rom shopping to culture, from centuries-old Moghul heritage to more recent historical events, there’s hardly an end to what Delhi has to offer–no matter how long you have in the city. If you’re keen to explore the many sides to this diverse, exciting capital, here are five ways to make the most of your time in Delhi.
1. Picnicking at the India Gate
Referred to often as the national monument of India, this pale sandstone archway in the heart of New Delhi is an important monument in the country’s history. Built in 1931 to remember the 90,000 Indian soldiers who died in World War I and the Third Afghan War, the India Gate is now also home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, marked by four torches that are kept eternally lit.
If you find yourself reminded of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, there’s a good reason for that–the monument’s designer, Sir Edwin Lutyens, drew inspiration from the French landmark for his own creation. One of the best times to visit is in the evening, when the gate is lit and local families fill the Rajpath (the wide boulevard leading up to the monument). Vendors also usually arrive selling ice cream and street food, making the gate a great picnic place–so come hungry!
2. Visiting the National Gandhi Museum
While Delhi is steeped in history from the many years of Moghul rule, recent events in the last century have also marked key moments in the country’s story. Mahatama Gandhi played a significant role in India achieving freedom from British rule, so much so that he is now known as the “Father of the Nation,” and a national museum built in his honor is the perfect place to familiarize yourself with his life and work.
National Gandhi Museum
One of Gandhi’s most well-known sayings is, “My life is my message,” and at the National Gandhi Museum, you can see Gandhi’s life on display: the spinning wheel he once spun his own cotton cloth on, the room and bed where he took his last meal, and even his signature wire-rimmed glasses. What is perhaps most moving for visitors is tracing the steps he took before being shot on January 31, 1948. The very sidewalk he took to the prayer meeting has been lined with raised footprints as a memorial.
Watch a video about Gandhi’s Delhi Small Group Adventure Tour.
3. Shopping in Palika Bazaar
You can’t come to Delhi without stocking up on souvenirs and Palika Bazaar is just the place to find what you’re after–be it saris or sunglasses, handicrafts or handbags. Situated between the inner and outer rings of Connaught Place, this underground market was started in the 1970s and is famous for its low prices.
After you’ve had your fill of shopping, you can walk outside the complex and appreciate the unique construction of the bazaar. Rather than take up precious green space, the mall was built underground, while the land above it has been retained as an open park for tourists and locals alike to relax. A dose of fresh air and afternoon sunlight will be a welcome change from the busy activity of Delhi’s streets.
4. Exploring Old Delhi
When the city of Old Delhi was first constructed, its one main road–Chandni Chowk–served as the central vein off of which many narrow, twisting backstreets led. Lacking the wider roads and more planned constructions of New Delhi, these old alleyways are now a tumble of towering houses and bicycle rickshaws just barely squeezing past. One street in particular, Kinari Bazar, is especially colorful, lined with jewelery and homewares shops whose jewelled creations glitter in the light.
In Old Delhi
Equally as thrilling are the smells of local food being served all throughout Old Delhi. Whether it’s the sweet scent of fresh papaya, huge pans of pav bhaji being stirred, or roti baking on the walls of a tandoor (clay oven), a wander through Old Delhi will have your mouth watering in no time. Perhaps the most famous food stall is the Jalebi Wala shop, where a man swirls circles of batter into oil to fry before dunking them in the classic sweet syrup.
Read more: Old and New Delhi in a Day.
5. Cooking Dinner at a Local Home
Cook dinner with local family in Delhi
While dining in Delhi’s many restaurants and cafes will have introduced you to delicious Indian fare, nothing beats having the chance to prepare your own meal. Taking part in a cultural night tour with a family dinner not only gives you the chance to experience Indian hospitality first-hand, but is also a unique glimpse into the culture and traditions of the country.
Read more about cooking and eating with a local family in Delhi.
Maybe it’s learning to fry flour-coated balls of spinach and onion, dicing potatoes and combining spices for aloo methi, or finally figuring out how to prepare that perfect cup of masala chai, but your time in the kitchen means you can (hopefully) bring some of your favorite Indian dishes to life back home. Spending time with a family is also a chance to see a side of life that you might otherwise miss–and make new friends!
– Candace Rose Rardon