New Delhi is the capital of India. It is a primary gateway point to the nation, and makes for a logical first stop when visiting India.

New Delhi has centuries of history and culture behind it. As with locations that have such a long history, there are part of the city that show their age and are a contrast to the well developed metropolis that has grown with the IT boom of the mid 2000s.

New Delhi is home to several UNSECO World Heritage sites and provides great access to Agra and Jaipur – two other tourist destinations in northern India.

Getting there

New Delhi is served by Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport – a facility so modern that it would give any major international airport a run for its money.

I found that getting through the airport was far easier and quicker than any of my experiences at Chicago, London, Sydney or Melbourne.

New Delhi can also be reached from the rest of India by plane at the same airport.

The more common way of getting around among smaller cities in India is by train. Indian Railways offer excellent connectivity to almost every town that you’d want to get to in India.

Where to stay

Like any major city in the world, New Delhi offers an array of different places to stay to suit all budgets. I personally recommend the Piccadily at Janakpuri, and the Lalit, New Delhi. Both hotels are 5 Star Hotels and offer great amenities to their guests.

Both these two hotels used to be part of global chains – the Piccadily used to be a Hilton while the Lalit used to be the Holiday Inn. Both hotels subsequently shed their chain titles and began operating on their original names.

Getting around

New Delhi is big, and very spread out. The quickest way to get around in New Delhi is by the New Delhi metro. This high-speed mass rapid transport system is cheap, clean and efficient. It does tend to get quick busy and crowded.

If you’d rather have your own space, consider renting a car. Your hotel will be able to assist you with securing an all-day taxi with driver to take you to your places of interest.

If you’d rather take your chances with a local experience, consider hopping onto a tuk-tuk (or autorickshaw, as they are called) to get around short distances.

Finally, you can always hail a ride-sharing service like Uber or Ola to get you around in New Delhi. It is worth mentioning here that the safety of ride sharing services in New Delhi has come into question in recent times. This is definitely not recommended for female travellers who are travelling without male companions.

Recommended itinerary

Day 1:

  • Qutb Minar
  • Bahai’i temple of worship
  • Humayun’s Tomb
  • Lodi Gardens

Day 2:

  • Red Fort
  • Jama Masjid
  • Rashtrapati Bhawan
  • India Gate

Day 1

New Delhi is a city that has busy traffic all day. An early start is the way to go, starting from the Southern End of the cities.

Start your tour at the Qutb minar and Qutb Complex. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The Qutb Minar is the centerpiece of this complex and is the world’s tallest free standing minaret, and the official symbol of New Delhi.

The Qutb Complex is deceptively large and embraces the general area around the Qutb Minar in New Delhi’s south. The New Delhi metro has a stop right outside the complex to allow easy access.

There is a small fee to gain entry to the grounds. All foreign nationals are charged INR300 (about US$6), while Indian nationals are granted access for INR10 (about US$0.20 cents).

The complex opens at 8:00am. All visitors need to pass through a metal detector and a security pat down.

The Qutb Minar predates the Mughal Empire, and is a creation of the Slave Dynasty. Its construction began in 1192 under the reign of Qutb-ud-din Aibak, and was completed by Iltutmish in 1230.

From here, make your way to the Baha’i Temple of Worship. Known as the Lotus Temple, the Baha’i Temple of Worship is in South Delhi and welcomes visitors from all faiths. As an active house of worship, decorum is to be maintained. This is a popular site among locals as well as tourists, and gets particularly crowded on weekends.

The temple is open from 9am to 5pm from Tuesday through Sunday and is closed on Monday.

From here, make your way to Humayun’s Tomb. This is yet another among the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India, it is one of many examples of the amazing architecture that the Mughals brought to India.

While the tomb is the last resting place of the second Mughal Emperor, it is also home to the cenotaphs of over 100 individuals laid to rest in the assortment of chambers contained within.

It is well maintained and free from beggars and touts. The entry fee for foreign nationals is INR250 (about US$5) and INR10 (about US$0.20) for Indian Citizens. It opens its gates at 8:00am and is easily accessible by public transport.

The Humayun’s Tomb complex extends further and also includes the Tomb of Isa Khan. The octagonal mausoleum is built of red sandstone. It was erected in 1547–1548, and is the tomb of Isa Khan Niazi, a noble at the courts of Sher Shah Suri and Islam Shah Suri.

Beyond the tombs are the Lodi Gardens. This area of land contains a series of tombs from the Lodi Dynasty from from the mid 15th to 16th century. The gardens are a popular spot for morning and evening walks for the locals. This is a great place to wind down your first day of touring New Delhi.

Day 2

Start your day at the Red Fort. As before, start early.

Located just outside Chandni Chowk, one of New Delhi’s busiest and most densely populated areas, the Red Fort is where medieval and modern India come together. It is one of the most historic buildings in India. It is here that the Indian National Flag was raised for the first time in Independent India.

The Red Fort or Lal Qila was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan – the same emperor who built the Taj Mahal – in the walled city of Delhi. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Old Delhi, attracting thousands of visitors every year. Construction started in 1638, and was completed in 1648.

It was home to the Mughal Emperors ever since, before being lost to the British East India Company. The entire city of Delhi was contained within its walls. At one point in time, over 3,000 people lived within its premises. After the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the fort was captured by Britain and the residential palaces were destroyed. It was made the headquarters of the British Indian Army.

The Red Fort is easily accessible by public transport and the New Delhi Metro. It opens at 8:00am. The entry fee for foreign nationals is INR250 (about US$5) and INR10 (about US$0.20) for Indian citizens.

From here, make your way to the Jama Masjid Mosque. It is the largest mosque in India, and welcomes visitors. Located in Chandni Chowk, it is easily accessible by public transport. As this is a place of worship that is still in operation, it is generally not a good idea to attempt to visit it on a Friday when prayers are held. Allow yourself a couple of hours to take in the location.

From here, make your way to Rashtrapati Bhawan. This is the official residence of the President of India. This will be a very short visit of no more than 20 minutes. One can only get so close before being ushered away by security forces.

Straight down from here is India Gate. This is a war memorial located astride the Rajpath, on the eastern edge of the “ceremonial axis” of New Delhi, and stands in commemoration of 70,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who died in action during the First World War.

Once you’re all done, finish your day with some retail therapy at Connaught Place. This is the commercial centre of New Delhi, and occupies a place of pride in the city. It is one of the top heritage structures in New Delhi. It was named after Prince Arthur, the 1st Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, construction work began in 1929 and was completed in 1933. The metro railway station built under it is Rajiv Chowk.