The main attractions of Delhi are dominated by ancient monuments, mosques and fortresses. Without a doubt, they are places not to be missed, to visit. But what next, after seeing them? These things to do in Delhi will give you a very different and unique experience of the city!
Visit the largest spice wholesale market in Asia
Khari Baoli Road, next to Fatehpuri Masjid at the western end of Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi houses the largest spice wholesale market in Asia. Spices are what connected India to the West, and has been in business since the seventeenth century! However, the Gadodia market (located on the south side of Khari Baoli and is where many spice stores are located) was built in the 1920s by a wealthy local merchant. You will see huge bags of spices transported and sold.
As fascinating as it is, the spice market is also very congested and you’ll probably feel overwhelmed as you try to cross its inner alleys by yourself. If you think chaos may be a concern, it’s a good idea to see the market on a tour like this Old Delhi Spice Market and the Sikh Temple Group Tour. Note that the market is closed on Sundays.
Marvel Over the Painted Houses at Naughara
Naughara is an alley of the Kinari Bazaar in Chandni Chowk. Old Delhi and Chandni Chowk are usually associated with crowds and chaos. However, located just off Kinari Bazaar, you will find a quiet street with nine colorful Jain havelis (palaces) that were built in the 18th century. This small village is completed by a white marble Jain temple exquisitely carved at the end of the lane. Its interiors have some magnificent frescoes and paintings. Note that photography are not allowed inside.
Listen to Qawwalis at Nizamuddin Dargah
Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, the resting place of one of the world’s most famous Sufi saints, Nizamuddin Auliya, attracts Sufi devotees from all over the world. On Thursday evening, his courtyard erupts with the soulful sound of live qawwalis (Sufi devotional songs) accompanied by traditional Indian instruments, which make the audience in a trance. One of the families that perform qawwalis has been singing there for hundreds of years.
Nizamuddin Dargah is located in the Nizamuddin West district of New Delhi, surrounded by a bustling market, near the Humayun tomb. Get there just before sunset. Get ready to walk through the alleyways and face big crowds, touts and beggars if you’re a stranger. Dress up conservatively and you could bring something to cover your head (although it’s not mandatory if you only enter the courtyard). You’ll have to take off your shoes before entering. Ignore shopkeepers who will insist on paying for it. … MORE Delhi by Foot conducts an excellent walking tour. Or, join The Hope Project for a walking tour of Nizamuddin Basti, an old Sufi Muslim village that surrounds Nizammudin Dargh (the 14th-century Sufi Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya mausoleum).
Attending the changing of the guard
The ceremony of changing the guard at Rashtrapati Bhavan is one of the many similar ceremonies taking place all over the world (the most famous one is at Buckingham Palace in London). However, it remains a relatively unknown attraction in Delhi. Presented in 2007, the ceremony was renewed and transferred at the end of 2012. Now it happens on the square of the presidential residence every Saturday morning, where there is room for 200 guests. An equestrian exhibition of the president’s bodyguard, riding on their ceremonial banners, has also been added. Since access to Rashtrapati Bhavan is generally limited, the ceremony offers a fantastic opportunity to see the architecture of this huge building, once the hub of New Delhi.
The start time varies depending on the season. It starts at 8 am from mid-March to mid-August and 9 am from mid-August to mid-November. The cost is free for everyone. Enter through Gate 2 and bring the photo identification.
Enter the street life of Delhi
Discover the belly of Delhi, while you are guided during a walk through the streets of Paharganj and the area around the New Delhi Railway Station by children who lived and worked on the streets by themselves. This unique India tour, recommended as one of the best walking tours in Delhi, aims to raise awareness of the history of Delhi’s street children and to give a vision of their world through their eyes. It is managed by Salaam Baalak Trust, an organization that provides shelter, food and support for street children without a home in the city. The tour is open, and sadly haunting and excruciating in some parts, as you will see a brutal side of the city. However, it is also stimulating as it emphasizes how much children can get if they have the right opportunities. You can also visit a free community kitchenlangar of the Sikh temple.
Visit Delhi Folk Artists
Under the Shadipur Depot bridge in the west of Delhi, there is a slum called Kathputli Colony. It hosts about 800 folk artists, many of whom have represented India in shows abroad. Magicians, acrobats, mimes, puppeteers, jugglers, folk singers and traditional dancers are just some of the artists living in the colony. However, the time of the colony is limited. It is undergoing retraining and the artists will be transferred to a temporary transit camp nearby while the work continues. For many of the artists, who belong to lower castes, life has been hard. However, they bring joy to so many through their work.
Visit and enjoy them on this fascinating three-hour tour of Art of Hope. It is a very authentic tour that will provide you with an in-depth view of a special Delhi community.
Information on life in a slum in Delhi
Unfortunately, there are people living in non-standard conditions in Delhi. However, it is not depressing as you would expect it to be. You can take a walking tour of a shantytown in Delhi to get a better understanding of how people live there. You can visit the thriving small-scale industry, a temple, a family home and a school. The tour is designed to be stimulating and educational in nature, and a large percentage of the proceeds is used for community improvement.
Chill at the Kunzum Travel Cafe
Meet like-minded travelers, discover new travel ideas, exchange travel stories, read and buy travel books, and use free wireless Internet access while you enjoy snacks (and only pay for what you want for coffee and biscuits). Regular interviews and interactive workshops are also held by travelers, photographers and writers. Sometimes musicians also have occasional jam sessions. The Kunzum Travel Cafe is located at T-49, on the ground floor, in the village of Hauz Khas, south of Delhi. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 11 am until 7.30 pm
See Indian handicraft product
The world famous Crafts Museum is a relaxing place where you can stroll and see the artisans demonstrate traditional embroidery, weaving, carving and ceramics. There are also galleries with over 20,000 craft shows from all over India, a delightful cafe where you can dine and craft stalls selling items at reasonable prices. The Craft Museum is located at Pragati Maidan on Bhairon Road. It is open every day, except Monday, from 10 am to 6 pm Admission is free Tickets for galleries cost 150 Rupees for foreigners and 10 Rupees for Indians.
Explore Delhi on a bicycle
For a different Delhi experience, take the streets by bike and immerse yourself in the various colors, smells, sounds and flavors! Delhi By Cycle, a company founded by a Dutch journalist (the Dutch are famous for their love of bikes), offers a series of bike tours in the city. These include tours through different parts of old Delhi and New Delhi, so you can explore different corners of the city. You’ll need to get up early though! Tours start at 6.30 am to avoid traffic.
Take an Indian dance lesson
Did you see the flashy moves of Bollywood in India and were you struck by it? Delhi Dance Academy gives you the opportunity to learn them too, in its fun two-hour Namaste India Dance Workshop, especially for travelers. You will be introduced to four forms of Indian dance: Bollywood, Bhangra, Belly Dance and Garba with Dandiya (this popular Gujarati dance is commonly seen during the Navaratri festival). The dance is choreographed with popular songs and you’ll have a two-minute video of your performance to take away.
The cost is 2,000 rupees per person, or 2, 500 rupees per person with costume hire included.
See the Street Art
The first public open-air art gallery in India, the Lodhi Art District, is located between the Khanna market and the Meharchand market in the Lodhi colony of South Delhi. International and local artists have painted more than 20 murals. This non-profit organization aims to make art accessible to a wider audience in public spaces.
Volunteer at the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Kitchen
Atmospheric Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, an important Sikh temple near Connaught Place, is not only a great place to relax for a while. It has a large kitchen where langar is prepared (free food for anyone who wants it). It is mainly made up of volunteers and you can come in and have a look around or even lend a hand. Around 10,000 meals are served every day, which requires a lot of cooking!
Take a look at Champa Gali
Delhi’s hipsters have a new hangout, which they probably would like to keep for themselves, since not many know it yet. Champa Gali is a bohemian street lined with cafés, design studios and boutiques. It is located in Saidulajab, an urban village near Saket in the south of Delhi. Until the 1990s, the neighborhood was nothing but agricultural fields. Later it was populated with warehouses for cows and furniture stores, but now it is turning into a trendy creative community. Find it on Khasra 258, Lane 3, Westend Marg, Saidulajab.
Being served by prison inmates at Tihar Food Court
The notorious Tihar prison in Jankpuri, west of Delhi, has a couple of surprising attractions: a food court run by prisoners and a market that sells products made by them. The food court, which began in 2014 to give hospitality to the inmates, was renewed at the beginning of 2017. Both places are open from 11 am to 9 pm Complete your Delhi tour with a trip to the nearby Kumhar Gram, the biggest village of ceramics in India.