New Delhi & Old Delhi
First described in the Mahabharta and founded 2400 years ago, Delhi has been settled, expanded, & plundered by numerous dynasty's & empires. The Pandavas, Khalji's, Mongol's, Mughal's, British Raj, and finally independence in the mid 20th century, Delhi has been ransacked & rebuilt layer upon layer to its current state (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/156501/Delhi/10839/History). Delhi is split up into Old Delhi & New Delhi and surrounding towns & suburbs. Old Delhi is crowded and chaotic with some spectacular sights such as the Red Fort, Raj Ghat, Mosque, the famous Spice Market, & narrow winding lanes of Old Delhi home to thousands of hawkers and street food stalls. New Delhi sprawls to the south and west where you will find wider boulevards, diplomatic enclaves, and wealthier neighborhoods in addition to famous sights such as the Lodi Gardens, Sikh Temple, Qutb Minor, & Hayamaun's Tomb.
Delhi is a starting off point for travelers flying into Indira Gandhi International Airport about a 20-30 minute taxi ride to Paharganj, the travelers ghetto close to New Delhi Airport. Typically you can get a taxi during the daytime from Indira Gandhi International Airport for around 300 Rs, however the price increases at night as there is a surcharge. Most hotels will pick you up from your hotel gratis or for a fee. Although Paharganj is a good starting point for travelers, close to the large New Delhi Train Station, and has several facilities it's loaded with touts and can be a bit sketchy after dark. Those wanting quieter surroundings typically stay in Southern New Delhi around the diplomatic enclave. We didn't spend a lot of time in Delhi however we have included the following recommendations for sights and food. For lodging suggestions we recommend referring to guidebooks such as Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, or tripadvisor.com. Here are some suggestions:
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib: Located in central Delhi and built on the site where the 8th guru visited and stayed, this tranquil and powerful Sikh Temple welcomes all to sit and listen to music and prayers from the Guru Granth Sahib. The temple vibrates with incredible energy and is one of the most unforgettable experiences in Delhi. Remove your shoes before entering the temple and you can walk around the large square pool outside of the grounds and spend time contemplating the day.
Raj Ghat: The site of Mahatma Gandhi's cremation, the peaceful grounds of Raj Ghat in addition to the Burla House (site of Gandhi's assassination) are must see's for those interested in the life and philosophy of Gandhi located south of the Red Fort close to the Yamuna Rivers. The area surrounding Raj Ghat has been turned into a park and the Gandhi Memorial Mueseum is also located on these grounds. Pandit Nehru, India's first Prime Minister was also cremated in the vicinity of Raj Ghat.
Old Delhi Spice Market: Located in the heart of the Old City to the west of the Red Fort off Chandi Chowk the Old Delhi Spice Market is a collection of dozens of stalls selling various loose whole and packaged spices such as cardamon, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, turmeric, cinnamon, mace, saffron, pepper, & various other spices found in regional dishes. The stalls sell to local Delhiites, chefs, and ship spices around the world. Often crowded, hot, and chaotic the spice market can be overwhelming at certain times however it is a rainbow of scents and colors and a must see for anyone interested in the culinary history of India & food. Remember to bring your camera and watch your belongings. On a side note, some Indian spice stalls grind their own spices using methods that render the freshest scents and flavors.
National Museum: A lovely sprawling museum filled with archeological wonders, art, weapons, manuscripts and other treasures from history more than 2000 years old, the museum is a must see for visitors even slightly interested in the history of the sub-continent and beyond. Since the National Museum's collection is so extensive we have included the link its website for more information: http://www.nationalmuseumindia.gov.in/index.asp
Humayun's Tomb: The UNESCO World Heritage site built in 1570 to commemorate the 2nd Mughal ruler, Humayun by his wife Hajji Begum exemplifies Mughal architecture of the time (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/232). Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries over 100 graves were added. The area surrounding Humayun's Tomb includes a garden and pool. We suggest going to Humayun's Tomb in the early morning hours when it opens as walking around the grounds in the morning fog is a delightful experience that one dreams about when planning on traveling to India. For further information on Humayun's Tomb please click on this link: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/232
Lodi Garden: Home to several 15th & 16th century mausoleums, mosques, & tombs from past Mughal rulers the Lodi Gardens, located in southern Delhi off Lodi Road near the Diplomatic enclave is tranquil park that we found is an oasis from the crush and chaos of Delhi. Many Indian couples go to Delhi on romantic rendezvous as well as families and tourists. You can wander around the park for hours and explore the decaying ruins, some with original mosaic tiles. Typically, touts will not bother you at the Lodi Gardens however you may get a local who claims to be a guide or grounds keeper offer to give you a history lesson or tour. We had one such experience and the man who said he was a local grounds keeper and historian gave a very informative tour but asked for a steep fee afterwards that we had to bargain down. If you choose to accept a guide, make sure to work out the fee before hand or politely decline. For a really nice tour of southern and central Delhi sites we recommend starting at Humayan's Tomb in the early morning, walking or taking a short rickshaw ride to Lodi Gardens, eating a light lunch, then taking a rickshaw to Gurudwara Bangala Sahib to relax listening to Sikh prayers sung to a background of traditional Sikh music.
Old Delhi Markets (Chandi Chowk): A crowded, gritty, sensory overload with seemingly endless shopping options is one of the best ways to describe the hundreds stalls in the maze of markets off the main street of Chandi Chowk. These shops are similar to the markets you find in the Arab quarter of old Jerusalem however are a bit grittier and are split up into multiple districts where you can shop for electronics, books, food, spices, clothing, and other modern conveniences. Watch your belongings and be ready to bargain really hard if looking to buy. It is helpful to have a guide to assist with bargaining and recommending the better vendors and stores.
Nizam Ud Din's Shrine: Close to Humayun's Tomb & Nizamuddin Train Station this mausoleum named after the famous Sufi saint is visited by people all over the world. The energy surrounding the shrine is palpable, especially during evening prayers. The shrine is located between an eastern upscale neighborhood and a predominately Muslim western section where several vendors set up shop. Here is a link for more information about the shrine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nizamuddin_Dargah
We recommend an official travel guide such as Lonely Planet or Rough Guide for further information. We also recommend the Red Fort, & Jama Masjid Mosque however we have not visited the the Red Fort so advice on this famous site is best found in a guide book mentioned above. Jama Masjid is one of the largest mosque's in the Indian subcontinent and Asia. We have been to this mosque and its grounds twice however found the touts outside the mosque gates charging you to store shoes and selling tickets are quite devious and will attempt to charge you double. We also felt very unwelcome last time we were in the temple grounds in 2013 and actually were asked to leave for no reason. Perhaps because we took one picture with our cell phone (shown above) however we saw others taking pictures. We were wearing respectful clothing so I'm not sure why people were so unfriendly. However, we still recommend visiting as perhaps you will have a better experience.
Gulati: This restaurant popular with locals served the best Indian meal we have ever had. They have various options on their menu but specialize in Tandori, & northern Indian dishes, however we got a vegetarian Kashmari dish that was fork dropping good. It is typically very busy so come early and be prepared to wait a bit.
Karim's: Across from Gate 1 of the Jama Masjid Mosque, Karim's serves better quality food & in our opinion has a lot friendlier service then neighboring Al Jawahar restaurant. Karim's specializes in mostly meat dishes popular in Muslim communities and other northern Indian dishes and the fresh Nan and other Indian breads are delicious.
Kwality Restaurant: Located next to People Tree book store off of Connaught Place in Central Delhi Kwality has been dishing up tasty Northern Indian cuisine for decades. Every time we have been to Delhi we try to have lunch at this fine dining establishment where we enjoy really tasty goat and chicken dishes.
Street Food Stalls (Old Delhi): There are some excellent street food stalls in Old Delhi & some in Paharaganj serving all kinds of Indian vegetarian and meat specialties. Our rule is to visit street food stalls that are crowded with locals and tourists serving freshly cooked food and we generally veer towards vegetarian food however have eaten from several excellent kabob stalls. We generally avoid consuming any dishes containing local non bottled/purified water that is not thoroughly boiled off to kill any bacteria.
Nizam's Kathi Roll: These meat or veggie treats wrapped in Indian bread can be found throughout the country however Nizam's makes some of the most delicious. Kathi rolls remind us of the Indian version of the burrito and usually include fillings such as egg, chicken, mutton, veggies and wonderful spices that are a convenient finger food originally popular with laborers now eaten for lunch and dinner by everyone.