Juxtaposed on the ruins of nine older cities, India's historic capital is a mishmash of excesses and contrasts, of untold heritage and unimaginable squalor, crowded by lanes and Parks, where wars and mutinies have seen the rise and fall of dynasties and empires. Stunning architecture, mouth-watering cuisine, endless shopping hubs, a busy cultural calendar, a vibrant nightlife, a number of tourist places to visit in Delhi and a lot more await to be explored.
Best time to visit: The best months to visit Delhi is from October to March.
How to reach
By air: Indira Gandhi International Airport is the main airport that serves Delhi and is located 16 km away from the centre of New Delhi in Palam. IndiGo operates more than 150 flights between Delhi and other key locations in Delhi and abroad.
By train: New Delhi Railway station and Old Delhi Railway station primarily serve Delhi, connecting it to rest of the country through numerous trains.
By bus: Delhi is well-connected to all other parts of the country through many government-run and privately-run buses.
Getting around/ Transport in Delhi
Delhi has a vast network of buses run by DTC and private operators. Auto-rickshaws, taxis, app-based cab services like Ola, Uber, Meru as well as cycle-rickshaws and e-rickshaws are other common modes of transportation. Besides these, the Delhi metro plays a significant role in connecting all corners of the city with ease.
Old Delhi’s iconic 1913 eatery (with an outlet in Nizamuddin) serving excellent Mughlai fare including kebabs and an array of rich meat curries with naan. The ambience strips away all frivolities so that the only thing that stands out is the mind-blowing food!
Started in 1920, this is believed to be the birthplace of the butter chicken. For the complete cholesterol package, order the butter naan and dal makhani as well! When the Shah of Iran came on a state visit, Maulana Azad remarked, “coming to Delhi without eating at Moti Mahal would be like visiting Agra without seeing Taj Mahal.”
Founded in 1948, this colonial-style restaurant serves a terrific chana bhatura and tandoori chicken, besides the signature embassy samosa, murgh musallam and dal meat.
Why would one eat South Indian in North India? Only when it’s as good as the gongura mamsam (Andhra), meen moilee (Kerala), istew (Karnataka) and chicken Chettinad (Tamil Nadu) at Dakshin. ITC’s other restaurants – Bukhara and Peshawri for North West Frontier cuisine and Dum Pukht for Awadhi – are equally good.
Venture beyond Delhi staples like momo-thukpa to try pan-Himalayan cuisine – sekuwa (char-grilled mutton) from Nepal, tingmo (Tibetan steamed bread), ema datchi (Bhutanese chilli cheese) and Khasi cuisine of North East.
From the guys who gave us Def Col’s veg stalwart Sagar Ratna is its non-veg equivalent serving top class Mangalorean and coastal fare. Prawn koliwada, neer dosa, appam and the freshest seafood in town.
The only restaurant in India to make it to the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016, Chef Manish Mehrotra’s ‘inventive Indian cuisine’ with an international twist is groundbreaking. Pulled pork phulka taco, meetha achaar Chilean spare ribs, Duck khurchan cornetto, tuna bhel ceviche, wasabi malai, you get the idea! The six-course Chef’s Tasting menu starts at Rs3,300/person.
Restaurateur AD ‘Olive Bar’ Singh’s offering just reinforces Delhi’s love for Japanese food (Fujiya, Megu, En, Wasabi, Akira Back), but with a quirky touch of anime murals and sushi and shrimp tempura to kill for!
Some of the best places to party in Delhi are nightclubs/bars located in upscale hotels and standalone ones:
Delhi may be the capital, but Gurgaon is the capital of craft beer. Make sure to wet your whistle at these whistle stops – Brewer Street, Vapor, Manhattan Craft Brewery, Striker, Hops n Brew, Howzatt.
The Imperial, Connaught Place Excellent location on Janpath, this colonial haunt completed 80 years in 2016. High ceilinged rooms, crystal chandeliers, marble floors, mahogany tables, priceless art in its corridors and award-winning restaurants from Italian to south-east Asian.
Haveli Dharampura, Chandni Chowk An 1887 late Mughal haveli recently restored into a WelcomHeritage hotel, its rooftop affords a stunning view of Jama Masjid and Sisganj Gurudwara. The ground floor restaurant, called Lakhori after the small kiln-fired bricks used in the building, serves local street delicacies. Learn kabootarbaazi, kite-flying, classical Kathak and the old ways of life in Purani Dilli.
Shanti Home, Janakpuri A 17 room boutique hotel with India-themed décor, three lounge spaces, rooftop restaurant and a gymnasium. They also offer cooking classes, henna, Ayurvedic massages and custom tailoring service on the premises.
Devna, Sunder Nagar A charming B&B run by Atul and Devna Khanna with interiors dedicated to contemporary art and curios from around the world, it’s a great base to cover Purana Qila, Humayun’s Tomb and the National Gallery of Modern Art nearby.
Peel off layers of history with Delhi Heritage Walks and Delhi By Cycle tours as you trace the evolution of capital. From a sensory trip of Khari Baoli (Asia's largest wholesale spice market) to the smells of Parathewali Gali, Delhi is an all-out assault on your senses. Connaught Place and Raj Path, the city's commercial and administrative heart, were designed by Edwin Lutyens in the early 1900s. Couple it with a visit to the Maharaja Jai Singh II's astronomical observatory Jantar Mantar, the ancient stepwell Agrasen ki Baoli, the India Gate war memorial, the National Museum, Purana Qila and Delhi's popular exhibition space and cultural pavilion Pragati Maidan. Further north, take a tour of the Civil Lines, built by the British in 19th century, a spacious, colonial quarter with St James Church and Nicholson Cemetery, one of the oldest British cemeteries in the subcontinent. Delhi also has diverse places of worship that are architectural gems – Birla Mandir, Akshardham, Chhatarpur and Bahai temple, Nizamuddin Dargah, Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, Rakabganj and Sisganj Sahib.
Settled amidst the bustling area of South Delhi, this unexplored archaeological park in Mehrauli is a must-visit for history buffs. This massive park includes more than 100 heritage monuments belonging to the era of different rulers, starting from Tomar, Rajputs to Mughal emperors. Some of the notable structures here are the mosque of Jamali Kamali, three baolis and Zafar Mahal, among few others. The best time to explore this place is early morning.
The capital city also has a treasure trove of museums – spot the famous dancing girl of Harappa at the National Museum, drop into the Crafts Museum or Doll Museum, and believe it or not, there's also Sulabh International's Museum of Toilets!
India's first public open-air art gallery, the Lodhi Art District, is nestled between Khanna Market and Meharchand Market, Lodhi Colony. A number of popular international and local artists have painted more than 50 murals, facilitated by St+art India on the walls. This non-profit organisation aims to make art accessible to a broader audience in public spaces. This has also become one of the most popular photography spots.
Festivals such as Holi, Diwali and Navratri/Dussehra, are celebrated with great pomp and show, with Ramlila performances culminating in the effigies of Ravana, his son Meghnath and brother Kumbhakaran being set ablaze, best experienced at Ramlila Maidan.
The scorching summer is sweetened with the International Mango Festival at Dilli Haat Pitampura in June. But one of Delhi's most popular celebrations is the qawwali at Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, which takes place every Thursday.
This is a local 3-day festival in October celebrated by Delhi's flower-sellers at Mehrauli since the 16th century, is marked by floral processions and offering of pankhas (fans) at a Hindu temple and a Sufi shrine. Delhi Tourism organises the 3-day Qutub Festival of Indian classical music and dance in November.