty.


Bara Gumbad Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi


Tailor-Made Top Tip: Surprisingly, the garden does not have a café, so maybe take a picnic if you are wanting to spend a few lazy hours enjoying Lodhi Garden.


If you are enjoying this list, remember and subscribe to my mailing list to receive my latest blog posts.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Lodhi Garden

4. India Gate


India Gate was built between 1921 and 1931 to commemorate the Indian soldiers who died in World War I and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. India Gate was designed by Edwin Lutyens, the British architect who also designed many of the government buildings in the area. The gate has become one of the most iconic landmarks in New Delhi and is a popular with locals and tourists alike.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
India Gate

The gate is 42 meters high and was heavily influenced by the Arc de Triomphe. There are over 13,000 servicemen’s names engraved on the gate.


Tailor-Made Top Tip: Access to the complex has been restricted (for security reasons?) and there are now only two main ways to enter – on the west side, there is a pedestrian underpass that leads from the Kartavya Path, and from the east side from the Amar Jawan Jyoti Road.




Read on to find out about the largest Sikh temple in Delhi; a stunning astronomical observatory hundreds of years old; and a beautifully carved step well.


3. Gurudwara Sri Bangla Sahib


Gurudwara Sri Bangla Sahib is one of the most important Sikh gurdwaras (places of worship) in the world. It was built in the early 17th century by Raja Jai Singh I, the Rajput ruler of Amber, to commemorate the visit of the eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Krishan, to Delhi.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Gurudwara Sri Bangla Sahib

The gurdwara is a large complex that includes a main hall, a sarovar (a sacred pool), a langar (a community kitchen), and a library. The main hall is known as the Darbar Sahib and houses the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Sarovar, Gurudwara Sri Bangla Sahib

A trip to the gurdwara is made extra special if you have a meal at the langar. Food is served between 09:00 to 15:00 and 19:00 to 22:00. You may have a ten-minute wait until you are allowed into the kitchen hall, but the kitchen is very efficient, running like clockwork. Once in the hall, seat yourself on the floor and wait to be served a lovely, simple meal of dal, chapati, vegetable, and kadha prasad in a steel thalis.


Tailor-Made Top Tip: As well as the usual dress respectfully advice, you should also cover your legs (i.e., no shorts) and, if you are a man, cover your head.




2. Jantar Mantar


Jantar Mantar is an astronomical observatory built in the early 18th century by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur, who was a keen astronomer and mathematician. The observatory is a collection of 13 architectural astronomy instruments that were used to measure the positions of the stars and planets, predict eclipses, and compile astronomical tables.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Samrat Yantra, Jantar Mantar

The site is considered to be one of the finest examples of astronomical architecture in the world. The instruments at the observatory are large and impressive, and they are still accurate to a high degree today.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Ram Yantra, Jantar Mantar


The most notable instruments include the Samrat Yantra, which is a large sundial that is used to measure the time of day, the declination of the sun, and other astronomical parameters; the Misra Yantra, which was used to measure the positions of the planets and stars; and the Ram Yantra, which was used to measure the altitude of the sun and to predict eclipses.


Tailor-Made Top Tip: Jantar Mantar is a short distance from the Gurudwara Sri Bangla Sahib, so it makes sense to combine the two in a visit.




Golden Triangle Hints and Tips Guide


1. Ugrasen ki Baoli


Ugrasen ki Baoli is one of the largest and deepest stepwells in India, being 60 meters long, 15 meters wide, and 103 steps deep. The stepwell is believed to have been built in the 14th century, during the Tughlaq or Lodi dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. The stepwell is named after King Agrasen, a legendary king from the Mahabharata epic.


Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi
Ugrasen ki Baoli

The stepwell was used to store rainwater and provide water to the people of Delhi during the dry season. It was also a popular place for people to gather and socialize. The stepwell fell into disrepair in the 19th and 20th centuries, but it was restored by the Archaeological Survey of India in the 1980s.


Tailor-Made Top Tip: Be careful when walking down the steps, as they can be slippery, and there are no railings. There is no lighting inside the stepwell, so it is best to visit during daylight.




Tailor-Made Top Tips for Making the Most of Your Trip to Delhi


  • Be prepared for the heat. Delhi can be very hot and often humid, especially during the summer months. Be sure to drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen.

  • Dress appropriately. It is important to dress respectfully when visiting religious sights.

  • Be prepared for crowds. Delhi is a very crowded city, especially during the tourist season. Be patient and try to relax.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. I found Delhi to be a very safe city, but, as in any big, busy city, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions against petty theft.

  • Be prepared to be welcomed by the people of the friendliest country I have visited. At first, you may be wondering what the catch is when everyone you meet is so genial, but they are a genuinely lovely people. Also, be prepared for young folk to ask to take selfies with you!

  • Bargaining is a way of life in Delhi. If you are shopping or taking an auto-rickshaw, be prepared to bargain for the best price.



Tailor-Made Top Tips for Getting Around Delhi


  • I found Uber the easiest way of getting around Delhi. Aircon is standard (don’t be scared to ask them to turn it up!), its comparatively cheap (if you are from Europe/America), and there is always one just a couple of minutes away.

  • For short journeys, the auto-rickshaws are a handy alternative, and an exciting experience that you need to have at least once on your trip.

  • If there are metro stations close to where you are and where you want to go, this is an excellent, modern, efficient, and cheap way of going long distances.

  • If you have never driven in an Indian city before, do not even contemplate hiring a car. I am a very confident, experienced driver, who has driven in many countries over the years, but having travelled around Delhi and India, I would never consider driving here. It takes a special set of skills to drive here which are only learned if you have grown up on these roads.




Conclusion


Delhi is a city that leaves a lasting impression on its visitors. It is a city of contrasts, with ancient monuments and bustling markets side by side. Delhi is a city that is both exhilarating and exhausting, but it is always rewarding. If you are planning a trip to Delhi, be prepared to be overwhelmed by the city's size, energy, and diversity. But don't let this deter you. Delhi is a city that is well worth exploring.




Related Blog Posts


If you would like more information on the Golden Triangle or Rajasthan, please view the Tailor-Made Itineraries posts below:



Comment below and let us know what your favourite attraction in Delhi was.


Don’t forget that Tailor-Made Itineraries delights in creating bespoke self-guided tours. So, if visiting any of these attractions appeals to you, reach out to me by email. I would be more than happy to design a self-guided tour around your requirements incorporating the attractions you should visit in Delhi, or indeed, a general tour of India.



Join me next time on my adventures when I visit Agra and the Taj Mahal. Tailor-Made Itineraries posts every two weeks, and you can subscribe to the latest blog and newsletter here. Until then, happy reading and safe travels.


Barry



Tailor-Made Itineraries creates one-of-a-kind bespoke self-guided travel itineraries for adventurous and curious travellers.

These self-guided tours deliver a personalised and exciting holiday experience that takes the effort out of trip planning.

Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi

Attractions You Should Visit in Delhi


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