Why Kerala Will Win Your Heart – Human By Nature

Why Kerala Will Win Your Heart – Human By Nature

Every once in a while, I get an opportunity to visit a destination that completely blows my mind. I’m not talking about just the physical beauty or the food or even the culture – it is more than that. I’m talking about an extra something – the human element. 

Kerala is one such place for me.

Banana Chips in Alleppey Kerala

Banana Chips in Alleppey Kerala

If you have read my post about Alleppey’s backwaters, then you probably know that our trip to Kerala had a messed-up start. It all started when my phone screen cracked, after which one thing led to another and it ended up being a comedy of screw-ups. 

What pulled us out of our situation was the patience of our autorickshaw (tuk tuk) driver and the kindness of a cafe owner in Alleppey. That was just the start. For the next few days we were the humility and helpfulness of the locals completely won our hearts. 

Four lungi clad fishermen returning home - Alleppey Backwaters, Kerala.

Four lungi clad fishermen returning home – Alleppey Backwaters, Kerala.

 

Here’s the thing – I haven’t been to any place in the world where people aren’t nice. However, some places that are highly sought after holiday destinations are where the locals are wary of tourists. Not their fault but ours! Kerala is different.

Kerala isn’t exactly an under-the-radar kind of a place where the people haven’t been exposed to tourism. It is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Asia, thanks to its unmatched beauty and lush landscapes. Yet, it lacked the typical money hungry travel businessmen who did not want to waste a moment in squeezing out money from the travelers.

View of the village from the bridge, Alleppey backwaters area

View of the village from the bridge, Alleppey backwaters area

We all have heard of Kerala’s coastline, palm trees, coconuts, forests and tea plantation covered hills. My favorite part about Kerala is its network of canals that connect several villages with rivers, lakes and lagoons. Yep, the backwaters of Kerala.

As I saw on a government run ferry in Alleppey town, I noticed it had 90 percent locals and 10 percent international travelers. Most of the travelers had their own houseboats but we were some of the few that wanted a local experience. 

Inside the government ferry - Alleppey backwaters

Inside the government ferry – Alleppey backwaters

Most of the people on our ferry appeared to be returning back home – schoolchildren, office-goers, and just some people who probably went to Alleppey town to run some errands. In the entire process of getting the ferry tickets to waiting and boarding, we did not encounter even a single pushy seller who wanted our money.

We got off at one of the many canal-side villages and transitioned from ferry to a canoe. As we cruised at a slow pace over the narrow canals of Kerala, we truly understood the magical beauty that Kerala is famous for. 

Scenes of the village from our canoe Alleppey backwaters Kerala

Scenes of the village from our canoe Alleppey backwaters Kerala

It was rhythm of the sound of birds with the music of water, the smell of vegetation combined with the dampness of the surroundings, the touch of breeze on my face along with gentle water droplets on my arms. The most obvious aspect was right in front of our eyes. It was the sight of Mother Nature truly spreading out all her wings thanks to the generous rainwater and the sun Gods.

Here, Mother Nature is nurtured, respected and loved. There is a celebration of life in every form. Kerala is truly Human by Nature. Before you go further, watch this video by Kerala Tourism which is a part of their Human by Nature campaign.

We spent most our day with a local family that had invited us for lunch. In all honesty, it was an experience that was organized by some locals along with a family from one of the villages along the canals.

We sat outside their “perfect house” together in the shade of a tree. Yes, the house is everything that I ever wish for. It was along one of the narrow canals. The house had its own garden with plenty of big trees – mango trees, banana trees, jackfruit trees and many more that I did not recognise.

Kerala Paddy fields and farmer

Kerala Paddy fields and farmer

We walked along the canals and saw paddy fields. After every few minutes, a narrow shikara (wooden canoe) would pass us by and I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of good natured envy for their enriched life. There were people selling fish on these boats, one man was even selling freshly picked fruits and another one with flowers.

After walking around for a while, we sat with the same family and ate rice with fish on banana leaves. The food tasted better than what I ate in any restaurant in Kerala. It was more than just the taste, but it was the entire experience.

We went back to the canals again on our canoe and saw some of the most amazing sights. As the sun went down, our day with the locals ended and it was time to go back to Alleppey town. 

Kerala surely won my heart with its people, beauty and nature. Let it win yours too! Go visit this God’s own country and support local businesses.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Kerala tourism but the opinions expressed here are mine. 

Why Canoeing Through Alleppey Backwaters is Better than a Houseboat [Kerala]

Why Canoeing Through Alleppey Backwaters is Better than a Houseboat [Kerala]

Information about Alleppey Backwaters, canoeing in Alleppey and Houseboats.

Our Kerala trip did not have the best start. We couldn’t find our hotel, my phone screen cracked, and one of us lost our bank cards. In the midst of all the chaos, the only thing that went right was our decision to ditch the houseboat and explore the Alleppey backwaters on a canoe.

Kerala Backwaters Introduction

View of the village from the bridge, Alleppey backwaters area

Alleppey backwaters – view of the canals from the bridge in Kuttanand village area

A little background – Kerala is more than just the beaches. It is famous for its backwaters that are truly unique. There are many little canals that connect lakes and lagoons of Kerala to small villages and towns. Alleppey is one such town and it is in Kuttanand region. [More info about this on eKeralaTourism.net]

Alleppey was on my wishlist ever since I saw a picture of a friend who got to explore this area on a rustic houseboat. As I journeyed from Goa to Kerala with San, I imagined us sitting on the deck of a houseboat too.

More than just the houseboat, the vision in my head also included us immersing ourselves in the local culture and listening to the sounds of nature. Little did I know that the reality in Alleppey was a little different.

Alleppey Town – the Ugly Truth

We arrived in Alleppey on a train from Goa. The view from the train window was spectacular and we were very excited after we crossed Ernakulam station (Cochin). 

Train from Goa to Alleppey via Cochin Ernakulam, Kerala

Train from Goa to Alleppey via Cochin Ernakulam, Kerala

We got a tuk tuk from Alleppey train station to reach our guest house, and this is when all the f**k up started. Our tuk tuk driver couldn’t find the place. Google Maps indicated that our guest house was INSIDE the water. We called on the phone number that was listed on the email confirmation, but there was no answer. We asked around, but no one in the area knew of the hotel. 

At this point, I decided to call the customer service number for Bookings dot com and they mentioned that it is a newly listed property. My phone got pretty badly hung and it couldn’t disconnect the call. I pressed a little too hard and the phone screen cracked. Aargh!

Extremely hungry, tired and uncomfortable in the scorching heat, we had no idea what to do. That’s when our tuk tuk driver took us to a cafe, so that we could use the WiFi on our laptop to book another place. At that moment, we found an amazing  little coffee shop next to the canal – kind of like Amsterdam. This is Cafe Paradiso in AlleppeyThis is where we decided to just chill, and forget about everything that had happened. 

Paradiso Cafe Alleppey Kerala

Paradiso Cafe Alleppey Kerala

Alleppey town wasn’t exactly quiet and peaceful – but very few towns are. There were some nice parts too., for instance – Alleppey Beach. However, the beach isn’t the main attraction in Alleppey, the backwaters are. So are the houseboats – Kettuvallam.

The Empty Alleppey Beach, Kerala

The Empty Alleppey Beach, Kerala

To my utter shock, the houseboats that I saw in and around Alleppey were rented by big groups and families, most of who were playing their loud dance music. They seemed to be circling around in the same area – perhaps they had a time limitation?

If this was not enough, we got a bigger shock when we found out the price for a houseboat. Maybe it would have made sense if we were in a group, but not just two in number. Also, considering how Alleppey town wasn’t exactly lovely, we were sure we would need to get out to see the true beauty of the Kuttanand region.

One of the many shikara boats in alleppey town.

One of the many shikara boats in alleppey town.

With just 2 days to spare before we were going to head to our next destination – Sri Lanka, we had almost given up the thought of exploring Alleppey’s backwaters. That’s when we checked this thread on Lonely Planet about canoeing in Alleppey.

Wait, but canoeing in Kerala?

Canoe Ride in Alleppey, Kerala.

Canoe Ride in Alleppey, Kerala.

Yes, these are not your typical kayak like canoes, these are wooden Shikaras. Shikaras are narrow boats that are rustic and can seat just two to five people. Meanwhile, Kettuvallam – or houseboats make sense for bigger groups, or those who don’t mind spending a little more.

Canoeing in Alleppey Backwaters – Our Experience

Canoeing in Alleppey Backwaters Kerala

Canoeing in Alleppey Backwaters Kerala

It is slow, peaceful and relaxed – the canoeing experience was everything we wanted in Alleppey.

It was a day long experience that was organized by someone else for a group of six people. In order to start out canoeing experience, we first met at the government ferry stop in Alleppey town. That’s where we met our group and we boarded the ferry together.

Inside the government ferry - Alleppey backwaters

Inside the government ferry – Alleppey backwaters

This ferry appeared to be the main medium of transport. There schoolchildren who were returning back home, people going for work and just 6 – 7 travelers. Around twenty minutes later, our group got off at one of the villages that’s along the canals.

Walking along the canals in Kuttanand area, Alleppey Backwaters

Walking along the canals in Kuttanand area, Alleppey Backwaters

We walked along the canals and couldn’t believe how different [and much better] this place was as compared to Alleppey town. Everything was so green! This was the Kerala of my dreams. This is how I had imagined it to be.

Our wooden canoes for the day Shikaras Alleppey Backwaters

Our wooden canoes for the day Shikaras Alleppey Backwaters

San and I luckily got our canoe just to ourselves along with the boat guy. We started our canoeing experience on a slow pace in a narrow canal.

Rice paddies and banana trees Alleppey Backwaters Kerala

Rice paddies and banana trees Alleppey Backwaters Kerala

A shirtless paddy farmer who posed for us haha - Alleppey backwaters, Kerala.

A shirtless paddy farmer who posed for us haha – Alleppey backwaters, Kerala.

As we moved from canal to canal, I couldn’t stop looking around in amazement. There were bright green paddy fields around us. The Kuttanand area of Kerala is also known as the Rice Bowl of India because of this.

Banana trees in Kuttanand village area Alleppey backwaters Kerala

Banana trees in Kuttanand village area Alleppey backwaters Kerala

More than just the paddy fields, there were banana trees, jackfruit trees, mango trees, pretty birds and yellow flowers. Sometimes there were fishermen who were walking along the canals in their lungis.

Four lungi clad fishermen returning home - Alleppey Backwaters, Kerala.

Four lungi clad fishermen returning home – Alleppey Backwaters, Kerala.

There were also women who were washing clothes next to the canals. In a while there was also another shikara with a little “floating shop” with fruits that cruised past our boat.

Loved these little houses in Kuttanand Village Area

Loved these little houses in Kuttanand Village Area

There were also little houses along the canals with pretty gardens. It appeared the people who owned these houses were not rich, but in my opinion they had it all. A house by the canal, sunlight, peaceful surroundings, simple life and fresh tropical fruits & vegetables – that’s all I want in my life too!

Scenes of the village from our canoe Alleppey backwaters Kerala

Scenes of the village from our canoe Alleppey backwaters Kerala

Our canoeing experience also included a visit to a family and eating lunch in their house. We sat in their garden and ate food on banana leaves. There was rice, fish curry, vegetables, papads and salad. Here’s a picture of my meal.

Our lunch with locals in one of the canal side villages in Alleppey's backwaters area

Our lunch with locals in one of the canal side villages in Alleppey’s backwaters area

After finishing lunch, we went for another walk to explore the village area a little more. We climbed a bridge for a view of the village.

Another view of the village in Kuttanand area - Alleppey backwaters

Vview of the village in Kuttanand area – Alleppey backwaters

We got back to out canoe after our walk and cruised on the other nearby canals. Gazing at the villages of Kuttanand from our cute little Shikara (canoe) was a lot of fun. We stopped in another place for tea and after that canoed to the government ferry stand.

San and I Canoeing in Alleppey Backwaters Kerala

San and I Canoeing in Alleppey Backwaters Kerala

It was around 5 in the afternoon when San and I reached back to the Alleppey town. As we sat in our favorite coffee shop next to the canal, we realized how happy we felt with our day. Want the same experience? I have handpicked a canoe tour for you from Get Your Guide – a reputed website for booking tours and experiences.

If you were too lazy to read my detailed description above, I will summarize for you.

Why experiencing Alleppey’s backwaters on a canoe is better than a houseboat:

Houseboats Can’t Go in Narrow Canals

Canoeing in a narrow canal in Alleppey backwaters where houseboats can't go

Canoeing in a narrow canal in Alleppey backwaters where houseboats can’t go

The real beauty of Alleppey is in the small villages that are along the narrowest canals. Houseboats are big and they can’t enter these small canals but shikaras (canoes) can.

There are many houseboats that crowd the main lakes and canals but luckily the canoes can easily escape that ugliness.

MAJOR Price Difference

Our canoeing trip along with lunch with locals and public ferry cost was INR 800 per person. The price has gone up to INR 1000 per person, which is still way less than the houseboat. The cheapest houseboat costs at least INR 5000 per couple per day.

Houseboats Make More Sense for Big Groups

Walking along the canal in Alleppey Backwater area - Kuttanand villages, Kerala

Walking along the canal in Alleppey Backwater area – Kuttanand villages, Kerala

Houseboats are big and expensive. It only makes sense to rent one if you’re more than just one or two. San and I absolutely hate traveling in big groups so

More Local Experience

Scenes from the canoe shikaras around us Alleppey backwaters

Scenes from the canoe shikaras around us Alleppey backwaters

As mentioned before, we visited a local family’s house and ate lunch with them as a part of our canoe experience. We also got away from the houseboat traffic, that are only for the tourists. Houseboats have a typical touristy route and they can’t enter narrow areas where one can see villages. None of the locals chill in the houseboats, instead they ride shikaras (wooden canoes).

Shikaras (Canoes) are Quieter

The Houseboats that we saw on Alleppey’s backwaters weren’t exactly quiet. If you are like us and are looking forward to immersing yourself in the sounds of nature, then you may not be happy on a houseboat.  The hum of the engine totally messed up the otherwise peaceful surroundings. On the other hand, when we canoed through the canals, the sounds of birds and water made us smile.

Our time in Alleppey wasn’t long but we explored around a lot. Apart from canoeing in Alleppey and visiting the nearby villages in Kuttanand area, we ended up doing a few other things as well. 

Things to do in Alleppey [apart from canoeing or houseboat-ing]

Alleppey Beach

Alleppey beach area, Kerala - how empty is the beach

Alleppey beach area, Kerala – how empty is the beach

Alleppey Beach was very empty and there were hardly any people. The beach was very clean and we didn’t see any trash. It was a refreshing change! Unlike the Goa beaches, there weren’t any shacks on Alleppey beach. Perhaps because of that there were fewer people.

Eat Banana Chips

Banana Chips in Alleppey Kerala

Banana Chips in Alleppey Kerala

Banana Chips are addictive! Kerala’s banana chips are famous all over India. I have had banana chips many times but never had they tasted as good as this. Eating the freshly made banana chips in Alleppey is an experience that we highly recommend.

Visit Cafe Paradiso near the Canal

Cafe Paradiso Alleppey Kerala

Cafe Paradiso Alleppey Kerala

We visited Cafe Paradiso to just use the Wifi after my phone broke and we couldn’t find our hotel. Somehow in the middle of all the chaos, this little coffee shop really calmed us down. Our little visit for WiFi ended up being a longer one and we kept going back for more.

Rent a Scooter and Ride Around

You will find tuk tuks everywhere in Alleppey but to have a little more flexibility, you should consider renting a scooter. This way, you will end up seeing more places than just the main town area. 

Are you traveling to Alleppey too?

Inside one of the villages in Kuttanand - Alleppey backwaters area

Inside one of the villages in Kuttanand – Alleppey backwaters area

If you’re planning a trip to Kerala and want to experience the tranquil beauty of Alleppey’s backwaters, then we highly recommend canoeing. You can also consider visiting the nearby Kumarakom, another backwaters destination in Kerala.

We have handpicked a few tours for you to experience the backwaters in Kerala:

  • Alleppey Backwaters Canoe tour – this tour is just like ours, except you get picked up from your hotel in the nearby big city, Cochin. 
  • Backwaters by Houseboat – if you’re in a big group then a houseboat may make more sense to you. Here’s a highly rated tour from Cochin to Alleppey. It also includes a trip to Fort Cochin.
  • 4 Day Tour in Kerala – starts from Cochin, includes a visit to the mountains of Munnar, visit Periyar Lake in Thekkady, go on a houseboat ride from Alleppey to Kumarakom, head back to Cochin. 

Conclusion – Houseboat or Canoe – which one for you?

If you are a solo traveler or are just two to four in number, then a canoe ride may make more sense to you. It also works well if you just have one day to spare. If you can afford it and really want to experience the houseboat on Kerala’s backwaters, then do a ride from Alleppey to Kumarakom. If you have enough time, then do both. You won’t get to experience the REAL beauty of Kerala [the smaller canals and villages] if you stay just on a houseboat. 

Kedartal Trek – Shiva’s Lake in the Himalayas, India

Kedartal Trek – Shiva’s Lake in the Himalayas, India

Imagine a glassy bluish green lake that’s surrounded by the Himalayas with literally no soul in the sight – this is Kedartal Lake.

Kedartal, is a combination of two words – Kedar and Taal where Kedar refers to Lord Shiva and Taal refers to lake. So the name Kedartal literally means Shiva’s Lake. Yes, this glacier lake is often called that.

Where is Kedartal Lake?

Kedartal Lake is in the Himalayas in the Uttrakhand state of India, more specifically the Garhwal region.

The only way of seeing the Kedartal Lake is by trekking from one of the nearby villages. You can do this trek from Gangotri, a place that you can reach by taking a bus or a train from Delhi and then further taking a taxi or another local bus.

Situated at an altitude of 4,750 meters above the sea level, Kedartal trek is not easy and requires proper acclimatization. If you’re planning to trek to Kedartal then this post will give you all the information that you need before you leave.

Once you’re there, you can expect to see the majestic Himalayan Mountains, altitudes exceeding 15,000 ft. and a shimmering emerald glacial lake. Standing at the lake, you see high peaks guarding it all around. Many do not know of Kedartal Lake, so this trek   yields you what may crave – solitude to bond with yourself.

Kedartal Trek Difficulty Level

The 7-day Kedartal trek in the state of Uttarakhand is a moderately difficult one. Physically fit, high on stamina, and experienced trekkers capable of independently negotiating the terrain can undertake it. Sharp inclines, scree, boulders, the altitude of over 15,000 ft., and covering all this within 5 days without much break can test you well. So, you need to be ready for long distances and challenging terrains each day.

Suggested: Chandratal Lake in the Spiti Valley, Himalayas, India

Best Time for Kedartal Trek

May-Mid June and September-October are the best months to go for this trek. Much of the snow is away during this time. For the remaining months, the weather can get extremely cold.

Kedartal Trek Itinerary

Set up a base in Gagotri and Acclimatize

Gangotri - Starting Point for Kedartal Trek

Gangotri – Starting Point for Kedartal Trek

You acclimatize for a day before the trek starts from the Hindu pilgrimage town called Gangotri (9,576 ft.) along the banks of the raging River Bhagirathi. To reach Gangotri, you first need to reach Rishikesh by train and then take a bus or a taxi from there. A taxi from Rishikesh to Gangotri won’t be cheap because the distance is approximately 250 KMs. It can cost you anything from INR 3000 to INR 4000.

Gangotri owes its name from the origination point of River Ganga it houses. It is a pilgrim destination and you can see temples, ascetics, caves, local markets, pine forests, sumptuous food, evening ‘aarti’ of the River. Gangotri offers this and so much more.

We highly recommend you spend another day in Gangotri. This way you can go for a small acclimatization walk locally. Rest and get a good night’s sleep so that you can start your trek early morning next day.

Trek to Bhoj Kharak and Camp there overnight

Kedar Ganga River on the way to Kedartal Lake Trek

Kedar Ganga River on the way to Kedartal Lake Trek

On the third day, you technically start your trek. Kedar Ganga River will give you company on this green hilly terrain. Pine forests at lower altitude are replaced by short ridges of Birch trees as you go up. You might just happen to see the humble Blue sheep or ‘Bharal’ at any of the green patches through the stretch. You cross a 60 degree inclined boulder to reach your first campsite Bhoj Kharak (12,893 ft.).

Bhoj Kharak on the way to Kedartal Trek

Bhoj Kharak on the way to Kedartal Trek

The Birch tree clusters mark Bhoj Kharak with purple rhododendrons adding subtle shades to the surrounding. It’s a small settlement with terrace farms and huts. You fix your camp right amidst one of these farms. The biggest attraction is the long distance view of the snow-white Thalay Sagar peak. You will see it closer at Kedartal on the fifth day.

Trek to Kedar Kharak

Kedar Kharak Campsite on the way to Kedartal Lake

Kedar Kharak Campsite on the way to Kedartal Lake

Target reaching Kedar Kharak (14,468 ft.) on the fourth day for your next camp. After some ascent you reach a 100m patch of landslide. You have to make steps to cross this steep undefined slant. This is one of the highlights of the day!

Thalay Sagar - on the way to Kedartal Trek

Thalay Sagar – on the way to Kedartal Trek

Much of your journey is back to scree terrain until suddenly you see a while towering and magnificent Mt. Bhrigupanth (22,218 ft.) in front. Get down to the gushing Kedar Ganga riverbed, which you cross partially to reach the campsite ground, which thankfully is grassland. Watch the spectacular Mt. Bhrigupanth (22,218 ft.), Mt. Thalay Sagar (22,651 ft.), and Mt. Jogin 3 (20,120 ft.) in front.

Suggested: Lake Tovel surrounded by the Brenta Dolomites in Trentino, Italy 

Head to Kedartal and Camp Next to the Lake

Kedartaal Lake surrounded by the Himalayas

Kedartaal Lake surrounded by the Himalayas

On the fifth day you head for the biggest highlight of the trek, Kedartal (15,748 ft.). Cross 3 ridges, which are barren and laden with boulders, scree, and dust just before the lake. Also known as Shiva’s Lake, the beautiful ‘Tal’ sits calmly in its precious solitude.

When you reach Kedartal, you can also see Mt. Manda (21,350 ft.), Mt. Bhrigupanth, Mt. Thalay Sagar, and Mt. Jogin emanating right in front. Just behind them are tall Mt. Bhagirathi (22,493 ft.), Mt. Gangotri (21,500 ft.), and Mt. Meru (20,700 ft.). Such a panorama of Himalayan Peaks, each measuring over 20,000 ft. in altitude, is a difficult view to get.

Watch the snow clad peaks change color as the sun rises. Their reflection in the water leaves you brimming with pride and excitement. Here you see another highlight of the day, the Kedar Glacier to your left, which is the source of the theme river of the trek Kedar Ganga. You may camp at the banks of the lake or can descend back to Kedar Kharak for another night there.

Hike Back to Gangotri

The last day of this trek will be a very long one as you lose height of Kedar Kharak for Gangotri. But hey, by this time you will most likely be feeling very happy with yourself for being lucky enough to see the Kedartal Lake. It is a sight not many get to witness!

30 Amazing Places to Visit in Delhi – the City of Djinns, India

30 Amazing Places to Visit in Delhi – the City of Djinns, India

This guide about places to visit in Delhi has been written falling in love with Delhi for 17 years and falling out of it over and over again. Yes this is exactly how it is to live in Delhi or to visit it for a few days – it is a constant love and hate relationship.

It was in the year 1999 when I moved to Delhi with my family. I didn’t know how long I’d be living here but there was something about it that just didn’t let me move out. First Chanakyapuri, then Hauz Khas and eventually Malviya Nagar, I had moved around but was still not ready to move out.

AIIMS flyover got built, the mysterious Monkey Man created a havoc, blue line buses stopped, Delhi Metro became an old story, IGI’S fancy T3 became operational, Commonwealth games got hosted, Anna Hazare went on a hunger strike, Hauz Khas village suddenly came up and became uncool as abruptly as it came up.. But I still kept living in Delhi. (Delhi-ites would understand this timeline).

A hand painted bus in Shah Pur Jaat, Delhi

A hand painted bus in Shah Pur Jaat, Delhi

The thing is, India receives many travelers from all over the world and most of them don’t stay in Delhi but head directly to their next destination, which is usually Taj Mahal or Rajasthan or Kerala, (or the Himalayas or Goa for backpackers). Yes, Delhi is sometimes chaotic, stressful, polluted BUT it may just end up being one of your most memorable travel destinations.

Suggested: Useful Travel Tips for Visiting Delhi

If you’re traveling to India, I urge you to give my Dilli a chance and let it smother you with endless delicious food.

Delhi's Tandoori Chicken by Drifter Planet

Delhi Has Amazing Food

Go grab a copy of the City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple and try to finish at least half of it before you land in Delhi’s IGI airport. It’s my favorite travel book and it made me understand Delhi so much more! [Btw, here’s a list of incredible travel books for every country]

Please don’t get overwhelmed because this list is very long, you can skip a lot of them and just visit a fraction of them. Trust me, most Delhi-ites themselves have also not visited all of them (haha). In case you’re visiting Delhi for a short time, check out this amazing Delhi layover guide with recommendations of things to do in just 48 hours.

It was very difficult for me to handpick just 30 top places to visit in Delhi and I have tried to include many different kinds. Some of these places are quite famous but I’d also like to introduce a few under the radar places and some forgotten structures from Delhi’s past. 

Here is a very quick glimpse of Delhi’s timeline that you will find interesting in case you want to get a little more out of your visit to all the historical sites.

  • Indraprastha – Earliest mentions of Delhi in Hindu epic Mahabharata and also in Buddhist scriptures Pāli Canon. It was called the city of Indra.
  • Ashoka’s Delhi / Maurya Age
  • Tomar Dynasty
  • Chahamanas of Shakambhari
  • Delhi Sultanate – Mamluk Dynasty, Khalji dynasty, Tughlaq Dynasty, Sayyid dynasty and Lodi dynasty
  • Mughal Delhi
  • British Raj (Lutyens Delhi architecture towards the end)
Delhi Timeline Infographic as per Wikipedia - Places to visit in Delhi - the City of Djinns

Delhi Timeline Infographic as per Wikipedia – Places to visit in Delhi – the City of Djinns

Places to visit in Delhi

 

1) Lodhi Garden

Sheesh Gumband in Lodhi Garden - places to visit in Delhi

Sheesh Gumband in Lodhi Garden – places to visit in Delhi

Lodhi Garden is one of the best places to visit in Delhi and the best part is that it is absolutely free. It is more than just a garden; it has 15th century architecture too from the Sayyid and Lodi Dynasties. There’s history, nature, peace, locals and a lot of beauty. This is where I bring most of my friends when they visit Delhi and they love it.

Lodhi garden is massive and has multiple entry points, so if you’re going to get lost inside if you’re like me. You don’t really need to carry your own food or water because you will see vendors selling snacks, chai, ice cream and water inside.

Make sure you’re wearing comfortable walking shoes because you’re going to have to walk a lot inside. Check out Bada Gumband (big dome), Shisha Gumband, three domed mosque, and Tomb Of Mohammad Shah Sayyid – they are mostly next to each other in the middle of the park. The tomb of Sikandar Lodi is on the other end of the park.

Swans and Ducks in Lodhi Garden - Delhi

Swans and Ducks in Lodhi Garden – Delhi

On one end of the Lodi garden, there is also a pond with swans and a bridge that goes over it. If you walk further over the bridge and then into the garden, you will also see flowerbeds for seasonal flowers

If you’re visiting Delhi for a very short time, then I highly recommend you visit the Lodhi Garden for a quick glimpse of Delhi. So many visitors just head to Qutub Minar / Red fort, etc, and miss out this peaceful garden where they can see so much history and Delhi’s locals.

Where to go after Lodhi Garden: Khan Market, Safdarjung Tomb

How to reach Lodhi Garden: Reach Jor Bag or Khan Market Metro station and take an autorickshaw from there.

Entry Fee: Free

2) Humayun Tomb

Humayun's Tomb, Delhi - Places to see in Delhi

Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi – Places to see in Delhi – By Chetan Bisariya (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

I have always wondered if Humayun’s Tomb was the inspiration behind Taj Mahal’s architecture but I have never found credible sources that says so. It looks a lot like Taj Mahal, except it is made using red sandstones.

As the name suggests, this place is the tomb of Humanyun, one of the Mughal emperors that ruled Delhi. Humanyu’s Tomb ‘s construction took 9 years – it started in 1565 and completed in 1572.

Humanyu's Tomb with reflection in water

Humanyu’s Tomb with reflection in water by Nilesh Korgaokar (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Humanyun’s Tomb represents Mughal architecture at its finest shows perfect symmetry in every way. There is a massive garden that’s around it and smaller structures that lead to it. Humayu’s tomb also showcases the tradition of emperors being buried in a paradise garden. Many of you would hate me, but I prefer Humanyun’s Tomb to Taj Mahal.

Where to go after Humayun’s Tomb: Nizamuddin Dargah, Lodhi Garden or Khan Market

How to reach Humayun’s Tomb: It is approximately 4 kilometers distance away from Lodhi garden so you can take an autorickshaw or Uber / Ola directly from the garden to Humanyu’s Tomb. The nearest Metro station is Jangpura on Violet line but from there walking is not the best option. You will have to take an autorickshaw from there.

Entry Fee: INR 500 for international visitors and INR 30 for Indians

3) Qutab Minar a.k.a. Qutb Minar

Qutub Minar in Delhi - top places to visit

Qutub Minar in Delhi – top places to visit by SuanlianTangpua [cc0] via Pixabay

Qutab Minar is one of the most important landmarks of Delhi and is kind of what Eiffel Tower is to Paris. This 73-meter long minaret is a part of Qutab complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I remember seeing the towering beauty of this minaret when I was a little child and always wanting to go on top.

Qutub Minar - Best Places to visit in Delhi

Qutub Minar – Best Places to visit in Delhi by ashishkuawasthi [cc0] via Pixabay

The construction of Qutab Minar started around 1192 by the founder of Delhi Sultanate – Qutab Ud-Din-Aibak but took a long time to complete. His successors built the next stories of this minaret but lightning in 1369 destroyed the top. Firoz Shah Tughlaq corrected the damage. If you do end up reading The City of Djinns, you will enjoy the part about the Delhi Sultanate.

When you visit the Qutub Minar, don’t just get stuck looking at it. Step into the nearby Mehrauli Archaeological Park as well. It has the ruins of Delhi’s oldest fort that was built in 1060 by the Toman Dynasty. It also has a step-well – Rajon ki Baoli, Jamali Kamali Mosque, Lal Mahal and many other tombs and ruins.

Where to go after Qutub Minar: Ahimsa Sthal, Garden of Five senses, Select Citywalk Mall or Sanjay Van. You can also check out the nearby Japanese restaurant – En – it has a view of the Qutub Minar.

How to reach Qutub Minar: Take an autorickshaw from Qutab Minar Metro station that is on the yellow line.

Entry Fee: INR 500 for international visitors and INR 30 for Indians.

4) Ahimsa Sthal

If you’re a reader of my blog and are visiting Ahimsa Sthal because of this post, then please promise me that you will behave yourself when you’re here. Ahimsa Sthal is a place of worship where silence is appreciated but not enforced. If you’re doing a group tour then please skip it.

Statuue of Lord Mahavira in Ahimsa Sthal, Delhi

Statue of Lord Mahavira in Ahimsa Sthal, Delhi

The view of Qutub Minar from Ahimsa Sthal - Places to visit in Delhi

The view of Qutub Minar from Ahimsa Sthal – Places to visit in Delhi

Ahimsa Sthal is my favorite place to find peace from Delhi’s madness. It is a Jain temple that’s built on a little hill with a massive statue of Lord Mahavira on the top. This temple is a very good spot to see the Qutab Minar that’s across the road. Moreover, you can also see Azim Khan Tomb and surprisingly green Mehrauli forest around.

Here’s a quick 360 degree video from top of Ahimsa Sthal which will give you some idea.

 

You can directly walk to Ahimsa Sthal from Qutab Minar Metro Station or just take an auto rickshaw from there. It is definitely not a famous place so a few tuk-tuk drivers in other areas of Delhi may not be aware of this place.

5) India Gate

India Gate - New Delhi - places to see and visit

India Gate – New Delhi – places to see and visit – by Ssbmaccom [CC0] via Pixabay

Just like Qutub Minar, India Gate is also an important landmark of Delhi. It is generally illuminated at night, especially during patriotic holidays. It is a war memorial and not a Historical landmark like the Mughal buildings. There are names of around 70,000 Indian soldiers inscribed on it who died in the First World War and the Third Anglo-Afghan War.

San and I next to India Gate - Tiny Planet perspective - Places to see in Delhi

San and I next to India Gate – Tiny Planet perspective – Places to see in Delhi

I normally don’t make an effort of ever mentioning who built what, but in this case, it is very interesting. Sir Edwin Lutyens built it in 1931; who by the way built most of the New Delhi towards the end of British India. Because of this, some parts of New Delhi are called Lutyens’ Delhi.

More than just the India Gate, the majority of the people visit this area to enjoy the gardens around it. Many locals use these gardens for picnic spots, we did too when we were in school. On our request, my dad would drive us around here from Rashtrapati Bhawan to India Gate so that we could enjoy the view.

Rashtrapati Bhawan lit up during Republic Day

Rashtrapati Bhawan lit up during Republic Day

The best time to visit it is in the evenings and you should walk around it as much as possible.

6) Lotus Temple

Lotus Temple - Bahai House of Worship at night - Places to visit in Delhi

Lotus Temple – Bahai House of Worship at night – Places to visit in Delhi

Lotus Temple is a flower like Bahá’í temple and looks a little like the Sydney Opera house. It has 27 marble flower petals and little ponds that surround them. Yes, this list contains many temples and Bahá’í is one of the newer religions. It is a Bahá’í House of Worship.

San and I at Lotus Temple - Bahá'í temple in Delhi - Little Planet perspective

San and I at Lotus Temple – Bahá’í temple in Delhi – Little Planet perspective

Believe it or not, Lotus Temple is one of the most visited buildings in the world. It has received several architectural awards and it looks even better from above. Not that you will get to see it like that, but here’s a drone shot from the top.

7) Agrasen Ki Baoli

Agrasen Ki Baoli in Central Delhi - Places to visit

Agrasen Ki Baoli in Central Delhi – Places to visit by Kash [cc0] via Pixabay

Agrasen ki Baoli is a historical site that managed to remain under the radar for decades but was recently made famous by a Bollywood movie called PK. To describe it, in short, it is a well with 108 steps that lead to the bottom. A bigger and more elaborate step well is in Rajasthan and is called Chand Baori.

Agrasen Ki Baoli - Places to visit in Delhi

Agrasen Ki Baoli – Places to visit in Delhi by Lensmatter – (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

The funny thing is, there are no historical records that show who built it, but it is believed to have been built by Maharaja Agrasen during the Mahabharata. There are no records about Maharaja Agrasen too but the legend has been there for many years. The Agarwal community that descended from Maharaja Agrasen later rebuilt it in the 14th century.

If you’re a luxury traveler then you many not like to visit Agrasen Ki Baoli because it is not well maintained. It is however a very good spot for photographers. Visiting Agrasen ki Baoli is free.

8) Old Fort or Purana Qila

Old Fort or Purana Qila - Historical Places to visit in Delhi

Old Fort or Purana Qila – Historical Places to visit in Delhi by Russ Bowling (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Purana Qila literally means Old Fort and it is one of the oldest forts in Delhi. There are many structures inside and around Purana Qila – Humayun Gate, Talaqi Darwaza, Hammam Khana (bathhouse), Sher Mandal (Humany’s Library), Qila Kuhna Masjid to name a few. There is also an archeological museum inside it. Every evening there is a sound and light show here that tells the history of Delhi from the Indraprastha times to now.

Just like Agrasen Ki Baoli, even the Old Fort is believed to be from the Mahabharata times when Delhi was Indraprastha. However, there is no conclusive evidence of it.

The newer part of Old Fort is believed to have been built under Sher Shah Suri, but some historians and archeologist believe that the earliest traces here are of 3rd century BC. Wow!

9) Red Fort or Lal Qila

Red Fort is grand, magnificent, and is red in colour. Perhaps it should have been number 1 on this list because it was the main residence of the Mughal emperors for many years.

Red Fort - Historical Places to visit in Delhi

Red Fort – Historical Places to visit in Delhi – By Pi6el [CC0] via Pixabay

Just like Humanyun’s tomb, even the Red Fort represents the Mughal architecture at its best. Sadly this fort’s precious jewels and artwork were destroyed by Nadir Shah’s army and the British. This is where Bahadur Shah Zafar (the last Mughal emperor) was put on trial by the British.

Red Fort has many structures inside its complex and together they’re a UNESCO world heritage site. There’s Rang Mahal, Mumtaz Mahal, Khas Mahal, Diwan-i-khas, Hammam (bath), Baoli (step well), prince’s quarters,

10) Dilli Haat

If you’re like me, then I’m sure you can’t handle historical sites all the time. It is important to visit places where you can just shut your mind to new information and just enjoy the culture and food. Dilli Haat is exactly like that!

My friend Anita Hendrieka getting her hair braided at Dilli Haat entry

My friend Anita Hendrieka getting her hair braided at Dilli Haat entry

Dilli Haat will give you the quickest ever glimpse of cultures and food of all Indian states. There are artists that sell handmade things like jewelry, sarees, silk, bags, sandals and even furniture. Many of these sellers are traveling gypsies who sell their handicraft that’s the specialty of their state or village. It is usually to see one or two musicians playing sarangi or flute. I have also seen sketching artists here who can create lovely portraits.

San in Dilli Haat, INA - Places to visit in Delhi

San in Dilli Haat, INA – Places to visit in Delhi

The best part about Dilli Haat is that there are little shops with local food from many states in India. Go to one of the North East state stalls to eat steamed chicken momos with soup, after that head to Rajasthani stall to eat pyaz kachori, eat machar jhol, prawn red masala and mishti doi from Bengal stall, vada pao, pao bhaji and Shrikhand at Maharashtra stall. Oops, I’m now feeling very hungry as I type this. Be sure to order a mug of fruit beer along with your meal. That’s the only form of beer that you’ll get to drink while you’re here because Dilli Haat doesn’t have a bar.

From time to time, Delhi Tourism Board organizes different events in Dilli Haat so if you’re lucky, you can also get to see a performance. It is worth noting that Delhi’s Comic-Con is also organized in Dilli Haat. Most of the times there are cultural events that are organized inside.

Dilli Haat is in three different locations in Delhi but I highly recommend the INA one. It’s right next to INA Metro Station, so getting here is very easy if you’re comfortable with Delhi Metro.

11) Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid is one of India’s biggest mosques and was built during the Mughal times by Shah Jahan. It is so big that around 25000 people can stand in the yard.

Jama Masjid in Old Delhi - Mosque

Jama Masjid in Old Delhi – Mosque by Jusch [cc0] via Pixabay

You must have seen a very famous Eid picture with many thousands of white kurta clad men bowing down in prayer – that’s Jama Masjid. Pakistan has a similar mosque called Badshahi Masjid that was made by Aurangzeb in Lahore.

Jama Masjid mosque also represents the peak of Mughal architecture and is made with red sandstone. There are two 40 meter high minarets and the mosque is built on a porch that’s spread over 1200 square meters.

You can reach Jama Maszid very easily on Delhi Metro. The nearest station is Chawdi Bazaar (which is a part of Chandni Chowk). It is a part of old Delhi and you can visit it on the same day as Chandni Chowk. Just take a rickshaw from Chandni Chowk Market to reach.

The entry is free but you may have to pay INR 300 to take your camera inside. The cost to climb the Minaret is INR 100 for non-Indians. At the entry, they may just ask you to pay INR 400 assuming you have a camera. In case you don’t, you need to tell them. Again, you can’t enter this place if you’re wearing shorts or a sleeveless top. Please don’t click pictures during the prayer and most likely you will not be able to enter during the post-sunset prayer. Sadly two attacks have happened in Jama Masjid – one in 2006 and the other in 2010.

Street food in Old Delhi - Mouth watering Kebabs outside Jama Masjid, Delhi

Street food in Old Delhi – Mouth watering Kebabs outside Jama Masjid, Delhi

One of the most famous places to eat in Delhi is right outside Jama Masjid. It is called Karim’s and it has branches all over the city. I love the food here but for non-Indians it can end up being a little too oily and spicy.

12) Akshardham Temple

Akshardham Temple Delhi - You Cant Take Your Camera Inside

Akshardham Temple Delhi – You Cant Take Your Camera Inside by Russ Bowling [cc by 2.0] via Flickr

Akshardham Temple is a magnificent newly built Hindu mandir that’s on the banks of Yamuna River. It was built on the principles of traditional Hindu architectural system – Vastu Shastra that defines minuscule details like the layout, geometry, measurements, ground preparation, etc.

Visitors are not allowed to take their cameras or cell phones inside and that’s why you hardly ever see pictures of the magnificent Akshardham temple. It is almost entirely made with pink sandstones from Rajasthan and Carra marble from Italy without any steel or concrete support.

Akshardham Temple has many domes and pillars with intricately carvings. There is a Hall of Values and theatre that’s indie the temple complex. You can also do a Sanskruti Vihar boat ride where you can learn about the history of Hinduism from Vedic India and Vedic teachings such as yoga, mathematics, astronomy, science, arts, and more.

13) Nizamuddin’s Dargah for Quawwali

Quwwali at Nizamuddin’s Dargah - Places to visit in Delhi

Quwwali at Nizamuddin’s Dargah – Places to visit in Delhi

Have you ever visited a place of worship where it appears that many have reached an altered state of mind? [Like a state of trance.] Go visit Nizzamuddin Dargah during the evening for a one of a kind experience and evening.

A dargah is a shrine and this particular one is dedicated to Sufi Saint Nizzamuddin Aylia (Hazrat Nizzamuddin). Sufism is a very interesting subsection of Islam, which is also known as Islamic mysticism. Nizzamuddin lived from 1238 to 1325. Even the famous Amir Khusrow was his disciple and they both died in the same year.

During his time, Nizzamuddin was highly influential, perhaps even more influential than the ruler of Delhi Sultanate – Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq (Ghazi Malik). While the fort that was built by Ghazi Malik is in ruins and was forgotten for a long time, Nizzamuddin’s Dargah shines on a little more everyday. There is a very interesting story about this in City of Djinns book, move to the section about Tughlaqabad Fort for more information.

Go visit this dargah during the time of qawwali, which is almost everyday from 6:30 pm to 9 pm with a half an hour break at 8:30. For many years this qawwali was only on Thursdays but now they are everyday but not on Thursday.

Being a place of worship, there is no entry fee but it is recommended that you donate something for the upkeep.

Go visit the famous Karim’s restaurant for dinner and eat mutton quorma and kebabs here. Karim’s restaurant is a chain that specializes in food that was made for the Mughal emperors. It has an amazing history; you can check it out here if you want to.

14) Safdarjung Tomb

Safdarjung Tomb in Delhi - Mughal Places to See in Delhi

Safdarjung Tomb in Delhi – Mughal Places to See in Delhi – by Shashwat Nagpal (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

The tomb of Safdarjung is a smaller and a less magnificent version of Humanyu’s Tomb. It was built in 1754 for Mirza Muqim Abul Mansur Khan, a.k.a Safdarjung. It is not perfectly symmetrical and inferior material was used for construction as per historians.

Safdarjung was never an emperor like Humanyun but was the statesman and the Prime Minister of the Mughal Empire. It was the last tomb garden of the Mughals. Again, there is a big section about Safdarjung Tomb in City of Djinns where Dalrymple talks about the ill fated construction of this tomb and why it lacks symmetry.

I lived near this tomb for several years, but back then it was more of a “make out spot” (not for me!). It was so because PDA is not very common in India. Moreover, back then many Indian parents didn’t let their kids bring their girlfriends / boyfriends back home but times have changed. It was common to see couples hiding behind the bushes here and snogging!

15) Nehru Park

Nehru Park doesn’t have historical tombs and structures like Lodhi Garden but is a place where you may just end up spending hours. This park is in Chanakyapuri, and was near where I lived so I ended up visiting every evening.

This park looks really lovely in spring because there are many flowers that blossom here. There is also a free to use open-air gym inside the park. This park has many entry points and ice cream vendors line up outside the entry gates with their carts.

Bring a mat, book, a bottle of water, maybe some snacks and a bag to keep your trash and spend a lazy day here if the weather is good to be outside. Even if you don’t bring anything to eat or drink, you will surely see vendors who sneak and sell these things. Please respect the residents of this neighborhood and do not bring alcohol here.

My friends and I enjoying Jazz Festival in Nehru Park, Chanakyapuri - Places to visit in Delhi

My friends and I enjoying Jazz Festival in Nehru Park, Chanakyapuri – Places to visit in Delhi

During the month of March (and sometimes even October), there is an open-air Jazz music festival that’s held here with musicians from all over the world. There is also a food festival, called Delhi Palate Festival that’s sometimes organized here.

16) Hauz Khas Village

Imagine doing a pub-crawl with a backdrop of Mughal tombs and historical ruins – this is Hauz Khas Village. It was once Delhi’s artsy neighborhood with studios and boutiques, but is now the most famous spot for nightlife in Delhi. It is also known as HKV

San and I with our friends in Hauz Khas Village - outside Social Bar

San and I with our friends in Hauz Khas Village – outside Social Bar

Even though Hauz Khas Village is known for its bars, I recommend you come here and hour before the sunset to see the street art, back alleys and the view of the lake.

When you reach Hauz Khas Village, the first thing that will greet you is the stench of the trash booth, which is just at the beginning. Don’t worry; it disappears as soon as you’re 10 steps away.

As soon as you enter HKV, get ready to get hounded by salesy bar employees who will hand you their bar menus without even asking and urge you to go inside because there is some sort of happy hour or ladies night.

To make the most of your visit, turn right after entering and try to get lost in the back alleys to see the most interesting sights. There is a lake that’s directly behind Hauz Khas village. Try to find the lane that goes along the lake. You can also explore the nearby Deer Park if you visit Hauz Khas Village.

There is an abandoned plot area here that is covered in graffiti. Here is a 360-degree video of San and I at this spot.

There are many restaurants and bars where you can enjoy the view of the lake but sadly the best one shut down years ago. It was called Boheme but is now a B&B and renamed to the Lazy Patio. You can’t just go and enjoy the view without a booking but in case you’re looking for the loveliest place to stay in Delhi with a view, then the Lazy Patio is the place that you should book.

Sunset in Hauz Khas Village from The Lazy Patio

Sunset in Hauz Khas Village from The Lazy Patio

Another place from where you can enjoy the view is Mia Bella, which is on the other side of the market. It has three floors and you should go to the top most floor.

17) Janpath

Janpath means the path of people and is a street that’s dotted with colorful shops in central Delhi (near Connaught Place). You will find similar things to buy that are also available in Dilli Haat but the environment is different. It is right next to Palika Bazaar, the famous underground market where you can find electronics and pirated things.

The main Janpath Market is along the road and stretches for more than a kilometer, but there is a back lane as well where you will find tribal people selling their handmade things. There are many shops in the main Janpath market that sell fake and real Pashmina from Kashmir.

There is also a Tibetan market within Janpath’s main market where you can find prayer flags, gongs, sarongs, little Buddhas, etc.

Believe it or not, Janpath was my first flea market experience as a child when I visited Delhi for the first time.

18) Connaught Place

Connaught Place in Central Delhi

Connaught Place in Central Delhi by Nicolas Sanguinetti (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Connaught Place is also called CP, is a prominent financial and business hub of the capital. If you look at the map of Delhi, it appears that Connaught Place is in the center and rest of the city is around it.

There are three reasons why I have put CP on this list 1) it is a place where you can witness Lutyens’ architecture, 2) if you’re staying in Central Delhi, then CP has an amazing nightlife and 3) it is the heart of Delhi geographically speaking, so you should try not to miss it.

If you visit Connaught Place on a bad day (weekend, holiday, Valentine’s Day, etc.), then you will probably not like this part and will send me hatemail for asking you to go here. Yes, CP can get painfully crowded.

Connaught Place has an inner circle, an outer circle and a central park in the middle. These circles are pretty big and walking the entire circle may seem doable but is not.

There is an ancient Hanuman Temple (the Monkey God) in CP and it is very big. You can get henna put on your hands outside this temple and visit it from the inside.

On most of the Sunday mornings there is an event called Raahigiri that’s organized by the Times of India at 6 am. During Raahigiri, many people from all over the city come together for yoga, aerobics, and dance performances. Check out Rahigiri’s website for more information and events.

19) Tughlaqabad Fort

Tughlaqabad Fort ruins - places to see in Delhi

Tughlaqabad Fort ruins – places to see in Delhi by Scott Dexter (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Tughlaqabad Fort is a forgotten fort, which was built by Ghazi Malik (Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq), the founder of Tughlaq dynasty in Delhi. This fort is in runs and is in the middle of Delhi’s residential area.

Apparently, there was a disagreement between Sufi Saint (of Ni Nizamuddin zamuddin Dargah) and Ghazi Malik because the ruler wanted every single worked in Delhi to work on his fort.

Nizamuddin cursed Ghazi and it appears that his curses became reality. While the fort that was built by Ghazi Malik is in ruins and was forgotten for a long time, Nizzamuddin’s Dargah shines on a little more everyday.

20) Khan Market

The reason why Khan Market is on this list because if you were visiting Delhi, maybe you’d also like to see the city’s most posh market area. Khan Market is the country’s most expensive retail space and also the world’s 21st most expensive high street as per Cushman & Wakefield.

Khan Market is more than just a shopping area, it a place try out Delhi’s most amazing restaurants and bars. Go to Mamagoto for a memorable Asian meal or Big Chill for Italian or just continental comfort food as well as deserts. Go to Harry’s Bar or the Out of the Box Bar for drinks. There is also the famous Khan Chacha’s rolls that you can eat on the road.

The funny thing is, even though it is supposed to be the most expensive retail space, it looks like any other market in South Delhi. It is definitely not the fanciest. You really have to do a small pub-crawl here to fall in love with it a little more.

Khan Market is surrounded by Delhi’s most affluent neighborhoods in all the directions. It is near Lodhi Garden, so you can visit Khan Market for a few drinks and dinner after it.

21) Rail Museum

Delhi doesn’t have a shortage of good museums but for me Rail Museum is the most interesting one. My father retired from Indian railways and for that reason, trains were a very special part of our traveling because he would always tell us interesting facts and stories.

National Rail Museum of Delhi is in Chanakyapuri, Delhi’s diplomat area. You get to see the history of trains in India and also special saloons on exhibit that were built for royal family members and famous people. There is a saloon that was built for the Prince of Wales, Maharajas of Mysore and Indore. You can also see the legendary Fairy Queen, world’s oldest steam locomotive that’s still in service and runs on the same route as Palace on Wheels.

A very interesting thing about this museum is that you can take a ride on a toy train. If you’re looking for places to visit in Delhi with kids, then Rail Museum will be a big hit with your family.

If you enjoy visiting museums, you may want to check out the Science Museum and Doll Museum – both are next to each other and I enjoyed exploring them as a child.

22) Bangla Sahib Gurudwara

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in Delhi India

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in Delhi India by Edmund Gall (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Bangla Sahib is one of the most visited gurudwara in Delhi. A gurudwara is a Sikh temple and for me Sikhism is a fascinating religion. It is one of India’s newer religions and I was lucky to learn about its history in my early school days in Punjab. There are total 11 Gurus in Sikhism – the 10 past Gurus and 11th Guru is their book – Guru Granth Sahib. Bangla Sahib is associated with the 8th Guru Har Krishan

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara - Places to visit in Delhi

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara – Places to visit in Delhi – By Rajkumar1220 (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Like most of the gurudwaras, there is a pool inside the compound. There is a golden dome on top, kind of like the more famous Golden temple in Amritsar. The entire complex lights up when its dark and the reflection of the dome looks spectacular in the water. I recommend that you visit this gurudwara at night.

Do not miss the Langar – which is food that’s served and everyone who visits the gurudwara can eat this. It is free, but I recommend you leave a little donation or volunteer for a little while in the kitchen. Please clean your dishes when you’re done – it is not a restaurant.

Another thing that’s not to be missed while you’re here is karah – which is a sweet halva that’s made with whole-wheat flour. It is vegetarian but not vegan because it is made with clarified butter. A little portion is given to every single visitor as a prasad – holy treat.

Please note that you will need to remove your shoes outside at the entry gate and cover your head when you enter. All provisions are there at the entry gate already but please don’t wear shorts or sleeveless shirts when you visit here.

23) Sacred Heart Cathedral

Sacred Heart Cathedral will always hold a special place in my heart because the complex also houses my school building – Convent of Jesus and Mary. It is a Roman Catholic cathedral and is one of Delhi one of the oldest churches.

The architecture of Sacred Heart Cathedral looks very different when compared to Mughal era based building. In fact, the design was based on Italian architecture. The project to build this church was financed by the British.

Convent of Jesus and Mary isn’t the only school that’s in this complex. There is St. Columba’s too. The first is a girls’ only school and the second is boys’ only. Yes, I studied in a girls’ school – don’t laugh and get over it. Ahem. It is nearby Bangla Sahib Gurudwara and Delhi Post Office.

24) Garden of Five Senses

Garden of five senses is in Saket, near Mehrauli and can be visited before or after you visit the Qutab Minar because of its proximity. This space was created in a way so that it would spark all the five senses of its visitors.

This park combines art with natural beauty and each section has something special about it. There is a solar energy park, a Mughal Garden section, pond with water lilies, stone elephants, rocks, and also an herb garden.

Bell tree in Garden of five senses, Delhi

Bell tree in Garden of five senses, Delhi by Mike Towber (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

A lot of the installations here have a playful element, e.g. – there is a bell tree here that kids would love to play with. There is also a replica here of Labná Arch from Mexico, which was built by the Mayans.

Garden of Five senses has an entire section that’s dedicated to bars and fine dining restaurants. The best is Fio, which is a charming restaurant with outdoor seating and has an amazing ambiance.

25) Chandni Chowk – Spice Market Section (Khari Baoli)

The Chaotic Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi - places to visit in Delhi

The Chaotic Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi – places to visit in Delhi

Chandni Chowk market isn’t the easiest market to handle for first time visitors because the chaos here is on another level. It is Delhi’s biggest and oldest market. In fact, it is extreme even for most of the Delhi-ites. Having said that, this is an amazing place to visit in Delhi if you’re in a mood to eat some of Old Delhi’s most famous street food or shop.

If you’re in Delhi for a short time, then you should skip Chandani Chowk completely. Even the most seasoned travelers may not be able to handle the chaos and confusion here.

Chandni Chawk is divided in many sections but I’d recommend you skip most of them and just head to Khari Baoli – the spice section. Apart from spices, you will also find many kinds of herbal teas, nuts, daal, rice, etc.

Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi - places to visit in Delhi

Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi – places to visit in Delhi

To reach here, you can ride the Delhi Metro till Chandni Chowk. From the metro station you can take a cycle rickshaw to reach the spice market or just walk for 5 – 10 minutes. I suggest you come here early to avoid peak crowds. Most of this market is closed on Sundays.

During the British rule, Chandni Chawk was an affluent neighborhood with havelis of rich merchants and uncluttered road, but this market’s history is even older than that. It was actually built during the Mughal times in the 17th century by Shah Jahan and his daughter Jahanara. Back then, there were water canals that separated different sections – just imagine. The name means “moonlit square” and merchants from all over the world that traveled on the Silk Route came here.

This market hit its lowest point after India – Pakistan partition and has never been the same. At the moment it is the place to buy insanely affordable and wholesale things. A lot of Delhi-ites visit this market to buy affordable Indian formal attire if there is a wedding in their family. After reading the City of Djinns, I went back to Chandni Chowk and looked at it with completely different eyes.

26) JNU Campus

I studied in Delhi University’s South Campus but went to JNU quite often to hang out there. This campus is unbelievably special, green and is like a city in itself. It kind of reminds me of Auroville.

Jawaharlal Nehru University is Delhi’s most beautiful campus area is surely worth a visit. I don’t know about you but I like visiting campus areas. I kind of like to imagine what it would be like if I was studying there. On my short visit to the New York City, I made it a point to visit the New York University campus area and really liked it.

JNU isn’t really a kind of a place where you can just walk in as a tourist. Instead, you have to find someone who is studying or working there so that they can bring you in. JNU receives a lot of foreign exchange students from all over the world.

When you’re inside, go get a few snacks for yourself and sit on one of the benches or on the garden to eat it.

27) Malai Mandir

Inside Malai Mandir, Delhi - things to do

Inside Malai Mandir, Delhi – things to do

Malai Mandir means, “hill temple” and is dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is built on a little hill that overlooks the chaos of Delhi’s busy Outer Ring Road. Just like a majority of Hindu temples from Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Telugu communities the insides of Malai Mandir are also colourful.

All of the temples that are dedicated to Lord Murugan have been built on top of hills. Ever visited the spectacular Batu Cave temples in Malaysia? Yes, they’re dedicated to Lord Murugan as well.

Malai Mandir is in RK Puram, and is along the main Palam – Outer Ring Road where the traffic situation is never good.

Being a total foodie, I can’t help but suggest you visit Alkakori Alkauser restaurant that is walking distance from this temple. This place is strictly for meat lovers and I highly recommend you try mutton galauti kebabs and kakori kebabs – both with varki parathas. Yumm. I cannot even begin to describe how amazing this tastes. The meat is extremely tender, spicy and the crisp varki parathas taste excellent with them. But hey, if it is your first day in Delhi then this meal can be too extreme for you.

28) Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar in Delhi - places to see

Jantar Mantar in Delhi – places to see by Halftheworldaway (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Jantar Mantar is a giant sundial that was built to measure time but as of late it has become a site for political protests. There are total 9 Jantar Mantars in Delhi and I even visited the one in the pink city – Jaipur that is supposed to be accurate up to 2 seconds.

Delhi’s Jantar Mantar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was built in 1724, although in earlier records it was mistakenly put as 1710. It has three instruments for calculating time inside Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, which are the Samrat Yantra, the Jayaprakash, and the Misra Yantra.

29) Paharganj Main Bazaar

Paharganj is Delhi’s oldest backpacker area and there is actually nothing to see here except a chaotic market. It is very close to New Delhi Train Station and this area has some really cheap and dingy hotels, which is the reason for its popularity.

Paharganj is crowded, often smelly but there is a lot of madness that you can get to witness while you’re here. Paharganj is kind of like Bangkok’s Khao San Road, but it is a little more extreme!

The most interesting part about Paharganj is that you will see the same clothes and bags being sold here at a fraction of a cost as you’ll see in other backpacker areas like Goa, Bangkok, Manali, etc. There are also shops where you can buy clay chillums, glass pipes, bongs and all the stoner paraphernalia, which is sold for a bomb in Amsterdam.

If you’re in Paharganj, one of the best things that you can have is Chhole Bhature from Natraj. It chickpeas that’s made in Punjabi masala with fried bread – is cheap, unbelievably delicious and spicy.

The nearest metro station is RK Ashram Marg and the next one is New Delhi Railway Station.

30) Sanjay Van

Delhi has a forest too, and it is pretty big. It green, dense and spread over 783 acres. It is just a big bigger than the extremely small country – Monaco. There are little hills inside the park because it is a part of the Aravalais.

If you already have friends in Delhi who can drive you around, then go visit Sanjay Van with them. Enter from Qutab Institutional Area entry gate and drive around inside. Please don’t visit this spot on a taxi or auto rickshaw, because crime rate is high in isolated areas.

Wear proper shoes because Sanjay Van has snakes too. Most likely they’re more afraid of you than you are of them. Sanjay Van is also a good spot for bird watching.

Where to Stay in Delhi for Every Budget

Considering how massive Delhi is, there are many places to stay and just the sheer number of options on the booking sites will confuse first time visitors. I hope to make it easy for you. I’m only recommending places where I or any of my family members and close friends have stayed:

Hostels for Backpackers:

Madpackers Hostel, Panchsheel, €8 – €16 dorm and €25 for private double

Jugaad Hostels, RK Puram €8 – €15 dorm and €35 for private double

Zostel, Paharganj €7 – €8 dorm and €21 – €35 for private double

Something Special:

 

The Lazy Patio Homestay – Location: Hauz Khas Village with Lake View, Price Range: €135 – €225.

I have said it before and I don’t mind saying it again – the Lazy Patio is by far the most amazing place that I have seen in Delhi. It is on the fourth floor and there is no lift, so be prepared to climb and work hard to see this amazing view.

Mid Range Hotels, B&B and Homestays:

JHT Hotel, Location: GK 1 near M Block Market, Range: €100 – €200

Tatvamasi Homestay, Location: Chitaranjan Park (CR Park), Range: €50

Colonel’s Retreat, Location: Defense Colony (Def Col), Range: €80

Tree of Life, Location: Saket, Range: €60

Haveli, Location: Hauz Khas, Range: €65

Svelte Hotel, Location: Select Citywalk, Saket, Range: €110 – €260

Luxury and Five Star Hotels in Delhi

The Grand, Location: Vasant Vihar, Range: €200 – €400

The Leela Palace, Location: Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri, Range: €225 – €992

The Oboroi, Location: Gurgaon, Range: €314 – €442

Taj Palace, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri, Range: €200 – €996 and €2988 – €5977 (Presidential Suite)

Vivanta by Taj – Ambassador: Location: Subramania Bharti Marg (Near Khan Market), Price Range: €121 – €512

General Travel Tips for visiting Delhi

Back in 2015 I published a detailed article with travel tips for visiting Delhi. This article was a big hit for solo female travelers, corporate travelers, family travelers, backpackers and even fellow Indians who were visiting Delhi, so you should check it out too. However, here are some basic tips that you should keep in mind before visiting Delhi:

Delhi weather and the Best time to visit Delhi:

Delhi Tourism’s website says that October to February are good months but in my opinion Christmas to first week of January is not a good time to be in Delhi. Delhi is at its best in February, March, October and November. Every other month is too hot, too cold or too rainy and you will end up hating Delhi and my blog for making Delhi sound interesting to you.

How to move around in Delhi?

As much as I love Delhi, I have to admit that the traffic and transport situation is chaotic and stressful, so be prepared. Delhi is not very pedestrian and bicycle friendly. If you it is your first time in India, then don’t even think of renting a car and driving it in Delhi. Below are the options that I recommend:

Delhi Metro

Delhi Metro is the best thing that has happened to Delhi and has made moving around super simple. Buy a Delhi Metro visitor card for INR 150 to avoid long queues. Delhi Metro doesn’t run after 11 pm on most of the routes so please check their official website for more information.

Auto Rickshaws (Tuk-Tuks)

 

 

If you have traveled extensively in Asia, then you must have moved around on a tuk-tuk for sure. In Delhi they are more commonly referred to as “Autos” and not really tuk tuks. They are very convenient for short distances and I have never had a bad experience riding one in Delhi.

Ola and Uber

Traveling on Ola and Uber cabs is extremely simple within Delhi and sometimes even cheaper than moving around on auto rickshaws. Personally I prefer Ola Cabs to Uber.

 

Where to go after Delhi? Here are Places to visit Near Delhi

Agra & Taj Mahal

Most of the people who visit Delhi, head to Agra next to see one of the seven wonders of the world – Taj Mahal that was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is very easy to reach Agra from Delhi on car in less than 3 hours, but buses and trains take much longer. Personally, I’m not fond of Agra city.

Jaipur

Jaipur is the pink city of Rajasthan and is always a delight to visit. It is a part of the famous Golden Triangle tourist route, which is Delhi – Agra – Jaipur. Having visited both Agra and Jaipur many times, I’d suggest you to just skip Agra and simply head to Jaipur and perhaps the rest of Rajasthan.

Amritsar

Amritsar is in the state of Punjab and you can reach here in half a day by Amritsar Shatabdi Express train (train numbers 12013 and 12014). This city is famous for its Golden Temple – Harmandir Sahib Gurudwara which looks spectacular at night.

Rishikesh

If you want to visit the Himalayas, then Rishikesh is one of the easiest places to visit from Delhi. It is a spiritual destination and was put on the map by the Beatles. There is a famous bungee jumping spot in Rishikesh that you should check out of you’re an adventure freak like me.

Dharamshala and Dharamkot

Dharamkot is a little village near Dharamshala, which is a famous destination because the exiled Dalai Lama lives there. There is also the extremely popular McLeodganj here which has lost its charm because of over-tourism. I prefer Dharamkot out of all these places because you have to hike a little to reach here, which discourages most of the travelers.

Kasol and Manali

Kasol, Manali and Old Manali are different destinations that are nearby but they attract completely different kinds of travelers. Manali city is very popular amongst Indian families and honeymooners, while Old Manali and Kasol are on the Hippie trail and the famous Banana Pancake trail for backpackers.

Tiger Safari in Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, India

Tiger Safari in Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, India

If you have traveled extensively in India, then most likely you have already heard of Kanha National Park. Also known as Kanha Tiger Reserve, it is one of the many National Parks in India where one can hope to see a tiger in the wild. It is in Madhya Pradesh, the heart of India and the land of tiger reserves. Kanha is the largest National Park in Madhya Pradesh.

Mowgli - the Jungle Book is believed to be based on Kanha National Park forest

Mowgli – the Jungle Book is believed to be based on Kanha National Park forest

Ever heard of the Jungle Book? It is believed that Kanha National Park was on Rudyard Kipling’s mind when he wrote the book. But hey – I saw the movie and the forest doesn’t really look like how it is portrayed in the movie. Hollywood obviously makes everything look even more dramatic than it already is and sometimes ignores the beauty of simplicity. In the new movie, the jungle is depicted as a tropical rainforest but not in the books. In reality, this area has a tropical savanna climate.

So here’s the thing – no matter what kind of a traveler you are but seeing a tiger in wild is an experience that you will remember for life. Yes, you may have already seen one if you ever visited a zoo as a child, but that’s not a tiger’s natural habitat. Thankfully, India has many tiger reserves where you can go for a tiger safari. The state of Madhya Pradesh, especially Kanha National Park is one of the places where the probability of seeing a tiger is usually higher.

Please understand that visiting tiger reserves or national parks doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will see a tiger. Being a predatory animal, a tiger usually hides well. For all you know, it could just be walking along your jeep but you may not see because it is hiding in the bushes. After all, in India it is believed that a tiger is the king of the forest – it is not going to sit around and wait for you so that you can enjoy your safari better.

Most of you know it already but I’d still like to mention this – please treat Mother Nature with respect. Keep in mind that a forest is a sacred space and you need to respect the rules of nature. Do not ever visit a zoo to see wild animals that are kept in captivity for human entertainment. Visit National Parks, animal reserves and sanctuaries instead. San and I do not visit or support zoos and we’d like to urge our readers not to do so too. And hey, go read about our elephant safari experience in Sri Lanka.

 

Project Tiger 1973, Tiger Conservation and Background

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, you probabaly already know this, but here’s a little background about India’s tiger conservation efforts.

Tigress Princess in Kanha National Park, MP

Tigress Princess in Kanha National Park, MP – Photo by Rohit Varma – (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

On April 1 1976, India launched a tiger conservation program called Project Tiger. The aim is to protect tigers from extinction by conserving their natural habitats. Under this program, many tiger reserves were set up and encouraged so that these places can be the breeding grounds for new tiger population.

One of the biggest challenges with tiger conservation is poaching. As per ancient Chinese medicine, tiger parts are used in several recipes and extremely wealthy businessmen in the neighboring countries allegedly sent several highly paid poachers to these parks. To fight poaching, the government set up Tiger Protection Force. The tiger population has risen from 1411 in 2006 to 2226 in 2015.

Suggested: Staying in a Jungle Tree House in Sri Lanka

Where is Kanha National Park?

The state of Madhya Pradesh (MP) is massive in size and is bigger than most of the countries in the world. It is even bigger than Italy! Within MP, the forests of Banjar and Halon valley collectively form Kanha National Park.

As mentioned before, this region has a tropical savanna climate with open grassy meadows. Kanha has two entrances, one is in Mandla district and the other is in Balaghat district. For detailed information about how to reach Kanha National Park, please check out the end of this article.

The Zones inside Kanha National Park

Early Morning Jeep Safari in Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Early Morning Jeep Safari in Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Kanha is divided into 4 zones – Kanha, Kisli, Sarai (Khatia Gate entry) and Mukki (Mukki gate entry). All the zones are equally good but the tigers in Kanha and Kisli zones are better accustomed to seeing humans around them and so it is believed that the chances of spotting tigers in these zones are better.

The two entry gates of Kanha National Park – Khatia and Mukki are very far away from each other so please keep this in mind before you plan your transport. Khatia entrance is also called just simply Kanha entrance (because it leads to Kanha zone of the park) and the other is called Mukki Kanha National Park. To make things a little confusing, you may also hear people say Kanha Kisli National Park – which is just the name of the zone and not a separate national park.

Some important places to see inside Kanha National Park are Bamni Dadar (sunset point), Kanha Museum (you will most likely stop for a toilet break here) and Medicinal Plan Conservation Area.

My Tiger Safari Experience in Kanha Tiger Reserve

The worst thing about jungle safaris is that they start very early in the mornings – but hey that’s also the best thing.

Early morning jungle safari in Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh

Early morning jungle safari in Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh

Our group was divided into 4 and we went off in different safari jeeps. Two of them saw tigers and the other two did not. Sadly I was in the group that did not! But the most amazing thing is that both the groups saw different tigers. One saw a male and the other saw a female. One of the groups that saw the tiger was nice enough to share the footage and the pictures with me.

We thought we’d be the first ones to reach the Khatia entry gate of Kanha but we were wrong, there were many jeeps already standing in the queue. The entry took 30 minutes because the authorities check the IDs for each person that enters the park. Moreover, a naturalist accompanies each jeep and sits in front.

My Early Morning Face when I saw the queue at Kanha National Park Entry Gate

My Early Morning Face when I saw the queue at Kanha National Park Entry Gate

Kanha National Park's Khatia Entry Gate

Early Morning Jungle Safari – Kanha National Park’s Khatia Entry Gate

Even though the weather in MP was warm when I visited towards the end of October, it was surprisingly chilly in the morning. It’s a good thing that our jeep had a blanket for all of us to share.

The jeeps are only allowed to follow a fixed route so that the wildlife is not disturbed and I respect that. Also, the drivers and naturalists are not allowed to use a walkie-talkie because the authorities want to prevent a situation where one group sees a tiger and calls every other group to see it.

Entering Kanha National Park forest

Entering Kanha National Park forest

As soon as we entered the national park, we saw a herd of deer that and a few monkeys right next to them on the tree. Our naturalist explained that monkeys and deer often form an alliance to protect each other from predators like tigers and leopards.

Just a little ahead of the monkeys and deers, we saw a little snake. It was so small that I’m sure we would have missed it if our jeep wasn’t on a standstill.

Snake in Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Snake in Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Our naturalist helped us identify a lot of trees and birds but I don’t remember most of their names. I particularly remember the Indian ghost tree, it had shiny white bark and our naturalist mentioned that it glows in the dark; especially more so during full moon nights. Apparently, Kanha has over 1000 species of flowering plants!

Deer in Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Deer in Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Deer herd inside Kanha National Park, MP

Deer herd inside Kanha National Park, MP

We saw a snake, groups of deer, barasingha, chital, sambhar, blackbucks, etc. We even saw a few wild dogs, which looked like normal stray dogs to me. I also read somewhere that the park has a few sloth bears and leopards too but we did not see them.

Suggested: Staying in an organic farm in Goa near Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Forest

Our naturalist showed us tiger paw marks on the ground, which appeared to be fresh. He mentioned over and over again that we should not appreciate the natural beauty around us and enjoy looking at other animals and birds apart from just waiting to spot a tiger.

Tiger Paw Print in Kanha National Park, MP

Tiger Paw Print in Kanha National Park, MP

I have this thing for nature and visiting a forest always feels like a reward for all my senses. I love the sounds of the forest, the smell of trees, the gentle breeze against my hair, and of course I love looking at the greenery. Forests have this kind of a healing energy that all of us need from time to time to feel spiritually invigorated. That’s why I cherished every single moment of being here.

The dense forest inside Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

The dense forest inside Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Grassy meadow inside Kanha National Park, MP

Grassy meadow inside Kanha National Park, MP

I was amazed at how frequently the landscape inside Kanha forest changed. At one point the forest was extremely dense and lush, and at another time it was totally dry. We also saw a few streams inside.

A Little Stream inside Kanha National Park, MP

A Little Stream inside Kanha National Park, MP

Most of the jeeps make a stop in the middle of the park which is one of the very few areas where eating is allowed. You can buy simple snacks and drinks here.There is a massive structure that’s made here using deer antlers. There is also a little museum here called Kanha Museum where I got to know a little more about Kanha National park and its history.

An adorable family inside Kanha Museum, Madhya Pradesh

An adorable family inside Kanha Museum, Madhya Pradesh

This is the spot where I met others in our group who were in different jeeps and I got to know that they saw tigers.

Tiger Safari in Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Our group member Ketki Rami (Dream Voyagers) saw this lovely tiger in Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Tiger sighting in Kanha National Park, MP

Tiger sighting in Kanha National Park, MP – Our group member Ketki Rami (Dream Voyagers) clicked this with a cellphone

At first, I was sad because I did not get to see the majestic tiger while I was in Kanha. I was also a little annoyed at my luck because because my visit to MP was as a travel blogger and content creator so my visit felt like a joke to me initially. Because of this, I did not even look at my Kanha pictures and videos for nearly 4 months after my visit. Last week I finally did and I realized how special my visit was. I learned so much from our naturalist and the lovely locals of MP.  Moreover, tigers are elusive animals and I am lucky that the other half of the group did and they shared their shots with me.

Safari Timings at Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park allows the entry of jeep safaris twice a day – morning shift and afternoon shift. The morning shift is from 6:30 am to 11 am and the afternoon one is from 3 pm to 6 pm.

Our Naturalist and a safari jeep in the background in Kanha National Park, MP

Our Naturalist and a safari jeep in the background in Kanha National Park, MP

If you’re planning on doing the morning shift, you will have to wake up at 4 am or even earlier. Don’t let that bother you because you can always sleep after your safari is over. Afternoon shift is good too but I was informed that the morning shift gives a better opportunity to observe the park’s flora and fauna. One really good thing about the afternoon shift is that it will give you a chance to see Bamni Dadar – the sunset point inside Kanha.

Kanha National Park jeep route

Kanha National Park jeep route

Only 6 people are allowed to sit in one jeep along with one driver and naturalist. All the vehicles are allowed to follow a fixed route and leave the part before the end of their appointed time. There is a bit of paperwork that needs to be done before every visit, ask your hotel to help you with it.

Kanha National Park Online Booking

I hardly ever tell my readers to book things in advance but not in this case. Kanha allows only a limited number of jeeps inside the park per day, per zone. These tickets usually sell out a few weeks in advance. You can book an entire jeep or a single seat on MP government’s website here.

Kanha National Park Entry Fee

The entry fee is INR 1370 per person. On top of this fee, there is also the cost of jeep and guide that can be shared. The cost of the jeep is usually INR 2000 and the cost of hiring a guide is INR 370.

Best time to visit Kanha National Park

Weather-wise, the best months to visit Kanha National Park are from October to March, which are winter months in India.

Tiger sighting is easier when the forest dries up from late March to May, however, the heat can be unbearable at this time. This is when most of the wildlife photographers visit the park.

Tiger Safari in Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh

Tiger Safari in Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh by Sumeet Moghe (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Nature lovers will love the months from November to February because the rainfall before these months revives the vegetation in the forest. These months are very good for bird watching because a lot of migratory birds visit Kanha during this time.

Kanha National Park is closed for visitors in the months of July, August, September and half of October. The park opens every year from October 15 and shuts on June 30.

Kanha National Park Hotels and Resorts

Inside Soulacia Resort, Kanha National Park, MP

Inside Soulacia Resort, Kanha National Park, MP

MP Tourism arranged our visit to Kanha National Park and they booked one of the best places for us to stay. We stayed in a place called Soulacia Hotel & Resort that’s the best place where I have stayed in the entire state of Madhya Pradesh. It is not just about the luxury but the overall feeling of comfort and ease that I felt while I was here because of the resort area, my cottage, the staff and the food.

The swimming pool in Soulacia Hotel and Resort, Kanha National Park

The swimming pool in Soulacia Hotel and Resort, Kanha National Park

Soulacia Resort is pretty big with a swimming pool, garden, dining hall, plenty of cottages and bonfire & barbecue spot.

My cottage in Soulacia Hotel, Kanha National Park

My cottage in Soulacia Hotel, Kanha National Park

My cottage was extremely luxurious, had a balcony, study area, massive bedroom, an equally massive bathroom and also an open-air shower in the backyard.

My Bedroom in Soulacia Hotel and Resort, Kanha

My Bedroom in Soulacia Hotel and Resort, Kanha

On the first night that we visited Soulacia, the staff arranged a bonfire and barbecue for us with an outdoor bar. The food here was exceptionally good and we really enjoyed the breakfast too.

Butter Chicken and Naan in Soulacia Hotel, Kanha National Park

Butter Chicken and Naan in Soulacia Hotel, Kanha National Park

A cottage in Souacia Hotel and Resort costs around $125 USD per night. To know more, feel free to read reviews on TripAdvisor from other travelers who stayed here.

How to Reach Kanha National Park

Perhaps you already know this but I still feel I should remind you that Kanha National Park is a forest area, so you can’t directly fly to it. You will have to reach one of the big cities that are close to Kanha and do the remaining journey by car. Your hotel will surely send a cab to pick you up if you ask in advance and pay a little extra.

Reaching Kanha National Park By Air

The closest airport to Kanha National Park is Jabalpur and from here the drive can take easily 3 to 6 hours, depending on the traffic and how bad your vehicle is. Jabalpur is 160 KMs away and Google Maps shows that this distance can be covered in 4 hours but it took us 6 hours to reach.

Our journey was particularly long because we had a very slow vehicle. However, our drive to Jabalpur airport from Kanha barely took us 2.5 hours because of a faster vehicle.

Two more options of nearby airports are Raipur (250 KMs) and Nagpur (300 KMs) but the distance is double. I do not recommend you fly to these because you may just end up wasting an entire day to reach your hotel in case the traffic situation is bad.

Reaching Kanha National Park By Road / Driving

If you’re driving to Kanha National Park from any other part of India, reaching here depends on which park gate you will enter from – Khatiya (Mandla district) or Mukki (Balaghat district). Deciding where you enter the park from further depends on which hotel you will be staying in. I will make it easy for you and share my suggestions.

Khatia entrance is usually preferred because it covers a larger area of the park – Kisli, Kanha & Sarhi zones. Mukki entrance covers the Mukki zone of Kanha. Both these entrances can be reached very easily from Jabalpur and Nagpur but the route is different.

Reaching Kanha National Park By Train

The nearest train stations to Kanha National Park are Gondia & Jabalpur. If you’re traveling from Delhi, one of the best trains to do this journey is train number 12442 – Bilaspur Rajdhani, which goes directly to Gondia. Another option is 12122 – MP Sampark Kranti that goes to Jabalpur. If you’re doing this journey from Agra, you can book 18238, which goes to Gondia.

If planned well, train travel within India can be quite comfortable because it will give you a chance to lie down and doze off. First class AC and second class AC are obviously more expensive but they are worth the cost for the amount of peace that they provide. For a typical chaotic Indian train experience, you may want to book your seats in a cheaper compartment like 3 tier, general compartment, and third class.

Here is a list of some bigger cities that are near Kanha National Park and the distance from there:

  • Jabalpur – 160 Km (4 hours by road)
  • Raipur – 250 Km (5 hours by road)
  • Bilaspur – 250 Km (5 hours by road)
  • Bhilai – 270 Km (5 to 6 hours by road)
  • Nagpur – 300 Km (6 to 7 hours by road)

Alternatives to Kanha National Park

Tiger Safari in Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India

Tiger Safari in Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India – Rohit Varma (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Kanha may be the biggest national park in MP but it is not the only one that’s worth visiting. You may want to check out some more national parks in Madhya Pradesh that you can visit.

Pench National Park

Pench National Park just 200 KM away from Kanha and both these parks share Seoni district in Madhya Pradesh. It is called so because the river Pench flows through it. This park is spread over both Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Along with Kanha, even Pench is believed to be the backdrop of the Jungle Book series.

Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve

Another one of the bigger national parks in Madhya Pradesh, Bandhavgarh National Park is just 250 KM away from Kanha Tiger Reserve. Out of all the national parks in India, it has the highest known density of Bengal tigers.

Satpura Tiger Reserve

Satpura National Park is located along Madhya Pradesh’s Satupura Hills. The nearest big city is Bhopal. My friend recently visited Pugdundee Safari Resort in Satpura and had the most memorable experience. This jungle lodge is located along the backwaters and you can even stay in a treehouse here.

Panna National Park

Panna National Park is located towards the North East side of Madhya Pradesh state. It is one of the newer national parks of MP. It is no longer called a “tiger reserve” but is “biosphere reserve” because the entire population of tigers has sadly been eliminated as of 2009 because of poaching.

Have you ever been lucky enough to spot a tiger in the wild?

There are so many national parks in India apart from Kanha National Park where it is possible to see wild tigers. If you have ever been lucky enough to see a wild tiger, please comment below and let me know where. I’d love to read about your experience.

Cover photo by Dr. Tarak N Khan (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Disclosure: My visit to Kanha National Park was sponsored by Madhya Pradesh Tourism post Madhya Pradesh Travel Mart but as usual, all the opinions expressed in this article are mine.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!

5 Amazing Color Themed Places to Visit in Rajasthan (India)

5 Amazing Color Themed Places to Visit in Rajasthan (India)

Rajasthan is right out of a fairy tale. There are historical castles, sand dunes, magical landscapes, and best of all – color themed cities.

If you see the map of India, you will notice that Rajasthan is towards the North West part of the country and borders with Pakistan. Actually there is a vast desert towards the West part of that state that separates India and Pakistan.

In my opinion, Rajasthan is one of the safest and cleanest states of India. Rajasthan Tourism surely deserves a pat on their backs for doing a good job. It is the land of luxury because of its Maharaja heritage and the opulence is visible pretty much everywhere – even on the train stations.

There are many reasons why I love Rajasthan and keep visiting it every year. One of the main reasons is that the state is massive and it is not possible to cover it in just one visit. Another reason is that I love how Rajasthan’s top cities are color themed. There is a pink city, a blue city, a red city, a white city and even a golden city. Did you know that? Now you do!

Let me introduce my favorite color themed places to visit in Rajasthan. If you’re visiting Rajasthan for the first time, you may want to start off by visiting these cities first. It is very easy to visit most of these destinations by train, car or even air from Delhi.

Places to Visit in Rajasthan that are Color Themed

Jaipur – the Pink City

Hawa Mahal in the Pink City - Jaipur, Rajasthan

Hawa Mahal in the Pink City – Jaipur, Rajasthan

Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and is close to New Delhi; hence it is one of the most visited cities of the state. It is a part of India’s famous golden triangle route of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur that covers Taj Mahal – one of the seven wonders of the world.

Pink City Market view from Jantar Mantar - Jaipur, Rajasthan

Pink City Market view from Jantar Mantar – Jaipur, Rajasthan

Jaipur is known as the Pink City of India because most of its buildings were originally painted red in the eighteenth centaury but were repainted in 1876 and turned amber pink.

There are many amazing places to visit in Jaipur but my favorite is Nahargarh fort because of the amazing view it offers. You can also visit the magnificent Amber fort, Jaigarh fort, Jal Mahal, Hawa Mahal and Jantar Mantar.

Where to stay in Jaipur

I highly recommend you find a hotel that’s close to the old part of the city, which is called the Pink City so that you can explore it by walking.

We stayed in a charming haveli called Rawla Mrignayani Palace and loved it. One of my favorite things to do in Jaipur is walking in the Pink City market, eating delicious Rajasthani street food and buying colorful handmade clothes.

Jodhpur – the Blue City

Jodhpur - the blue city - Color themed places to visit in Rajasthan

Jodhpur – the blue city – Color themed places to visit in Rajasthan – Photo by Rhiannon [CC0] via Pixabay

Over the last few years, Chefchaouen in Morocco has suddenly gained international popularity because it is blue themed but India’s Jodhpur is no less. It on the edge of the Thar Desert and hence is also called the Gateway to Thar.

Just like Jaipur, it is the old part of Jodhpur that’s blue. This part of Jodhpur is called Brahmpuri and literally every house and building here is colored in different hues of blue.

If you’re looking for things to do in Jodhpur then you must include Mehrangarh Fort, Umaid Bhawan Palace, and Balsamand Lake in your Rajasthan itinerary.

Where to stay in Jodhpur

You can book in Umaid Bhawan Palace, Raas, or Marugarh resort for an extremely luxurious “Maharaja” like experience.

Bikaner – the Red City

Travel guide for Bikaner, Rajasthan

Travel guide for Bikaner, Rajasthan

Bikaner is my favorite cities in Rajasthan and it is the most overlooked one, because of which it has still managed to retain it’s low-key charm. Not many people know much about this city apart from its famous namkeen (salty snacks) or the famous rat temple, but there is so much more.

An old Red Sandstone Haveli in Bikaner, Rajasthan

An old Red Sandstone Haveli in Bikaner, Rajasthan

While you’re in Bikaner, you can visit Junagarh fort, Laxmi Niwas Palace, Lalgarh palace and also the nearby Gajner Sanctuary. However as per me, the best thing that I did here was walking around the streets of Bikaner’s old town. This is where you will find some old forgotten havelis that were built in the eighteenth centaury using red sandstones by Bikaner’s rich merchants. Be sure to check out my travel guide for Bikaner that has essential information about what you can do here.

Merchant's Trail in Bikaner on a horse carriage

Merchant’s Trail in Bikaner on a horse carriage – picture by Deepti Asthana

Where to stay in Bikaner

The best place to stay in Bikaner is Narendra Bhawan, which was once Bikaner’s Maharaja’s residence. You can also stay in the nearby Laxmi Niwas Palace or Lalgarh Palace.

Udaipur – the White City (or the Lake city)

White lake palace in Udaipur - Places to visit in Rajasthan

White lake palace in Udaipur – Places to visit in Rajasthan

Udaipur is more commonly referred to as the city of the lakes but it is mostly white because of the use of white marble in most of the palaces here.

Udaipur - the white city of Rajasthan glows after sunset

Udaipur – the white city of Rajasthan glows after sunset

Because of its many lakes, Udaipur is one of the most romantic places to visit in Rajasthan. A part of the shooting of a James Bond movie – Octopussy happened here.

Udaipur has white havelis and palaces - color themed places to visit in Rajasthan

Udaipur has white havelis and palaces – color themed places to visit in Rajasthan

Udaipur has some seriously gorgeous viewpoints but some of my favorite ones here overlooks the Lake Pichola. This is not the biggest lake but is the most scenic one because of the old buildings that are around it.

White buildings around Udaipur's Lake Pichola - places to visit in Rajasthan

White buildings around Udaipur’s Lake Pichola – places to visit in Rajasthan

If you visit Udaipur, be sure to visit Udaipur city palace, Fatehsagar Lake, Doodh Talai and Saheliyon ki Bari. You can also visit sites that are river islands, such as Nehru Garden which is a park inside Fateh Sagar lake, Jagmandir which is a temple inside Pichola lake or the luxurious Taj lake palace.

Where to stay in Udaipur

For a once in a lifetime experience, stay on a place in the middle of the lake – Taj Lake Palace. Or you can also consider Leela Palace, Amet Haveli, or Jaiwana Haveli.

Jaisalmer – the Golden City

Inside Jaisalmer Fort - the Golden city of Rajasthan

Cannon viewpoint inside Jaisalmer Fort – the Golden city of Rajasthan

Jaisalmer is the most Westerly city of Rajasthan and in my opinion is the most beautiful one because it is a fully preserved city. Unlike the other Rajasthani cities on this list, the entire Jaisalmer is golden and every building looks like it is a part of the fort (but it isn’t).

Khuri Sand Dunes near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Khuri Sand Dunes near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Jaisalmer Fort is called Sonar Qila, which means golden fort and is a UNESCO World heritage site. There is a little walled city inside the Jaisalmer fort itself. How cool is that!

One of the best things to do in Jaisalmer is to get lost in its maze like streets outside the fort. Or you check out some of the more touristy places to visit in Jaisalmer such as the fort itself, Ghadsisar Lake, or the city’s many havelis.

Sonar Qila - Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Sonar Qila – Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Considering how close Jaisalmer is to the Thar Desert, a camel safari on the nearby sand dunes is an experience that you should not miss. You can visit the Khuri Sand dunes or Sam sand dunes – they’re equally good.

Where to stay in Jaisalmer

For an unforgettable experience, you can stay in the middle of the desert in Suryagarh Palace or stay in one of the hotels inside the fort such as Killa Bhawan.

When to visit Rajasthan

Please understand that most parts of the Rajasthan state are arid areas, so the best months to visit are the winter months. Visit between October to March but be prepared to handle how it gets very cold at night. The peak tourist season in Rajasthan is from December to February.

Have you visited Rajasthan already? If so, I’d love to know what’s your favorite place here. Let me know in the comment! To know more about Jaipur, check out this post about Jaipur’s city palace.

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