“Dilwalo ki Dilli” (Delhi belongs to the big-hearted) they say.
“Dilli” or Delhi in English, one of the greenest capitals of the world, is a city of many contrasts. It is home to many Indian heritage monuments as well as newly built world-class malls and corporate buildings. Even if you have only one day in New Delhi, the city offers numerous opportunities for tourists and travellers with all kinds of budgets and interests. There are monuments, markets, cinemas, art galleries, heritage walks, archaeological parks, temples, street food, fine dining restaurants, so on and so forth. The list is endless and the city itself is an immersive experience like no other. We have been exploring Delhi for so many years but every now and then we end up discovering something entirely new that we had no idea about.
Delhi is immensely popular among tourists all around the year. People travel to Delhi on business or just to experience the city which has so much to offer that there is never enough time. That said, if you have little time at hand, fret not. The city has a robust transport system. Apart from private or rented cars, one can travel via radio taxi, auto rickshaws, battery-operated e-rickshaws, buses, and of course a world-class metro railway network. From experience we can say that a lot can be covered in a single day in Delhi.
Best time to visit Delhi
We already said that Delhi is a city of contrasts and that includes the weather. The summers are hot here and winters can at times be uncomfortably chilli. Therefore the best season to visit Delhi would be spring, autumn and early winter. The months February to March and then October to the middle of December are the most pleasant times to visit Delhi. The weather allows a traveller to cover most of the city in a day if that is all the time you have on hand.
How to Spend a Day in New Delhi
Here is a little guide as to how you can utilize your time if you have just a single day in Delhi and make the most of it.
Morning Walk at Lodi Gardens
Given that you have just a day, it is best to start bright and early. Begin your day at Lodi Gardens, Lodhi Road in South Delhi. These are sprawling lawns in acres punctuated with remains of Mughal architecture from the 15th century. It is therefore an unusual combination of verdant landscape and intriguing history. You will see groups holding yoga sessions or out on a heritage walk. You may be able to join these for free or for a nominal charge. Even otherwise this is a great place to start exploring the city. The nearest metro station to Lodi Garden is Jorbagh Metro Station and the connectivity makes this place most accessible.
Breakfast at All American Diner at India Habitat Centre
India Habitat Centre is a stone’s throw away from Lodi Gardens and is a hub for cultural performances in the city. Though it is too early in the day for that, you can still have an amazing breakfast at one of the restaurants inside this building – All American Diner. In our opinion, they serve the best breakfast in town. We would highly recommend their Sunrise Skillet for a wholesome breakfast that keeps you fuelled for long.
Red Fort in Delhi
All this while, we were in South Delhi, the modern part of the city. But a visit to Delhi is incomplete without visiting Old Delhi which is more on the northern side and the metro is the most efficient way to cover this journey. Perhaps the most famous site in Old Delhi is the Lal Qila or Red Fort. This huge red sandstone structure was commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan when he shifted the capital of the Mughal Empire from Agra to Delhi. The Red Fort stands testimony to the life in Delhi in the period 1600 – 1800 replete with celebrations, festivals, music, dance, art, and food. Most of the fort was destroyed by British soldiers after Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, an important milestone in India’s freedom struggle. However, the heavy outer walls of the fort were kept intact and the British Government used the remains of the fort as their garrison. The Red Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is top on the list of iconic monuments to visit in Delhi.
Chandni Chowk, Delhi
If you are at Red Fort, you are in the neighbourhood of one of Delhi’s oldest markets and business hub – Chandni Chowk. You can take an e-rickshaw from Red Fort and in 10 minutes you will be at Chandni Chowk. If you do not mind crowds, you can walk it as well.
Chandni Chowk area has a distinct architecture. One may still see some old Indian mansions or “haveli” in this area with stucco work exterior and broad porticos that are now part of the pedestrian way. The market oozes old-world charm like no other. The labyrinth of lanes and by-lanes are like a maze that even GPS is yet to optimally decode. But that should not be a problem, the friendly passersby would be happy to guide you out to the main road. Chandni Chowk is the perfect place to shop for traditional North Indian clothes and antiques for souvenirs. Many of our friends from other countries have been almost lost in Dariba Kalan, the lane selling silver ornaments and artefacts. And that is not because of the complex roads, but because they were totally enthralled by all the beautiful things that shops on this lane displayed.
Street Food for Lunch at Chandni Chowk
Chandni Chowk is also home to one of the most famous food places in Delhi. Many of the items that we love here are at takeaway joints or old-style food stalls with basic sitting arrangement. You can head to Shyam Sweets for Bedmi Poori and Aloo Sabzi, Kareem’s for Biryani, Khameeri Roti, and Rogan Josh or Paranthey Wali Gali for assorted parantha or fried bread platters. This is the real taste of Delhi: spicy, mouth-watering and sometimes tongue burning… make sure you keep a water bottle handy 🙂
For dessert you can try jalebi at the sweet shop Jalebiwala on Dariba Kalan. If it is winter, Daulat-ki-Chat is a must-have. These heaps of white greatness are sold on carts and we have never fallen sick after having multiple plates of this dish.
National Museum, New Delhi
You can take a cab maybe from Chandni Chowk and reach National Museum, Janpath in approximately 15 minutes. National Museum in New Delhi is a treasure trove of exhibits and artefacts that tell tales of Indian art and culture. It is one of the largest museums in India that displays pieces from pre-history age till modern art. It also houses rare manuscripts and sculptures excavated from various parts of India. They have separate galleries for various categories like jewellery, weapons, textiles, etc. Tickets are available inside the museum. Tour guides and audio guides are available in various languages on a separate charge. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is closed on Mondays.
Connaught Place, Delhi
Not far from the National Museum is Connaught Place or CP. In the evening, you can potter down to Connaught Place. This is the most loved market cum hang out zone in Delhi. The structure is a circular colonial-era building with showrooms, cafes, and bars on the inner and outer circles. There is an elevated park at the centre with a huge Indian flag fluttering on a giant pole. CP looks vibrant and festive in the evening what with so many locals and tourists shopping, eating, or just hanging out.
Qutub Minar – Night Tourism
Delhi Government, in collaboration with Delhi Tourism Department, has recently started the concept of night tourism. A few landmark monuments of Delhi are being illuminated with hundreds of bulbs and are open till late for tourists. Qutub Minar, an agglomeration of victory towers or minarets, dating back to the period 1100 to 1400, is a beautiful sight any part of the day. But we would highly recommend visiting Qutub Minar at night. The golden glow of LED bulbs, on the sandstone edifices, makes the sprawling area look like a dream.
Qutub Minar is in Delhi’s Mehrauli area which has emerged as a hub for designer stores and boutique restaurants. This place has some fancy rooftop dining places. We have been to Qla in this area. It is a great option for alfresco fine dining. You can savour delicious continental food and a choice of cocktails with the illuminated Qutub Minar as the backdrop. It is a somewhat decadent experience on the whole but yet very Indian.
Top-tips for Delhi
Most people understand Hindi and workable English. Moreover, host of information about Delhi tourist sites, locations, transports and maps are available online. So go back to cyber space if need be.
For a first-time visitor, metro railway and radio taxis are the best modes of transport within the city.
If you are travelling elsewhere in North India from Delhi, try booking through the many online tourism portals. In addition to buses, trains and flights, many of these aggregators have started providing cabs on hire as well.
If you are travelling in autumn or spring, a light jacket may come handy. However the sun is strong most part of the year so do use sunglasses and sun protection creams. For summer – loose cotton clothes would be comfortable. Please carry water bottles and procure these from reputable places.
Truth be told, Delhi has so much to offer, we only listed tip of the iceberg. There is so much more we wish to add but in a day’s trip to New Delhi, those would be a far cry. You can start many memorable trips to the gorgeous Taj Mahal in Agra or regal Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh or golden deserts in Rajasthan from Delhi. It is, therefore, a good idea to have some time on hand if you are visiting this part of India. That said, Delhi is so much fun and you would have experienced some of that even if it is just a day.
This is a guest post by Sundeep and Bedabrata. Sundeep and Bedabrata popularly known as Delhi-Fun-Dos are a traveler duo always up for good times. Through their website Delhi-Fun-Dos.com and other media channels, they aim to provide a travel guide to a fun way of life. Be it travel, food, luxury, art or adventure, they cover it all. Total supporters of holistic slow travel, here is a selection from one of their innumerable journeys. Here are their Instagram and Facebook account links.
Disclaimer: Some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.