The capital of India is not so popular among tourists for longer durations. Most people use it as a transit point before going to other places in India and they visit few popular places in Delhi. There are so many offbeat and peaceful places in Delhi to explore other than its popular monuments like. Red Fort or India Gate etc. These are not regular tourist places but are good to experience the local culture and enjoy the Delhi. Some of these are very peaceful places in Delhi’s chaotic traffic and mad rush.
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These monuments are not on the list of must visit places in Delhi but there is a lot of history and interesting aspects associated with them. These are some unique places to see in Delhi.
The name “Purana Qila” means the “Old Fort” and by all means, it is the oldest fort in Delhi. This fort was built by Shershah Suri in the 16th Century and renovated by Mughal emperor Humayun.
The 18 meters high walls of Purana Qila are still in good condition. The 3 double story gates of the fort are made of sandstone and flanked by huge semi-circular bastion towers. Nowadays only “Bada Darwaza” or western gate is used for entering the fort. These gates are decorated with white as well as colored marbled inlays and blue tiles.
Other important places inside Purana Quila are Qila-i-Kuna Mosque, Sher Mandal, and Library. The Mughal emperor Humayun fell from the stairs of library and died after two days.
It is believed that this fort is much older than it is considered. There is excavation work going on inside the Purana Quila and place of excavation is open for visitors to see but from a distance. In earlier two rounds of excavations, ASI unearthed Painted Grey Ware dating back to 1000 BCE and the present excavation trying to find more relevant items from that era.
There is a light and sound show every evening explaining the history of “7 Cities of Delhi”. The present-day Delhi consists of 7 small cities established and developed by different rulers over the centuries.
Outside the Purana Qila is a small lake, which is a popular boating spot.
The nearest Metro station is Pragati Maidan.
This 60 meters long and 15 meters wide step well is in heart of Delhi. The historic Baoli (Stepwell) is in Connaught place and surrounded by many commercial buildings but still one of the most peaceful places in Delhi. There are no exact historical records for this Baoli’s construction but it is believed to be constructed by a Nobel trader or King of trader community.
This yellow-brown sandstone monument was an important source of water in olden days but now the water at the bottom of Baoli is not clean. This 3 story Baoli has arched niches on both sides and add to the design element. There are stairs to go down till the bottom of Baoli. The Baoli came to limelight after it was shown in a couple of Hindi movies.
Despite being located in the middle of Delhi, it is not crowded like other monuments.
The nearest Metro stations are Barakhambha and Janpath.
Mehrauli Archeological Park
The 200 acres Mehrauli archaeological park is adjacent to UNESCO’s World heritage site Qutub Minar. There are around 100 big and small historical structures scattered in this archeological park.
Most important places to visit in the area are Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb, Tomb of Balban, Quli Khan’s tomb, the Bastion of Lal Kot, Gandhak ki Baoli & Rajon Ki Baoli. This area was regularly occupied for 1000 years starting from Tomar Rajputs, Tughlaq dynasty, Lodhi dynasty, Mughals and ending with British Raj.
Mehrauli archeological park is also amongst one of the most peaceful places in Delhi especially in comparison to its neighbor Qutab Minar complex.
Now mostly in ruins, this archeological park gives a glimpse of Delhi’s rich history.
If you can manage to go for a walking tour then one can understand the area well. I like the walking tour of INTECH Delhi chapter, which they conduct once a month on Saturday or Sunday. Otherwise, go on your own but don’t go alone or after dark because the area is too big and there are very few people around.
The nearest Metro stations are Saket and Qutab Minar.
This 90 acres garden is in heart of New Delhi.
Lodhi garden has many varieties of trees, flowering plants, and shrubs. The rose garden looks most beautiful during the spring season as many varieties of roses bloom at that time. It is very popular among morning and evening walkers of the surrounding areas.
As the name “Lodhi” suggests, this area was developed by Lodhi Dynasty’s rulers. The tombs are scattered in this garden area and add to the history of Lodhi Garden. The tomb of Mohammed Shah, Tomb of Sikandar Lodi, Shisha Gumbad and Bara Gumbad are fine examples of Lodi era’s architect.
Bara Gumbad or Big Dome is in the middle of the garden. The Bada Gumbad is not a tomb but its a gateway to a three-domed masjid (mosque) next to it. There are also ruins of a residence of people. These ruins and the remains of a water tank can be seen here.
Opposite the Bara Gumbad is the Shisha Gumbad (“Glass dome”). The main attraction of this tomb is the glazed tiles used in its construction.
There was a watercourse in Lodhi Garden and it connected from the Yamuna River to Tomb of Sikandar Lodi in the garden for water supply but it is not functional now. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture has renovated the whole complex in last few years. It is another in the list of peaceful places in Delhi.
The nearest Metro stations are Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Khan Market.
This one of the single biggest fort complex in Delhi. The outer walls are 10 to 15 meters high, topped by battlemented parapets and circular bastions of up to two stories height.
The fort was built by Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq in 1321 and the area is considered as the third historic city of Delhi. The fort was abandoned by him when he shifted his capital to Aurangabad in Maharastra. According to stories, Saint Nizamuddin Auliya antagonized when Ghiyas-ud-din stopped the work on his water well (Baoli next to his dargah), which he was building for poor people and visitors. The saint cursed the king “Ya rahe ujjad, ya rahe Gujjar” which translates to “either remain inhabited or would live Gujjars (Nomadics)”. This fort was captured by Gujjars who live here in the village of Tughlakabad situated inside the fort.
The Mausoleum of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq is across the road on the southern outpost. It was earlier connected with a causeway to the fort but this causeway demolished over the centuries and later on modern construction destroyed whatever was left of it. This red sandstone tomb is visible from a distance. The Asola Bhatti wildlife sanctuary is close to the fort and a popular place for nature lovers.
The nearest Metro station is Govind Puri.
Old Delhi Tour
Take a tour of Old Delhi which is also known as Delhi 6. There are many private tour operators who conduct walking tours and take you through narrow lanes of old Delhi. Most of these tours run in and around Chandni Chowk area showing old temples, old Haveli’s (Mansions), narrow lanes, residences of a nobleman from Mughal era, 100-150 years shops, more than 100 years sweet & snacks shops.
As I mentioned earlier you can do it with many walking tours but I did it with INTECH Delhi Chapter few times. They are NGO who works for the conservation of heritage of India, the only disadvantage is that they have limited walks in a month.
The nearest Metro stations are Chandni Chowk, Chawari Bazar and Jama Masjid.
Indian spices are very popular and this market is considered Asia’s largest wholesale spice market. Khari Baoli is a long street in old part of Delhi and is popular among locals as well as foodies and tourists.
In this wholesale spice market, one can see all kinds of spices & herbs, different variety of nuts, rice, pulses, tea and many other food items. This market established around the 17th century when Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, and other major places came into existence. The Khari Baoli market is adjacent to Fatehpuri Masjid of the Chandni Chowk, which is a popular mosque of the area.
There are chaos in this market area with big sacks of spices moving from one place to another while traders conduct their daily business. The strong smell of spices can be an assault on the senses of a person but it is an experience. Most of the shops have price sign on the items and have fix prices. This market is definitely in the list of offbeat places in Delhi and a major attraction for tourists looking for unusual things.
The nearest Metro stations are Chandni Chowk and Chawari Bazar.
This was one of the earliest cantonment and establishment of the Britishers in Delhi during British Raj. Daryaganj along with Paharganj (Backpackers hub) are two buffer zones between the New Delhi and Old Delhi.
Earlier Darjaganj was till Raj Ghat and godown of Daryaganj were used to keep the goods transporting through Yamuna river to different parts of India. The name Darya (River) Ganj (neighborhood) is driven from its close proximity to the Yamuna river.
Now the Phool Mandi (Flower Market) is a popular attraction of this area.
Daryaganj market is also popular for its Sunday “Book Bazar”. This weekly market is a good place to buy books at a very low price. There are all kind of books (Educational to fiction) available here, from authors from all over the world. It is advisable to in the early morning to buy books of your choice. Other then books this Sunday market is a good place to buy old coins and stamps for collection.
In Daryaganj there are some historical monuments like Dilli gate, high walls, and bastions from the Mughal era for protection of the city from invaders. The famous Moti Mahal restaurant, where butter chicken was invented is also in Daryaganj.
The nearest Metro stations are Delhi Gate and Jama Masjid.
It is situated on Janpath road starting from the inner circle of Connaught Place. Janpath’s literal meaning is “General people’s path”.
This 1.5 km long market on one side of the road and also spread in inner lanes. It is one of the most popular markets to buy fashion clothes, shawls, stoles, fashion jewelry, fashion footwear, bags, decorative items, souvenirs and all kind of local stuff which is not available in malls. Some shops sell at fixed prices and in some shops, one has to bargain to get a good price.
Take a round of the whole market area for a look before buying anything because every shop is selling more than another shop. There are a lot of attractive items on sale. It is one of the organized places for local street shopping.
The nearest Metro stations are Janpath and Rajiv Gandhi Chowk.
Gandhi Smriti at Tees January Marg
It was formerly known as Birla House. The house originally owned by the Birla family, India’s prominent business family. Now Indian government has converted it to the Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life in this house. On 30 January 1948, he was assassinated here before evening prayers.
The museum houses a number of items associated with the life of Mahatma Gandhi. The museum is spread on the ground and first floor. On the ground floor, the important events of Gandhi’s life are showcased in pictures, write up and his quotes. On the first floor, there is an interactive museum and some interesting models on display.
In the garden area at the back of the house is a Martyr’s Column, where Mahatma Gandhi was shot. It is the most interesting place to get information on the life of Gandhi.
The nearest Metro station is Indraprastha Metro Station.
The museum is in front of Purana Qila and next to Pragati Maidan exhibition area. Once you enter the complex it gives you the feeling of a village where artisans are working and selling their art.
There is an open and a closed area in the museum to display the art. In the closed hall, they have displayed some interesting artworks with detailed description about it. In open area, they have terracotta sculptures, different art forms, rural life, huts, walls with traditionally designed murals and other days today things used by villagers.
This museum is run by Ministry of Textile and the artists exhibit Indian tapestry designs from different parts of India. It might not be in the list of must visit places in Delhi but it is an interesting place to see the several traditional craftsmen working in the designated area inside the museum complex. The artists also sell the crafts they create here.
The nearest Metro station is Pragati Maidan.
This museum is located in New Delhi area with both indoor and outdoor exhibits related to Indian railways progress. The important exhibits of the museum are Patiala state steam Monorail system, Fairy Queen which is world’s oldest working steam locomotive in operational service. Saloon of Prince of Wales, Saloon of Maharaja of Indore and Saloon of Maharaja of Mysore are other interesting exhibits here.
Inside the hall of the museum, there are several models from a different era on exhibit with a detailed history of Indian railways.
There is a toy train for visitors, on which children, as well as adults, can take a ride in the premise of Railway museum.
The nearest Metro stations are Jor Bag and INA station.
Metro Museum at Patel Chowk
This museum displays the origin of the Delhi Metro right from conception to implementation and the challenges faced along the way. This museum is South Asia’s first Metro Museum and one of its kind.
The Delhi Metro has a history of completing most of its projects on or before the deadline. In this museum, they have displayed the management and style of work which ensured timely completion.
In the museum, they have displayed the milestone moments of the Delhi Metro. There are drawing boards with artworks, the challenges they faced during construction and historic photographs of old places on display. The museum also showcases the construction of the Chawri Bazaar Metro station, which is the second deepest metro station in the world. There is a model of the Tunnel Boring Machine on display. They also showcased the technology used in operation at Metro stations. This museum is disabled friendly.
It is on Patel Chowk Metro station.
This 176-acre zoological park is situated next to Purana Qila. There are 130 species of birds and animals in this zoo from around the world.
There are jungle area and water bodies in this zoo. The all year attraction of this zoo are royal Bengal tiger, Indian rhinoceros, swamp deer, Asiatic lion, brow-antlered deer, red jungle fowl, chimpanzee, hippopotamus, spider monkey, African wild buffalo, Giraffes, Zebras, hyenas, macaques, and jaguars.
In winter months many migratory birds make this zoo their home and the main attraction for visitors.
The zoo runs conservation breeding programmes also. The zoo can be seen on foot or using a battery-operated vehicle which can be rented at the zoo.
The nearest Metro stations are Pragati Maidan and Khan Market.
This mausoleum (Dargah) belongs to the Sufi saint Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya (1238 – 1325 CE). The dargah is opposite Humanyu’s tomb and near Nizamuddin railway station. Dargah is visited by hundreds of pilgrims every day. There is a lively market area around the dargah.
Inside the dargah in the center of the compound is the grave of Nizamuddin Auliya. Outer walls of the tomb are decorated with golden and multicolor intricate design. There are few other graves and a mosque around the tomb, which belongs to his disciples.
At the other end of dargah is a Baoli, which was the main source of water for people visiting here or living in surrounding areas.
The Qawali (devotional music) session on Thursday evenings inside dargah premise are very popular among locals and tourists. Sometimes they management of dargah stops these sessions due to big crowds because it is difficult to accommodate large crowds in limited space.
The other important monuments around dargah are Chausath Khamba, Mirza Ghalib’s tomb, Barakhamba, Neela (Blue) Gumbad at the Nizamuddin roundabout.
The nearest Metro station is Jangpura.
Majnu Ka Tilla
The name Majnu ka Tila literal meaning is hillock of the lost in love. An Iranian Sufi saint named Abdullah use to live here and ferry people across Yamuna river for free in the 15th Century. The place is named Majnu Ka Tila after him. Guru Nanak Dev during his visit saw his work. He got impressed with his selfless work and hence stayed here for few months. Later on, a Gurudawara was constructed at this place to commemorate the visit of Sikh Guru.
Nowadays it is also known for its second-biggest Tibetan settlement in India.
In 1960 Indian government allocated this places in Delhi to Tibetan refugee after Dalai Lama made Mclodeganj his residence in exile. Majnu ka Tila has developed over the decades and now there are around 3000 homes in the narrow lanes of this area. There are a small monastery and a Buddhist temple in the area.
Majnu ka Tila is popular for its restaurant’s culture. Most of them serve Tibetan food along with continental food. Due to its close proximity to Delhi University, it is popular among college and university students. This place is also popular for its retail stalls and shops selling fashion wear, shoes, bookshops, curio shops, and cafes.
The lanes are narrow but clean and despite being close to India’s biggest bus depot of ISBT Delhi, it is one of the peaceful places in Delhi.
The nearest Metro station is Vishwavidyalaya and Vidhan Sabha.
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Bangla Sahib Gurudwara
This is most prominent Sikh gurudwara (house of worship) in Delhi. Situated in Delhi’s Connaught Place, this religious spot attracts people from all walks of life. This white color Gurudwara symbolizes the message of peace and harmony. Some parts of Bangla Sahib Gurdwara are decorated with pure gold.
There is a pool inside the complex and it is known as the “Sarovar”. Gurudwara was first built as a small place of worship in 1783 but over the centuries it developed into a beautiful complex. It is open for people of all religions and social stature. Despite being in the commercial hub of Delhi inside of the Gurdwara is very peaceful.
They run a 24×7 langar (Free food) service for people and anyone/everyone can eat here. The food is vegetarian and nonspicy. The kitchen is open for everyone to see and work as & when they wish to do so. One of the best place to spend time in peace.
The nearest Metro stations are Janpath, Patel Chowk, Rajiv Gandhi Chowk and Shivaji Stadium on airport line.
There are some places in Delhi, where one can spot street art on walls. Street art once considered a rebellious form of art but it is now a mainstream art form and Delhi is not untouched by it.
There are some organizations like St+Art India foundation, they are promoting and making Delhi’s streets lively and colorful with bold designs. The Delhi’s street art can be explored in the Lodhi road art district, Delhi police headquarters, Shahpur Jat, Hauz Khas, the outer wall of Tihar Jail and few places in Connaught Place. These places provide a good photo opportunity with friends while exploring the street art.
The nearest Metro station of Lodhi road art district is Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Jor Bagh.
Hauz Khas Village
It is a historic village around the Hauz Khas heritage complex. Hauz Khas area was built by Khalji dynasty in the 13th century and it remained an important center of power till 16th Century.
Now the ruins of a tomb, Neeli Masjid (Mosque), Chor Minar (where the thieves were executed) and a Lake are the main historical places left from that era.
In modern times Hauz Khas Village developed after 1960 but it came into limelight in 1980’s when some of India’s prominent designers shifted their studios in this area. From 1990’s restaurants started coming up in the area. Now Hauz Khas is one of the “happening” areas in Delhi with around 50 restaurants, bars, pubs, and cafes. These restaurants serve cuisine from all over the world and the whole area is a popular night hangout.
The nearest Metro stations are Hauz Khas and Green Park.
Kingdom of dreams
This live entertainment destination is in Gurgaon (Gurugram) and technically not in Delhi but it is much closer than many parts of Delhi.
The “Cultural Gulley” is a fully air-conditioned boulevard spread in 100,000 square feet area. There are live kitchens from 14 Indian states of India, serving regional cuisine in a setup representing the state they belong. It is one of the main attraction of KOD.
The entry ticket is 599 INR for weekdays and 699 INR for weekends, they give a smart card of this value and same can be redeemed for buying meals at cultural gully.
Kingdom of Dreams (KOD) is a leisure destination with live shows and theater performances every evening. The entertainment area is spread over 6 acres of land.
In KOD they have two theatres, Nautanki Mahal and the Showshaa theatre. The auditorium has a hydraulic stage, automated fly bars, and a matrix sound system to create a special effect and enhance the experience. The live shows are based on Bollywood themes. The tickets for the shows can be advanced booked online.
The nearest Metro stations are IFFCO Chowk and Huda City Center.
These are some of the offbeat and peaceful Places in Delhi, which one should explore to truly understand the essence of Delhi.
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