New Delhi (India): The top 20 attractions - Global Storybook

New Delhi: The Top 20 Attractions

Esha Misra

Esha Misra

Esha Misra is the Local Contributing Writer at Global Storybook (New Delhi, India).

Easha was born and raised in Orissa, India and she currently lives in New Delhi. Passion for traveling is what lured her into jotting down her personal experiences, which eventually set her onto this exciting journey of freelance writing and travel planning.

When not writing, Esha loves to try her hand at experimental cooking, trying up some new ingredients. Looking for new destinations to travel to is her favorite pastime activity. She wishes to share her experiences with the world.
Esha Misra

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New Delhi, or simply Delhi as the locals call it, is the capital of India.  With almost 19 million local inhabitants, it is not only the largest city in the country, but it’s also one of the largest cities in the World.

From reliving the past to visiting the future, Delhi offers just the right dose of history and modernization for a weary traveler.  Its ancient past, with its vibrant culture, are reflected in its monumental landmarks, beautiful parks, colorful temples, and rich museums, spread around the entire metropolis.  In addition to being a shopper’s paradise with its numerous handicraft markets, Delhi will delight any visitor with its ample and awe-inspiring culinary scene.

So let’s review the top 20 attractions in New Delhi to learn more about this dazzling city and its fabulous sights.

New Delhi, India - Global Storybook1. Red Fort

Red Fort is one of the best illustrations of India’s history, symbolizing the Mughal Era.  It’s located on a 2km long stretch, measuring 18 meters in height on the riverside and 33 meters on the city side.  On its vast premises, the fort houses various buildings which are brilliant examples of the age-old architecture in its purest forms.  Some believe that at one time it used to lodge around 3,000 people.

While visiting the fort, a bottle of water is an absolute must if you’re intending to walk around its entire area of 254,67 acres.  Some of the fascinating sights located in the fort are the Hall of Public Audiences, the Drum House, the Private Audiences, the Pearl Mosque, the Palace of Color and the Royal Baths.  The fort also frequently hosts numerous fun events and festivals, such as the Independence Day Parade and Dussherra.

Local tip: make sure to stop by the light and sound show as well, for a magical transformation to the Mughal era.

  • Address: Netaji Subhash Marg, Lal Qila, Chandni Chowk
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: Tuesday – Sunday: 9:00am – 6:00pm; closed on Mondays
  • Price: around $3.82 per adult, free for children; the Light & Sound show: around $1.2 per adult and $0.46 for children

2. India Gate

Erected as a war memorial, the grandiose India Gate stands tall and proud as the perfect architectural symbol of the Indian Army.  It was known initially as the ‘All India Memorial,’ and the inspiration behind it came from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.  This site includes the whole area surrounding the memorial plus the lawns of Rajpath.  Undoubtedly, it is one of the most prominent attractions of New Delhi.

The India Gate was made of pale red sandstone and granite, and it’s dedicated to the World War I, as well as the third Afghan war.  The smaller monument in front of the Gate is called “Amar Jyoti Jawan.”  Its black marble cenotaph features a continuously burning flame.

Furthermore, it’s also one of the favorite hangout places for the locals, especially during the Winter.  In addition, it hosts a number of parades, such as the Republic Day parade held annually on the 26th of January, and events like the 3-day music festival held each October on the front lawns of the India Gate.

  • Address: Rajpath Marg, India Gate
  • Time required: 1 hour or less
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: Free 

3. Qutab Minar

The 2nd tallest tower in India is famous widely, especially among countless history and photography buffs.  It’s also a World Heritage Site showcasing the victory and the beginning of Mughal Era.  The Qutab Minar is a great illustration of Indo-Islamic architecture.  It is surrounded by several other ancient structures, collectively known as the Qutab Complex.  At the foot of the tower, you will find the first mosque ever built in India, called Quwwat-ul-Islam.

The 72.5 meters tall tower features 5-stories.  The first 3 stories were made with red sandstone, while the last two are a mixture of marble and sandstone.  It has a 7-meter iron pillar right in its courtyard.  There’s an age-old belief that if a person were to stand with his or her back towards the pillar while encircling it with both hands, that person would get his or her wish granted.  In the past, one could also climb the tower to reach the top; however, after a few fatal accidents, it’s no longer allowed.

  • Address: Mehrauli
  • Time required: 30 mins – 1 hour
  • Hours of operation: open 7 days a week: sunrise to sunset
  • Price: around $7.6 (adult)

4. Jama Masjid

The largest mosque in Asia, Jama Masjid, can house up to 25,000 people at once in its courtyard.  It was constructed with red sandstone and marble, and its walls are slightly tilted to provide stability in case of a potential natural calamity, like an earthquake.  It’s also an excellent example of Mughal architectural style.

The mosque’s chief building features eight domes, decorated with black and white marble.  It is possible to climb to the top to get some breathtaking panoramic views over Delhi, as well as to spend an entire day here exploring this magnificent sight.  There are about 899 spaces, built as prayer mats for the worshipers.  Please note: women must have a proper attire to access this beautiful place, though you can always rent it on site.

Local tip: while visiting the mosque, head over to Karim’s hotel nearby, for a taste of authentic Mughlai cuisine.

  • Address: Meena Bazaar, Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk
  • Time required: 1 hour
  • Hours of operation: open 7 days a week; however, tourists are not allowed in during the prayer times
  • Price: Free

5. Raj Ghat

Raj Ghat is the burial site of the Father of the Indian nation, Mahatma Gandhi, and hence it’s one of the most important attractions in New Delhi.  In addition to Gandhi, there are other memorials for such famous figures like Jawahar Lal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi Jagjivan Ram and others, who were laid to rest in Raj Ghat.  Located on the banks of Yamuna river, this scenic place is visited by hundreds of people on a daily basis.

In the center of the site, there is a square shaped platform with black memorial stones, which include the last words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Hey Ram.”  There’s also a small internal flame burning on the platform.  On the other side of the road, you will find the Gandhi Smriti, which showcases the exact spot of Gandhi’s assassination.

In the vicinity of the memorial, you will find the historic Feroz Shah Kotla Fort, plus two museums (the National Gandhi Museum and the Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum) dedicated to Gandhi, which are worth a good pause.

  • Address: Behind Red Fort
  • Time required: 45 mins – 1 hour
  • Hours of operation: open 7 days a week: 6:00am – 6:00pm
  • Price: Free

6. Humayun’s Tomb

This stunning World Heritage Site from the Mughal period is surrounded by a perfectly squared garden, with numerous pathways and water channels, called Char Bagh.  The Humayun’s Tomb, which looks very similar to the World-famous Taj Mahal, is one of the most beautiful sights in New Delhi.

This grand building was erected by Queen Haji Begum who was a widow of Emperor Humayun.  Several rulers of the Mughal Dynasty were buried inside this tomb.  Along with the main tomb of Humayun, there are four others located in its periphery.  Though they are a bit smaller in size, they are just as stunning and majestic.

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Local tip: Winter is the ideal season to visit this monument.  If you want to see the gardens at their best, try going in the late afternoon or the early evening.

  • Address: Opposite Dargah Nizamuddin, Mathura Road
  • Time required: 45 mins – 1 hour
  • Hours of operation: open 7 days a week: 7:00am – 7:00pm
  • Price: around $7.6 (adult)

7. Gurdwara Bangla Sahib

While visiting the age-old Connaught place of Delhi (sight #17), make a quick stop at the beautiful white marble Gurudwara to dive into the serene atmosphere and return feeling spiritually enlightened.  Gurdwara Bangla Sahib is one of the best known Sikh temples in New Delhi and is among the nine historical gurdwaras.  The community kitchen of the Gurdwara Bangla Sahib feeds over 10,000 people for free, on a daily basis.  It ranks among the top pilgrimage sites in all of Delhi.

Gurudwara includes the main temple, a pond (Sarovar), a community kitchen, as well as a school, museum, library and a hospital.  There’s an age-old belief that the water from Sarovar’s pond can cure ailments.  Please note: while visiting the complex, you will be asked to leave your shoes outside, as well as to cover your head with a scarf if you’re a female.

Local tip: visit the Baba Kharak Singh road near the complex which is a great hub for souvenirs.  And don’t forget to pick up some Kara Prasar (a sweet dish) to take back to your hotel to snack on later.

  • Address: Ashoka Road, Connaught Place, next to the Grand Post Office
  • Time required: 2 hours
  • Hours of operation: open 7 days a week
  • Price: Free

8. Lotus Temple

This unique temple was made in a shape of a lotus and is surrounded by nine turquoise pools.  Lotus Temple is one of the seven main Bahai temples spread across the globe.  It’s an ideal place to sit down for a deep meditation or a mid-afternoon pray.  Peace and tranquility meet religion at this spectacular attraction of Delhi.  The entire temple was made of pristine white marble, and it’s positioned in the middle of beautiful, manicured lawns.

The form of a lotus symbolizes four main religions of India – Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Jainism.  It belongs to the Bahai faith where people and religion are considered as one.  Since the day of its opening in 1986, the temple has quickly become one of the most visited sites in the World.

  • Address: Lotus Temple Rd, Bahapur, Shambhu Dayal Bagh, Kalkaji
  • Time required: 1.5 hours
  • Hours of operation: Tuesday – Sunday: 9:00am – 5:30pm
  • Price: Free

9. Akshardham

Akshardham is another marvelous landmark which tops the must-visit sights in Delhi and to which thousands of spectators flock daily from across the globe.

Moreover, the Guinness World of Records added this temple to its list as the world’s largest Hindu temple, in 2007.  The temple was mainly built with stone, and white marble and it signifies the Vedic way of worship.  Fountain shows, boat rides, manicured lawns and gardens, exhibition halls with film shows and a large food court serving delicious meals is what this attraction is all about.  It’s recommended to get here early before the huge crowds.

Please note: this temple has a strict policy of leaving footwear, as well as large bags and all electronics (including cameras and phones) outside the main complex.

  • Address: Noida Mor, Pandav Nagar
  • Time required: 5-6 hours
  • Hours of operation: Tuesday – Sunday: 9:30am – 6:30pm
  • Price: Free; exhibitions: around $1.5-$2.5; the Musical Fountain show: around $0.7-$1.2
  • Official Website: http://akshardham.com/

10. Delhi Zoo

The National Zoological Park or the Delhi Zoo for short can be found near the Old Delhi.  It’s one of the most frequented places, especially for picnics, by locals and tourists.  It’s one of those beloved city places which every Delhite visited at least once in their lifetime.  Needless to say, it’s also an ideal destination for kids, and it can be accessed all year round.

From the biggest of cats to the tiniest of birds – this zoo has it all.  It’s not only home to endangered species, but it also hosts conservation programs for Asiatic lions, Royal Bengal tigers, swamp deer, Indian rhinoceros, as well as Red jungle fowls.  It also has a canteen for snacking, plus battery operated vehicles which could be used to commute inside the zoo.

  • Address: Mathura Road, Sundar Nagar
  • Time required: 2 hours
  • Hours of operation: open 7 days a week: 9:00am – 4:30pm
  • Price: around $1.5 – $3
  • Official Website: http://nzpnewdelhi.gov.in/

11. Nizamuddin Dargah

If you want to experience some original Qawallis music, then don’t miss this incredible place.  Nizamuddin Dargah houses the tomb of Nizamuddin Auliya who is one of the world’s most renowned Sufi saints.  It’s visited by thousands daily, irrespective of the caste creed and religion to plunge into the divine serenity of the Dargah.  If you can watch one of the Bollywood movies, like Rockstar or Bajarangi Bhaijan, among others, then you can get a glimpse of how Dargah should look like.

The grand tomb features lattice screens called Jalis, marble arches and courtyards.  Its devotees believe that if you tie a thread on one of these screens, you can get any wish granted.  The shrine inside the tomb is covered with scented green cloth to which devotees offer prayers and shower rose petals.  A secret tunnel was discovered there by the Aga Khan Trust For Culture.  It links Dargah with Nizamuddin Baoli, which is a well that holds holy water.

Local tip: to get a real feel for the place, attend one of the Qawallis, which takes place every Thursday and Saturday.  It’s hosted by the Nizami brothers, who are world famous for their beautiful spiritual lyrics and music.  Also, make sure to try some authentic Mughlai cuisine at the nearby stalls.

  • Address: Boali Gate Rd, Opp The Lodhi
  • Time required: 1 hour
  • Hours of operation: open 7 days a week: 6:00am – 10:00pm
  • Price: Free

12. Garden of Five Senses (Lodhi Gardens)

This gorgeous place is a perfect attraction of New Delhi, offering peace and serenity to its visitors.  Most popular among picnickers and joggers, this garden also contains various historical monuments.  It’s a paradise for butterfly catchers and bird watchers.  Be it a holiday season or just a weekend, you will always find this beautiful garden flooded with people from all walks of life.

The Lodhi Gardens are taking over an area of 90 acres, that was established by the Delhi Transportation Development Cooperation.  It features five stunning architectural gems, namely the Mohammed Shah’s Tomb, Sikander Lodi’s Tomb, Shish Gumbad and Bara Gumbad.  The national Bonsai Park is also located on the premises of the Garden.

Local tip: October to March are the ideal months to visit this place. Bring over some snacks and spend some leisurely moments in this splendid garden.

  • Address: Lodhi Rd, Lodhi Gardens, Lodhi Estate
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: Free

13. Chandni Chowk

Considered as the heart of Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk is one of the busiest marketplaces in the city.  From an authentic local shopping experience to the original delicacies of Delhi, one can find it all at this magical place.  To get a real taste of the Old Delhi, walk through its narrow winding streets passing through the crumbling buildings of Havelis.  Clothes to handicrafts, you can find every product without pinching a hole in your pocket.

For a more upscale shopping experience, you can also find a wide range of shops there which sell almost everything, from apparels, jewelry to electronic goods.  To try some tasty local street food or some north Indian delicacies – head towards the famous Paranthe Wali Gali.  Monuments such as the Red Fort (sight #1) and Jama Masjid (sight #4) also lie in the vicinity of the marketplace.  Finally, there’s also a fun flea market which takes place here every Sunday.

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Local tips: make sure to leave plenty of time for your visit as you can easily spend an entire day exploring every nook and corner of this place.  Also, be aware of pickpockets and stay away from street brokers.  Rickshaws are an ideal way to commute to the market.

  • Address: Chandni Chowk, A-17 Masoodpur Vasant Kunj
  • Time required: 2-3 hours
  • Hours of operation: open 7 days a week: sunrise to sundown
  • Price: Free

14. Rashtrapati Bhawan

The residence of the president of India is yet another popular tourist sight in New Delhi.  Its marvelous architecture plus its majestic gardens are some of the main reasons to visit this stately place.  Even though access inside this grand building is restricted, you can still walk past it to see how glorious it truly is.  It was designed by the famous British architect Edwin Lutyens.

Make sure to stop by the Rashtrapati Bhawan Museum complex, as well as visit the Mughal Gardens once you’re done gazing at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.  The royal palace includes four floors, 340 rooms with a floor area of 200,000 square feet, hosting numerous staff, bodyguards, and other offices of the president.  And if you want to take a peek inside – this grand mansion is open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Additionally, the majestic Mughal Gardens are open to the visitors from February until March.  For the inside tours, you will need to pre-book it through the official website (provided below).

15. Dilli Haat

Dilli Haat provides a perfect fusion of art and culture to its visitors.  This open-air bazaar is managed by the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Department.  If you want to get a deeper vibe of the Indian culture – stop by this place.  Artisans and craftsmen from all over the country gather at this site to showcase their skills.  It also hosts various exhibitions, as well as dance and music performances.

Dilli Haat provides a unique opportunity to purchase some local art specialties from various regions of India under one roof.  The stalls are changing every two weeks, offering space for the new rural craftsman to showcase their work.  From gems and metal crafts, silk and wool, to handlooms and glassware this market is booming.  But it’s not only famous for its arts and crafts, it’s also renowned for its delicious food stalls offering a bite from every state of India.  Be it Wazwan of Kashmir, Vada Pao of Maharastra or just simple Momos from Nagaland, you can find it all here.

Speaking of food, Momos of Nagaland, Pyaaz Kachori of Rajasthan, Chena Poda (sweet dish) from Odisha, plus Thali from Assam are some of the must-try platters at the Dilli Haat.  The most important local tip here is to put your bargain skills to good use since you can get a pretty good deal for souvenirs to carry back home.

  • Address: West Kidwai Nagar, Near INA Metro Station
  • Time required: 2-3 hours
  • Hours of operation: Friday – Sunday: 10:00am – 10:00pm
  • Price: around $1.5 (adult)
  • Official Website: http://www.dillihaat.net.in/

16. Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar is an ancient astronomic observatory.  Even though it is not operational nowadays, due to the obstruction of the tall buildings nearby, one should still visit it for its scientific and historic significance.

Jantar Manta’s instruments could once graph the paths of the whole cosmic universe.  It was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur, who later replicated the same observatory in his native city.  Despite its dilapidated condition, it’s still an architectural marvel, which dates back to 1724.

  • Address: Sansad Marg, Connaught Place
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: open 7 days a week: 6:00am – 6:00pm
  • Price: Free

17. Connaught Place

Connaught place (also known as Rajiv Chowk) is one of the most famous, historical marketplaces of Delhi.  Its unique horseshoe shape was designed by the British since they believed that it would bring luck to the shopkeepers.  The colonial architecture around this marketplace provides an excellent glimpse into the preserved old times of India.

The market runs from inner to outer circles with blocks ranging from A to K.  All of the top apparel brands, jewelry, shoes, and cosmetics can be found at the Connaught place.  Meanwhile, the market’s corridors host some shops with cheaply priced trinkets.  Dal Makhani of Kakke De hotel, Rajma Chawal of Shankar’s market, Fire Paan of Pandeys, Milkshakes of Kewenters, are some of the age-old shows, which you should add to your must-see list at the Connaught place.  Simple lounging in the Central Park or clicking selfies with the flaring Indian Flag are some of the other not to miss activities here.

Local tip: the popular, famed hotels such as Janpath Hotel, Radisson, and others, is an excellent choice of accommodation for those who want to get a real feel of the colonial style in Delhi.

  • Address: Connaught Place
  • Time required: 2-3 hours
  • Hours of operation: open 7 days a week: sunrise to sundown
  • Price: Free

18. Hauz Khas

Lake, tomb, mosque, an Islamic school, plus an urbanized village are what this fascinating complex of Hauz Khas is all about.  It’s a perfect blend of history and modernization.  There’s a number of fun activities which you can do on site, like checking out the monuments, paying a visit to the deer park, feeding ducks in the lake or bird watching.

The fort, along with its beautiful lake, makes it an ideal location for nature lovers.  And if you get hungry, the village nearby offers a wide range of restaurants, clubs, bars, and shopping.  After some peaceful moments in the fort, head towards the lane to enjoy a sumptuous meal or drinks.

  • Address: Hauz Khas Village, Deer Park, Hauz Khas
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: open 7 days a week: sunrise to sundown
  • Price: Free

19. National Rail Museum

The National Rail Museum, as the name implies, is dedicated solely to the rich Indian rail heritage, which dates back to some 150 years ago.  This engaging open-air museum spreads over an area of 10 acres and is a must for kids and train lovers.

The museum features a fascinating collection of over 100 original exhibits.  From showcasing the working models of various trains to the evolution of rail travel in India, one can find many interesting items on display here.  Its main installation is called the “Fairy Queen,” and it shows the oldest operational steam locomotive.  Another exciting part is the demonstration of the switch of the engines once they reach their destination.

  • Address: Chanakyapuri
  • The time required: 2 hours
  • Hours of operation: Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00am – 4:30pm
  • Price: around $0.7$-$1.5

20. National Gallery of Modern Art

If you’re looking for the best place to explore some contemporary art in Delhi, then the National Gallery of Modern Art is your stop.  This imposing building is the former residence of Maharajas of Jaipur.

The stunning gallery offers a number of changing art exhibitions, navigating through the passage of time from visual to plastic art forms.  Until this day, this gallery has one of the most significant modern and contemporary art collections in the entire country.

  • Address: Jaipur House, India Gate, Near Delhi High Court
  • Time required: 2 hours
  • Hours of operation: Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Price: around $7.6
  • Official Website: http://ngmaindia.gov.in/

Final Note: all prices are valid for 2017

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