1. Humayun's Tomb
Hah! Bet you thought it would be food first again, huh? Not so fast my friend! Our Top 5's aren't ratings, just lists, but in this case Humayun's Tomb was a clear favorite. Arriving early in the morning after a pleasant rickshaw ride, we started exploring the whole complex, consisting of multiple compounds beyond just the tomb. The main tomb was the architectural inspiration for the Taj Mahal and it shows. Set amongst manicured gardens and water channels, the tomb was one of the first truly grand historical buildings we visited and it blew me away. As with every similar construction in India, the pictures will never do it justice.
Exploring one of the smaller tombs on the grounds, we also had one of our favorite encounters in our entire trip. As we looked around the mosque near the tomb, a young boy and his little sister walked up the path towards us as Anaïs was trying to get a picture of the tomb. The kids walked past and wandered around until their parents showed up. Then, their father told us the kids wanted a picture. Not of us, or of us with them, but they just wanted Anaïs to take a picture of the two of them, together. Afterwards, they shook our hands and said thank you, something many parents had their kids do in India. A really special moment for us, the picture is below.
You knew it was coming. I mean, Indian food is too damn good to not be a focus of any trip to the subcontinent. As with most capitals, food from all over the country is represented here and we were able to sample quite a few different dishes. We visited the institution that is Karim's, dined at Saleem's in GK1, and was treated to some fabulous dosas and other south Indian staples by a friend - thanks Bani!
Thin on advice, I know, but we only spent a few short days in Delhi and didn't explore restaurants as much as usual. Anaïs will of course have a food post detailing our culinary adventures in the country as we made it a mission to not repeat dishes for as long as we could. A simple task considering how much variety exists in Indian cuisine, but equally hard when you try something really amazing and want it over and over, which happened just about every meal. Anyway, I think we lasted 18 days before a repeat.
A special thanks to Bani and Artee for your awesome advice on what to eat!
3. Akshardham Temple and the Lotus Temple
India has many historic monuments, but Delhi is host to two incredible modern religious complexes that we thoroughly enjoyed. Akshardham Temple is a Hindu complex consecrated in 2005 that was designed and constructed on the basis of holy scripture. Impressive in size and grandeur, it provides a glimpse of what India's great temples may have been like not long after their construction. A huge amount of tourists - foreign and domestic - visit the complex, so don't expect meditative serenity. That being said, it is absolutely worth visiting.
We wish we could post a better picture, but security at the temple is pretty strict - no cameras or cell phones are allowed past the entrance, which has a cloakroom to store all of your prohibited possessions. Access is easiest by taking the metro to the Akshardham stop. Walk out the front of the building, ignore the taxi and rickshaw drivers, and turn right. Walk towards the highway and turn right onto the road that passes underneath it. You will be able to see the complex from there.
The Lotus Temple is a Baha'i complex completed in 1986 and open to all, regardless of faith. Exquisitely designed and constructed in the shape of a lotus flower, the complex is beautifully maintained and sees thousands of visitors every day. Beyond the architectural interest, our favorite part was sitting inside the temple during a service, where scripture from different religious texts were read or sung aloud. We took a rickshaw from our nearby hostel, the temple is near the Kalkaji Mandir metro stop.
4. Hauz Khas
An enclave to the west of South Delhi, this is where the younger crowd goes to let off steam. Filled with restaurants and bars, this is a popular place to hang out and get away from the city for a bit. We spent our first evening in India here with friends from our hostel and had a fun night taking in the views from a rooftop bar. If we'd spent more time in Delhi, we would have liked to come back during the day to see what it was like.
5. Red Fort
Most visits to Delhi include a stop here and we made our visit as well. A huge complex, the many different buildings provided a stunning introduction to the historic architecture we would see over and over again in our time in India. From the incredibly ornate arches, to the flower motifs, and on to the water channels used to cool buildings down, the fort contains incredible craftsmanship. As the seat of Shah Jahan's new capital, the level of detail and care shown in the remaining buildings is no surprise.
There are a ton of things worth visiting not mentioned above. We also visited Qutab Minar, the Lodhi Gardens, and Jama Masjid and all were very beautiful. We were taken to Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the largest Sikh temple in Delhi, and were able to witness the evening worshippers and their devotions. Delhi sometimes gets shunned on itineraries and that's a shame as there is plenty worth seeing there.