Delhi – the capital city of the largest democracy in the world, offers the perfect blend of history with modern urban culture. The various rulers from its history have all left their mark on the city with numerous majestic monuments and historical impression on the city’s architecture.
The old-world charm of Old Delhi blends perfectly with the urban city feel of New Delhi. Old Delhi is still a lot more popular with foreign tourists, thanks to Asia’s largest spice market, the largest mosque in the country, and the oldest cloth market known as Chandni Chowk.
If you have just 2 days to explore Delhi, this itinerary offers the perfect mix of both facets of the city. Ease yourself into the city by starting-off in Old Delhi and then move on to the modern part of the city and experience Delhi in all its charm.
This comprehensive 48 hour Delhi itinerary combines the heritage with spirituality, delicious food and shopping. Spending 2 days in Delhi will give you the opportunity to experience a little bit of everything.
On the first day, let us start our 2 days in Delhi with a visit to the historical part of town – Old Delhi.
Fondly referred to as Delhi – 6, Old Delhi is oozing with historical charm and Mughal architecture with numerous monuments dating back to the Mughal Era.
Let us kick off your first day in Delhi with a breakfast to remember. Chandni Chowk is the oldest and busiest parts of the city but is oozing with the Old Delhi charm. It used to be a traders market in the past but over the years has turned into a foodie’s paradise.
You can try some delicious Bedmi Puri and Nagodi Halwa as the famous Shyam Sweets in Chandni Chowk.
They are known for their crispy Bedmi Puri served with two varieties of Alu Bhajis and Pickled carrots. The two gravies are completely contrasting in taste and complement each other extremely well.
Another dish that is famous here is the Nagodi Halwa served with spicy alu sabzi and ghee puris. The entire combination provides such as riot of flavors in the mouth that you would not forget for days.
Masjid-i-jahan-Numa, commonly known as Jama Masjid, forms the epicenter of old Delhi. Situated near the Red Fort, it is one of the largest mosques in the country and one of the final structures constructed by Shah Jahan – the renowned Mughal Emperor.
Built between 1644 and 1656, Jama Masjid was built at the cost of 1 million rupees. It took the efforts of over 5000 workers to construct the monument. With a huge courtyard capable of housing 25000 devotees, this great mosque is a great example of the architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan.
Comprising of three highly decorated gates, two 40 m high minarets and four towers, the mosque is built up of white marble coupled with strips of red sandstone. Robes are available at the northern gates that visitors can wear before entering the mosque.
The Red Fort, or Lal Qila, is undoubtedly one of the most famous historical monuments in Delhi. Situated on the bank of River Yamuna, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the place from where the Prime Minister addresses the nation of Independence Day (15 August) every year.
It forms the center of the city and is home to a large number of museums as well. It is one of the most important attractions in the Golden Triangle Tour as well. The Red Fort was built by Shah Jahan - the Mughal Emperor renowned for building the Taj Mahal.
Built in 1638, it was constructed when the emperor decided to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi. It served as the residence of the Mughal Emperor for more than 200 years till 1857. Today, it is an important place of tourist interest in Delhi and a must-visit for every tourist.
Jantar Mantar, also called Delhi Observatory, is one of the most prominent astronomical observatories in the country. Built in 1724 AD by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, it was designed to serve the essential purpose of accumulating astronomical tables to help predict time and movement of various celestial bodies like the sun, planets and the moon.
The monument is an impressive testimony of technical and scientific concepts that were used in Medieval times. It houses a total of 14 astronomical instruments used for calculating various phenomenon during the day.
The sundial found here, one of the largest in the world is used to tell the time accurately to half a second. A plaque fixed on the structure has helped date its construction to 1710. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well.
Located just 2.5 km away from Jantar Mantar, lets head on over to our next stop – the renowned Lakshmi Narayan Temple. Popularly known as Birla Mandir, it is one of the first temples built by the Birlas’ – one of the pioneering industrialists of Modern India.
The Birla Mandir was built under the guidance of architect Sri Chandra Chatterjee and Pandit Vishwanath Shastri between 1933 and 1939. It was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi, who insisted that people of all castes must be allowed to enter the temple.
Dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and Lorn Vishnu, the 3-storey temple is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Delhi.
Raj Ghar is the memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi – the Father of the Nation. Located on the bank of River Yamuna, it is the resting place of Gandhi where his cremation took place on 31st January 1948 after his assassination.
The monument was designed by Vanu G. Bhuta with a vision to reflect the simplicity of Gandhi’s life. Raj Ghat has received numerous awards for its splendid architectural design.
The memorial stone is placed on a simple platform made with black stone with ‘Hey Ram’ inscribed on it. An eternal flame burns at one end of the platform. The road on which the monument is located is also named as the Mahatma Gandhi Road.
The memorial sits amidst a beautiful garden with numerous trees and foundations, giving the entire place a serene atmosphere.
A magnificent symbol of victory, the Qutub Minar is India’s highest tower and an important World Heritage Site in Delhi. It is one of the most visited tourist places in the city.
Built in 1199 AD by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak, it is the tallest brick minaret in the world. Standing tall at a height of 73 feet, this 5-storey tower is one of the most magnificent monuments in the country from the medieval era.
Three storeys of the Qutub Minar are made using red sandstone whereas the top 2 storeys are made up of marble. All 5 floors have gorgeous projecting balconies that provide a gorgeous view of the surroundings.
Finish off your first day of sightseeing in Delhi with a visit to the tomb of Mughal Emperor Humayun. Humayun’s Tomb is a huge mausoleum built up of white marble and red sandstone.
Located on the banks of River Yamuna, it has been given the nickname ‘Dormitory of the Mughals’. Besides Humayun, who has the prime burial position directly under the dome of the octagonal chamber, there are over 160 people buried here as well.
Not only this, but Humayun’s Tomb has also been the site of numerous key events in history. The last Mughal king surrendered to British forces in 1857 here. In 1947, the surrounding garden and tomb was used as a refugee camp for families who were displaced during the Indo-Pak partition.
Today, it is a fine specimen of Mughal architecture. Its unique beauty has made it an important place of tourist interest in Delhi.
After exploring the historical side of Delhi, it’s time to delve into the modern facet of the city. Delhi is one of the most advanced and structurally developed cities in India. Being the capital city, it is also home to the official residences of the top officials such as the President of India as well as the Parliament.
The world-renowned India Gate and architectural marvel Lotus Temple are also located here. Today you will also get the opportunity to indulge in some shopping, whether you prefer street shopping or high-end brands, you will find both here.
End the day with a wonderful dinner and drinks at the buzzing Hauz Khas Village.
Start your second day in Delhi with a visit to the Presidential Palace, commonly called Rashtrapati Bhavan. Originally constructed for the British Viceroy, it is now the official residence of the President of India.
Covering 5 acres of land, this H-shaped building is the largest amongst all the residences of the head of states in the world. The building has 340 rooms, 190 acres of garden and 2.5 km of corridors.
Though it is not allowed to enter the complex due to security reasons, viewing the building from afar and savoring the architecture is an astounding experience as well.
After the Rashtrapati Bhavan, take a short stroll downhill on the Rajpath (King’s Road) to reach India Gate. India Gate, the most popular tourist spot in New Delhi, is a war memorial dedicated to 70 thousand soldiers of British Indian Army who lost their lives between 1914 and 1921 during the Anglo-Afghan War and the First World War.
The 42-meter tall imposing structure is an awe-inspiring sight. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, it is the most significant war memorial in the country. It is inscribed with the names of over 13 thousand soldiers to whom the structure is dedicated.
On Republic Day, every year a massive parade marches on the Rajpath, beginning from Rashtrapati Bhavan and reaching India Gate and beyond. It is surrounded on all sides by lush gardens, which have turned into a popular picnic spot in the city.
Lodhi Garden is a popular historical place in New Delhi. It is also quite popular with morning walkers, joggers and yoga enthusiasts.
Lodhi Garden is a popular spot for picnics amongst families who prefer a tranquil ambience as well as amongst young couples for spending some romantic moments together.
Besides the lush green landscape, the garden is adorned with 15th-century mausoleums, mosques, bridges, lakes and a beautiful Bonsai Park. Not only this, but you can also find over 100 species of trees and more than 50 species of birds and butterflies in this park.
The National Museum of India is one of the largest museums in the country. It is home to a vast collection of over 200,000 artwork, both foreign as well as Indian.
The museum is maintained by the Ministry of Culture under the government of India. The museum possesses an extensive range of products dating back to the prehistoric times to modern artwork.
The repository boasts of relics dating to 4th and 5th century B.C., back to the time of Harappa Civilization and Buddha. You can find numerous paintings, wood carvings, murals, sculptures, armory and textiles here.
Connaught Place, commonly called CP, is a massive financial and commercial center in New Delhi. The place is named after Duke of Connaught & Strathearn. The market complex is home to numerous national and international food chains, chain stores, bars and restaurants.
One of the largest Indian National Flags in the country is hoisted in the Central Park in Connaught Place. The building is circular and has been designed in two concentric circles. It is another great place to enjoy some vibrant nightlife in the city.
It is also a great place to indulge in some high-end as well as street shopping.
Built in the shape of a blooming lotus flower, the Lotus Temple is one of the seven major temples dedicated to the Bahai’i faith in the world. Surrounded by lush green gardens on all sides, it is a sight to behold as soon as you pull up to it.
The magnificent structure unfolds in the shape of a gorgeous white petal lotus. The shrine was conceptualized and completed in 1986 by the Canadian architect Fariborz Sahba. The idea behind the temple is to propagate the oneness of the Almighty.
Entry to the Lotus Temple is open to all irrespective of their religion, race, gender and nationality. The entire complex has an extremely calm and meditative aura and offers a wonderful experience for all visitors.
Located on the banks of River Yamuna, the well-renowned Akshardham Temple is part of the list of Seven Wonders of 21st century by Reader’s Digest. It is considered to be one of the best-built temples in the country. It is also listed as the largest Hindu temple in the world in 2009 Guinness Book of World Records.
Dedicated to Lord Swaminarayan, Akshardham literally translates to ‘abode of the supreme lord’. The temple is a great example of exceptional Hindu architecture, traditions and spiritual messages. The temple was inaugurated in 2005 by the President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
Spread over 100 acres, there is a musical fountain in the complex as well. A spectacular musical fountain show takes place here at sunset depicting the cycle of life, birth and death.
One of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city, the Hauz Khas village is the best place to witness the modern nightlife of Delhi. It is most well known for its electric nightlife with numerous thriving bars, cafes and pubs along with countless boutiques and art galleries.
The Hauz Khas fort forms the epicentre of the area along with a reservoir and a beautiful park. The area is filled with numerous domed structures, which were tombs of royalties in the 14th century.
Hauz Khas Village has an infectious energy, and you may find numerous live events taking place here, especially during the weekend from live jazz to stand-up comedy. It retains its old-world charm while offering the most happening nightlife in the city.
Delhi is sometimes nicknamed as ‘mini-India’. Though this may be a bit of a stretch due to the huge diversity that India has to offer, there is some truth to it as well.
The consecutive ruling by Mughals, Sultans and the British Empire has left a clear impression on the architecture and glory of the monuments. The architecture of the city, especially old Delhi, is pretty unique and something you may not have seen before.
The sounds and smells in Chandni Chowk will give you a sensory overload. Explore the narrow streets of Old Delhi to get an insight into the historical culture.
Next, head to the thriving and modern parts of the city and enjoy the vibrant nightlife, restaurant, cafes and shopping opportunities.
Spending 2 days in Delhi will give you the opportunity to experience both sides of the city.
This article was edited by Loredana Elena.
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