Like everywhere in India, Delhi’s history lies close beneath its surface, and to understand the new, cosmopolitan city, it’s worth while beginning with a visit to Old Delhi. First head to Chawri Bazar metro station ( Originally called Shahjahanabad, Old Delhi was built as a fortifi ed citadel by the Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century. While the walls have now largely disappeared, the inner maze of narrow streets remains, and are now home to a market where you can fi nd almost anything. The trick is to know what you’re looking for – if you’re after jewellery, go to Dariba Kalan, or for colourful trinkets, try Kinari Bazar. There are also areas specialising in spices and cameras, but be prepared to haggle. Take some time to explore the area around Chandni Chowk and don’t worry too much about getting lost – the friendly locals will point you back in the right direction.


Head back to Chawri Bazar Road and aim for the elegant white domes of the Jama Masjid, which rise above the rooftops. Also built under the emperor, Old Delhi’s red sandstone mosque with delicate marble detail has seen daily prayers since it was built in the mid-17th century. Its construction took only six years, using a workforce of some 6,000 labourers and the leading architects of the day. The position of imam at the mosque has stayed in the same family since its completion in 1656, with the role passing from father to son. It has three entrances, with fl ights of stone steps leading up from the north, south and east, and is free to enter, though there is a Rs 200 charge to take a camera inside. The mosque is open from 30 minutes after sunrise to 12.15pm, and 1.45pm to 30 minutes before sunset. It’s also closed for 30 minutes in the afternoon for prayers. If you have the time, and the inclination, you can climb one of the towers (9am-5.30pm, Rs 100) for a stunning view of the old city and nearby Red Fort.


The area known as Lutyens’ Delhi, so named after the architect Edwin Landseer Lutyens, who designed the wide-avenued, grandiose New Delhi for the British, is a world away from the busy back streets of Old Delhi. Jump on the metro and head to Central Secretariat, where you can pick up an auto-rickshaw or taxi for the rest of the tour – tell the driver in advance where you want to go, and you can negotiate a rate. First stop is Rashtrapati Bhavan, otherwise known as the Presidential Palace. With its vast pillared edifi ce and Roman Pantheoninspired dome, it was built to house the British Viceroy of India and is now the official residence of the President of India. You can’t go beyond the gates but it’s worth peering through the bars at the building’s perfect symmetry, while in the other direction, at the end of Rajpath, there is a great view of the India Gate war memorial and its surrounding lawns.


The place where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, less than a year after India gained independence, is now a place of pilgrimage. Located at 5 Tees January Marg, 15 minutes’ drive south of Rashtrapati Bhavan, there is a museum explaining how the Mahatma (“great soul”) came to be offi cially honoured as the Father of the Nation, and a glass case containing his few belongings. In the gardens you’ll fi nd terracotta footprints in the outline of the distinctive wooden sandals that Gandhi wore, to mark the path he walked before he was shot at 5.17pm on January 30, 1948. The spot where he died is marked by a simple stone memorial. Behind this is an unassuming building – step inside to see the rich mural that illustrates Gandhi’s life. Visit


Next, head south to the India Habitat Centre on Lodi Road, a 20-minute journey, traffi c permitting. Designed by US architect Joseph Stein, the high brick building is home to a number of business institutions, a conference centre, a theatre and several gallery spaces. Entering into the complex is a little like stepping into a peaceful oasis, with shaded benches, water features and sumptuous greenery. Visit or

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