New Delhi City Guide

The ancient, the modern and the colourful come together in Delhi, India’s incredible capital.

Capturing the essence of India, Delhi is a melting pot of culture, religion, history and cuisine – a place where differences and contrasts unite the minds and hearts of local people.

To walk the storied streets of Delhi is to experience the real India. The city is wrapped up in the history of the country at large – for centuries serving as its capital under successive rulers and regimes. From the early Muslim sultanate and the powerful Mughal Empire, to the lasting influence of the British colonies, here is a city which was fought over for centuries, only to emerge as one of the most vibrant and diverse cities on Earth.

Whether you’re passionate about Indian cuisine, a great lover of Hindu culture or simply want to experience the thrill of a rickshaw ride – Delhi is a destination like no other. Here, we explore the Indian capital in all its splendour.

Architectural Highlights

Successive rulers, religions and occupiers have each left their mark on Delhi, gifting the city a trove of architectural treasures to savour. Here, we explore a handful of Delhi’s must-see landmarks.

Jama Masjid

delhi city guide
The greatest mosque in all of India, Jama Masjid was built in the 17th century and later completed by Shan Jahan, the Mughal emperor responsible for two of India’s other great architectural icons: the Red Fort and the Taj Mahal. Highly decorative and comprising of three heavy gates, four towers and two 40-metre towers bedecked in red sandstone and white marble, the mosque is an impressive heritage wonder that remains one of Delhi’s most significant and influential religious sites. Visitors are encouraged to hire robes before entering the mosque, so they’re able to really immerse in the experience.

Humayun's Tomb

delhi city guide
The earliest example of celebrated Mughal architecture remaining in India. Humayun’s Tomb is an ancient mausoleum, built in 1565 in memory of the second emperor of the Mughal Empire. With a walled enclosure and magnificent garden tomb, this is one of the most illustrious burial sites of India’s former rulers, and several Mughal emperors were also laid to rest here over the centuries. The site is renowned for its spectacular planned gardens, most notably the garden squares, which are criss-crossed by several pathways and waterways. Its double-domed roof is also thought to be the inspiration behind the Taj Mahal.
Unearth the rich legacy of Jama Masjid on our Jewels of India tour.
Explore the site of Humayun’s Tomb with our Grand Discovery of India tour.

India Gate

India Gate, Delhi

The great India Gate is one of the most beloved pieces of architecture in Delhi – and for good reason. Standing at the centre of the New Delhi district of the city, the 42-metre-high memorial commemorates the lives of the 70,000 Indian soldiers who died fighting for the British Empire in WWI, and features the names of 13,516 Indian and British soldiers killed on the Northwestern Frontier in 1919. Similar to the Arc de Triomphe of Paris, India Gate sits on a foundation of local stone, and features a dome on its uppermost section which is lit with burning oil during special anniversaries. The gate is perhaps best appreciated at nightfall, when its vast profile is lit in a flood of colourful lights.

Cultural Features

Successive rulers, religions and occupiers have each left their mark on Delhi, gifting the city a trove of architectural treasures to savour. Here, we explore a handful of Delhi’s must-see landmarks.

Exploring Delhi by Rickshaw

Rickshaw in India
No visit to Delhi should pass without an exhilarating trip through the city’s energetic streets on the back of a humble rickshaw. These small, colourful vehicles are an integral part of the local culture in Delhi, symbolic of the city’s relentless pace of life and collective desire to be on the move. Less expensive and more convenient than regular taxis, they dominate Delhi’s streets from the old city to the new, as iconic as London’s black cabs or New York’s yellow taxis. During your visit to Delhi with Scenic, you’ll enjoy a tour through Old Delhi on an auto-rickshaw – the perfect way to immerse in local life in the Indian capital.

Delhi's Cultural Connections

Woman dancing during Holi festival

Delhi is one of the most diverse and vibrant cities on Earth, with a hugely multicultural and multi-ethnic population. The city is flanked by the Indian states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, each of which has had a profound influence on the culture and lifestyle of Delhi. The Indian government encourages Unity in Diversity in all Indian cities, but this is something which is arguably most visible in Delhi – where all major cultural, religious and social festivals are celebrated with gusto. Delhi’s unique culture is laid bare as you explore the city, taking in Islamic mosques, Hindu temples and ancient Christian worship sites.

Shopping in Delhi

Indian Shop

For centuries, Delhi has been one of the great trading centres of Asia, with the city itself growing out of a string of ancient trading towns like Sheikh Sarai and Yusuf Sarai. From Presidential Avenue in the heart of New Delhi to the colourful bazaars and ancient trading thoroughfares of the Old City, shopping is a way of life for local people, and visitors can expect no end of enticing stores and markets to explore. Whether you’re in the market for jewellery or handicraft homewares, or simply happy just to browse, experiencing Delhi’s vibrant retail scene is a must on your visit to the city.

Culinary Delights

From the ancient delicacies of the Mughal Empire to the nomadic, rustic plates of the Northwest Frontier; Delhi is world-renowned for its eclectic and colourful cuisine. Here, we take a closer look at the city’s foodie highlights.

Mughal Cuisine

Delicious spicy chicken biryaki

Some of Delhi’s most popular dishes originate from the Mughal Empire, which ruled throughout the medieval period. The cuisine is based on centuries-old recipes, with firm favourites including biryani, paratha, malai kofta and musallam. This type of food is everywhere in Delhi, ranging from affordable street eats to high-end restaurants, so you should have no trouble tracking it down and giving it a try.

Frontier Cuisine

Dinner near the Taj Mahal
A relatively recent addition to Delhi’s culinary scene is Frontier cuisine, which is inspired by the Northwest Frontier between India and Pakistan. A place where cultures and gastronomy collide, the tandoors of Delhi were heavily influenced by the foods and flavours of the region – creating dishes which evoke its simple, colourful and nomadic cuisine. Today, Frontier cuisine is among the most popular types of food in Delhi, with several restaurants offering their take on classic Northwest Frontier cookery.

Street Food Favourites

Sweet potato and staarfruit

As you’d expect, some of Delhi’s very best dishes are found on the street, served up by local vendors using the freshest ingredients. Whole days could be spent exploring Delhi’s street food markets, with everything from pani puri to mutton seekh kebabs on offer. Naturally, some stalls are better than others, so be sure to ask your expert local guide to point you in the direction of a vendor they’d personally recommend.

Where to find it

You’ll find street food stalls scattered throughout Delhi, but they’re particularly prevalent in the Old Delhi quarter, where you can also visit one of India’s biggest spice markets. The food stalls of Dilli Haat are said to be some of the very best in the city.

Old Delhi Quarter

If you’ve long dreamt of visiting beautiful Delhi, our escorted tours in India can help get you there – and in all exceptional Scenic luxury. Click here to download our latest India and Sri Lanka touring brochure or call our team today on 0808 115 2823.