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The best free things to do in Delhi

By: Namrata Bhawnani

November 18, 2015

India’s vibrant capital offers a rich mix of historic sites, cultural attractions, lip-smacking street food, colonial architecture and green spaces. The beauty of exploring Delhi is that you can enjoy a variety of experiences without spending a penny. Here are some of our favourite free things to do in Delhi.

The best free things to do in Delhi

People of all faiths throng to Hazrat Nizamuddin’s dargah to listen to the sublime qawwali sessions © delhimetro.com

No Delhi experience is complete without soaking in the soul-stirring sounds of the qawwali. The sublime Sufi experience is held at the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya every Thursday. Located in Nizammudin, the dargah is the shrine of the famous Sufi saint, and the celebrated Urdu poet Amir Khusro is buried nearby. Remember to carry a scarf to cover your head and leave your shoes outside.

 

The path to spiritual enlightenment also leads you to the Bahá’í House of Worship. An architectural marvel, it’s one of the most visited edifices in the world (over 70 million visitors) and is known as the Lotus Temple – architect Furiburz Sabha chose the flower as the symbol common to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Nine pools of water around the petals are floodlit in the evening, making it a particularly special time to visit. Meditate in the temple made of pure marble and explore the landscaped gardens to soak in the serenity. You’re required to leave your shoes outside and photography is not permitted.

The best free things to do in Delhi

At Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, ten thousand devotees are fed at the langar every day © Delhi Magic Tours

Places of worship are not just good for some quality alone time and soul searching – you can also sample some seriously delicious food too. Try the langar served to devotees at the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in Connaught Place. The food is simple, authentic and divine. The gurudwara (a place of worship for Sikhs) feeds 10,000 devotees every day, faith no bar.

 

If you’re a foodie, Delhi is an endless fountain of discovery. You can’t miss the 17th century Khari Baoli wholesale spice market near the Red Fort in Old Delhi. The aroma of saffron, curry powders, chillies, pulses, prunes, mulberries and other exotic spices is potent. Buzzing with frenetic activity, there’s method to the madness here as the trading and efficient distribution process is phenomenal.

The best free things to do in Delhi

The name of the spice market Khari Baoli stems from a salty (khara) well (baoli) used for bathing © Delhi Magic Tours

From the heady assault on the senses to a serene space where you can clear your head, visit the Lodi Gardens in New Delhi, where the tombs of the Afghan Sayyid and Lodi rulers are located. The gardens are wonderful for people watching, strolling aimlessly or for their historic significance – of particular interest are the Bara Gumbad (Big Dome) and Sheesh Gumbad (glass dome).

 

Delhi also has a vibrant art scene and you could spend a rewarding day gallery hopping. From Delhi Art Gallery in the trendy Hauz Kas Village to Vadehra Art Gallery in Defence Colony, you could discover everything you ever wanted to know about modern and contemporary Indian art here. You’ll never run out of free things to do in Delhi!

The best free things to do in Delhi

People watching in Lodi Gardens is a popular pastime not only with visitors, but the locals too © iStock / saiko3p 

Book your trip to Delhi with Virgin Atlantic and discover some of these incredible free activities.

 

Have you experienced any of the places mentioned above? What are your favourite things to do in Delhi for free? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

Written by Namrata Bhawnani

Namrata Bhawnani

Namrata Bhawnani is a London-based freelance travel writer and the co-founder of the ecotravel web magazine www.ecophiles.com.

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