Delhi offers a captivating mix of medieval and modern cultures with its Old and New parts, each with its own specific charm. Old Delhi, built by Mughal Emperor Shahjehan in the 17th century, still retains its medieval character with hints of the Middle East in its narrow streets. New Delhi is like any other modern city with tall buildings, huge shopping centres and smart cafes, bars and restaurants serving a delicious mix of global cuisine.
Our sample tour ideas in Delhi
The magnificent Red Fort or Lal Qila was built by Mughal Emperor Shahjehan. Within its fortifications are exquisite palaces, the Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque, the Diwan-i-Am or the hall of public audience and the finely ornamented Diwan-i-khas or hall of private audience, where the Mughal emperors held court seated on the bejeweled golden Peacock Throne.
Located just opposite the fort is the imposing Jama Masjid, one of the largest and the most elegant mosques in India. It can hold up to 25,000 people. It has three gateways, four angle towers and two minarets standing 40m high, and is constructed of alternating vertical strips of red sandstone and white marble.
Traditional Businesses of Old Delhi
Take a walking or cycle rickshaw tour of the by-lanes of Old Delhi. Visit old-fashioned shops where you can test Indian perfume (attar) from cut-glass bottles. Saunter through the main bridal street of Old Delhi, Kinari Bazaar, with its dazzling display of embroidered silk sarees, beautiful bangles and colourful turbans for the bridegroom. The Khari Baoli is all about spices – here, rice and pulses, dry fruits, nuts and saffron dealers have traded for more than 150 years.
Humayun’s Tomb is another magnificent Mughal building built in 1565-66 and set in a square enclosed garden. This finely proportioned structure in red sandstone and marble served later as a model for the Taj Mahal.
Dominating the ruins of the earliest existing settlement of Delhi is the city’s famous landmark – the Qutab Minar. The superb buildings in this complex date from the onset of Islamic rule in India. This imposing victory tower (73m) has five storeys, each marked by intricately carved projections or balconies. Elaborately carved pillars embellish the courtyard of a nearby mosque. At the centre of the courtyard is the amazing Iron Pillar (4th-5th century A.D.), which has not rusted through the centuries.