This is the last in a series of blog posts I’ve written about my sight-seeing experiences in India, but it certainly isn’t the least. As the capital of India, Delhi is at the heart of the country. It is divided into Old Delhi; a 17th century neighbourhood housing the Red Fort and India’s largest mosque, Jama Masjid, and New Delhi; a modernised part of the city and the home of the President of India, where the country is governed from. Both Old Delhi and New Delhi boast a number of attractions that tourists should see while visiting the area, but as I only had a day or two free in Delhi, I focused on exploring New Delhi as part of a 3-day Golden Triangle tour with Viator.
Here are 6 things to see and do in New Delhi, all of which you should be able to accomplish within the space of just one day:
1. Qutub Minar
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Qutub Minar is a 73-metre tall tower of victory, built in 1193. Some say it was built to mark the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom and the beginning of Muslim rule, whereas others claim it was a minaret used by muezzins to call Muslims to prayer.
The tower features five storeys, complete with balconies. The first three storeys are made from standstone, whilst the fourth and fifth tiers consist of both marble and sandstone. It is said that there are 376 steps inside, but nobody has been allowed inside since 1981, when an electrical failure caused a stampede that killed 45 school children.
The courtyards surrounding Qutub Minar are filled withmonuments, like Alai-Darwaza Gate and two mosques, including Quwwat-ul-Islam. The pillars and arches that make up the remains of the mosque are decorated with intricate inscriptions and stone carvings. According to an inscription on the inner eastern gateway, the mosque was built using the remains of 27 Jain temples destroyed by Muslim rulers.
This is one of the oldest mosques in India, and a tall black iron pillar stands within its grounds. Despite being over 1,500 years old, the pillar shows no serious signs of rusting. However, visitors are no longer allowed to touch the pillar, and it is protected by railings and guards.
The Alai Minar sits next to the Qutub Mintar and was intended to be almost twice its size in height, but when the Emperor who began building it died, the construction ceased and the structure was never completed.
Entrance cost: 30 rupees for Indian citizens; 500 rupees for tourists
Opens: 7am – 5pm Monday – Sunday
Mehrauli, New Delhi, Delhi 110030, India | Phone:+91 11 2469 8431
2. India Gate
India Gate lies at the heart of New Delhi, a 42-metre high archway in the middle of a crossroads, erected to commemorate the 70,000 Indian soliders who lost their lives whilst fighting for the British Army during the First World War. The gate is enscribed with the names of thousands of Britsh and Indian soldiers killed in the Northwestern Frontier in the 1919 Afghan war.
After India gained independence, another memorial was built – Amar Jawan Jyoti. An eternal flame burns continuously underneath the arch, in remembrance of those who laid down their lives in the Indo-Pakistan War of December 1971.
Entrance cost: Free
India Gate ,Rajpath, New Delhi, Delhi 110001, India | Phone:+91 11 2464 7005
3. Rajpath (King’s Walk) ceremonial boulevard
When you visit India Gate on Rajpath, you’ll be just around the corner from the stately buildings that house the President of India and key government offices. Stop briefly for a photo, but don’t take too long or the guards will usher you on your way.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official home of the President of India, at the Western end of Rajpath on Raisina Hill. Meanwhile, the Secretariat Building houses the Cabinet Secretariat, which administers the government of India. This is divided into the North block and the South block. The North block consists of major government offices, such as the Ministry of Finance and Home Affairs, whereas the South block includes the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of External Affairs.
Entrance: Free, although you cannot enter any of the buildings
Opening times: N/A
Rajpath, Raisina Hill, New Delhi, 110001, India
4. Humayun’s Tomb
Another UNESCO World Heritage sight, Humayun’s Tomb was the first garden-tomb on the Indian sub-continent and it laid down the foundations for future mausoleums, including the Taj Mahal, Agra.
Humayun’s Tomb was built by Humayan’s widow, Hamida Banu Begum, who commenced the construction of the mausoleum in 1565, nine years after his death. The building was completed in 1972. From the 17th to 19th centuries, the garden was filled with the tombs of Humayun’s descendants and his entourage, like the Isa Khan Garden Tomb. No other mausoleum has such a high number of tombs belonging to Mughal emperors and their relatives.
Meanwhile, the garden is absolutely breathtaking, divided into four by walkways or flowing water to resemble the paradise garden described in the Quran.
Entrance cost: Indian citizens: 10 rupees; Tourists: $5 | Opens sunrise to sunset (approx.)
Mathura Road, Opp. Dargah Nizamuddin, New Delhi, Delhi 110013, India | Phone:+91 11 2435 5275
5. Lotus Temple
Of all the places I visited in Delhi, Lotus Temple was my favourite. Completed in 1986, Lotus Temple is built entirely from marble in the shape of a lotus flower. There are nine sides to the building, formed by 27 individual petals, and the Temple is surrounded by nine aqua blue pools that keep the temperature cool inside.
Lotus Temple is a Bahai House of Worship and embraces the Oneness of God, of Religions, and of Mankind. The lotus flower is significant in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam, and followers of any faith are welcome to worship at the Lotus Temple. Today, it is one of the world’s most visited places.
You’ll be asked to remove your shoes and turn off your mobile phone before entering, and you’ll be advised to stay quiet whilst inside the Temple. Photos aren’t allowed, and the Temple is intended for silent prayer only.
Entrance cost: Free | Open 9am – 5.30pm Tuesday – Sunday | Lotus Temple Rd, Shambhu Dayal Bagh, Bahapur, Kalkaji, New Delhi, Delhi 110019, India | Phone:+91 11 2644 4029
After a tiring day of sight-seeing, you’ll most likely be feeling famished and looking for somewhere to grab some food. Although the aromas wafting over from the street food vendors can be very appealing, be wary of eating street food because a lot of it is cooked with tap water, which can cause a case of the dreaded ‘Delhi belly’.
I only had one full day of sight-seeing in New Delhi so I didn’t get to eat my way through quite as much food as I’d have liked there, but I was very impressed with what I ate at Lazeez Affair, in Chanakyapuri.
Inside, the restaurant was clean and classy with crisp white tablecloths, contemporary chandeliers and music gently playing in the background.
Made using the Chef’s own secret recipe, Rajwari Gosht was a thick, slightly spicy tomato-based sauce, laden with on-the-bone chunks of tender, meaty mutton.
I ordered a red mirchi parantha to go with my curry, as opposed to rice. The menu said “it is hot but you’ll love it”, so I thought I’d give it a go. Good job I didn’t go for the green one, as the red one was pretty fiery and I can usually tolerate fairly spicy food.
I also tried Lazeez Affair’s Murg Malai Tikka, consisting of chunks of chicken marinated in a creamy sauce and coated in cheese, before being cooked in a chargrill oven. The chicken had a slightly charred, smoky coating that made my mouth water before I’d even tasted a single morsel. When I eventually stopped gazing at it and took a bite, I was overcome by the flavour, although I struggled to detect any cheese in the dish.
Forget nibbling on After Eight mints after your curry. In India, they have a traditional breath freshener consisting of eucalyptus menthol crystal and it will leave your mouth feeling minty for ages. It certainly helped to perk me up a little after the big meal I’d just eaten.
Have you ever been to India? Is it somewhere you’d like to visit in future?
Viator gave me a 20% discount on the cost of the tour I purchased through their website, but I was not obliged to write a positive review of my experience.