Delhi’s top attractions are dominated by ancient monuments, mosques, and forts. No doubt, places such as Qutub Minar and India Gate are mesmerizing, must-visit places. But once you’ve seen the tried-and-true in India’s capital city, what’s next? Here are some offbeat things to do in Delhi.
Do you have kids in tow? There are many fun things to do with kids in Delhi, even if you’re only spending 48 hours or as long as one week.
Browse Asia’s Largest Wholesale Spice Market
Khari Baoli Road, next to Fatehpuri Masjid at the western end of Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, is home to the largest wholesale spice market in Asia. Spices connected India to the West, and the market at Khari Baoli Road has been in business since the 17th century. However, Gadodia Market (which is on the south side of Khari Baoli and is where many of the spice shops are) was built in the 1920s by a wealthy local merchant. You’ll get to see huge sacks of spices being transported and sold.
As fascinating as it is, the spice market is also super congested, and you’re likely to feel overwhelmed trying to navigate through its interior alleyways by yourself. If you think the mayhem could be a concern, it’s a good idea to see the market on the Old Delhi Spice Market and Sikh Temple tour. Do note that the market is closed on Sundays.
Marvel Over the Painted Houses at Naughara
Old Delhi and Chandni Chowk are usually associated with crowds and chaos. However, located just off Kinari Bazar, you’ll find a tranquil lane with nine colorfully painted Jain havelis (mansions) that were built in the 18th century. This little hamlet is complete with an exquisitely carved white marble Jain temple at the end of the lane. Its interiors have some magnificent murals and paintings. Do note that leather and photography aren’t permitted inside.
Go Inside a Monster’s Mouth
A towering 108-foot-tall landmark statue of powerful monkey god Lord Hanuman rises above the railway tracks at Karol Bagh, to the northeast of Connaught Place in Delhi. Completed in 1997, it has become a symbol of the contrast between traditional and contemporary Delhi, with the gleaming new Metro train zipping past. The statue is part of a Hanuman temple (Sankat Mochan Dham) at its base, which is entered by stepping through a cavernous carved mouth of a demon slain by the god. This is believed to ward off bad luck. Tuesdays and Saturdays attract the most devotees, particularly for the evening aarti (prayer ceremony), during which the arms of the statue move back and its chest opens to reveal images of Lord Ram and Sita. This mechanical show also takes place in the morning on both days. The temple is located close to Jhandewalan Metro Station on the Blue Line.
Listen to Qawwalis at Nizamuddin Dargah
Nizamuddin Dargah, the resting place of one of the world’s most famous Sufi saints, Nizamuddin Auliya, attracts Sufi devotees from around the globe. On Thursday evenings, its courtyard erupts with the soulful sound of live qawwalis (Sufi devotional songs) accompanied by traditional Indian instruments, which serenade the audience into a trance. One of the families that perform the qawwalis has been singing there for hundreds of years.
Nizamuddin Dargah is located in the Nizamuddin West neighborhood of New Delhi, surrounded by a bustling market and near Humayun’s Tomb. Get there just before sunset. Prepare to walk through alleyways and face large crowds, and touts and beggars if you’re a foreigner. Do dress conservatively, and you may wish to bring something to cover your head with (although it’s not compulsory if you only enter the courtyard). You’ll need to take off your shoes just before you go inside.
Ignore the shopkeepers who will insist on minding them for a fee. Delhi by Foot conducts an excellent walking tour. Or, join the Hope Project for a walking tour of Nizamuddin Basti, an old Muslim Sufi village surrounding Nizammudin Dargah.
Admire the Street Art
India’s first public open-air art gallery, the Lodhi Art District, is situated betweenKhanna Market and Meharchand Market in south Delhi’s Lodhi Colony. International and local artists have painted more than 20 murals, facilitated by St+art India. This non-profit organization aims to make art accessible to a broader audience in public spaces. While you’re there, grab a bite to eat at one of these trendy restaurants in Lodhi Colony.
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