New Delhi is the capital of India – built and declared when India gained independence in 1947 – and a territory within Delhi. Said to be one of the oldest existing cities in the world, Delhi today is home to more than 20 million. The history and architecture across the metropolis charts the rise and fall of many empires, the intricacies of which are best understood on a Delhi tour. Milder temperatures make spring and autumn the best times to visit. No matter which part of the city you're here to see, it's going to be a memorable experience. Bring your energy, verve and wits. Let adventure do the rest.
Delhi attractions are numerous but a good start is visiting one of the most recognisable images of the city, India Gate – a central landmark built as a memorial for Indian soldiers killed in World War I. Another important commemoration is at the Gandhi Smriti, including a museum celebrating Gandhi's life and the room he lived in during his final days. History buffs will appreciate the imposing remnants of the brilliant red sandstone fort, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and finished in 1648. Simply called the Red Fort, it's one of Delhi's notable sites. Two UNESCO World Heritage sites in the city include Humayun's tomb (centrepiece built in the 1500s) and the Qutb Minar complex, with structures remaining from the 1200s. For a glimpse at times of the Raj, have a gin and tonic at the Imperial Hotel.
Delhi can treat foodies to some of the best Indian food in the country, not to mention the array of street food, including chaat (like Spanish tapas or Greek mezze). A commercially-run food tour might be a good option to help negotiate the sheer range of Delhi restaurants. But if you're on your own, start at Delhi Haat, an open-air food and craft bazaar located in North Delhi. Each food stall here represents a different state of India, allowing you to literally taste the entire country. Chinese and Italian food are also popular, and of good quality, here but given Delhi is more than a stone's throw from the ocean, chicken, lamb and vegetarian dishes are recommended over seafood. There are westernised food chains to get you by if you tire of the local fare, so don't worry.
Where to Stay
Delhi's accommodation options are like the city itself, there can be a great variance in quality from one property to the next. A government initiative asking 'friendly families' to take in tourists on a bed and breakfast basis has been running for a few years, hoping to aid the shortage of hotels. A few properties that are well located or well appointed include The Maharani Guest House, Ahuja Residency and Hotel Diplomat. If you want peace of mind about the standard and amenities you'll have access to in your accommodation, book as close to 5-star as your budget will allow. A top-end treat is the Imperial Hotel, with its lavish white marble and teak and Indian society weddings on the lawn.
Keen to get amongst the crowded and vibrant Delhi shopping? Start at Chandi Chowk, one of the oldest and busiest markets in Delhi. Some stores open from around 10am to 7pm, others from noon to 9pm. Fabrics and food are amongst some of the highlights sold amid the pandemonium here. If you're seeking superb old Bollywood posters and like the sound of an arty enclave with Indian clothing boutiques, make your way to Hauz Khas Village. For a tailored suit in 24 hours, drop by M Ram & Sons. Jewellery lovers will find the markets in Karol Bagh hard to resist – it's crowded with locals and tourists, but there are bargains to be had. Overall, this is a bazaar and market city, it's a challenge to come home empty-handed.
Delhi like a Local
Cheap flights to Delhi are great but note one tip for the airport: use the pre-paid taxi service inside the arrivals building (before you exit into the public area), if you haven't already booked a transfer to your accommodation. If you're keen to get amongst it all, a trip on the Metro will give you the real insider's version of local life here. This is a great city for wandering but don't expect cars to stop at pedestrian crossings or traffic lights – stopping can be discretionary. Even if you don't like cricket, say something nice about the game; it will win favour with the locals and life will be simpler.