Delhi, India: Historical Landmarks, Markets, and Day Trips

India’s capital city is modern, crowded, and fast-flowing. It is also steeped in history, having been destroyed and rebuilt seven times over the centuries. The city has seen Hindu kings and Mughal emperors rise and fall. Like an epic novel, Delhi is colorful, chaotic, lively, and engaging.

The historical monuments, the lively markets, the narrow lanes of Old Delhi, the Lutyens area in central Delhi, the food, and the music can all be overwhelming to the senses at first. But trust me, India is an experience like none other.

First-time visitors interested in top cultural sights in India usually spend two to three days sightseeing in Delhi and then visit Agra for the iconic Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world

Best Time to Visit Delhi, India

India Gate in Delhi, India
Photo Credit: [@saiko3p/DepositPhotos]
Like most parts of north and central India, Delhi faces hot and humid weather in summer and monsoon months, so it is best to avoid this time to visit. The monsoon months of July and August also bring about diseases like dengue (which is spread by mosquitoes). 

The best time to visit Delhi is from November to March. This is also the best time to extend your trip to Rajasthan to see its beautiful cities and visit the Taj Mahal.

The winter months have pleasant to cool day temperatures and cold nights. Humidity is at the minimum. However, note that this is also the peak tourist season, so expect hotel prices to be high.

Red Fort Complex

Red Fort Complex in Dehli, India
Photo Credit: [@DmitryRukhlenko/DepositPhotos]
The Red Fort, Jama Masjid, and Humayun’s Tomb are the most famous architectural masterpieces from the Mughal era. The Red Fort and Jama Masjid are located in Old Delhi. Old Delhi was founded as a walled city named Shahjahanabad in 1648 when Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan decided to shift the capital from Agra. This area is crowded, chaotic, and can be overwhelming. But it is also a cultural melting pot, full of interesting attractions, shops, and authentic eateries.

The Red Fort Complex is famous for its massive walls of red sandstone. It served as the primary residence of the Mughal emperors. The same architect who designed the Taj Mahal is believed to have been the principal designer of this palace. To avoid crowds and heat, I recommend arriving as early in the day as possible.

Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid in Dehli, India
Photo Credit: [@saiko3p/DepositPhotos]
Jama Masjid served as the imperial mosque of the Mughal emperors until the empire’s demise in 1857. Today, anyone can visit this mosque any day except for prayer intervals. Note that this is a functional mosque, and you must dress modestly, cover your arms and legs fully, and remove your shoes before entering.

Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb in Dehli, India
Photo Credit: [@DmitryRukhlenko/DepositPhotos]
Located near Lodhi Road in central Delhi, Humayun’s Tomb was built for the Mughal emperor Humayun. This magnificent garden tomb is India’s first substantial example of Mughal architecture. This grand mausoleum inspired several major architectural innovations, including the Taj.

Rashtrapati Bhavan

Rashtrapati Bhavan in Dehli, India
Photo Credit: [@saiko3p/DepositPhotos]
The British colonial period brought a new chapter to Delhi’s history. In Lutyens’ Delhi, this planned city exemplifies colonial architecture. The area is known for its grand government buildings and greenery. It was designed by the British architect Lutyens.

Rashtrapati Bhavan, or the President’s residence, is the most famous site in Lutyens’ Delhi. It has 340 rooms, a Mughal garden, and a vast central dome that is 145 feet high. If you visit Delhi in February, don’t miss out on the vast Mughal Gardens inside the Rashtrapati Bhavan. These open up for tourists only during spring when thousands of flowers bloom across the gardens.

India Gate

India Gate in Dehli, India
Photo Credit: [@antonaleksenko82/DepositPhotos]
Another landmark in Lutyens’ Delhi is the India Gate, an iconic war memorial commemorating soldiers who died in World War I. It is the most recognized landmark in Delhi. 

Lodhi Gardens

Lodhi Garden in Delhi, India
Photo Credit: [@swapbanik/DepositPhotos]
A visit to central Delhi can be combined with Lodhi Gardens. It is a sprawling green park near Khan Market. This park is spread over 90 acres and contains many historical monuments, such as the tomb of Sikander Lodi, Muhammed Shah’s tomb, and more. This beautiful green oasis is a popular walking spot for Delhiites.

Qutab Minar

Qutab Minar in Delhi, India
Photo Credit: [@StasSidorkin/DepositPhotos]
If you have more time in Delhi, do visit Qutab Minar. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is in the Mehrauli area of South Delhi. Qutab Minar is constructed in red and buff sandstone and is the highest tower in India. To preserve the monument, climbing the 399 steps of the tower is not allowed now. 

Lotus Temple of the Bahai Faith

Lotus Temple of the Bahai Faith in Delhi, India
Photo Credit: [@NadaK2/DepositPhotos]
Then, there is the Lotus Temple of the Bahai faith. It will remind you of the Opera House in Sydney. The Temple has a beautiful exterior in the shape of an enormous lotus. Other religious sites worthy of a visit are Akshardham, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, and ISKCON Temple.

Where to Eat in Delhi, India

Indian Food
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Indian cuisine is varied and delicious. You can’t travel to India without trying the local food. Each state has its specialties, which can be enjoyed in the capital city. If you visit Chandni Chowk, look for food carts/shops for snack items and some of the best meat kebabs and dishes. 

Of course, there are mid-range and high-end restaurants all over the city. A great spot to try authentic North Indian food is Gulati or Havmor near Khan Market. Delhi has an eclectic mix of cafes and restaurants serving cuisines from around the world. You will find several options for eating and shopping in areas like Khan Market, Greater Kailash, Basant Lok, Hauz Khas, and Aerocity (near the International airport). 

Whatever local food dishes you may try, stick to hot food items. If you try street food, don’t have raw fruits and vegetables. Learn how to eat with your right hand. Many Indian food items like roti, paratha, and naan must be eaten by hand, scooping the curry or meat and vegetables within them.

Avoid tap water in India. Don’t use even ice from local street vendors. Buy bottled water with a seal on it.

Day Trip from Delhi to Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Photo Credit: [@saiko3p/DepositPhotos]
The most popular day trip from Delhi is to the Taj Mahal. The best way to see this grand mausoleum is to rent a car and take a road trip from Delhi to Agra and back. The Taj Mahal is a must-see on any India itinerary for a first-time visitor, especially those who do the Golden Circle route (Delhi—Agra—Jaipur).

Other Places to Visit Near Delhi, India

Hawa Mahal Palace Jaipur, India
Photo Credit: [@Byelikova/DepositPhotos]
I would not recommend a day trip to any of the popular cities in Rajasthan. Instead, you should extend your Delhi itinerary by visiting Jaipur, the Blue City of Jodhpur, the Golden City of Jaisalmer, and Udaipur in Rajasthan. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Delhi, India: Historical Landmarks, Markets, and Day Trips
Shweta Singhal

Shweta has always been passionate about travel and immersing in new experiences. Having been to over 40 countries, she blogs at Zest In A Tote to bring family-friendly itineraries and tips, destinations, and luxury stays to her readers. Her belief in family travel needn't be boring and one can do a mix of local culture & food, adventure activities and relaxation, all with family.