Have you booked your volunteering trip to India and all set to prepare your travel bucket list, wondering what are the things to do in Delhi? Well, it’s true that you’ll be pretty busy on the weekdays, working at the project site. But you’ll be free during the evenings, to head out and explore the city. Also, you can make good use of the weekends, and cover as much as possible!
While you might just not be able to tick off everything, but here’s a list of 31 things that you shouldn’t miss while you are in India!
1. Visit the Red Fort
Built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the great sandstone carcass of the Red Fort used to be the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for nearly 200 years, from 1648 until 1856. Marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the grandeur, and intricate architecture will surely leave you in awe. Stop by the Meena Bazaar and check out the shops.
2. Walk down the Chandni Chowk
It’s said there used to be a canal during the Mughal Era, which connected the Jama Masjid to the Red Fort, with markets on its both sides. On full moon nights, the canal used to reflect the moonbeams, shining like silver – that’s where this place gets its name from – Chandni (meaning ‘Silvery’) Chowk (meaning ‘Market’). Today, this place is one of the busiest areas in the city, with food stalls, jewelry and garments shops, and much more. Walk down the narrow lanes to soak yourself in the vibes of old Delhi.
3. Experience the vibrancy at Jama Masjid
One of the largest mosques in the world, the Jama Masjid is an iconic landmark that was constructed during the 17th Century. The mosque can hold up to 25,000 people and the sight of such a number, especially during Friday prayers, is a scene to behold. You definitely have to visit this place, to experience the goodness of an absolutely different culture.
4. Visit Khari Baoli – Asia’s largest spice bazaar
Walking down the Chandni Chowk, you can reach a narrow stretch and find yourself smelling everything from cardamoms and cinnamon to turmerics and flavored tea! Yes, this is Asia’s largest wholesale spice market, tucked in one corner of Old Delhi. Here, you’ll find all kinds of spices, nuts, herbs and food products like rice and tea.
5. Binge on the kebabs & biryani at Old Delhi
The restaurants of Old Delhi serve the most delicious kebabs and biryani in the world, no kidding there! It’ll the perfect dose to tickle your taste buds, and you’ll get to know why the Mughal cuisine is so popular.
6. Try ‘paranthe’ at the Paranthe Wali Gali
It’s heaven for fried food lovers! Selling some delicious varieties of stuffed and fried bread (paranthe), this is surely worth a try. The recipes offered by some of the stalls are said to be generations old.
7. Listen to the qawwali at Nizamuddin Dargah
Every Thursday evening, there’s a live qawwali show at Nizamuddin Dargah, and get dozed by people’s faith on Sufism. This place is the shrine of 14th-century famous saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, and you’ll find several devotees flocking here for blessings.
8. Go for a morning walk at Lodhi Gardens
Amidst the hustle and bustle of Delhi, your mornings at Lodhi Gardens will be full of freshness, the chirping of birds and calmness. You can walk on the cobbled pavements inside the garden complex, or just carry your yoga mats, and try some poses under the sky! There can’t be a better way to start your day!
9. Try the breakfast at All American Diner, IHC
After a walk (or yoga session) at the Lodhi Gardens, you’ll definitely crave for a sumptuous breakfast! That’s when you should just head off to the Indian Habitat Center, which is about 10 minutes walk from the Lodhi Gardens, and gorge on some delicious sausages, slices of bacon, hash browns and poached eggs!
10. Explore the Old Fort (Purana Quila)
As the name goes, this is one of the oldest forts in Delhi, located close to the zoo, amidst the lush greenery of the area. There’s a moat surrounding the fort, where you can go boating in the evenings. There’s also a ‘Light and Sound Show’ every evening, which narrates the history of the place. As per myth, the Purana Quila is said to be a haunted fort – you need to go and explore, to find the truth!
11. Go for a photo walk at Humayun’s Tomb
Marked as a UNESCO Heritage Site, this is one of the best places to go for a photo walk. Built in the year 1570, this tomb was built after the demise of Mughal Emperor Humayun, and it’s of particular cultural significance as it was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. Humayun’s garden-tomb is also called the ‘dormitory of the Mughals’ as in the cells are buried over 150 Mughal family members.
12. Go for shopping at Dilli Haat
A shopper’s paradise, Dilli Haat is a commercial crafts bazaar having sellers from different Indian states, who’ve gathered together with their best products. From hand-woven Kashmiri shawls to Madhubani paintings, and wooden carved vessels to silver jewelry – you’ll find the best souvenirs here!
13. Explore the lanes of Hauz Khas Village
One of the most happening localities in Delhi, the Hauz Khas Village (not at all a village!) is a hub for party goers! You’ll find the graffiti painted walls and all designer studios selling exclusive items of clothing. The lane has several popular clubs and bars as well. The road ends at the Hauz Khas Fort, that was built in the 13th Century, during the Delhi Sultanate Rule. There’s a huge water tank inside the fort complex, which is said to be the first rain-water harvesting water tank, constructed during Alauddin Khilji’s rule.
14. Meet travelers from different parts of the world at Kunzum Travel Cafe
At one of the tiny lanes of Hauz Khas Village, you’ll find this lovely cozy travel cafe! With the option of paying as you please and staying as long as you want, the Kunzum cafe is the only travel cafe in Delhi. You’ll definitely get to meet some adventurous travelers here, strike up a conversation and get inspired!
15. Spend an evening at India Gate
This was built in order to pay a tribute to 82000 soldiers of the Indian Army who lost their lives during the First World War happened from 1914 to 1921 as well as in the Third Anglo-Afghan War. Often compared to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the India Gate is now a popular tourist destination, with millions of people visiting this on a daily basis. You’ll see that it is even one of the most famous picnic spots in Delhi for people of all age groups!
16. Spend some hours in peace at the Lotus Temple
Deriving its name from the flower-like architecture, this Bahá’í House of Worship is a famous tourist attraction and a major landmark of India that has been attracting tourists from all over the world for long. You can just spend a few hours sitting in eerie silence, inside the temple and meditate to rejuvenate your senses.
17. Explore the Qutub Minar
Standing 240 feet tall, this sandstone minaret was established in the year 1192, by the very first ruler of Delhi – Qutb-ud-din Aibak, and it’s another UNESCO Heritage Site in the city. Walk around the complex teeming with monuments straddling several centuries – and get a guide who can tell you interesting stories about the history of this place.
18. Talk a walk at the Mehrauli Archeological Park
It’s just about 10 minutes from Qutub Minar, and you’ll find yourself amidst the lush greenery of the Mehrauli Archeological Park. Inside, there are nearly hundreds of monuments that have now turned to ruins. Truly said, Mehrauli is one of the seven ancient cities that comprise of the present state of Delhi, and the archaeological park here is a testament to the richness of India’s past. Inside the park, some of the popular ruins to spot are – Balban’s Tomb, Jamali Kamali Mosque, Rajon Ki Baoli, Bagichi Ki Masjid, British Agent, Sir Thomas Metcalfe’s Guest House etc.
19. Adore the beauty of the Akshardham Temple
Located in the outskirts of the main city, Akshardham Temple is considered to be among some of the largest Hindu temples in the world, the architectural beauty and decoration of the area are sure to leave you spellbound. You can spend a whole day exploring the temple, walking around the gardens, meditating and also watch the different shows hosted inside the temple complex.
20. Take a tour of the Rashtrapati Bhawan
The residence of the President of India is surely worth a visit. It’s a palatial building with 400 rooms, and in size, it is second to only the residence of the President of Turkey. You can attend the relatively unknown ‘Changing of the Guards Ceremony’, every Saturday morning.
21. Explore the Tibetan Refugee Colony
There’s the little Tibet in North Delhi, around Majnu Ka Tilla, where a large number of refugees from Tibet have been residing for nearly a century.The Tibetan Refugee Colony has tiny lanes with shops and restaurants, a monastery, along with a charm that can’t be found anywhere else in the city. For sure, this place will make you feel like you are somewhere in the Himalayas, just that you won’t find any mountains around you! Binge on delicious momos, thukpa, tingmo, and shyapta!
22. Eat at the langar in Bangla Sahib
A prominent Sikh gurudwara, Bangla Sahib will welcome you with warmth and feed you ‘puri and halwa’ which is usually prepared by the devotees serving there. This place isn’t just popular for religious reasons, but also for its grandeur and aura.
23. Shop till you drop at Sarojini Nagar Market
While Dilli Haat offers more expensive and exclusive products, you’ll find several options here at Sarojini Nagar, if you are looking forward to buying stuff at a cheaper rate! From clothes and shoes to bags and watches, perfumes and cosmetics – you’ll find everything here! Don’t forget to polish your bargaining skills, to get a better deal!
24. Get fascinated by the colonial architecture of Connaught Place
It’s not just the Mughals who glorified Delhi, but the British colonizers also added a lot of glamour to the city! And Connaught Place is the perfect example of that! The beautiful white-washed architecture encircling the area will be an absolute treat for your eye. It’s one of the most popular shopping destinations as well, and there are several restaurants, lined up in this place. During your volunteering trip to India, you can spend your evenings at CP, trying out delicious street food!
25. Click some amazing photographs at Agrasen Ki Baoli
Take a left from Hailey Road, and you’ll be amazed to find this step well (baoli) in the middle of the city, surrounded by skyscrapers on all sides. A perfect photography spot, you’ll mostly find teenagers and couples hanging out here! An ancient reservoir, built over a series of 103 steps, the baoli gradually descends into the ground.
26. Visit the Raj Ghat
Located on the west bank of the Yamuna River, this is the place where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated after his assassination on January 30, 1948. An eternal flame burns at one end in perpetual homage to the great man who laid down his life for the freedom of India.
27. Go for a day trip to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary
This would be a perfect outing during the winters! The Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, located in the outskirts of Delhi, houses hundreds of migratory birds during the months of December and January, and you’ll get to spot some unique species here! Keep your camera handy, because you’ll have the opportunity to click some of the rarest birds, who’ve migrated from faraway lands!
28. Take a tour of the Chhatarpur Temples
Located in a bustling area of South Delhi, the Chhatarpur Temples are quite popular among the women devotees who worship the Hindu Goddesses. You can head out to explore there marble temple complex in the weekday evening, once you get free from your volunteer work.
29. Spend a day at the Jantar Mantar
Explore the Jantar Mantar (meaning ‘calculating instrument’) which comprises of an open-air observatory, having 13 different instruments, involving the use of the different structures to observe the astronomical cycles. You’ll be amazed to see how science has been used in constructing this place!
30. Go for a toy train ride at the National Rail Museum
It’s gonna be a fun-filled day trip to this place, where you can see the replica of steam engines, diesel simulator, ancient coaches and much more. You can also opt to go for a toy train ride inside the complex, which covers an area of more than 10 acres.
31. Explore the ruins of the Tughlaqabad Fort
Built by Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq, the founder of the Tughlaq Dynasty in the year 1321, the Tughlaqabad Fort is now turned to ruins, but it still holds on to its charm & glamor, as well as portrays the engineering skills of the builders. Hike up the broken walls, and gaze at the city, which looks picturesque, especially during dusk.
The richness of this city will definitely touch your soul, and you’ll crave for more. Well, one trip wouldn’t be enough, for sure.