Delhi, Capital city of India.
Delhi is the capital of India, and it has about 27 million inhabitants (Nov 2022). The city is more or less made up of two parts, the very busy old Delhi where you will find many mosques, forts and other ancient sights and the more modern New Delhi with wide streets and high offices. As you will see in the rest of India, the contrast is great. Delhi is a logical starting point for a journey through northern or central India. However, it is also directly one of the most intense places in India, so a few days is enough.
The Red Fort, Old Delhi:
The Red Fort (Lal Quila) was built in the 17th century by Shah Jahan, who also had the Taj Mahal built. It used to be an important military building, nowadays it hardly has a function anymore. India's independence was declared in 1947 in the fort and the president gives a speech every year on Independence Day (15 August). It is a huge Fort and ideal to escape the hustle and bustle of Old Delhi. It is also beautifully built and nice souvenirs are sold. Entrance for tourists is 600 Rupees for foreigners.
Jama Masjid Moskee, Old Delhi:
Jahan also had the Jama Masjid Mosque built in the same century as the Fort was built. Today this is still the largest mosque in India and also one of the largest in Asia. Even non-believers can visit the mosque on the outside area. Sometimes you can even see thousands of people praying. This Mosque is located on the busiest square of Delhi Chandni Chowk.
Entrance was 300 Rupee per person for foreigners, and we had to wear a cloth which we had to rent for 50 Rupee. Shoes off for a visit. And as in many places in India, everyone wants their picture taken with you, so be prepared. And every now and then I'm willing to say no in order to look around for yourself and take in the beautiful mosque.
Chandi Chowk, Old Delhi:
In the hectic shopping street of Chandni Chowk, you get to know India. This is the busiest place in Delhi and you will know it. There is a huge market, but frankly too busy for us. But you will also have a great time in the shopping street with many stalls and shops. Incidentally, at the front of this street was a large spice market, again extremely busy but also great to taste the atmosphere.
Hauz Khas Fort:
Built in the 14th century by Sultan Alauddin Khilji, the Hauz Khas fort complex houses a mosque, a madrasa, Feroz Shah's tomb, and of course Hauz Khas or Royal Tank. The front garden and the pathway leads along to the inner chambers where almost all the stone walls and metal doors are still intact. Furthermore, you'll find old inscriptions on the southern entrance to Feroz Shah's tomb which was repaired in 1508 by Sikander Lodi. Hauz Khas fort has absolutely gorgeous views of the lake. Entry ticket: INR 25 for Indian visitors and INR 300 for foreign visitors.
Hauz Khas deer park:
Towards the Fort of Hauz Khas is a large park, the deer park. A nice place to retreat for a while and enjoy peace and quiet. The central point of the park is a large lake. This park is free to visit, and from the park you can admire the outer facade of the fort, as well as other old buildings. Despite the name, we did not see any deer, but we did see other interesting animals such as the Mongoose and some huge flying foxes.
Hauz Khas area:
Hauz Khas in itself is a very nice neighborhood to visit. In addition to the Fort and the park, you also have a wonderfully nice and quiet center. Very much different from the hustle and bustle of Old Delhi. At the same time, you do feel that this is not the real Delhi here.
But nevertheless, Hauz Khas is easy to reach from Deli by Metro. You have some parks and markets and a nice center with some good restaurants. We found it very enjoyable around Hauz Khas Road. Here are some good sandwich shops and even a Subway restaurant.
Beware of scams:
Unfortunately, there is a lot of poverty and addiction in Delhi, which is why this is also a place where many scammers are active. First of all, be aware of possible pickpockets. Preferably carry your belongings in a backpack with a lock, and wear it on your chest in busy places.
We walked 19km through Old Delhi and everything went well, but you pass a lot of dark places. We regularly ran into men who told us we were walking in an unsafe location, all wanted to send us to a tourist office for help and advice. However, these are unreliable agencies that want to offer you a tourist pass and expensive tours. So don't fall for this and just continue on your way. The very best is actually just visiting Old Delhi with a guide or tuctuk, there are a lot of dark alleys where you don't necessarily enjoy walking around.
Another common scam trick is that people at the station indicate that you have the wrong ticket and that you need to buy a new one, or that you need a tourist pass to take the train. This is a lie! Your purchased ticket is valid. So buy your tickets online in advance and don't be fooled.
There are tons of other tricks that scammers use, and we met at least 10 people who tried something. But here too it is important to just follow your mind and not take everything from unknown, and everything will be fine.