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4 days explore Delhi itinerary: Places you cannot miss in the Capital
Friday, October 4th, 2013

by Sudha Mathew

For a city as old as Delhi, that has witnessed the rise and fall of mighty empires, it is no surprise that that the length and breadth of the city is dotted with monuments and relics of its tumultous past. So if ‘explore Delhi’ is on your agenda for the next holiday, I’d say a well chalked out itinerary is an indispensable part of your hand baggage.

From Akbar's time in your explore Delhi tour
Mughal architecture

Once you are in this capital city which is still astoundingly Mughal despite the passage of a century and a half since the last ruler, it inevitably becomes a race against time to see all the popular sights. Unless of course you have the luxury of a month. Speaking from experience, I missed out on some of the best parts on my first visit because I landed without a thoughtfully planned explore Delhi itinerary. While I was thoroughly prepared on my second visit, not all of us get a second chance to visit a destination again. So why take a chance and land here at this colourful noisy and abuzz city unprepared? So friends and fellow travellers, here’s my perfect four day explore Delhi itinerary. You could also do this at a slower pace over a week.

Before we start, let me tell you that if you want to explore Delhi thoroughly, you have to have at least four days in hand and a good amount of energy. Add a bottle of water and you are ready to explore Delhi..

Day 1

Rajpath

And my explore Delhi itinerary begins with a drive through the Rajpath, a ceremonial boulevard from the President’s residence to the National Stadium. Lined on both sides by lawns and trees, it passes some of the landmark buildings of Delhi. Since visitors are not allowed inside the buildings without special permission, you can enjoy a pleasant drive through the arterial roads of Rajpath while catching a glimpse of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Parliament. You could also visit the National Museum, the largest museum in India. Your journey into art and history can continue in the National Gallery of Modern Art.

Right opposite to the NGMA, you can see India Gate in all its grandeur. However, I strongly suggest coming back to this iconic monument in the evening to see it beautifully lit up.

Connaught Place

Your next halt could be at Connaught Place, locally known as CP. This is the hub for both eating and shopping. While high street brands are present, I suggest you spend more time at the Emporia Complex, a row of shops each displaying the handicraft and textiles of a state of India. This is a good place to pick up souvenirs and home décor as they are government run shops where both quality and prices can be trusted. And if you are looking for cheaper trinkets like silver jewellery or fast fashion, then the roadside shops of Janpath is where you should go. Remember to bargain at Janpath! CP is a good place to take a break for lunch with a variety of cuisines available.

Akshardham Temple on explore delhi tour
Caught in the lenses, Akshardham Temple

Jantar Mantar

If you have enough time in hand, you could step into Jantar Mantar, one of the world’s oldest astronomical observatories.

Akshardham Temple

Once you are done exploring Jantar Mantar it is time to take your seats for a long drive to the last halt of the day, at the Akshardham temple. An easy 10 kilometres drive away from Connaught Place, this temple by the bank of Yamuna is a sight to behold. The ancient Hindu culture, beliefs and spirituality that have percolated down the ages have been depicted brilliantly through architectural ingenuity. One of the charms here is the son et lumiere or the musical fountain show in the temple premises in the evening at 7.45 pm.

Day 2

Chandni Chowk

Because you ended with an architectural marvel of the modern times last night, I suggest to start with the fascinating Old Delhi this morning. The main street here is called Chandni Chowk meaning “moonlit square”. Built in 1650 A.D. by Princess Jahan Ara, daughter of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, Chandni Chowk was once the grandest market in India. But today it is in shocking contrast to the wide, orderly streets of New Delhi. The ambience is undeniably chaotic, crumbling and congested but it is captivating at the same time. One of the busiest wholesale markets in India, the narrow winding lanes also display inexpensive jewellery, fabrics and cheap electronics. But that isn’t all to Chandni Chowk. If you are the adventurous kind when it comes to food, this is the place to sample some of Delhi’s best street food, layered flat breads called paranthas and meat kebabs. You could skip the fancy lunch at Connaught Place and try some finger licking kebabs at Karim’s, the famous kebab place.

Jama Masjid

Located in the Chandni Chowk area is another architectural wonder built by Shah Jahan, the same Mughal emperor credited with building the Red Fort and the Taj Mahal. As historical records suggest, it took as many as thirteen years to complete the construction of this stately red sandstone and marble mosque. Today Jama Masjid is one of the largest mosques in Asia and can hold upto 25000 worshippers. It is open to all but please dress modestly and cover your head, arms and knees.

Yet another wonder from Shan Jahan on explore Delhi tour
Jama Masjid

Red Fort

Finally it is time for the most fascinating stop of the day. Once the pivot of the majestic Mughal Empire, the Red Fort even today reminds us of the mighty Mughal Empire that stretched from Bengal in the east to Kabul in the west in its heyday. This once sprawling fortress complex with an array of palaces, monuments and lush courtyards today is only a shadow of its enthralling past.

After you walk through the fort, you should catch the light and sound show. The well prepared script is a serious attempt to take you through the fascinating history of Delhi under the Mughals in an hour’s time.

India Gate

You have perhaps had your first glance of this enduring symbol of New Delhi in the morning. But I stick to my words earlier; evening is the best time to visit India Gate when it is floodlit and the the fountains nearby make a fabulous display.

Day 2 comes to an end at India Gate. If you have had tried the delicious kebabs at Chandni Chowk for lunch, it’s time for a posh dinner at Connaught Place or at a nice South Delhi hotel. Or you could just go back to the hotel, order room service and sleep early so that you are bright eyed and ready to take on Day 3 of your explore Delhi itinerary.

Day 3

Lotus Temple

Amidst the magnificent remnants of the Mughal era, you could start the day by visiting a relatively recent architectural marvel, the Lotus temple of the Bahai faith. Resembling a half-open lotus, this contemporary monument is located right at the heart of the city.

The choice of a lotus had been a very thoughtful decision on the part of the architect Furiburz Sabah. Because the lotus flower is perhaps the only common symbol between Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam, believers of any faith could come to this Bahai House of Worship to pray and meditate.

Architectural marvel of the modern era on explore Delhi trip
The Lotus Temple

Humayun’s Tomb

Drive 7 kilometres of drive from the Bahai House of Worship and you will arrive at yet another magnificent edifice, Humayun’s Tomb. Listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, this architectural beauty will give you a glimpse of the Taj Mahal. The Persian Charbagh style followed here by the Mughal architects was perfected to later build Shah Jahan’s labour of love.

At a stone’s throw distance from Humayun’s tomb is the Nizamuddin Dargah of the revered Sufi Saint, Nizamuddin Auliya. There’s usually a qawwali music performance every evening. The Nizamuddin area is slightly seedy and very crowded so go with someone who knows the area.

Purana Quila

Travelling back in time, your next stop is the oldest fort or for that matter the oldest structure in the city and was built by the Afghan king, Sher Shah Suri. Sher Shah’s attempt to build the Purana Quila complex with an extensive city area sprawling around could not be completed during his life time. Through historical details it appears that the project was completed at the time of Humayun.

Khan Market

About 2 kilometres from Sher Shah’s fort is the popular Khan Market. This upmarket shopping complex houses clothes boutiques, gift shops, book shops, gourmet food stores and restaurants. This is the perfect pitstop for a breather between your sight seeing.

Lodi Garden

Next on the itinerary before your next session of shopping later in the day is the beautiful Lodi Garden. Once known as the Lady Wellington Park, this well-manicured garden houses monuments from the Sultanate period. While the tomb of Muhammad Shah and Sikander Lodi are the prime attractions, Lodi Garden is also a photographer’s delight.

Dilli Haat

Your last stop for the day is the enchanting Dilli Haat, an open air food plaza cum craft bazar run by Delhi Tourism. Craftsmen and artisans from all corners of the country have gathered in the capital city to showcase their skills in this ethnic ambience. If you didn’t shop enough at the Emporium complex, you will find more of the same to buy at Dilli Haat though you might have to bargain here. You can also taste authentic pan-Indian cuisine at the food stalls organised in order of the states of India.

With all that shopping, your Day 3 comes to an end. It is time to get some sleep and gear up for the last day of your Delhi tour.

Day 4

Mehrauli Archeological Park

Your fourth day could begin with exploring the captivating Mehrauli Archeological Park. Spread over a massive 200 acres of land, this archaeological park is the home to least a hundred historical monuments built over 500 years. Redevelopment and restoration are still in progress in full swing. Amongst the main attractions here are the Jamali Kamali mosque, Quil Khan’s tomb, Balban’s tomb, Rajon ki Baoli, Gandhak ki Baoli, Madhi Masjid and still counting.

Explore delhi at the Qutub complex
Still Standing Tall, Qutub Minar

Qutub Complex

Your archaeological tour of Delhi would not be complete until you step into the adjacent Qutub complex. From amongst a host of historically significant monuments in the complex added over centuries the best known is the Qutub Minar, built in the honour of Mohammad Ghori and to acknowledge his victory over the brave Rajput king, Prithiviraj Chauhan. The entire complex is surrounded by the ruins of twenty seven Hindu and Jain temples. As the historical records suggests, these temples were demolished and the materials were used to construct the Dome of Islam mosque nearby.

Chattarpur Temple

Having explored the relics of the medieval period perhaps you would like to enter into another era. A stroll through the Chattarpur temples could be the next thing on the South Delhi tour itinerary. Spread over a sprawling 60 acres of land, this temple complex host 20 big and small temples. Goddess Katyayani, a part of Navadurga is worshipped here all throughout the year. All the nine forms of Shakti, symbolising female divinity are worshipped during the Navaratri celebrations.

Hauz Khas Village

Like the saying goes “save the best for the last’, an evening at Hauz Khas Village is my favourite in things to do in Delhi. I can’t think of a better ending to your magnificent and hectic Delhi tour. This creative urban community with bohemian leanings present to the visitors the myriad hues of Delhi where the ancient effortlessly blends with the contemporary. Tiny designer shops, quirky restaurants up 5 flights of stairs and art galleries surround the medieval village with remains of a Islamic seminary, tomb and mosque. The heart of Hauz Khas village is its serene lake. Spend the evening at a restaurant overlooking the lake.

For a guided tour of the very contemporary Hauz Khas Village, read here.

For booking hotels in Delhi and planning your holiday, seek&hide can help.

Explore delhi tour guidebook
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This was my perfect Delhi itinerary. Got some tips to add or hidden gems that I left out? Please write in.

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Cheers

Sudha

Picture Courtesy:

Mughal Architecture, Trey Ratcliff

Akshardham Temple, Mr Flack

Jama Masjid, Panoramas 

Lotus Temple, Jeremy

Qutub Minar, Swaminathan


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Posted by Sudha at 3:38 pm
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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

 
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