Delhi, in India's north, offers travellers a frenetic, colourful slice of both the old and new perspectives of this magnificent country. Spanning almost 1500 km, Delhi refers to both the city itself, and the wider region, the National Capital Territory of Delhi, which is home to 16.8 million people! Rich in culture and history, the neighbourhood known as Old Delhi is home to magnificent 17th century architecture and buzzy markets straight out of foodie heaven. Here’s how to do the best the area has to offer in 24 hours.
6am Experience India’s most iconic sight
It’s a two and a half hour train ride from Delhi to see the Taj Mahal in Agra, which may seem out of the way, but really is worth it! The train trip on The Taj Express is super fun and offers a fascinating taste of rural India while en-route. Just make sure to book your tickets in advance!
The Taj is a knockout at any hour, but for the ultimate experience head there at open time 30 minutes before sunrise. Staying in Agra the night before is a good trick if you want to get there early. After you’ve seen the Taj, hop on the train and head back to Delhi.
1pm Grab a paratha lunch
Hop in a rickshaw down to Moolchand Parantha for what might well be the best paratha (traditional Indian flatbread) of your life. This is the place to try paratha, and here you can find them stuffed with delicious fillings like potatoes, cheese and lentils. Grab a creamy, smoky dal Makhani on the side, and a custard apple lassi, all for around $3.
2pm Visit Gandhi’s home
For many, Mahatma Gandhi, personifies the very essence of modern day India, so a visit to his final residence is a wonderful way to get a better understanding of the local culture. He lived in what is now known as Gandhi Smriti for the final 144 days of his life, and was also assassinated here in 1948. Today, his former residence is a museum with beautiful gardens and admission is free – no doubt Gandhi would have approved.
3.30pm See the Red Fort
It’s one of the most celebrated sites in Delhi — and for good reason — think of it as India’s Buckingham Palace. The Red Fort was the official residence of Mughal Emperors from the 1640s until the 1850s. Be warned it is absolutely HUGE, so don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you didn’t see it all before it’s time to leave.
Image courtesy of Haveli Dharampura
6.30pm Watch the sunset in style
Delhi has a thriving bar scene and rooftop bars-a-plenty. But rather than going for one of the slicker Euro-style establishments, head to the beautiful, latticed surrounds of 200-year-old Haveli Dharampura in Chandni Chowk instead. The area has atmosphere in spades, and up here on the roof overlooking the Red Fort and the beautiful Jama Masjid mosque, you’ve got unbeatable views. Eat Mughal snacks to kick off your evening or try a game of kabootarbaazi (pigeon-flying)!
8.30pm Follow the crowd for dinner
After your sundowner it’s time to step back into the buzz of Old Delhi. This bustling area is jam-packed full of stalls and stores touting everything from knickknacks to saris to delicious street food. Evening times are cooler, so you’ll find lots of people out and about. Wander around and eat somewhere you already see a crowd – eating where the Indians eat means you know it’s going to be tasty.