New Delhi was planned as the imperial capital of the British Raj, when it decided to shift its capital from Kolkota (Calcutta) in 1911. The new city, which was completed in 1931, sits alongside Delhi, which has been settled for 2,500 years and served as the capital of Islamic India under the Mughals from 1649 to 1857.
With 11 million people in the city and more than 17 million in the metropolitan area, Delhi is India’s second biggest city after Mumbai and in the world’s top 10 most populous cities. It is a microcosm of India itself and its multicultural population help make Delhi the cosmopolitan city it is today.
A symbol of this is Delhi’s fine cuisine and truly world-class restaurants. You can find regional restaurants in almost any Delhi neighbourhood and many world-class establishments serving international flavours as well as local specialities.
While New Delhi is marked by wide boulevards, impressive office blocks and fancy hotels, Old Delhi is a rambunctious maze of medieval bazaars and winding alleys. The sheer number of people, cars, rickshaws, smells, shops and sights make Delhi a unique global city. National Geographic has named it in the world’s top 50 ultimate cities to visit.
As the capital to one of the most important economies in the world today, Delhi has prospered as the capital of India and is a growing centre of importance in global business and commerce.
When to go:
The best time to visit Delhi is from November to March.
- The heart of New Delhi is Connaught Place, with seven streets running off it. The identical colonnaded buildings here house shops, restaurants, offices and hotels. It represents the precision with which the British built the new city.
- Wander around the Red Fort (Lal Quila), which represents the splendour of the Mughal Empire. It was built in the 17th century by Shah Jahan as the palace of his new capital, which would be the seventh city of Delhi.
- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Humayun’s Tomb, built in the 16th century by the Persian-born wife of the second Mughal Emperor, Huamayun. It is a fine example of Mughal architecture.
- Don’t miss Qutb Minar, also World Heritage listed. The red sandstone minaret, reaching over 72m into the sky, is the world’s tallest brick minaret and was completed in 1386.
- The magnificent Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India and another of Shah Jahan’s masterpieces. Completed in 1658 is a must-see sight in Delhi.
- Explore the bazaars of Old Delhi and buy handicrafts from all over India.
- Spend some time in the National Museum in Central Delhi. It contains thousands of artefacts reflecting India’s rich history.
- Take some time to immerse yourself in the displays at Gandhi Smriti, a museum devoted to the life and teachings of Gandhi.
- Hang out with Delhi hipsters in Haus Khas Village where you can shop, eat and party the night away in bohemian bars.