Having travelled on an overnight flight, we were really ready for a shower, some food and a relaxing start. Arriving into a completely different culture can be a bit of a sensory overload sometimes, and Delhi was no exception.
Instead of fighting our way through the crowds to find a public transport option, we had picked a hotel that included a free airport taxi – invaluable in a new country when you are just off a nine hour flight – and they had sent their driver to collect us and drop us straight to the hotel. Our room was ready when we arrived at 10am, and so we were able to have a nap (needed to help adjust to the timezone and the climate change!), shower, and be on our way to explore!
We stayed at the Hotel Tara Palace. Situated really close to the Red Fort, it was easy for our early starts. The free airport shuttle was a huge reason for our stay here too!
Our 2-day itinerary
This spectacular series of structures is thought to have inspired the Taj Mahal, which it predates by 60 years. The nearest metro stop is the JLN Stadium (yellow line), and we paid ₹50 for a rickshaw from the metro stop to the entrance.
Considered part of ‘Greater Delhi,’ the Qutb Minar complex is a must-see in Delhi. If you only have time to visit one of Delhi’s ancient ruins, make it this one – and more than that, try and visit for sunset as we did. Nearest stop is Qutb Minar (purple line) and you’ll want to get a rickshaw the 1km to the ruins. Our rickshaw ended up picking up a few locals on the way too – this seems a way of life – and the driver still insisted on going very fast!
We used the metro (actually very simple to use and to understand) to get around Delhi. We bought single tickets which were cheap enough (only around ₹20-40), but when boarding the train, remember the back carriage is ladies only!
We then headed straight for dinner, and had read about some recommendations of actual restaurants (rather than street food vendors). We ate at Karim’s (one of Delhi’s most famous restaurants, as featured here in The Independent), just off the lane leading south from Jama Masjid (India’s biggest mosque). We had decided to go veggie whilst in India, but the meat here is so tempting, we ended up with curries, dal, and a chicken tandoori! It was delicious (but far too much food!).
One of Delhi’s top sights is this fort which predates the Palace of Versailles in France, and it doesn’t disappoint. During the struggle for independence, nationalists promised to raise the Indian flag over the Gate, an ambition that became a reality in 1947. Every building here is worth seeing, and is home to some very interesting museums detailing the way forward through the wars of independence. We had trouble finding the entrances here (there are multiple gates) as during our visit one gate was only open for nationals, and another gate was hard to find. We ending up having to walk back on ourselves to find the ticket hall, and then back again to the main entrance. Keep an eye out for the ticket booths, and the security entrances.
At most attraction, there are separate queues at ticket booths and security for tourists and Indian nationals. Keep an eye out – sometimes there are also even separate entrances based on gender. We generally found that the tourist entrances were a lot quieter and so you should be able to get through quite quickly!
India’s largest mosque can hold a whopping 25,000 people and was built between 1644-1658. Entrance is free (legs covered) but there is a fixed price of ₹100 if you want to climb the stairs to the top of one of the towers (well worth it for views of Delhi). Visitors should remove their shoes at the top of the stairs – you can take them with you, but you won’t be able to take them to the top of the tower.
For dinner on our second night, we visited Mughlai restaurant Moti Mahal. This was a truly excellent restaurant which has been here for six generations. Again, we had meat here – considering there were pictures of Gordon Ramsey cooking here recently, we thought we might be okay!
We headed for another early night, as we were getting a 6am train to Agra for our next step.