Delhi Taj Mahal
Admiring the Taj Mahal (Photo credit: Chee Huey Wong)

Delhi Travel Guide

QUICK FACTS

  • Capital and second largest city of India, with a population of about 16 million.
  • The city consists of Old Delhi and New Delhi, which was built by the English Government in 1911. Delhi was the capital of British-India until 1931.
  • Located in the center of Northern India, Delhi is an industrial city with a wide range of cultural and architectural points of interest.
  • Nickname: City of Rallies

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • Currency: Indian Rupee (INR).
  • Spoken languages: Official languages are Hindi and English. Urdu and Punjabi are also common dialects.
  • Best time to visit: from October to March, when temperatures are cooler (the city gets very hot in the other months).
  • Arriving via airport: The Indira Gandhi International Airport is situated in Palam, 16 kilometers (9.9miles) south-west of New Delhi city center. To get to the Center of New Delhi, take either the subway (fastest connection, INR 150), bus (can be crowded) or taxi (tip: visit the Delhi Police stand right in the arrivals area, and pre-pay for a taxi there).
  • Arriving by train: There are two main stations in Delhi – (Old) Delhi train station in Old Delhi, and New Delhi train station at Paharganj.
  • Arriving by bus: Depending on your starting location. Delhi’s main bus station is the Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT; 23860290; Kashmiri Gate; 24hr), north of the (Old) Delhi train station.

WHERE TO STAY

Paharganj is the central point for all backpackers, while Karol Bagh is more fancy. You can find rooms here for as cheap as $2/night. Upscale hotels can be found on or around Connaught Place – the international chains are well represented here.

GETTING AROUND

  • Delhi is a big city, so use transport to move between the various districts, but once you are there, walk around and experience the city at its best. Make sure to bring and drink plenty of water (drink only from sealed water bottles).
  • The rapidly-growing Delhi Metro provides a cheap, quick, hassle-free and air-conditioned way of getting around the city. Tickets are just INR 8-30 per ride (INR 100 for one day or INR 250 for three days, with a Tourist Card).
  • All parts of Delhi are well connected by buses, with tickets ranging from INR 5 to 15. While very cheap, buses are often very crowded. There are two kind of buses: Government DTC buses (red and green) and Private buses (orange).
  • Consider renting a taxi (or a private car with driver) to see many of the top attractions within and around Delhi. There are private and shared taxis – the price is around INR 15 for the first kilometer and INR 8.50 for each subsequent kilometre. An eight-hour charter should cost around INR 1,500 and a tip is expected if the driver is helpful.
  • Auto rickshaws (tuk-tuks) can be useful for shorter distances. The base rate is INR 25 for the first kilometer and INR 8 for each additional km. Negotiation is key – don’t pay more than INR 150 for any trip within the city!

DELHI NIGHTLIFE

  • Drinking age is 25 (for spirits), and last call is 1 AM (though there are a lot of clubs with special permission to play music after 1 AM).
  • New Delhi and Noida have many options available to those who would like to spend a night out in the city. Check out bars and lounges in the major hotels on or around Connaught Place.

UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT

  • Red Fort is Delhi’s most famous monument, and a reminder of the Mughal emperors that once ruled India. Located opposite the Red Fort, Chandni Chowk is one of the oldest markets in India. Here you can experience the real deal – see the people, animals, tuk-tuks, cars and the various offerings on sale.
  • Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India, with a courtyard of 25,000 square meters. Climb up the southern tower and enjoy the great view over the (old) city. Covering your head, shoulders and legs is obligatory. Located in the Old Town, near Chandni Chowk.
  • Humayun’s Tomb is the burial site of the second Mughal emperor, Humayun. Located in New Delhi (Nizamuddin East), it is definitely worth the visit.
  • Built in 1206, Qutab Minar is the tallest brick minaret in the world. The tower is a part of a site with historical monuments. Located in Mehrauli (south New Delhi).
  • Gandhi Smriti is the house where Mahatma Gandhi lived the last 144 days of his life. Not a museum, with free admission. Located at 5 Tees January Marg (Central New Delhi).
  • The Bahai Temple is a temple shaped like a lotus flower, built with white marble. A remarkable sight at night, when it lights up. Located near Near Nehru Place in south New Delhi.

INTERESTING WALKS

  • Delhi is a giant city – just pick a district and explore the many shops and restaurants.
  • Walk between the big landmarks of Old Delhi. They are located close to each other. New Delhi is much bigger, and it is better to arrange a Tuk-Tuk to drive you around to the spots that you want to see.
  • Tip: be wary of heat stroke – drink plenty of water!

LOCAL WISDOM

  • Delhi is a city of many religions, and you will find monuments and artefacts from each one. The most common faiths are Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
  • Where to find good cheap eats: while cheap traditional Indian food is found just about anywhere, be careful of street stalls and unsanitary conditions. To avoid the infamous “Delhi Belly,” consider sticking to cooked vegetables and eating from upscale restaurants. Drink only (sealed) bottled water. If you want to taste a little bit of everything, Thali is the solution! It is a meal made up of a selection of various dishes.
  • Dangerous areas: Delhi is generally safe during the day, though pickpockets are very common on public transport and around the big attractions. You may be constantly harassed by beggars (including children), so watch your belongings. Exercise caution when walking in the city alone at night – single women should consider avoiding solitary night walks altogether.

RECOMMENDED DELHI GUIDE BOOKS

Recommended trip duration: 3-4 days


SEE ALSO:
Delhi Travel Guide was last modified: September 26th, 2016 by Nick
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