Delhi is the busy capital of India and its third largest city. For travelers it is neatly separated into two parts, Old Delhi where you will find historical buildings like mosques and forts, and New Delhi, which will give you a look at a much more modern side of India. Wherever you go however expect it to be very busy, and many travelers can find it overwhelming when they first visit. Your initial reaction may be to leave immediately, but although it is indeed crowded, it is also one of the most interesting parts of the country.
Delhi is known for its shopping, particularly in Chandni Chowk, where you will find spice markets and local handicrafts, and this whole area is colorful and busy. Chandni Chowk is the perfect place to pick up some Indian textiles, gold and silver pieces, and aromatic spices, piled high in front of shops. A good way to get around the area is to hire a motorized rickshaw for the morning or afternoon and cruise around and go where the mood takes you.
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib
One of the most well known sites in Delhi is the local Sikh temple named Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. Topped with a gold dome, this is famous as it is one of the largest Sikh houses of worship in Delhi and there is even a pool known as a ‘Sarovar’ located within the temple complex. If you come here in the late afternoon then this is a serene way to end a day in this fast paced city.
Humayun’s Tomb was the first Mughal mausoleum in Delhi and holds the remains on the emperor Humayun. The tomb is designed and decorated in the Persian style, and this is an Islamic monument rather than a Hindu or Buddhist one which marks it out as different in terms of its design aesthetic. Walking around here you may see echoes of the Taj Mahal at Agra, as this was the first Mughal garden tomb which set the standard for many others. If you can try and go in the afternoon when the red sandstone that the tomb is made of bakes in the sun giving off a beautiful warm glow.
Built in the 12th century, Qutab Minar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is famous for its minaret that stretches 73 meters into the sky. The minaret, a kind of tower, is made of red sandstone and marble and is well worth a visit despite the crowds. The tower can be seen from far away but sadly can’t be climbed any more after a stampede meant that in was closed to the public years ago.
Delhi may be the capital of India but it is also a place of contradictions. On the one hand, you have Old Delhi, full of historical hidden gems and iconic monuments, mixed in with New Delhi. Here you will find skyscrapers, business districts, and busy offices which seem a world away from the other side of town, still surrounded by the old city walls. This can however be one of the great charms of Delhi and this mix of old and new is a great introduction to contemporary India.