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The Ultimate Delhi Layover Guide | Best Things to Do in Delhi


Things to Do in Delhi  48 hours | Delhi Travel Guide
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Delhi, India, (नई दिल्ली) is the national capital of India and one of my favorite cities.  As a vast country with diverse terrain, 29 states and a population of over 1.2 billion, Delhi is one of the main cities which offers a large mixture of urban and historical variety.

Trains, scams, and sightseeing … I had an exciting 10 hours to experience a city I love!   Seeing as I had a 48 hour (actually 10 hours!) layover, I thought I’d write a Delhi travel guide and share top things to do in Delhi on a  ‎layover?  A lot!

From train station to airport

Arriving into Delhi Cannt Station  (one of twelve stations in Delhi) at 5:00 am,  I had a 10 hour layover to burn through before flying out through Delhi domestic airport.  My original plan was to visit the international airport’s lounge for a shower and to store my things in left luggage (I had seen it when I first arrived)

I hailed a auto rickshaw to the international airport ‘s free shuttle bus terminal. Supposedly, taxi’s are not allowed to go further than that or so I was told. Either way, the shuttle bus to the airport terminal was free and only a 10 minute ride.

I knew the Delhi International Airport had a nice and inexpensive lounge/spa at their Arrivals section. I had seen it and took a photo snap of the prices and services thinking it would be helpful for times like… now.

Note: Both the international and domestic airports have strict security, so unless you have a flight ticket to leave, you aren’t allowed to enter.  So much for a shower in the international lounge. 

Plan A was out. Thankfully, left luggage storage was outside the airport and for around 500Rs, I was able to leave until my flight.

However, just as I was set to jump on the  Delhi metro, I realized  I left my Delhi travel guide book in my bag at left luggage!  No way.

Yeah…. way.

Things to do in Delhi, delhi taxi

Things to do in Delhi

When things don’t go as planned in India

There’s one lesson I’ve learned in traveling India…. things don’t always go as you’ve planned.  Whether it’s lack of thorough research on my part or something breaks down or whatever, India is good in reminding me to accept the unexpected and to go with the flow.

Indians don’t fight the inevitable. Instead, they deal with it by casually going along with it, waiting and taking the next best option.

Traveling this India for a month, when things haven’t worked out, it’s often led to me finding better resources and seeking options in directions, I never knew existed.

Things to do in Delhi, India Gate Delhi, top delhi attractions, top attractions delhi

Things to do in Delhi: India Gate Delhi

Things to Do in Delhi in 48 Hours

Thanks to the helpful folks at the Make My Trip airport counter, I was pointed to a perfectly inexpensive layover solution with HOHO Delhi.While the video will show you what I did in a day, I’ll list other options for sights which I’ve seen in my past trips and which should not be overlooked.

1. HOHO Delhi

HOHO Delhi is Delhi Tourism’s Hop On Hop Off Tourist Bus and is Delhi’s best kept tourist secret for skirting you around the city highlights with speed, value and ease. It’s for both, foreign and Indian travelers. It stops at most main sights around Delhi, with a 40 minute period (70 minutes closer to lunchtime) between bus pickups. It allows you to choose the amount of time you want to spend at a stop and which sights you want to see. There are attendants onboard to answer your questions.  The only thing that might be able to get you around as well as this, is hiring a driver. Getting there: Finding the office at Connaught Place can be tricky. Make sure you don’t go to the wrong tourism office or are led by fake guides. HOHO is a branch service of the Official Delhi Tourism.

Admission: 1,000 Rs ( 500 Indian) (I paid only 800Rs due to it being a holiday)  Ticket has 1 and 2 day validity.  Website: www.hohodelhi.com

2. Gurudwara Bangla Sahib

Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is quite possibly the most epic gurudwara I’ve seen in Delhi.  Step inside and you’ll hear qwali music and see Sikh prayer rituals that will make you want to drop to your knees.  Interestingly, the ghat pool outside holds carp.  Free temple food is also offered.  Admission: Free

In Sikhism, before you enter the temple, you’d wash your hands and feet to purify and prepare yourself for worship.

Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Things to do in Delhi, India Gate Delhi, top delhi attractions, top attractions delhi

Gurudwara Bangla Sahib

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Sikh temple rituals: Wearing a headdress

3. India Gate

The India Gate is a war memorial set in the heart of Delhi. See the India Gate from the road or see it up close. It’s impressive and reminiscent of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe.   Admission:  Free

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Things to do in Delhi: India Gate Delhi

4. Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum

I didn’t know much about the life of Indira Gandhi or her family. Step inside her estate turned museum and I quickly found out. The exhibition  resonates hard, showcasing photos, Indira’s rooms & belongings, …even the last clothes she and her son were wearing upon assassination. Finally, the place on her property where she finally fell to her own guard’s bullet. This is a highly underrated exhibition.  Admission: Free

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Things to Do in Delhi: Indira Gandhi memorial delhi

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5. Quatab Minar

Quatab Minar is a World Heritage as it’s said to be the tallest brick minaret in the world, but it’s also a complex of historical monuments reminiscent of Rome’s Collosium. Walking around the complex can take you several hours.   Made of red sandstone and marble, Qutub Minar is 240 feet tall and has taken over 75 years to complete.   Inside the tower, there is a spiral staircase with 379 steps leading to the top.  This spot can take a few hours to go through leisurely, if you have the time.  Hous:  7am to 5pm, daily   Location: Qutub Minar station  Cost: India/foreigner Rs 10/250

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6. Befriending travelers

There’s always opportunities to meet other travelers and you’ll find Indians love to travel neighboring states.  There’s a real heart and spirit to meeting Indians who are touristing other destinations and you can get great insight and tips into their lives in the cities they come form and where you might want to travel to next.  A lot of Indians I meet are sincere, warm, generous and they’ll treat you like family.  I’ve been traveling India for a month, meeting mostly Indian travelers and locals, I didn’t feel lonely for a second!

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7. Baha’ai Temple (aka Lotus Temple)

The first time I saw the Baha’ai Temple was years ago from the street and I thought it was enough. I was wrong.

It is unique due to its striking lotus like architectural design. The Baha’ai faith is accepting of all religions and faiths, so anyone is allowed to enter and sit as long as they please .  You’re allowed to go inside the temple but you must be silent (no photos, please).  The design of the domed ceiling is breathtaking. It’s a beautiful place for a quiet meditation on life..  Admission: Free  Website: www.bahaindia.org

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Things to Do in Delhi:  Lotus Temple

8. Chandni Chowk

Chandi Chowk  (chandeenee chowk) is the bustling heart of a 16th century Old Delhi. The chowk is one of the oldest and busiest markets with reminiscent of traditional times. You can still see aging havelis stand strong a s tradesmen and craftsmen sell their wares, while rickshaws roam the streets and workers transport mountainous goods from one end of the chowk to another. By far, one of my favorite spots in Delhi!  

Nearby highlights:

Red Fort  (home of a Mughal emperor for 200 years and houses museums), Jama masjid (built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1656, regarded as one of India’s largest mosques) and  Haldirams ( Haldiram is a popular sweets and snack shop located in Connaught Place and Chandni Chowk).

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Other places to visit in Delhi

Here’s some other noteworthy places I didn’t visit on this trip but have in another.

Hamayuns tomb—  Built in 1570, this is the first garden tomb in India. A UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it’s Mughal Islamic architecture and memorial has also been said to have inspired the Taj Mahal.

 Connaught Place-  Connaught Place (otherwise known by Indians as CP) is a huge spiraling outdoor shopping mall housing restaurants, mobile service providers, boutiques and is a hub of commercial activity and for metro connections.  Make your way deeper inside through the streets and you’ll find smaller businesses.   If you want to see the Indian metro at its busiest, just come to this stop and hang out.  Metro: Connaught Place

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Getting Around in Delhi

Delhi is a city that’s well-connected by its public transportation. If you didn’t want to hire a driver for the day, then the local bus and metro  are well-maintained, clean, safe and can be your best survival tools for getting around.   The metro system is fairly easy to use and there’s a map at each station.  Alternate options: taxis, rickshaws (all are fair inexpensive but often haggling is required)

Accommodations in Delhi:

Paharganj is a popular traveler’s spot with loads of guesthouses and hotels. It’s convenient leaping ground for your activities. However, the area can feel gritty. It houses small merchant shops and is much like a local bazaar.  While I’m not a fan of Paharganj per se, the fact it’s now got a metro stop in its neighborhood, makes it homebound for me.  It’s also a stone’s throw from  Old Delhi Railway Station, making early morning departures easy.

Hostels aren’t a term  in India, but recently, a hip and boutique hostel chain opened up for modern travelers (wifi available). I’ve seen a couple of their hostels; book in advance as spaces  fill up fast.

Zostel Delhi ,(conveniently located across the street from the New Delhi Railway Station– side next to Paharganj, walking distance). Zostel is India’s first chain of backpackers’ hostels (they have locations in Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Jodhpur,  Varanasi and Goa)

Other hotels I’ve stayed at in the Paharganj area.  Cottage Ganga Inn (conveniently located near Ram Krishna Ashram Marg metro station) and Hotel Grand Godwin (I stayed here almost 10 years ago though) are both clean hotels with spacious rooms and bathrooms ensuite. Expect to pay at the lowest $20USD.

Did you enjoy this post? What are some things to do in Delhi I might have left out?  Let me know in the comments or by sharing it on social media.  Don’t forget you can follow me on Facebook,Instagram and Twitter!

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2 Comments

  1. these photos are awesome of India

  2. agnesstramp says:

    HOHO Delhi should be definitely on the list, totally agree with that!! 🙂

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