Delhi is one of the oldest cities in the world and is believed to be inhabited since the second millennium BCE. Given its ancient history, Delhi has a lot to see. From visiting the temples and mosques to strolling around in old forts to making food in the gurdwaras to eating sinful street food, and shopping around in the local handicraft markets, you can do it all.
In this list, we have tried to cover all these activities. So pick your priority, get your camera, and off you go.
Here is my list of incredible things to do in Delhi in 2-3 days.
2 or 3 Days in Delhi Itinerary
Day 1 of Delhi Itinerary
Chandni Chowk and Chawri Bazaar
This is the most crowded area of Old Delhi. Locals and traders flood this market to buy clothes, saris, sell spices, and do every business that you can think of in these narrow lanes. If you want to eat the delicacies of Delhi, you should go here as Chandni Chowk is known for some of the best Delhi food. Go to Parantha Gali and eat giant parathas with mint chutney. Eat chaat at Natraj. Indian street food might put your mouth on fire, but you would want more.
You will have to wade your way through the narrow lanes while scooters, cycles, rickshaws, cars, hand-pulled carts, horse carts, and cows would try to do the same. Take the metro and get down at Chawri Bazaar or Chandni Chowk station.
Khari Baoli in Old Delhi
Known as Asia’s largest spice market, Khari Baoli lies along the west of Chandani Chowk. The businessman from all over India come here to bid, buy, and sell spices, nuts, and dry fruits at wholesale prices. So this area is bound to be crowded. Put a handkerchief to your nose and walk around the market admiring the colorful assortment of rich spices and dry fruits.
Get down at Chandni Chowk metro station and then walk to the Khari Baoli street. Or if you are Chandni Chowk just walk here (which is what I would suggest).
If you are in Chandni Chowk, you should go to Jama Masjid, the largest Mosque in India which was built by Shah Jahan(who also built Taj Mahal) in the 17th century. The masjid is known for intricate carvings on red sandstone and marble walls and protruding domes. The ancient relics such as a Quran printed on deerskin and the sandals and red-red-beaded hair of the Prophet which are kept inside the masjid makes it a special place for the Muslims, historians, and travelers.
You can go to the Masjid on all days from 7 am to 12 pm and from 1:30 pm to 6:30 pm. The entry is free unless you want to click pictures inside and then you pay 300 rupees. You can climb one of the minarets to get a panoramic view, but then you will have to pay extra. Walk from the Chawri Bazaar metro station from where Jama Masjid is 500 meters. And if you take the Delhi Metro Heritage Line, you can get down at Jama Masjid Metro Station, and you will be at Gate 2 of the mosque.
If you are in the Chandni Chowk area, you can go to the Red Fort, too. But if you have seen any other Indian fort you can skip this one for I didn’t find Red Fort to be that impressive.
Visit Chandni Chowk, Khari Baoli, and Jama Masjid on one morning, and you will be done by lunchtime.
After visiting old Delhi, you can go to the quieter Qutub Minar and hip Hauz Khas area. Both the places are best visited in the evening, and then you can end your day with drinks and dinner at one of the Bohemian places in Hauz Khas.
This incredible 73-meter tall minaret was built and completed by three emperors: Qutb ud-Din Aibak, his son in law Iltutmish who continued the construction, and Firoz Shah Tughlaq who did restoration and finished the construction. The Minar is covered in beautiful stone carvings, and verses from the Quran have been inscribed in careful calligraphy on the sandstone and the marble stone which the minar is made out of. You can sit outside, click pictures, and watch this Unesco World Heritage site in peace.
Get down at the Qutub Minar metro station and take an auto rickshaw as the distance to the minor is not walkable, especially if you are visiting Delhi in summer (Something I would strongly suggest again.) The minaret is open to visitors from 10 am to 6 pm. But maybe you want to go in the evenings to see the golden hues of the setting sun spread behind the minar, the tallest brick tower in the world.
Hauz Khas village
I lived in Delhi for six years, and this was my usual hangout place. Hauz Khas which means Royal tank in Farsi was built to provide water to the city of Siri, part of the Alauddin Khalji dynasty in the 13th century. Then Firoz Shah Tughlakh built many mosques and tombs around the tank. Later the area of the Hauz Khas complex was developed as a residential and commercial area. Now Hauz Khas boasts streets of houses which are fronted by hip bars, Bohemian sheesha cafes, Tibetan eateries, fusion restaurants, and art galleries.
You will find locals and tourists sitting around the tank in ancient ruins and chatting. If you are looking for some history along with some cool places to hang out, Hauz Khas should be your first choice. Get down at Hauz Khas metro station or Green Park metro and then take an auto rickshaw to arrive at Hauz Khas village.
Recommended Read: My experience of living and traveling solo in India
Day 2 of Delhi Itinerary
If you are looking for respite from the crowd and want peace, go to the Lotus temple in Kalkaji in South Delhi. Popularly known as Bahá’í House of Worship, this temple was built in 1986 and following the Bahá’í principles is open to all for praying and meditation. The 27 lotus petals that form the temple are made of marble and add to the serenity of the place. You can just sit inside the temple and relax or meditate and walk around in the gardens.
You cannot take pictures inside the lotus temple. The temple is open from 9 am to 7 pm and is closed on Mondays. To arrive at the temple, get down at Kalkaji mandir station and then walk to the temple which you would be able to see at a distance.
Dilli Haat is a handicraft center, and artisans from all over India sell their products here. You can look at and buy exquisite paintings, beautiful jewelry, abalone shell ornaments, metal and silver artifacts, intricately embroidered pashmina shawl and kurtas and other handicrafts from all Indian states. Each state also has its food stall, and you can taste some delicious local food here.
The place is clean and well managed by the government. Get down at INA metro station and walk to Dilli Haat.
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib
One of the most important gurudwara or Sikh temple is Bangla Sahib. Sikhs believe in serving the people, and this gurudwara prepares almost 10,000 meals every day and offers them to whoever comes to the temple asking for food. Volunteers make the food in the giant kitchen of the gurudwara, and you can join to cook or eat. It will be a special experience.
Bangla Sahib is around eight km from Dilli Haat, and you can catch an auto from Dilli Haat or book a cab. Or take the yellow line metro from INA and get down at Patel Chowk metro station and walk the rest of the way which is about 1 kilometer.
India gate is pretty close to the gurudwara and is a great place to go in the evenings or during the day. This gate was built in 1931 as a memorial to the Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the British in World War 1. As a homage to those martyrs, a flame is always lit under the gate.
India gate is open to the visitors always and has huge grass lawns around them. You can walk around the gate, click pictures, eat peanuts and other chaat items being sold on the gardens by local hawkers and drink chai which the sellers carry around in steel kettles.
To end your day 2, go to Connaught Place (popularly known as CP), which is composed of an inner and outer ring along which brilliant restaurants, fancy brand stores, local hawkers, are set up. CP also has an underground market called Palika bazaar. You can walk around, shop, get henna tattoos, and then go to a cafe or a restaurant for dinner. Out of the many brilliant restaurants located in CP, these are my favorite for Indian and Mughlai food: Pind Balluchi, Veda, Farzi Cafe, Unplugged Courtyard (Good for live Music and open until 1 pm), and Kwality.
Day 3 of Delhi Itinerary
If you have a third day, go to the Akshardham Temple.
You would need at least half a day to visit this Hindu temple and appreciate its grand architecture and the intricate carvings and the artistic details with which the temple is made. Akshardham temple is one of the best Hindu temples in India.
Get down at Akshardham metro station and walk to the temple or take a rickshaw to reach there. The temple is closed on Mondays and open from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm on other days. When you go, you need to store all your items in the lockers provided by the security.
What is the best season to visit Delhi?
The temperature of Delhi soars up to 50 degrees on a hot July day. The best time to visit are the months of September to March when Delhi doesn’t scorch. Rainfall starts in July and lasts until September, so if you are there in September, you can enjoy a few showers. But remember that in the rains the roads are flooded, more crowded, and getting cabs and taxis become difficult.
Where to stay in Delhi?
You can find good budget places in Paharganj which has excellent accessibility to almost all the sights that I mentioned above. Also, Delhi has some of the biggest hotels if you are planning to splurge. Having lived throughout Delhi, I can also vouch for South Delhi as a safe and comfortable area to stay.
Is Delhi metro a good option to commute?
Delhi Metro is efficient and designed by the same people who built the Singapore metro. You can buy a Metro card and avoid standing in long queues at the station. The metros are crowded, and there is a separate coach for ladies at the front of the metro rail. Metro is generally safe to travel unless you are going pretty late. Make sure you have a cab waiting for you if you walk out of the metro station at night.
What are the other modes of transport?
You can take an Ola, Uber, hire a taxi from your hotel, or take a bus or an auto.
I always traveled in auto rickshaws and cabs and never faced a safety issue. A lot of people these days condemn Delhi Uber as in a few instances the driver teamed up with some of the bad guys, stopped the car at some point, and called his friends to snatch the valuable stuff of the travelers. But that can happen even with Ola or any other service company.
To avoid any issues, you might want to travel during the day time, especially if you are alone. I have commuted within Delhi during the night, but that was doable as I know the areas and how things work and have local friends. But a stranger never knows what to expect.
Also, the city is safer during the day.
Buses are mostly crowded and standing amidst hoards of men who push you around becomes difficult. So I generally avoided buses.
Autos rickshaws are also good, and you can book them via the Uber and Ola app and pay a fixed price (As auto drivers charge a lot of money especially if you are a tourist.) But you would need a local Indian number to use these applications which I suggest you take for you should not travel without a sim card in India.
Choose between metro, cabs, auto rickshaws, walking, and man-driven rickshaws(only for short distances).
What kind of clothes to wear?
For Women: I would suggest you do not wear mini shorts or skirts (if you were planning to). Instead, opt for full or knee-length cotton trousers. If you wear crop tops or short dresses, you will not be able to enjoy the local markets and crowded areas freely because people would try to come close or brush by and go and will stare. But if you are going to a hip bar in Hauz Khas and taking a cab there, you can dress up as you want. In public places, crowded markets, and while visiting monuments, temples, and mosques you will have an easier time if you cover yourself more.
For Men: Cotton clothes of any length and surface area would be good.
Are there any safety concerns?
If you stay in public areas and roam around the city during the day, you are good to do. Don’t trust people who offer you tours to some historical place or fabulous stays in old Mahals of Delhi and ignore them whatever they might promise. Delhi is known for the con men who befools tourists, especially foreigners. Also, keep your belongings in a fanny pack or a small bag with you all the time. Snatching chains, bags, purses, and phones is common, not in all areas, but some places. And you wouldn’t even notice if someone walks past by you in the crowd and slide out your wallet or phone.
To reach the Delhi Police, you can dial 100. There is a special women helpline number 1091 for women in distress. And the specific women helpline desks at each of the police stations are listed here.
Don’t worry. You would not need them. But keep these handy to feel secure.
Author’s Bio: Priyanka Gupta is an itinerant blogger from India who has left her investment banking career to travel the world and write about it. You can read her best ideas and travel stories on her blog On My Canvas. You can also connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
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