Have you ever been to Delhi as a tourist? Have you ever wondered what makes this city so special?
Delhi is one of the most historical cities in India (truly majestic) which has been built, destroyed and rebuilt multiple times owing to continuous invasions. Numerous kingdoms in the medieval and modern age (Delhi Sultanate, Mughals, the British Raj etc.) chose Delhi to be the capital of their empire due to its strategic and regional importance within Asia and India.
Even today, Delhi bears the memories of historical times through the ruins of many of these dynasties. This majestic side of Delhi can transport you centuries back in time to experience the splendid and culturally rich times of our ancestors.
What are the places you must see in your short trip to Delhi?
Some of the places that I visited include: Qutub Minar, Humanyun’s Tomb, Safdarjung Tomb, Chandni Chowk, Red Fort, Jama Masjid and Hauz Khaz Complex. I recommend to wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes as most of these places will involve walking. Consider hiring a cab for the entire day if you are visiting these places in a single day. The approximate charges for a 5-seat sedan might be INR 2000.
Qutub Minar Complex
Qutub Complex (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), situated in South Delhi is one of the best historical places in Delhi. It is located about 2kms North of ‘Qutub Minar Metro station’ on the Yellow Line. Two key attractions of the complex are: Qutub Minar (the tallest brick Minaret in the world) and the Iron Pillar (a historical pillar which is rust free till date and bears ancient inscriptions of different dynasties). In addition to these two, the Qutub Complex includes a lot of other monuments along with very well maintained gardens and lots of pigeons, which make this place a photographer’s paradise. Early mornings are the best time to visit to avoid huge crowds and excessive heat (esp. in summers). The complex opens at around 7 AM in the morning and a ticket needs to be procured at a nominal amount to enter the premises. Good paid parking facility is available in case you are driving or are hiring a cab for the entire day. There are some eating joints right outside the compound across the road, which can serve you average Indian food at cheap rates. (around INR 100 per person).
The Mughals loved gardens and the Humanyun’s Tomb, a magnificent red stone architecture, is another great testament of that. This Persian architecture, built by Akbar in 16th century AD is situated in East Delhi and is the tomb of his father Humayun. This architecture served as an inspiration for Taj Mahal, which was constructed almost a century later. The complex houses other monuments en-route the Humanyun’s tomb including the tombs of Humayun’s wives Bega Begum and Hamida Begum. The best time to visit the tomb is early morning or evening so that you can take good pictures and enjoy the gardens in a soothing weather. The India Gate is only 4 kms from here and it might be worthwhile to take a walk around India Gate and Rajpath (erstwhile Kingsway). You can see some of the best architectures of the British time in this area including the President’s House (erstwhile Viceroy House). Few areas of the President’s house are open to public. Connaught Place is not very far from here and houses some of the best restaurants and shopping places in Delhi.
The Tomb of Safdarjung
Just 4 kms away from Humayun’s tomb, lies another beautiful Mughal architecture of the 18th century AD, The Tomb of Safdarjung. Though located in one of the most upscale areas of Delhi, the Lodhdi road, this is by far the most un-commercialized historical site. It is a sandstone and marble architecture with splendid gardens but is not visited by many tourists/ locals. The Lodhi Gardens are a walking distance away from here and a good place to hang around especially if you like gardens and clicking nature pictures. The India Habitat Centre is also very close by and houses some good restaurants.
If you are a foodie, I will definitely recommend you to visit Chandni Chowk. I have a separate post written just on that. You can find that post here. A Morning at Chandni Chowk.
Red Fort is located next to Chandni Chowk and you can walk between the two or take a cycle rickshaw at INR 30. Do not take a cab as the streets are usually very crowded. Red Fort was constructed by Shah Jahan as his main palace in the 17th century AD at the banks of the River Yamuna. It houses some of the great monuments within like Diwan-i-Aam (House of Commons), Diwan-i-Khas (House of Nobles), Mumtaz Mahal, Moti Masjid etc. and is an absolute treasure to experience the royal life of those times. The Red Fort is used today for the Prime Ministerial speech on the Independence Day i.e. 15 Aug. Consider taking a guided tour through a licensed guide at about INR 300 for 2-4 people. The entrance compound houses some private shops to buy souvenirs, fashion articles like hand bags and decorative.
Jama Masjid (one of the largest mosques in India built by Shah Jahan) is located less than a km away from Red fort. You can take a cycle rickshaw from Red fort to get there in less than INR 50. The Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid declares the Eid-Ul-Fitr every year which is one of the biggest festivals amongst Muslims. The first Shahi Imam was self-appointed by Shah Jahan and the current Shahi Imam is the descendent of the first Shahi Imam. Be cautious to maintain the sanctity of the place as it one of the most religious places for Muslims. There is no entry ticket but you need to pay INR 300 if you are carrying a video camera like DSLR. There is no charge for using a camera phone. If you like non-vegetarian food, Karim’s restaurant right across the road might be a fascinating place for you.
Hauz Khaz Complex
Hauz Khaz Complex located towards Douth West Delhi, houses a huge water tank/ lake, remains of some ancient monuments and well maintained gardens. It is a good place to just relax and experience the nature. It is very close to Hauz Khaz Village which has some of the best restaurants and evening party places in Delhi.
If you would like to know more about the medieval history of Delhi, do have a look at ‘City of Djinns’ and ‘The Last Mughal’ by William Dalrymple.
Are you a history lover? Which is your favorite historic site/destination? Would love to know your thoughts, comments and experiences…
34 Comments Add yours
I talked with a lot of people I met that completely skip Delhi on their way through India and use it only as a way to catch buses or trains in opposite directions. I couldn’t believe this was true because I fell in love with the monuments and history the city has! Great list of attractions to visit, I loved each and every one of these places when I visited as well. The only one I missed out on was the Tomb of Safdarjung. Guess I’ll have to go back 🙂
These monuments are majestic. I think of monuments as a great portrrait of history and culture that can teach us a lot about life in the past!
I’ve been to Delhi as a tourist! Also wrote about it in my blog. Unfortunately I was there for only two days, so I didn’t saw all these wonderful places. So thank for this post and for the historical background.
Having been to Delhi Twice, these places are very well known. I also recommend Lotus Temple though I would probably not call it a monument, cause its a place of worship. This Bahai temple is all the more beautiful with lights switched on , in the evening.
Delhi is such a lovely place, its history and heritage is so colourful and vibrant. though I have visited Delhi a number of times, I can never have enough of it. Great pictures, I loved the one of Qutub Minar and the pigeons.
I am a history lover and I would love to learn more about India’s history. I would especially like to see the red tomb. What a beautiful photo! I would also like to try authentic Indian food because I’ve only ever eaten it in NYC.
I liked the idea with imagery, the fact that it has visually appealing text inside. Did you come up with this idea yourself?
Thank you Chris! I saw one similar imagery on one of the bill boards in Singapore and thought it was a really cool way to represent information. This was my first attempt. Glad you liked it. 🙂
Great photos. Have ben to Dehli but it was such a short jourmey – gotta go back!
Wow, you capture the scenes so amazingly! I love Jama Masjid – and would love to see it for myself someday. The photo with the birds is spooky 🙂
Thank you Chantae! 🙂
I’ve never been to delhi. I have not even go outside the island of Bali. Hehehehehehehe .. I do not have friends who like traveling far. But I think Delhi was amazing.
Hey Komang Ayu, Thank you for dropping-by to join the discussion. I have been to your homeland, Bali. It is absolutely mind-blowing. May be take baby steps: travel alone to somewhere nearby, meet strangers, make friends and then it will all fall into the rhythm. Some of my friends enjoy it so much that they have become lone travelers for good. If you like, you can also find people on the #lonetraveler tag in instagram. 🙂
This is great for anyone planning on visiting. The Humayun’s tomb would be a must-see for me. I have heard that a lot of people are amazed by the architecture in Dehli. I think the picutres dont do the places justice.Seeing with your own eyes is always more amazing.
Sheri, that’s a great point! Now matter how hard we can try, the true essence can only be experienced when we are in the moment to see it live.
I haven’t been to Delhi, but it’s kind of what I like about India: magnificent and the landscape are wow! Humanyun’s Tomb is kiind of incredible to see, and I bet I’d be mesmerized!
Hello Liana! Oh yes! You will be totally amazed to see what Delhi can offer you. How you get a chance to visit soon!
Very nice pics. Have done Delhi ages back but am hoping to do a good heritage walk soon. Cheers
Thank you Ami for your compliments! A tour of Chandni Chowk and Humayun’s tomb is my favorite!
I haven’t been to Delhi, and only seen its beauty through travel magazine and travel blogs. The architectures are very mysterious for me, and I would like to see it personally.
Yes Blair, you are absolutely right! These architectures are mysterious and intriguing. You will love your time here in Delhi!
Wow, Delhi is truly amazing. I haven’t visit India yet, but I will keep this post for further references. I have a question though, are all these places equally accessible for both men and women? I have been in some muslim countries where the access to some places was banned for women. Is that the case?
@TheSolivSoul: Indeed I will recommend you to include Delhi in your India trip, when you plan one. It is one of the most historic cities in India. All the places that I have written about, are equally accessible for men and women.
Amazing photos. Impressive architecture. My biggest mistake while in India was skipping New Delhi. Well I didnt really have a choice due to limited time. New Delhi is one of my top destination mainly because I want to see certain some interesting historical sites you have highlighted here. Thanks for sharing this nicely written… and utterly informative post:)
Thank you Lance for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I have been in similar situations where-in I missed to see some great sites due to time constraints. This compelling reason makes me keep going back to some of those destinations until I am fully contented. 🙂
Your post made me nostalgic about my college days in Delhi! Fortunately, I had visited all these places with my friends!
That is great to know Anamika! Hope you enjoyed your visits as much as I enjoyed admiring these spectacular monuments.
How does one commute from the Delhi Metro stations to all these places?Please share that information as it will add more value to your otherwise superb post.
Thank you for your inputs. I will surely create another post for commute within Delhi. This one is for short trip to Delhi. I recommend cabs over metros to retain energy for touristing given that metro trip can get quite exhausting.
Truly majestic with its rich history, culture and sites, India stands unique among the Asian countries with a lot of things and am glad reading through your site to learn more.
Yes Danjuma! You are absolutely right. I have met many tourists who have visited India more than 10 times just for exploring such rich archaeological sites.
We have been to Delhi and the history and the grandeur of the monuments are overwhelming. You blog here is great guidance for someone who is looking to visit Delhi for first time. Thanks for the awesome post!
Thank you Rashmi for stopping by and leaving your comment. 🙂