Chandni Chowk, Delhi
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Chandni Chowk, Delhi

© Creative Commons / [Satbir]

Delhi travel guide

Delhi is a city of jarring juxtapositions: extreme wealth and outstanding beauty often alongside brutal poverty and filth. Today, many of Delhi’s less-shiny areas are seeing a rebirth, with stylish new shops and restaurants cropping up in some of the least-expected places.

India's intense and initially bewildering capital can have an almost overwhelming effect on the first-time visitor – the early impression may be of utter chaos. The traffic appears out of control, motorcycles weave dangerously among larger vehicle, pedestrians risk life and limb as they dodge across the streets. There is a constant cacophony of hooters, and livestock wanders, seemingly oblivious to the danger.

Then again, if you’re making your way here from a truly chaotic, densely-packed city like Mumbai, the stunning architecture, gorgeous green spaces and comparatively controlled traffic (yes, it is worse elsewhere) may take you by surprise.

Gradually, though, Delhi begins to make some sort of sense. It's a microcosm of Indian life, with its huge population and vast array of sights and sensations to absorb. There are monuments, mosques and tombs in abundance, impressive colonial architecture, brilliant museums, excellent restaurants, peaceful gardens and more than enough bazaars, markets and shops (both high-end and bargain).

New Delhi is remarkable for its well-planned structure. It connects some of the city’s key attractions: Rashtrapati Bhavan (the Presidential Residence), Connaught Place and India Gate, the national monument of India.

Old Delhi, on the other hand, may more closely resemble what you’ve come to expect from the bustling, crowded cities in India: crumbling walls, narrow streets jam-packed with cars, rickshaws, pedestrians and animals; people generally living life very much out in the open.

Within the chaos, you’ll find some of the most noteworthy sites in the country – Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India; Rajghat, the memorial for Mahatma Gandhi; and the famous Chandni Chowk market. Not to mention some of the best street food on earth.

What is indisputable is the fact that the beauty and history you’ll see in Delhi is unparalleled. In fact, we’ll venture a guess that your only problem will be fitting it all in.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.