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Things to Know Before Your First Trip to Delhi

Things to Know Before Your First Trip to Delhi A great city is measured by the character it has and the conversations it starts. And Delhi, the capital city of India, scores high on both these counts. The mesmerizing balance between history and modernity makes Delhi one of the most unique cities on the planet. There are many historical monuments, parks, temples, heritage sites, and entertainment zones, the city exudes certain magnetism that is hard to resist. From sightseeing to shopping to pub hopping, experience and a beautiful culture. If you haven’t already seen it, be sure to check out my Delhi travel guide for many more tips and useful information Suggested tour: Delhi Sightseeing Tour

1. VISIT INDIA GATE India gate represents delhi so surely a walk around this monument is one of the best things to do in delhi. Looking at this mammoth structure surely makes one proud as an indian. A leisurely walk across the adjacent garden is refreshing and soothing, particularly post-sunset. One can also relax on the grass and munch on chips and ice cream to make the evening joyful. Good to know: India Gate stands in the centre of a large park – the park is always open, and entrance is free. It is a popular picnic spot for Delhiites and is usually busy, making it a good place for people-watching.

2. EXPLORE THE RED FORT If there ever were a fortification that can be a symbol of Indian history, it would be the Red Fort aka Lal Qila. Stories of triumph and defeat, glory and conspiracy are etched in every corner of this red sandstone and marble complex built by Shah Jahan in 1639. Architecturally, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is an everlasting icon of the Mughal style blended with design elements from India and Central Asia. Good to know: Red Fort is open Tuesday to Sunday from sunrise to sunset. Entry fee for foreign visitors is priced USD 7, and there is an additional fee for filming. Prices for the daily light and sound show are USD 1. Fun fact: Red Fort was originally known as Qila-e-Mubarak, meaning 'Blessed Fort' and is the largest historical monument in Delhi.

3. RELAX AT LODI GARDENS One of Delhi’s best-loved parks, Lodhi Gardens is a mesmerising mix of lush greenery and historical relics. Plus, it is in the proximity of some well-known attractions on the tourist circuit. When in Delhi, start your day with a walk in Lodhi Gardens and you would join the ranks of heads of state and celebrities who consider it as one of the top activities to do in Delhi. As you stroll across the garden, take in the quiet charms of Sikandar Lodi’s tomb and look out for Athpula Bridge dating back to Emperor Akbar’s time. The park is open all year round and entry is free. Good to know: Lodi Gardens is open every day from morning to evening (from around 05:00 to 20:00). Entrance is free and there is no fee for photography either. The nearest metro station is JLN Stadium.

4. DO NOT MISS THE LOTUS TEMPLE The Lotus Temple, a sanctuary for those looking for some peace and quiet, is considered to be one of the most recognizable landmarks in Delhi because of its unique architecture. The temple has been designed to resemble the shape of a lotus, with 27 petals created out of marble. The temple might be dedicated to the Bahá’í people, but people from all sorts of religious backgrounds come here for worship. Don’t forget to leave your shoes in the shoe room before entering the temple and spend some time in its beautifully manicured gardens Good to know: The Lotus Temple is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 09:00 to 17:30.

5. SPEND SOME TIME AT HUMAYUN’S TOMB Persian designed, the tomb was built in the mid 1500’s to house the Islamic Mughal emperor known as Humayun. Along with Humayun, there are quite a few other Mughal rulers whose graves are also within the building. You can walk around the surrounding gardens and then proceed to climb a flight of stairs to the main deck. Then you can walk around the inside of the building and see the many marble tombstones. Also, located at the entrance of the attraction is a small museum showcasing some old photographs including explanations of the tomb and its history. Good to know: The monument is open daily from sunrise to sunset. There is a charge of USD 7 for foreign visitors. There is no charge for photography but a fee is payable for filming. The nearest metro station is JLN Stadium.

6. GO TO QUTUB MINAR Built in 1192 with a height of about 237 feet, Qutub Minar is the tallest tower in the world and one of the prominent UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Delhi. Although influenced by a famous minaret in Afghanistan, the design of this tapering edifice incorporates uniquely Indian motifs across its height and flanges. The key attractions here are an iron pillar that never rusts and the Qutub Festival that takes place every year in November or December. Good to know: Foreign visitors must pay an entrance fee of ₹ 30 for Indians - ₹ 500 for foreigners

7. EXPLORE OLD-WORLD ASTRONOMY AT JANTAR MANTAR An equinoctial sundial and observatory that features 13 astronomical apparatuses built on a scale that is hard to imagine, Jantar Mantar is one of the best places to visit in Delhi with family and kids. Though the complex was built way back in 1724, some of the instruments are still well-preserved. The Samrat Yantra can pinpoint the location of planetary bodies and the direction of the North Pole while the Rama Yantra was meant to study the heights of stars from the surface of the earth.

8. PAY RESPECT AT RAJ GHAT Any trip to India is never complete without paying your homage to the founding father of modern India, Mahatma Gandhi. The leader of the Indian Freedom Movement left his mark all over the globe because of his ideals of non-violence and his attitude of caring for others. The Raj Ghat is a beautiful memorial that has been dedicated to Gandhi and is the very place where he was cremated. While visiting the Raj Ghat, walk into its central courtyard in order to walk around the black marble memorial. Good to know: The Gandhi Memorial is open daily, 06:30 – 18:00; there is no entrance fee. The nearest metro station is Kashmiri Gate.

9. AKSHARDHAM TEMPLE An epitome of brilliant architecture, Akshardham is one of Delhi’s finest structures that is way different from your typical temples. Other than being a place of worship, this sanctum educates visitors about the life of Swaminarayan (to whom the temple is dedicated) through the use of vivid techniques like cinema and interactive activities. To make it interesting for small kids visiting the temple, there is also a boat ride that takes you through a lit cave depicting the story of Swaminarayan through electronic human figurines and narration. Witnessing the colorful light and sound show at night here is also one of the most exciting activities to do in Delhi. Good to know: The Akshardham Temple opens at 9:30 and last entry is at 18:30. Entry to the temple complex is free but tickets are required to the exhibition and the Musical Fountain. Children under 4 are free. Photography is forbidden inside the complex and all electronic equipment must be left in the cloakroom

10. BOATING ON NAINI LAKE Delhi’s own Naini Lake is open to the public after around five years. The water body offers a peaceful spot to spend a lazy day amid the hustle and bustle of the city. One of Delhi’s largest lakes, the newly-revamped attraction offers paddle-boat rides, a perfect activity.