10 ways to enhance your Delhi experience
New Delhi is the capital of India and one of its prime heritage destinations. Delhi is renowned for its UNESCO heritage monuments such as Humayun’s Tomb, Qutab Minar, Red Fort and many other Mughal era heritage sites. However, there is more to Delhi than heritage monuments. Let me suggest some ideas to enhance your Delhi experience.
1. Heritage Walk
Old city areas of Delhi such as Chandni Chowk, Daryaganj around Jama Masjid / Red Fort offer an insight into the unique markets of Old Delhi. Here, you experience 400+ year heritage of Old Delhi and visit prime heritage sites of Red Fort and Jama Masjid. You walk through narrow bylanes and experience the incredible buzz around markets that sell almost everything under the sun. There are heritage walks around other areas as well, such as Shahajanabad, Tughlaqabad Fort, Mehrauli, etc. which purely focus on history, heritage and Mughal architecture.
2. Food Walk
A food walk is a 2-3 hour walk typically done in a small group where one is able to sample wide ranging street food items while leisurely walking through the markets of Old Delhi. Old Delhi area around Red Fort is galore with vegetarian and non-vegetarian street food options. A short walk either around the Chandni Chowk area (for Vegetarians) or Jama Masjid area (for Non-Vegetarians) is nothing short of a foodie experience. Vegetarians can look for delicious Paranthas (stuffed Indian Roti) in Paranthewali Galli, Dahi Bhalla, Samosa, Chaat, etc. Non-Vegetarians can look for wide ranging options with a distinct Mughal era influence such as Kebabs, Mutton Nihari, Biryani, etc. Karim’s in Old Delhi is a century old restaurant, renowned for a wide range of non-vegetarian options and good for those looking for a sit-down option. Haveli Dharampura offers an experience of dining in a Haveli over a cultural performance.
Paranthewali Galli Parantha
3. Qawwali at Hazrat Nizamuddin Mosque
Nizamuddin is a set of small bylanes in East Delhi renowned for the H. Nizamuddin Mosque. It is also renowned for the Friday Qawwali performance by the Nizami brothers, a 700+ year old tradition of Nizamuddin. The backdrop, ambience and quality of singing is sure to offer experiential travellers an experience of their lifetime. If you arrive in the evening, then you can do a heritage walk, visit the Dargah and enjoy some street food before securing a vantage seat for the Qawwali performance.
4. Hauz Khas Village Experience
Hauz Khas Village in South Delhi is home to Delhi’s finest boutiques, bars, lounges and restaurants. Hauz Khas Village is popular in the evening for a bit of shopping, followed by some fun and entertainment. Hauz Khas Village perhaps would have the widest range of unique standalone restaurants serving cuisine that is not found elsewhere (such as The Yeti, specialising in Himalayan cuisine from Nepal and North Bengal areas of Eastern India). The area is abuzz over the weekends when locals throng here, creating an experience that feels like being in any other major city of the world.
5. Cycling Tour
Cycling Tours in Delhi are an interesting way to explore Delhi. There are different routes, each offering its own interesting historical insight and photo opportunities. The tours combine the mainstream monuments with some of the lesser visited hidden wonders of Delhi. Each ride has something different and unique. e.g. The Yamuna tour has a boat ride along with a traditional breakfast, whereas Nizamuddin Cycling has a picnic in the lush greenery of Lodi Garden.
Note: All tours are easy paced, held in mornings and last for 3-4 hours.
6. Changing of the Guard Ceremony
The Changing of the Guard Ceremony takes place at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi. This ceremony is performed by the guards of the residence of the President of India in New Delhi. Every Saturday, the old and new guard which consist of a troop from the President’s Body Guard and another platoon from an Indian Army regiment, parade for the guard change ceremony in their ceremonial regalia. There is an equestrian display and foot drill supported by a military band that lasts for about 30 minutes. Changing of the Guard at Rashtrapati Bhavan is generally held every Saturday at 8:00 in the summer and 10:00 during the winter.
Note: As parking is around 1-2 kms away from this area, you will be required to walk for 10-15 minutes to attend this ceremony.
7. Chaiwala Experience
Laxman Rao is an Indian writer and a humble tea-seller (or a Chaiwala). He is the author of over 24 novels, plays and political essays and now a graduate of Delhi University. Rao is also a full-time tea-seller in Delhi. The Chaiwalla experience focuses on spending a couple of hours with Laxman Rao over cups of tea, interacting and discussing his passions and his amazing life journey. Chaiwala experience is unique, compelling for an experiential traveller as well as inspirational for every traveller.
8. Segway Tour
A Segway Tour in Delhi focuses on exploring Delhi on segways (much like in some European countries). There are different segway tours in different areas of Delhi. The three most popular tours are Luytens Delhi, Historic Delhi and Delhi City Tour. Segway tours last for 1 to 2 hours depending upon the time spent at the monuments and are typically popular for families and group of friends. The tours look to capture the sights and sounds of heritage areas of Delhi, while visiting some prime heritage sights and areas with architectural significance.
9. Bird Watching around Delhi
Delhi is blessed with prime birding sites within a 50 kms radius, where birders have a chance to sight more than 150 species of birds. Despite rapid urbanisation some of the sights are still good for birders, such as Sultanpur National Park (near Gurgaon / South Delhi), Basai Wetland (near Gurgaon / South Delhi), Surajpur Wetland and Biodiversity Park (near Noida / West Delhi), etc. Winters are the best months (Nov-March) for birding.
Note: There are no birding guides available in some of the areas, so they are best recommended for experienced birders.
10. Pottery Tour
A Pottery Tour takes you to the outskirts of Delhi to a village that specialises in pottery. Here, potter families practice traditional style pottery. The entire village is stacked with wide ranging pottery items. The tour offers an insight into their community and lifestyle, customs and traditions. You interact with artisans and their families and can even try your hand at creating simple pottery items. Pottery Tour is recommended for craft enthusiasts and experiential travellers looking to be away from touristy areas.