New Delhi: Tourism Guide
New Delhi is the capital of India and is filled with must-see landmarks, cultural attractions and fun activities.
Although Delhi and New Delhi are used interchangeably, the latter actually refers to the bustling metropolitan district that makes up part of the larger city of Delhi.
A Little History
The capital was designed by British architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker. The entire city’s style was created as a symbol of British power, giving rise to the region’s melting pot of culture and architecture. New Delhi was inaugurated as India’s new capital in 1931.
Best Time To Visit
As the city is renowned for its temperamental climate and polluted air, it’s important to carefully choose when to visit this vibrant city. Avoid travelling to New Delhi between April and June, as uncomfortable heat upwards of 40°C are known to be common. Similarly, December to January experiences extreme climates, with cold snaps dropping temperatures down to zero.
Book your trip between February and March or October and November, to avoid the bad weather and monsoon rains. Temperatures around this time will be at a comfortable 20-30°C, with azure skies and warm evenings to enjoy.
New Delhi is one of the liveliest and most exciting cities on the globe. Here’s Expedia’s travel guide to New Delhi, designed to help you plan your holiday. Take some notes and plan your trip, but we definitely encourage you to take on the full traveller’s spirit and just go out there and explore this stunning city for yourself.
Where to go in New Delhi
There are so many sights to see and places to visit in New Delhi, that tourists will be spoilt for choice. From tombs and temples with great religious significance to insightful and educational museums, there is something in the capital for every visitor.
Here are just a few of our favourite landmarks and tourist places to visit in New Delhi:
This beautiful landmark was built between 1569-70 and serves as the tomb of Mudhal Emperor Humayun. The enchanting mausoleum was inspired by the Taj Mahal and is one of the first ever examples of Mughal architecture in the country. The design takes inspiration from Persia, with its bold red sandstone, white marble dome and arched alcoves.
The gardens are split into four areas, which surround the tomb itself and feature flourishing flora and flowing water. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993, this site should rank highly on your list of must-visit Delhi locations.
The Red Fort
Take a trip over to Old Delhi to see the awe-inspiring, towering red sandstone structure of the Red Fort. Built in 1638 as a show of the Mughal emperors’ power, the massive walls were intended to keep out invaders.
Today, they attract crowds of tourists, who come to marvel at the gorgeous Lahore Gate and explore the many rooms, which include the Drum House, Pearl Mosque, Royal Baths, Palace of Colour and the stunning white marble surroundings of the Hall of Private Audiences. Visit at evening to catch the dazzling sound and light show.
This 74-metre-tall structure is constructed from red sandstone and marble. It is the second tallest minar in the entire country, coming second to Fateh Burj, and features a circular staircase inside, with 379 steps leading to its peak. The Qutub Minar can be found at the Qutub Complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to several more significant historic monuments.
The Swaminarayan Askshardham, also known as Delhi Askhardham, is a grand campus of spiritual and cultural influence. This is one of the largest Hindu temples and features an abundance of traditional Hindu and Indian displays. Situated near the banks of the Yamuna river, this towering temple attracts around 70% of all Delhi tourists, who come to witness the Sahaj Anand water show, traverse the thematic garden and explore the three exhibitions held there, which include an IMAX film on Swaminarayan’s early life; a cultural boat ride; and the Hall of Values.
This memorial is dedicated to 82,000 soldiers who served the undivided British Indian army and lost their lives during the First World War. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the gate is reminiscent of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe and displays the names of 13,300 Commonwealth servicemen. A simple shrine was built under the India Gate structure in 1971.
Known as Amar Jawan Jyoti, meaning the Flame of the Immortal Soldier, this marks the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The National Museum
Established in 1949, New Delhi’s National Museum is one of the largest in India. The majestic building, located on the corner of Janpath and Maulana Azad Road, hosts an extensive range of exhibitions. Visitors can enjoy around 200,000 works of art spanning over 5,000 years, from the pre-historic era all the way to modern masterpieces. Please note, the museum is closed on Mondays.
There are many different museums across Delhi, including the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, the Gandhi Smriti, India Habitat Centre, National Science Centre and National Railway Museum to name a few.
Shopping in New Delhi
Fans of shopping won’t be disappointed by the city’s collection of markets. From fine clothes to fresh food and handcrafted souvenirs, you’ll find whatever you’re looking for in the Western-style malls and bustling Bazaars. Be prepared for busy crowds on Saturdays and be ready to haggle to ensure you get the best price.
Outdoor Spaces of New Delhi
New Delhi is home to some truly breath-taking outdoor spaces, complete with luscious greenery, incredible structures and a rich heritage. In the warm daylight, you can explore these grand sites and picturesque picnic spots, or head out in the evening to watch the sky light up with the colours of the sunset. Be sure to take a camera.
Located on Lodi Road, this popular park is the perfect way to escape the busy New Delhi streets and markets. Sprawling over 90 acres, you will find yourself surrounded with towering trees and colourful flowers, as well as buildings and ruins with a wealth of history behind them. Here you will see Mohammed Shah’s Tomb, the Tomb of Sikandar Lodi, architectural works dating back to the 15th century and more, all making their mark on the green landscape.
The distinctive ruins at Siri Fort are all that remain of the fort built back in 1303, to defend the city from attacks from the Mongols. Legend has it that this site got its name from the Hindi word ‘sir’, meaning ‘head’, as it was said to be built on the severed heads of around 8,000 Mongol soldiers. The brutal backstory of this site has today given way to a beautiful landscape. When visiting this site, be sure to head over to the small, urban Shahpur Jat village nearby, with its oval shape and quiet neighbourhood streets.
Mehrauli Archaeological Park
Nearby in Mehrauli, in the South West district of Delhi, you will find the Mehrauli Archaeological Park. Expanding over a huge 200 acres, this park is home to more than 100 historically significant monuments, including sites such as the Tomb of Balban, which marks the first time a true arch and dome were built in India. You could spend an entire day here, delving back in time as you explore the impressive architectural relics.
National Zoological Park
New Delhi’s National Zoological Park has so much to offer its visitors. Situated near the Old Fort, it features a 16th century citadel and beautiful green island within its 176-acres, along with nearly 130 different species of animals. Exhibitions here include giraffes, zebra, hippos, hyenas, jaguars, monkeys and a collection of birds from across the world, as well as an intriguing underground reptile house. The zoo is also home to conservation breeding programmes for rare creatures, such as the royal Bengal tiger, Asiatic lion, Indian rhino and brow antlered deer.
“Unwrap the layers of Delhi by shopping and eating at Chandni Chowk or Dilli Haat, by visiting ancient & medieval ruins scattered across the city or modern wonders like Lotus temple and Akshardham temple, by walking & bird watching in its gardens or by visiting its more than 50 museums.”
Anu Anuradha Goyal – Founder of www.inditales.com
Transport in New Delhi
Things can get hectic in the hustle and bustle of India’s metropolitan jewel. New Delhi’s public transport can often reflect this, but there is a choice of different options to help you get around New Delhi.
For visitors who want the authentic local experience, the city has an extensive public bus service, which is a cheap and effective way of getting from A to B. But you get what you pay for in India’s capital. These busses can be very hot and crowded.
However, if you want to get a taste of what it’s really like to live in the heart of southern Asia, you won’t get further for cheaper in any major capital. Look out for the red and green government run DTC busses over the privately run orange variety.
Taxis are also available by the thousands, at varying levels of price and comfort. On the lower end of the scale, there’s yellow and black ambassadors, which are unlikely to come air conditioned but are reliable veterans of New Delhi’s busy streets. Rates can vary greatly, so it’s better to agree on a fee up front before starting your journey.
If you’re willing to pay a little more, you’re sure to get your money’s worth with a radio taxi. These can be hired via phone and are of a much higher standard of vehicle, comfort and convenience. They are available 24/7, but be aware that there’s a 25% late night charge. Unlike ambassadors, tipping is not expected.
Never get into an unlicensed taxi. You should also be wary of drivers offering to take you to particular shops or shopping districts. Drivers are known to take a cut from sales gathered through their recommendation and it will likely be overpriced.
Auto rickshaws are available for even less than the ambassador cabs and can be great for short journeys. These can be deemed a little too rustic for western tastes if you’re planning a long haul though. You can flag down these three-wheeled vehicles in the street. Similar to the taxis, it is advised that you try to negotiate a price with the driver before you start your journey. Avoid the prepaid desks in stations, as they will try to overcharge you – as much as triple the actual price!
Alternatively, you can book prepaid rickshaws from auto stands throughout the city. These are run by the police. All you have to do is tell them your destination and pay for your journey upfront, including a 5 rupee service fee. You will then be given a coupon and directed by a policeman to the next available auto rickshaw. This is an easy and safe way to travel, with all the fees covered before you even step foot in the vehicle.
The Delhi Metro
Perhaps the best way of getting around the city is through the state of the art Delhi Metro, which is a beacon of progress and a lasting legacy of India’s economic development. You can get a smart card for 150 rupees, which can be topped up whenever you wish to ride. Tourist cards are also available and give you unlimited use for one day (100 rupees) or three days (250 rupees).
The metro is the most modern way to travel throughout Delhi, as well as being the easiest way of visiting the city’s history.
New Delhi Cuisine
No trip to New Delhi is complete without gorging yourself upon the eastern delights of some of the best Indian food the world has to offer.
The street food of Delhi is legendary, with authentic stripped back cuisine the way these streets intended for them to be served. With hundreds of great street vendors to sample across the city, here’s a couple to get you started.
Bittoo Tikki Wala
In a tale that captures the DIY attitude of India’s food, this tasty crispy tikka vendor started as a single cart and has grown to become a franchise player all across town. Its popularity is certainly justified, delivering world class flavour for only 60 rupees a plate.
Lala Babu Chaat Bhander
Make use of that trusty metro pass and head out to Old Delhi for this regional favourite. This vendor is located in Chandni Chowk, across the street from its gastronomic opposite, McDonalds. Cheap and cheerful at only 80 rupees for two people, you and a friend can enjoy some of the freshest chaat in the land and experience the majesty of the famed walled city of India.
Princes Paan and Chaat Corner
Located in Greater Kailish, this popular local hangout serves everything from butterscotch paan to hot gol gappas. It’s a little more expensive than other vendors, coming in at around 250 rupees for two popular dishes, but it’s still well below the value of such high quality cuisine.
These are just a few examples of all Delhi has to offer. Try to enjoy all the great street food you can, as you just can’t find it this good anywhere else. But with so much choice, it can be difficult to know whether you’re getting good quality, hygienic food, so be sure to avoid food left out in the open. If you really want to get the best taste of India, consider joining local foodie groups to guide you on your journey.
While street food is still considered the pinnacle of flavour for purists, there are plenty of exceptional culinary experiences to be found in the city’s restaurants, for that extra dash of luxury to go with all that spice.
A plucky underdog battling it out against the industry heavyweights, Indian Accent appears at first glance to be doomed to fade into local legend, as it delivers world class food out of a small boutique hotel. But chef Manish Mehrotra has made the world take notice: it was ranked as the best restaurant in India by Time for its innovate combinations of international and local flavours. A true restaurant experience that cannot be replicated in the markets.
Punjabi by Nature
There are no prizes for guessing what kind of food is on offer here. A masterclass in north Indian cuisine, this restaurant is famed for their monster portions and consistently brilliant offerings. It may not be the most innovative of restaurants but Punjabi by Nature sticks to what it knows and does it very, very well.
Another heavy hitter on the restaurant scene, Dum Pukht serves its food in true style out of a 5-star hotel, giving the room a royal ambience that sets the bar for decadence. While some claim the food is a little bland by local tastes, owing that to their international appeal, no one can doubt that this is world class cuisine served in a world class environment
India is among the most remarkable places to eat in the world. We suggest you embrace everything new you can and soak in the experience. Please note though, as you’re several trips away from the ocean, it’s best to avoid seafood.
“Lip smacking street food of Chandi Chowk, the big fat Indian weddings, culture-filled narrow lanes of Delhi 6, iconic historic monuments and one of the most diverse and populated cities of the world, Delhi is much more than its famous Delhi Belly! It is the lifeline of India!”
Sankara Subramanian C, Founder of www.beontheroad.com
New Delhi Nightlife
New Delhi’s nightlife has come from humble beginnings through an explosive growth period to become a metropolis of bars, cafes, clubs and lounges that populate the capital. Bar crawls are an excellent way of getting to know the city, and are filled to the brim with the best late night events money can buy at heavily discounted prices. Hookah and shisha lounges are also a popular part of Delhi’s rich culture and really come to life on the evening.
India does have a wild side and you owe it to yourself to go out and make the most of it. Keep in mind though that you’re still in a vastly different culture and there are certain things to remember. For example, many clubs and lounges have a strict couples only policy for men, in order to prevent the gender ratios from getting out of control.
Homosexuality still remains illegal in India and same sex couples should be made aware that homophobia is still prevalent within this society. Naturally, this means the only same sex bars and clubs in Delhi operate outside of the law and attending them poses a serious risk.
Where to Stay in New Delhi
Budget Hotels in New Delhi
If you’re looking for affordable accommodation, you won’t be short on choice in Delhi. Many of the centrally located hotels and B&Bs will be in noisy neighbourhoods, but if you are willing to compromise on your peace and quiet, you will be conveniently close to all the major attractions. Expect small and simple guestrooms with basic amenities.
The prices of budget hotels in the city range between 400 rupees up to 2,500 rupees for higher quality rooms.
Mid-range Hotels in New Delhi
The city doesn’t have too many mid-range hotel chains, which means it can be difficult to ensure you are staying at a good guest house. Rooms can vary significantly in quality, so it is always worth spending some time researching your accommodation.
It is worth looking into the new official ‘Delhi Bed and Breakfast scheme’. This has given rise to a selection of private rooms, but make sure to stay in the better Delhi neighbourhoods, which can be easily reached by the metro system, to ensure good, clean rooms and plenty of facilities. These will also allow you to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy tourist areas after a long day.
Prices for mid-range hotels vary from over 2,000 rupees for a simple, single room, up to around 6,000 rupees for a stay in a full service hotel with breakfast.
Luxury Hotels in New Delhi
If you’re happy to spend on your travels, then you’ll have your pick of plenty of luxury hotels in Delhi. These opulently designed and spacious hotels offer their guests fantastic facilities, including pools, gyms, spas, onsite restaurants and unrivalled service.
Some of these establishments, such as The Imperial in Janpatha are attractions in themselves. This hotel has the only Chanel store in the whole of the country and features a priceless ‘British Art on India’ art collection.
Top range, trusted hotel brands can also be found across New Delhi, including the family friendly JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity, the contemporary furbished LaLiT New Delhi and the five star Hyatt Regency Delhi.
Prices for luxury hotels in Delhi range from 8,000 rupees to upwards of 20,000 rupees and vary between off peak and peak seasons.
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