“Ik roz apni rooh se poocha, ki dilli kya hai, toh yun jawab main keh gaye, yeh duniya mano jism hai aur dilli uski jaan.”
(One day I asked my soul: what is Delhi? She replied: The world is the body and Delhi is its soul.)
– Mirza Ghalib
Remember the famous lyrics from the movie Delhi 6?
“Iske baaye taraf bhi dil hai,/ Iske daaye taraf bhi dil dil hai,/ Yeh shehar nahi mehfil hai / Yeh delhi hai mere yaar…”
Delhi is the city that has stolen the heart(dil) of millions of Indians and foreigners for ages, and when it dresses up in the decorative lights of the festive season, its beauty becomes irresistible. Every lane of this city has some hidden stories of festivals. Let’s uncover the breathtaking beauty of Delhi. Give it a read before planning your next tour in the festival holidays.
Traveling during the festivals has always been of immense joy and unforgettable experience. With the conditions gradually normalizing to pre-Covid levels and restrictions being lifted, India saw a massive surge in the number of domestic as well as international travelers in this festive season.
Delhi, Goa, Jaipur, and Mumbai remained to be the most preferred domestic destinations for the Indians. Here I am going to share one such travel experience of me and my parents in Delhi during the festive season. So, stay tuned till the end of the article!
It was during Navratri that I along with my parents were traveling to Delhi. I always love to travel by train, even long distances as it gives me the scope of having diverse experiences. So, we reached Delhi in the evening by Rajdhani Express and after checking out from NDLS we booked a cab on OLA and headed to my guest-house towards Paharganj. As the festive mode was on, Paharganj, one of the most tourist-friendly areas of Delhi was overwhelmed with tourists. It’s always advisable and especially during the festivals to book your hotels or guesthouses beforehand as there’s too much rush and it might be a nightmare for searching the hotels.
Red Fort: Located in the heart of the city the Red Fort is well-connected by all modes of transport and can be reached by cab and bus. If you plan to take the metro then board off at the Chandni Chowk metro station. Alternatively, you can take a bus and get down at Kashmiri Gate Bus Station, the nearest to Red Fort.
The view of the Red Fort is amazing; the Indian tricolour flag stands tall at its ramparts, and then the picturesque Diwan-e-Aam, Diwani-e-Khas, Rang Mahal and various other monuments add to its charm. Take a local tour guide if you are visiting for the first time. In the evening an exuberant light and colour show is displaying the history of Red Fort.
Jama Masjid: Less than 1 km to the Red Fort lies the Jama Masjid, the great mosque of Delhi. It is one of the largest mosques in Asia. One is awestruck when walking up the steps to reach the entrance to the mosque. The vast courtyard has pigeons cooing, old men, women and children resting & chatting or offering prayers at the mosque. And the view from up there is one of the most fantastic sites in Delhi.
Chandni Chowk: What is Delhi without visiting Chandni Chowk? So we next headed towards this historic market, which is also one of the largest in Asia. The streets were overflowing with people owing to the festivities around. We started our walk at Digamber Jain Lal Mandir, the one famous for its bird hospital. With Red Fort forming the backdrop, we follow the main street of Chandni Chowk right up to the Sisganj gurudwara. On the way is Gauri Shankar temple, SBI building, Dariba Kalan and its famous jalebi shop and the Central Baptist Church. The fountain chowk where Sisganj stands has many important landmarks: it marks the spot where Guru Teg Bahadur’s & his followers were tortured and killed and there is a museum dedicated to their memory.
The chowk also has the Sunehri Masjid where the notorious raider Nadir Shah stood to watch the massacre of citizens of Delhi. The Ghantewala Shahi halwai was originally located at the chowk. We leave the main street at Parathewali Gali and enter the lane famous for its shops selling stuffed fried bread (parathas).
Humayun’s Tomb: The next day we started with Humayun’s Tomb. We walked up to the entrance, went upstairs, and roamed around in corridors. The scene is calm and relaxing as beautifully manicured lawns all around the tomb give lovely views amid the densely populated city surrounding the area.
Qutub Complex: After heading out from Humayun’s Tomb, the next on our list was the Qutb Minar. The tower was started by Qutub-ud-din Aibek, the first sultan of the first Delhi Sultanate and finished by his son-in-law, Shams-ud-din Iltutmish. The un-rustable, 7m tall Iron Pillar from the Gupta era occupies a central location in the complex. The site also houses the tomb of Iltutmish and the intricate Alai Minar – a failed attempt by Ala-ud-din Khilji to outdo the Qutub Minar and his more successful attempt to build a gateway to the mosque.
Lotus Temple: It was already afternoon and the only monument left for the day was the Lotus Temple. So without wasting any time further and skipping our lunch we boarded the metro from Haus Khas to Kalkaji Metro Station. The Lotus Temple houses the Baha’i faith of worship and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. People from all faiths and castes can be seen visiting the Lotus Temple. The sacred writings of not only the Baháʼí faith but also other religions can be read and/or chanted, regardless of language, on the other hand, reading non-scriptural texts is forbidden, as are delivering sermons or lectures, or fund-raising.
Dilli Haat: Is travelling even justified without shopping? Well, most women would agree with me. So we ended our tiresome yet memorable day by shopping at Dilli Haat. The 6 acres of land on which this complex is situated was salvaged as part of a reclamation project and transformed into a plaza. Extensive foundation work, small thatched roof cottages and kiosks give the plaza a village atmosphere. Products offered may include rosewood and sandalwood carvings, embellished camel hide footwear, sophisticated fabric and drapery, gems, beads, brassware, metal crafts, and silk & wool fabrics. It is a good place to visit with family and friends.
Rashtrapati Bhavan: Circuit one of Rashtrapati Bhavan takes the visitors on a tour of the main building, showing them the Forecourt and premier rooms of the Bhavan including, the Banquet Hall, Ashok Hall, Durbar Hall, Library, North Drawing Room, Long Drawing Room, Navachara and more. RBMC comprises three distinct buildings – The Clock Tower, The Stables and The Garages. The Museum showcases exquisite and invaluable artefacts for lovers of art, culture, heritage and history. Often referred to as paradise, circuit three will take the visitors through the world-famous Mughal Gardens, showcasing them the Rectangular, Long and Circular Gardens, the Herbal Garden, Musical Garden and finally the Spiritual Garden.
Akshardham Temple: After completing our visit to the Rashtrapati Bhavan we headed towards Akshardham Temple. An engineering marvel and architecture in itself it never fails to mesmerize the audience. The temple is dedicated to Swaminarayan who is regarded as the manifestation of God. The temple complex is huge and is adorned with 20000+ deities in a beautiful pattern. Besides, the 10-min long boat ride inside the temple complex showcasing India’s ancient technological advancements and history is never to miss! At night, the temple complex lightens and looks even more beautiful. One should not miss visiting this temple for a calm and refreshing experience.
Connaught Place and India Gate: It was almost 8 pm by the time we came out of the temple complex, so we decided to head out to Connaught Place for having our dinner and then take a gentle walk by the side of India Gate. The snack shops all around are the best bet for Delhi street food. If you go before 10 pm, you can walk up to the Amar Jawan Jyoti in memory of all the soldiers lost in the war.
The next morning, we had to board the train back from Delhi. I didn’t feel like leaving as I fell in love with this wonderful place. Delhi is a perfect blend of history, cultures and diversity. One should never miss visiting Delhi at least once during their lifetime!
How to Reach Delhi:
By Flight: Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi is well connected to almost all airports across the globe.
By Train: There are 4 major railway stations in Delhi – Anand Vihar Terminal, Delhi Junction, Hazrat Nizamuddin, New Delhi Railway Station, all connected to different parts of the country,
By Road: Delhi is well connected through roads through NH 1, NH 2, NH8, NH 10 and NH 24.