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Delhi

Historic, vibrant, majestic and intense, a visit to Delhi is a heady experience. With a population of over 20 million, after Mumbai Delhi is the second most populated city in India. Delhi is India’s capital city and the most common starting point for tailor-made holidays to India. As seasoned travellers to India and devoted Indophiles, Delhi is a place we never tire of at Ampersand. It is an incredibly dynamic city jam-packed with historical sites, Mughal architecture, cutting-edge culture, fabulous eateries and glorious hotels – from colonial-era gems to opulent modern masterpieces.

The city has two distinct personalities: Old Delhi, dating back to the 17th century, with its chaotic atmosphere and medieval winding alleys crammed with cycle rickshaws, tuk-tuks, colourful shops and noisy street traders; and New Delhi, with spacious, sweeping boulevards built by the British in 1911 for unashamed Imperial display.

Former centre of the Mughal Empire, Old Delhi is home to the bustling shopping artery of Chandni Chowk, the old city’s commercial heart which is still one of her busiest markets. It is packed with wholesale bazaars, spice markets, sweet shops, traders shop houses, havelis and places of worship, including Hindu and Jain temples, Sikh Gurdwaras and mosques. India's largest and most important mosque, Jama Masjid, was built in the 17th century by the mighty Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, and has the capacity to hold up to 25,000 worshippers. The original translation was “the mosque that commands the view of the world” and it is one of the central landmarks of the Old City.

Next to Jama Masjid, the UNESCO protected Red Fort (Lal Qila) looms handsomely over the city. Also built by Shah Jahan, today much of this extensive military fort can be explored by visitors and it now contains a museum. Just south of the Red Fort, Raj Ghats is the location of Mahatma Gandi’s cremation in 1948, which is now a memorial site surrounded by green gardens housing an ‘eternal flame’.

Located to the south of Old Delhi, New Delhi was constructed on an impressive scale and is home to the capital’s most distinguished addresses, including Rashtrapati Bhawan, formerly known as the Viceroy’s House, where India’s President resides. Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker's tree-lined avenues radiate out from Connaught Place and India Gate, blending colonial and vernacular styles. Standing proud in the heart of New Delhi, India Gate is the country’s national monument commemorating the 70,000 Indian soldiers who died fighting for the British Army in World War I, and it is a popular spot with tourists and Indians alike.

New Delhi has a spectacular array of museums, gardens, temples and mausoleums. Humayun's Tomb, for instance, built in 1565, is one of the earliest examples of Mughal architecture in India and one of our favourite historical sites in Delhi. This ancient mausoleum is set in a wonderfully peaceful and intimate spot amongst leafy gardens, water features and neem trees full of hoopoe birds. The tomb inspired several major architectural innovations, culminating in the construction of the Taj Mahal.

Qutub Minar is another unmissable site. It was constructed in 1192 and it is the highest stone tower and the tallest Islamic structure in India. Built by Qutab-ud-din-Aibak and completed by his successors, this soaring 73-metre-high tapering tower was erected to proclaim victory after the defeat of Delhi's last Hindu kingdom. With verses from the Quran carved on its sandstone walls, the tower has five storeys with projecting balconies and at the foot of the tower is the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. 

For those wanting to indulge in some retail therapy, Delhi's shopping is simply unbeatable: from sari silks to contemporary fashion, crafts and jewellery, a variety of shopping can be found at market stalls, in old-fashioned shops and modern malls. A more recent phenomenon is the thriving nightlife and an increasing number of trendy bars, clubs and restaurants are opening across the city.

Features in the following itineraries

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