New Delhi: India’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest
Backpacking to New Delhi? Why not! Not only is India rich in culture, but it’s also one of the cheapest destinations in the world. Sounds like the perfect combination for a wonderful trip, doesn’t it? The country does, however, have a rather bad reputation. It’s said to be noisy, dirty, overcrowded, and unsafe – especially in New Delhi. You can be sure that any trip to India won’t be an ordinary vacation. In short, opinions on India differ a lot – you either love it or hate it.
We therefore wouldn’t recommend India if this is your first backpacking trip, but with some experience and preparation, we’re sure you’ll have a fantastic time here. India is incredibly diverse, as is its wonderful capital, New Delhi. In this article, we want to introduce you to the capital and its sights. We’ll start with some general information before letting you in on New Delhi’s top 10 places of interest. Are you ready?
New Delhi in a Nutshell
With almost 1.4 billion citizens, the Republic of India is the second most populous country in the world. It is in South Asia and consists of 28 states. Hindi speakers also call their country Bharat Ganarajya. It’s interesting to note that – in addition to the two official languages Hindi and English – the country has another 22 recognized local languages! From the 18th century onwards, the British occupied India, and it has only been independent since 1947.
India borders Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. The seventh-largest country in the world also reaches the southern part of the Himalayas, the highest mountain range in the world. The country was named after its longest river, the Indus, which translates to “river.”
The capital, New Delhi, is the political and legal center of India. It has a population of 28 million people and is located in the very north of the country, far away from the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. The climate in New Delhi is divided into a rainy and a dry season. The best time to visit the capital is therefore between July and April. During these months, it’s neither too hot nor too humid in the capital.
The best way to get around New Delhi is the subway. But, of course, you can also take a bus, a cab, or a tuk-tuk. You should always negotiate the price before the ride because some drivers will try to overcharge you.
Don’t forget to try some Indian food while you’re in New Delhi! It’s usually vegetarian and very spicy. Meals are often served on a thali, a plate made of sheet metal on which several dishes are served. These typically consist of dal, naan, curry, or rice and are always absolutely delicious!
New Delhi’s many festivals are also well worth seeing. One of them has already made its way to Europe and is becoming very popular there – the Holi Festival. This Hindu festivity in March is a celebration of the coming spring. On the second day of the event, the social rules determined by the caste system are temporarily lifted. Holi is famous for the colorful powder, which makes the festival instantly recognizable and incredibly beautiful to look at! Another religious festivity is Diwali, the Festival of Lights. It celebrates the triumph of the positive over the negative. People decorate their city with lots of lights, hence the name. According to the Hindu calendar, Diwali takes place either in October or November. In addition, devout Buddhists celebrate the birth of Buddha in May. On this public holiday, some people wear special clothes and eat a traditional dessert made of rice.
The Top 10 Places of Interest in New Delhi
It is difficult to limit the number of sights in the Indian capital to just 10. The reason is simple – the city is full of fascinating temples and magnificent historical buildings. So unfortunately, we can’t cover them all, or we would be here all day. So, keep in mind that there is a lot more to discover in New Delhi than just our 10 recommendations!
Have a guess what color the beautiful palace of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan is. You’re right – it’s red! The color comes from the sandstone, which was used to build the fort. It’s unsurprising that this magnificent building is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The construction of the Red Fort began in 1638 and took 10 years, although the complex was expanded and modified over the following centuries. Unfortunately, the most important artifact of the fortress was stolen by the Persian army in 1737. The Peacock Throne, decorated with precious stones, pearls, and gold, has been missing ever since. The Afghan and British troops also stole treasures and partially destroyed the Red Fort, which led to its later renovation.
Today, the Red Fort is one of the most popular attractions in India. This doesn’t come as a surprise, because even from the outside it’s an impressive sight. Once you go inside, however, you realize just how much there is to discover here. Don’t miss out on the towers, the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque), and the white marble hammam. Take all the time you need to explore this beautiful fortress.
Have you ever been to a Friday Mosque? Well, this is your chance! The Friday Mosque is an important place for any Muslim community, because it’s the place where the Friday prayers take place. In New Delhi, the Jama Masjid is only a stone’s throw away from the Red Fort. Don’t forget that this is a place of worship though, so remember to dress and act appropriately.
The façade of the Jama Masjid is an amazing and even somewhat intimidating sight. Take your time to admire the onion domes, the 260 columns, the red shining sandstone, the white marble, and the symmetrical architecture. The two minarets, with 40 meters in height, are also very majestic. The Jama Masjid becomes even more impressive when you think about the incredible effort the 5,000 builders put into its construction in 1650!
The tomb of the emperor Nasir-ud-Din Muhammad Humayun is just as impressive as the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid. The monarch ruled over his empire for a total of eleven years, from 1530 to 1540 and from 1555 to 1556. He died after falling down the stairs and was followed to the throne by his son, Akbar, who was only 13 years old at the time.
Humayun’s Tomb looks absolutely magnificent, and you’ll recognize it instantly by its dome as well as by the seven-meter-high platform on which the tomb is located. Inside the building is a very simple room containing the mogul’s cenotaph. The garden in front of the mausoleum is also worth seeing. Its symmetrical design elevates the beauty of the tomb even further. The whole complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In New Delhi, one UNESCO World Heritage Site follows another, as the Qutb Minar is also on this list. It’s a minaret and was once used as a watchtower. It was built around the beginning of the 13th century. In the past, it was possible to climb the 72-meter-high sandstone tower, but after a tragic accident in 1981 it is no longer open to the public.
But that doesn’t mean that the Qutb Minar is not worth seeing! There are two very impressive mosques nearby, the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque and the Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra Mosque. They were both built at the end of the 12th century. The former was the first mosque to be built in India, and the latter is famous for its grand entrance, stunning arcade, and prayer hall.
The India Gate is a war memorial commemorating the victims of the First World War. The names of around 13,000 fallen soldiers are written on the 42-meter-high memorial, which was inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
While walking to the India Gate, you’ll pass some peaceful meadows, which provide an excellent opportunity to get some rest. If you feel like taking a short walk, follow the road leading to the Presidential Palace. Unfortunately, you can’t enter the palace, but the office of India’s President, Droupadi Murmu, is still very impressive, even from a distance.
Followers of the Bahá’í faith come to worship at the Lotus Temple, which was completed in 1986. The temple resembles, in line with its name, the shape of a lotus flower.
The Bahá’í faith is a pretty young religion, only dating back to the 19th century. It belongs to the universal religions and has around 8 million followers. Worldwide, there are only eight Bahá’í temples.
Try not to get lost in this Hindu temple, because it’s just gigantic – in fact, it’s the largest one in the world. It’s not only famous for its size, however, but for its outstanding beauty as well. The temple’s architecture, gardens, and pink sandstone are all wonderful to look at. At first glance, the Akshardham Delhi might seem ancient, but this impression is misleading. The temple only opened in 2005. There’s a lot to discover here, including a cinema and some interesting exhibitions. Don’t forget to visit Akshardham Delhi’s beautiful gardens and their picturesque statues as well.
If you need a break from all of the religious buildings, why not spend some time in the 360,000-square-meter Lodi Gardens? Of course, there are some historical buildings here as well. For example, you can find the tombs of Muhammad Shah and of Sikandar Lodi here. There’s also another mosque in the park. But now, let’s talk about the gardens themselves! They’re very popular with locals, who come here to stretch their legs or to have a small picnic. Are you ready for some rest as well?
National Zoological Park of New Delhi
Alternatively, you could spend the afternoon at the National Zoological Park. It’s most famous for its white tigers, elephants, and rhinos. But you can see more than just animals here. The zoo also houses more than 200 different tree species. They alone are worth a visit, don’t you think?
Of course, we could list hundreds of other temples and tombs in New Delhi. But we would like to take this chance to introduce you to a different kind of religious place. If you’re visiting the city between November and February, we highly recommend going to the Yamuna River. It’s just lovely! Just don’t necessarily go swimming in it, as it’s not exactly the cleanest or the safest river in India.
But if you’re looking for a good photo spot, then the Yamuna is the place to be. The hundreds of seagulls living on the river will make for a great backdrop. You can also take a boat ride for just a small fee. Isn’t that cool? Make sure you behave respectfully towards both the animals and the river, though. The Yamuna is of great importance to the locals. It holds similar religious significance as the Ganges, and many people scatter the ashes of their loved ones here.
In summary, you can be sure you’ll never run out of temples, tombs, and mosques to visit in New Delhi. So if you want to learn more about Indian culture and beliefs, the country’s capital is the best place to start!
We’ve introduced you to a number of buildings, but you’ll have to visit them yourself to figure out which one is the most beautiful. We can’t decide whether the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid, Humayun’s Tomb, the Lotus Temple, or the Akshardham temple complex is the most impressive sight. Each one is simply magnificent in its own way. If you need a break from all the sightseeing, we recommend spending some time in the Lodi Gardens. For a new profile picture, go to the Yamuna River and get a photo in front of the many seagulls there.
Before you start planning, we want to make it clear that India is not the easiest place for a trip. It’s best to have some backpacking experience and to avoid traveling on your own. We can definitely promise that this won’t be your regular vacation, though, so prepare yourself for the adventure of a lifetime!