Delhi, like much of India, is a land of colors, cuisines and contrasts. For a city with such a rich historical and cultural heritage — and a dizzying array of shopping opportunities — two days might not nearly be enough. But we’ve planned a perfect itinerary for you to sample a little bit of everything in the capital of India:
Delhi’s chaos can be overwhelming for any first-time visitor, so use your first day to ease into the city. Start the morning among the charming landscapes of Lodi Gardens, where you can practice yoga, discover majestic ruins dating back to the 15th century, or join the morning walkers to get a taste of India’s vibrant social life. Check in early at the Taj Palace Hotel in Chanakyapuri; the brand is the perfect representation of India’s warm hospitality. Settle in for a hearty breakfast at the coffee shop at Taj, where you can sample local specialties like chhole kulche, stuffed paranthas and pao bhaji, as well as South Indian dishes like idli and dosa.
Get some rest, and gear up for a whirlwind trip through India — the colors of Rajasthan, the handicrafts of Kashmir, cuisines from every state of India — at Dilli Haat. Set up on the theme of a village, Dilli Haat is something of a carnival, a shopper’s paradise, a foodie’s delight and a cultural extravaganza all rolled into one. Take your pick from cuisines from all Indian states at the Haat for lunch. The more adventurous can ride the Delhi metro to INA stadium, from which Dilli Haat is a short walk away; the metro is a great way to experience life in Delhi alongside the locals.
Now that you’ve shopped and eaten to your heart’s content, head farther down on the metro line to Hauz Khas village, an urban village where — among the ruins, debris and wires — you can have coffee at some of Delhi’s trendiest cafes and window shop at fusion boutique stores. Before the sun sets, head out to Purana Qila (the Old Fort) and marvel at the architectural opulence of the Mughal era in Delhi. The state-of-the-art sound and light show every evening at the Old Fort encapsulates the contrasts of Delhi; 5,000 years of history meet the cutting-edge technology that Delhi is quickly adopting.
Round up the evening at the Garden of Five Senses, which has been designed to delight your five senses with colorful landscapes, fountains of light and elaborate sculptures. Here — away from the crowds of Delhi — have a romantic dinner at Magique, situated in the tranquility of these gardens.
If you’re an early riser, begin day two with a stroll along Rajpath (near your hotel), a ceremonial boulevard reflective of Delhi’s colonial glory, and a meeting ground for pigeons before office hours. A trip to Delhi is incomplete without a visit to the medieval city of Old Delhi; lose yourself in its swarming alleyways, and pick up quirky souvenirs from its busy street markets. Stop in for stuffed paranthas at the famous Paranthe Wali Gali, a narrow street in the Chandni Chowk area famed for serving Delhi’s best Indian stuffed breads.
To explore more Delhi history, walk farther down these winding bylanes to the historical Lal Qila (the Red Fort), made entirely of red sandstone, and visit the spectacular Jama Masjid, one of India’s most famous mosques. For dinner, treat yourself to Karim’s, a restaurant in the backyard of Old Delhi, considered an institution among Delhiites for its kebabs and breads. As you bid goodbye to the walled city, remember to pat yourself on the back for having survived India’s busiest street market; like they say, you will come back here, but no experience can match your first time.
Photos Courtesy of iStock-Prognone