Delhi is a city that has to be seen to be believed, where ancient and modern wonders collide in a teeming, colourful metropolis.
Experience the bustle and unique special charm of this enthralling city at a more relaxed pace on our escorted tours in Delhi.
It may sound somewhat cliché to describe a place as being a feast for the senses, but there are truly few better ways to describe the vibrant centre that is Delhi. Undoubtedly the liveliest city in India, a visit here means exploring amidst fragrant smells, wonderful tastes, spectacular colours and intriguing sights at almost every turn. Of course, there is always time for leisure. The city's more tranquil spots, including breathtaking historical sights and stunning gardens, are ripe for moments of reflection and a more leisurely pace. With such a vast array of things to see and do it can be said that Delhi trips are more than just holidays; they are incredible experiences that provide ample opportunity to create once in a lifetime memories.
Delhi has a long and incredibly rich history, and all over the city are reminders, in the shape of great monuments, of the six great cities that predated the present Indian capital. From kings to sultans, some of the country's most powerful rulers have held seats here, and the magnificent forts, palaces and tombs that still stand provide an awe-inspiring glimpse at the city's past over the centuries. Today, it can be said that the city is divided into two parts; the traditional Old Delhi in the north and New Delhi, located in fast-growing south Delhi. A true land of contrasts, you'll find the city's modern metro and luxe shopping malls set aside humble street markets and abandoned historic villas.
Old Delhi is the historic heart of the city, and its most buzzing quarter. Bursting with energy, a visit here means diving into the middle of the action, stepping out between rickshaws and carts and sharing the streets with the local free-roaming cows. With glorious historic sights and hectic everyday life scenes, this corner of the city is a photographer's dream. Here you can take in the incredible architecture created by the Mughals, including the iconic Red Fort and the country's largest mosque; the vast and magnificent Jama Masjid. This is also the place to come for a shopping spree, with market stalls lining the streets and flavourful street food on offer everywhere - just keep watch for the resident monkeys! With all of its charming yet chaotic energy, Old Delhi can be somewhat overwhelming for travellers new to the city, which is what led us to create our Marigold Hotel Experience package.
New Delhi is the modern corner of the city, where things aren't quite so fast paced. With its spacious avenues, tree-lined streets and elegant architecture harking back to its colonial history, the area has plenty of its own charm. Here you'll find the majority of Delhi's museums, as well as its impressive shopping malls and vast emporiums. The quarter's royal mall, the Rajpath, stretches from the Presidential Palace to the India Gate war memorial, and its grassy banks are a prime spot for picnics or just a little respite. All Delhi tours should include some time wandering around the elegant facades of Connaught Place, exploring the various boutiques, restaurants and bars that are on offer here.
Things to see and places to visit on your escorted tour of Delhi
Once the capital of the Mughals, the UNESCO-listed Red Fort (Lal Quila’) continues to remain of ancient times.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Qutub Minar lies within the enchanting Mehrauli area of Delhi.
Need some zen amidst the hustle and bustle of Delhi? Humayun's Tomb offers a surprisingly peaceful oasis.
From fascinating historical and enchanting religious sights to ample shopping opportunities and the bustle of everyday life, Delhi is certainly never boring. In Old Delhi, the spectacular record-breaking mosque of Jama Masjid is a must-visit. Able to hold up to 25,000 worshippers, this beautifully-crafted sight is the largest and most iconic mosque in India. There are a plethora of other stunning religious sights to visit in this part of the city, including the tranquil Digambar Jain Temple and Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib, where delicious, flavoursome food is served up for visitors.
Another important addition to all Old Delhi tours is a visit to the Red Fort. Dating back to the Mughal empire, construction on this imposing structure was completed in 1648. One of the most-visited attractions in the country, its grand architecture and fascinating history stretching to the days of British rule makes for a wonderful afternoon. Those wishing to stay later are able to view the magical light and sound show, telling the history of the city and fort itself. Naturally, there are plenty of other opportunities to discover more of the region's rich history, including a visit to the National Railway Museum, or the sacred house of Gandhi Smriti, where Mahatma Gandhi lived out his remaining days before his assassination in January 1948.
The city's main artery, Chandni Chowk, provides a thrilling immersive experience, with its busy markets and shops catering for every possible need or want. From clothes and shawls to electronics and crafts, it's a challenge to leave empty-handed after exploring the narrow lanes here. Avid readers will be delighted with the Daryaganj Sunday Book Market. Rummaging through the thousands of books on offer here is part of the experience, and there are plenty of bargains to be had. A chance to see India's largest spice market, Khari Baoli, also shouldn't be missed, with its incredible aromas and beautiful, richly-coloured spices piled high.
While many escorted tours in Delhi often overlook the more modern part of the city, New Delhi is definitely a worthy addition to any itinerary. The India Gate war memorial and National War Museum make an intriguing and thought-provoking starting point, and the elegant boulevard of the Rajpath provides some welcome green space for a wander or spot of relaxation. Humayun’s Tomb is another important attraction for this corner of the city. This breathtaking Unesco World Heritage Site was built in 1570 for the Mughal Emperor Humayun, commissioned by his wife and chief consort. Its grand architecture may look familiar; it is thought to have been the inspiration for the world-famous Taj Mahal.
New Delhi's shopping emporiums are reason alone to visit this part of the city. Seeking out gifts and souvenirs in these multi-floor markets is an exciting experience not to be missed. Elsewhere on the streets of New Delhi you may be surprised to find signs of the flourishing new creative scene on display. Modern galleries and street art projects provide the chance to appreciate local talent, and the range of quirky and beautifully-designed cafes and coffee shops on offer provide some great spaces to refuel and enjoy a bit of down time.
Of course, all worthy Delhi trips include ample opportunities to taste the mouth-watering dishes on offer here. From street food to fine dining restaurants, missing out on the amazing cuisine would be scandalous. The city's street food is the stuff of legend; whether you're navigating the winding narrow alleys of Chandni Chowk or the less frenetic streets of New Delhi, you can rest assured your taste buds are in for a treat. Some of the tastiest specialties to look out for include aloo tikki (spiced potato patties), chaat papdi (potatoes, chickpeas, yoghurt and spices served on wafers), and golgappas (spicy chickpeas and potatoes in fried dough).
The food scene in Delhi is superbly diverse. Each region in India has its own unique dishes and creations, and this is the city to try them. Whether it be curry, kebab, kulchis (flatbreads) or thali, you can taste flavours from all over the country. When it comes to the best-loved dishes in Delhi, however, chole bhature is a great place to start. These fluffy fried breads served with tangy chickpea curry and onions are often eaten as a filling breakfast. Another popular staple is butter chicken. This creamy cashew-based curry was created accidentally by a Delhi chef during the 1940s, and it’s been delighting both locals and tourists ever since.
Those with a sweet tooth are equally well catered for. There are plenty of local desserts to choose from, whether you're finishing a meal or craving a sugary snack. Perhaps one of the best known, Kulfi is a frozen creamy pudding that comes in a variety of flavours; everything from rose to saffron. Just as tempting are kheer; rice pudding with cardamom, and jalebi; curled portions of fried dough dipped in sugar syrup.
When it comes to dining in style, New Delhi is the place to go. The more modern quarter of the city is enjoying an ever-expanding new culinary scene, with innovative menus and luxury restaurants popping up all the time. From rooftop dining to grand colonial-era venues, there is certainly no shortage of tempting places to try, particularly around the Connaught Place area. New Delhi is also home to a buzzing nightlife. While many of the local bars are set inside hotels, an increasing amount of trendy independent spots are being developed, with the funky interiors and fun cocktail inventions to match. With a legal drinking age of 25 and a curfew of 1am, things rarely get too rowdy in the city, making for enjoyable sundowners or after-dinner tipples.
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