10 fascinating things to do in Delhi

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel / Unsplash

Delhi is a giant city full of history, culture, cuisine, art, craft and street life. The city contains countless activities to keep a visitor thoroughly engaged. At first glance, it’s not an easy city to negotiate. You may give it time and the chaos gives way somewhat to indulgent, often, resigned acceptance. It’s a giant city that contains an overwhelming amount of history, culture, food, temples, and everything else you could possibly imagine. Delhi's top attractions are dominated by ancient monuments, mosques, and forts. Delhi, officially the National Capital Territory of Delhi. It is a city and a union territory of India containing New Delhi, the capital of India. Having a rich history, the city is full of mosques, forts, and monuments left over from the Mughal rulers that once occupied the city. The contrast between rambling Old Delhi and well planned New Delhi is immense, and it's interesting to spend time exploring both. However, Delhi is not an easy city to negotiate so Inspitrip will show you 10 most fascinating things to do in Delhi.

About Delhi

Delhi in the early morning, Instagram: @francksingler

Delhi is bordered by Haryana on three sides and by Uttar Pradesh to the east. The area covers an area of 1,484 square kilometers (573 sq mi). According to the 2011 census, Delhi's city proper population was over 11 million, the second-highest in India after Mumbai. As of 2016, recent estimates of the metro economy of its urban area have ranked Delhi either the most or second-most productive metro area of India. Delhi is the second-wealthiest city in India after Mumbai. Having a total private wealth of $450 billion and is home to 18 billionaires and 23,000 millionaires. New Delhi is India's capital city and the home of executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the Government of India. Delhi is a large metropolis with strengths in arts, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, tourism, and transport all contributing to its prominence.

The differences between Delhi and New Delhi

Most people think that New Delhi is Delhi but it is not. There is actually a difference between the two places: New Delhi and Delhi.New Delhi, which is India’s capital, is a territory in Delhi. It was in the early 20th century that New Delhi city was designed. It was designed as part of the shifting of the capital of the British Empire from Calcutta to Delhi.Both Delhi and New Delhi lie on the banks of the  Yamuna River. It is believed that Indraprastha, capital of Pandavas in the Mahabharata epic, is in Delhi.

India Gate, New Delhi, Instagram: @___ssphotography___

New Delhi was actually designed to be in the south of Delhi. Delhi is now a state and has a governor as the head of the government. The Government of India and the Delhi government jointly administer New Delhi. It is very hard to draw a boundary between Delhi and New Delhi. But one can make out the difference when looking at the architecture. In New Delhi, there is the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, Secretariat building, Connaught Place, Lodhi Gardens and India Gate. The embassies of other countries are located towards the South of New Delhi. The streets and lanes in New Delhi are beautiful and tidy when compared with those of Delhi.

Things to do in Delhi

Delhi, the national capital of India, will never cease to amaze you. It's the only city in the world with a unique distinction of having not one but three UNESCO World Heritage sites within its boundaries. The city is full of bars, cafes, bazaars and other fun places, which can make this culture capital give some better-known cities of the world a run for their money. Delhi's top attractions are dominated by ancient monuments, mosques, and forts. It’s not an easy city to negotiate so here are the 10 most fascinating things to do in Delhi to help you get the best experience.

Visit Taj Mahal

Agra is the city of the Taj Mahal, in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, some 200 km from Delhi. Agra has three UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort in the city and Fatehpur Sikri nearby. There are also many other buildings and tombs from Agra's days of glory as the capital of the Mughal Empire. Due to the very high number of tourists, Agra is a breeding ground for touts and people looking to separate you from your money. People from all over the world visit Agra to see India's most famous building - the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal, Instagram: @ttay.lou

The Taj Mahal (meaning "Crown of the Palaces") is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658), to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan, the builder. The tomb is the centerpiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenelated wall. The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage".

Read more: A detailed guide to visit Taj Mahal & Agra Fort

Take photos at Agra Fort

Agra Fort sits about 2.5 kilometers west of the Taj Mahal, alongside the Yamuna River. Although the Taj Mahal steals the spotlight in Agra, Agra Fort is still one of the significant Mughal forts of India. The fort was among the first monuments in India to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. It reflects both the strength and splendor of the Mughal dynasty, which dominated India over three centuries.

Agra Fort is considered to be the first grand fort of the Mughals. It was designed primarily as a military installation, with a colossal 70-foot high wall that stretched for more than 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) around 94 acres of land.

Agra Fort is still one of the significant Mughal forts of India, Instagram: @kevindl_aroundtheworld

Those who watch Bollywood movies may also recognize backdrops from scenes in Jodha-Akbar and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, which were partially shot at Agra Fort. Agra Fort is open daily from sunrise until sunset.The best time to go is from November to February when the weather is dry and not too hot. Ideally, Agra Fort should be visited before the Taj Mahal, as it's an evocative prequel to the monument.However, many tourists understandably choose to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise and go to Agra Fort afterward, especially if they're on a day trip from Delhi.Check out Sunrise Taj Mahal Tour and Agra Fort from Delhi

Visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan

Rashtrapati Bhavan ( Located in Rajpath street, New Delhi), the official residence of the President of India, is a splendid palatial building having more than 400 rooms. Apart from the President, it houses the bodyguards, stables and other utility staff. In size, it is second to only the residence of the President of Turkey. The palace doors are thrown open to visitors on weekends by a registration process which can be accessed online. The pride of the presidential place here is the stunning Mughal Gardens, which attract a large number of visitors, both local and foreign.

The official residence of the President of India, Instagram: @joe_deul_ho

While you can't enter the place, the vast Mughal gardens of this attraction are open to the public in the month of February and March every year. Locate on the eastern edge of Rajpath, you can see a few distinct features of the Bhawan from outside. In July 2014, a museum inside Rashtrapati Bhavan was inaugurated by former President of India Pranab Mukherjee. The museum helps visitors to get an inside view of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, its art, architecture and get educated about the lives of past presidents.

Experience a different culture at Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid stands as the reminder of Mughal architecture. The popular name, Jama Masjid, referring to the congregational prayer observed by Muslims on Fridays. Built from red sandstone and white marble, the edifice dominates the skyline of the busy Chawri Bazar in central Delhi and is considered the largest mosque in India. Each year, on Eid, thousands of reverent Muslims throng the mosque to offer special Eid Namaz in the morning. The Delhi Wakf Board and the Jama Masjid committee maintain the mosque under the directives from the Shahi Imam. Entry is free and open to all nationalities, except that you need to cover up from head to toe. A nominal fee for photography is levied if one intends to take pictures.

Jama Masjid from above, Instagram: @incredible_zaifi

The largest Islamic mosque in the city, Jama Masjid, was constructed way back in the 17th century. It sits across the road from the Red Fort at the end of Chandni Chowk, the once-grand but now chaotic thoroughfare of crumbling yet characterful Old Delhi. The neighborhood is a few miles north of Connaught Place and Paharganj. The imposing building is an iconic landmark of Old Delhi and an important place of worship. The mosque can hold up to 25,000 people and the sight of such a number, especially during Friday prayers, is a scene to behold. The main structure has multiple entry points, all of which eventually lead to the main deck. The entry fee is free and you can visit it all days of the week. The place is open from 7 am to 12 pm, 1:30 pm to 6:30 pm.

Experience Delhi Street Food

Indians love street food, each region of India has its unique street food and Delhi is no exception. The best Delhi street food is without a doubt found in Old Delhi around Chandni Chowk. It's really worth trying some just to taste the different flavors and spices of India. If you're unfamiliar with the area, it's a good idea to take a guided walking tour as it's very crowded and you may easily feel overwhelmed.

Stroll through part of Chandni Chowk, Instagram: @safeandhealthytravel

Sampling the marvelous array of Indian street food is one of the best things to do in Delhi. For a quick street meal, you’ll find chole, a spicy chickpea curry served from a golden upright gauntlet, served with either freshly cooked chapatis or a white bread that looks kind of a like pita. It’s available on just about every corner of Delhi – and it’s really really good. Samosas, pakoras, and a variety of chaats (savory snacks) are also very common throughout Delhi. To get the most diverse selection all in one place, you’ve got to spend some time wandering around Chandni Chowk where you’ll find a quantity of interesting street food delights.

Pay obeyance at the Akshardham temple

Akshardham is a Hindu temple and a spiritual campus located in New Delhi. The complex was constructed in 2005 in Noida Mor region of New Delhi. 70% of tourists who visit Delhi, visit this temple complex. Located on the banks of River Yamuna, this temple is a beautiful place for sightseeing, exploring and pilgrimage. This complex does not hold a temple alone. It has a water show, a theme garden, hall of values, cultural boat ride and much more. The main attraction of the complex is the temple, which is beautifully decorated with carved statues of dancers, deities, fauna, flora, and others. This temple is built with Rajasthani sandstone (pink color) and Italian Carrara marble. This temple holds 234 pillars, 2000 deity statues, nine domes and much more. The temple holds 148 life-size elephant statues that weigh a total of 3000 tons.

Akshardham is a not just a Hindu temple, Instagram: @backpackbeyond

The best way to reach the temple complex is through the metro. The nearest metro station is Akshardham, which is right outside the temple. You can also find buses, taxis, and autos from various parts of the city to reach the temple. It is quite a popular attraction and thus, reaching the temple is not a hard task. The temple is open throughout the year. Since most of the exploration should be done on foot, it is better to avoid summer. The best time to visit the temple is the winter season, which starts in October and ends in February. It is better to visit in the late afternoon, as you will have enough time to explore all the attractions and be at the musical fountain right in time for the show. Sadly, photography is strictly prohibited inside this temple.

Visit Humayun's tomb

Humayun's tomb is the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Humayun in Delhi. Humayun's Tomb is a top attraction and one of the city's prominent Mughal-era monuments. It was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent and is located in Nizamuddin East. Humayun's Tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. It created a new style of Mughal architecture, which served as inspiration for later Mughal monuments such as the Taj Mahal.

The Humayun's Tomb
The Humayun's Tomb. Instagram @whereivebeenwandering

Humayun's Tomb sits to the south of Purana Qila. It's near the intersection of Mathura Road and Lodhi Road, in New Delhi's Nizamuddin East neighborhood. The monument is open daily from sunrise until sunset. Ideally, you may allow an hour or two to see it. Aim to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon during the week to avoid the crowds. Weekends are particularly busy, and long lines for tickets are common. The price of tickets increased in August 2018, and a discount is provided on cashless payment. Cash tickets now cost 50 rupees for Indians, or 35 rupees cashless. Foreigners pay 600 rupees cash, or 550 rupees cashless. Children under 15 years of age can enter for free.

Go to Jaipur from Delhi

Jaipur, (also known as the Pink City), is the capital of Rajasthan in India. The city is four to five hours from Delhi. Jaipur is the largest city in Rajasthan. Sawai Jai Singh built the city in the eighteenth century as India's first planned city. Jaipur is a major tourist attraction amongst Indian as well as international travelers. It belongs to the tourist Golden Triangle of Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra. The city Jaipur hosts several attractions like the City Palace, Govind Dev Ji Temple, Vidhan Sabha, Birla Temple, several massive Rajput forts and so on. It also serves as a stepping stone for travelers heading to the desert cities of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.

Patrika Gates, Jaipur, Instagram: @mustjaipur

Now Jaipur is growing fast and various development projects are being undertaken by the government and private enterprises. The town planning and infrastructure development in Jaipur are quite above the mark relative to many other Indian cities. Jaipur is often called the Pink City in reference to its distinctly colored buildings, which were originally painted this color to imitate the red sandstone architecture of Maugham cities. The present earthy red color originates from repainting of the buildings undertaken for a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1876.

Take a look at Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal (meaning "Palace of Winds") is a palace in Jaipur, India. Hawa Mahal is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive monuments in India. It's certainly the most iconic landmark in Jaipur. The building's evocative facade, with all those little windows, never fails to arouse curiosity. The Hawa Mahal is located at Badi Chaupar (Big Square), in the walled Old City in Jaipur. It's part of India's popular Golden Triangle Tourist Circuit. You can easily reach to place by rail, road or air.

The Palace of the Winds sits on the edge of the City Palace, Jaipur, and extends to the zenana, or women's chambers, Instagram: @the.young.wolff

The palace sits on the edge of the City Palace, Jaipur, and extends to the zenana, or women's chambers. Its unique five-story exterior is akin to the honeycomb of a beehive with its 953 small windows called jharokhas decorated with intricate latticework. This architectural feature also allowed cool air from the Venturi effect (doctor breeze) to pass through, thus making the whole area more pleasant during the high temperatures in summer. Many people see the Hawa Mahal from the street view and think it is the front of the palace. But in reality, it is the back of that structure. The admission price is 50 rupees for Indians and 200 rupees for foreigners. A composite ticket is available for those who are planning to do a lot of sightseeing. Hawa Mahal is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Experience Nightlife in Delhi

Some of the most electrifying nights you spend in the capital are when you decide to ditch your sleep. Nightlife in Delhi has its own unique charm. The nightlife in Delhi is famous for its parties and party animals. When the word nightlife or night out pops out of anyone's mouth, the instant trigger of our imagination pulls out the shots of drinks, dance, and DJ. But that's not it; the Delhi's way of owling is not bound to these three segments. One can relish a night in peace too, having food, late night drives and tons of other stuff to do.Though the nightlife in Delhi may not be so vibrant, it has its fair share of clubs and music outlets in Connaught Place, the commercial and party hub of Delhi. The nightlife in here is known for one of the best party cultures in India alongside Bangalore & Mumbai. There are numerous nightclubs in the city with feet tapping music, booze, & awesome ambiance such as Places like Excuse Me Boss, Lord of the Drinks and Junkyard cafe. All of which have a large and energetic crowd following. Modeled like Royal Crescent of Bath in England, Connaught Place is, without a doubt, the number one night out the destination of Delhi.