Delhi is one of the most fascinating and historically significant cities in the world.  There are so many different ways you could spend a 24 hour layover in Dehli, a truly diverse city.  

If it’s your first time in Delhi, check my tips and complete guide to visiting Delhi for the first time.

In this itinerary, you’ll see some of Delhi’s most famous sites as well as a few off-beat locations.  You’ll have a chance to try the famous cuisine, do some shopping in a culturally rich location, and witness Delhi’s spiritual side.  Fuel up on coffee and breakfast because it’s going to be a full but exciting day!

Morning

Qutub Complex (UNESCO)The minaret at Qutub Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world.pngUntitled design - 2023-07-10T023225.150

Start your Delhi adventure at one of the city’s most important sites, the magnificent Qutub Minar.  It’s a great way to begin a 24-hour layover in Delhi.

This is one of the best and oldest examples of Indo-Islamic-Afghan architecture in the world; much of the complex was built in 1192. 

Besides the famed minar itself, the remains of an ancient madrassa, mosque, and tombs of former rulers make up the complex. It’s a beautiful, evocative place that was built on the site of ancient Hindu and Jain temples. 

Take a good look at the columns in the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque – you can see the carved, decorative stones that make up the columns have Hindu and Jain deities and designs.  The decorative stones were taken from torn-down temples and re-used in the mosque.  This kind of archeological pillaging was common practice at the time. 

The Qutub Minar is a UNESCO site.  For a better price and to avoid the ticket line-up, buy tickets online through the ASI portal.

Hours and Cost: 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, daily – INR 600 for foreigners, children under 15 free

Shri Jagannath MandirEntrance to the main temple at Shri Jagannath Mandir

On your way to the next location, Hauz Khas Village and Hauz Khas Fort, stop at the lovely South Indian temple devoted to Lord Krishna called Shri Neelanchal Seva Sangh (commonly known as Shri Jagannath Mandir).  Lord Krishna is one of the most important Hindu gods and is widely revered. He is considered a supreme god in his own right.

There are several small temples here, each with its own deities whose clothing and jewelry are changed daily.  India is a very spiritual country and no 24-hour Delhi layover is complete without a visit to a temple.

Before you enter the temple remove your shoes – you can leave them with the shoe minder (a small donation would be appropriate) or by the temple steps.

The easiest way to get to Shri Jagannath Mandir from the Qutub Minar is by Uber.  If you don’t have local data you can take a rickshaw (will cost about INR 200) or the metro, but you will have to take a rickshaw to the metro station (it’s a long walk from the Qutub complex). 

Hours and Cost: 4:30 am to 1:30 pm & 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm (March to September); 5:30 am to 1:30 pm & 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm (October to February) – free 

Hauz Khas Villagemain road in Hauz Khas Village

From the temple, walk down the main road to the entrance gate of Hauz Khas Village.  It’s a little enclave of restaurants, bars, boutiques, art shops and Airbnbs.  Hauz Khas Village is Delhi’s nicest gentrified urban village.

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When Delhi was established, many villages got incorporated into the city.  Most villages lacked property records and for a long time were off the city’s urban master plan.  Residents ended up building without proper approvals or government interference, giving these villages a very higgledy-piggledy look; Hauz Khas Village is one of these.  

Hours and Cost: 11:00 am to 12:00 pm, daily (hours vary) – free

Hauz Khas FortHauz Khas Fort

Continue down the main road of Hauz Khas Village all the way to the end.  This is the entrance to Hauz Khas Fort, a gem that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.  

Hauz Khas Fort is part of the second medieval city of Delhi, Siri, and was built in the 1300s.  Besides the fort itself, there are tombs, a mosque, a madrassa, and the ancient reservoir that Hauz Khas was named after.  

The tomb of one of Delhi’s most important rulers is here, Feroz Shah.  

This is an Architectural Survey of India site; tickets can be purchased online in advance through the ASI portal to avoid the ticket counter line-up. You’ll also get a small discount.

Hours and Cost: 7:00 am to 7:00 pm (closed Sunday) – INR 300 for foreigners, children under 15 free

Afternoon

Lunch at Delhi’s Most Famous Dhaba, Rajinder da Dhaba

By now you are probably ready for lunch.  From the fort, walk back up the main road of Hauz Khas Village until you get to the entrance gate.  Grab an auto rickshaw and go to Rajinder da Dhaba.  Every rickshaw driver in Delhi knows this restaurant the fare should be no more than INR 100.

Rajinder da Dhaba started as a single stand years ago and has since expanded to take up half the market block.  Eat in the express restaurant on the ground level.  The servers will try to get you to go upstairs (where it is fancier and more expensive) but insist on eating downstairs – the food is the same.

Rajinder da Dhaba is most famous for its chicken curry and naan but everything is good here.  It gets packed in the evenings and the parking lot is full of people eating takeout, many using their motorcycle seats as dining tables.

Shopping for bags at Sarojini Nagar Market

Shopping at Dilli Haat INA or Sarojini Nagar MarketShopping for bags at Sarojini Nagar Market

From Rajinder da Dhaba, take an auto rickshaw (or you can order an Uber) and head to Dilli Haat INA or Sarojini Nagar Market for some shopping.  Even if you don’t buy anything, they are both interesting markets and worth visiting.  A rickshaw should not be more than INR 150 to either place.

 You’ll see a lot of locals at both markets, but they are very different.  

Dilli Haat INA is the best place to go for souvenirs, Indian textiles, art, and cultural items.  It is a pedestrian-only market that has a constantly changing roster of artisans and vendors from across India.  It’s popular with visitors and locals.  

There’s also a very good outdoor food court, so if you didn’t go to Rajinder da Dhaba for lunch you can eat here.

There are three different Dilli Haat markets and a Delhi Haat market, so make sure you go to Dilli Haat INA.

Hours and Cost: 10:30 am to 10:00 pm, daily – INR 100 for foreigners

Sarojini Nagar Market

This is Delhi’s favorite budget market.  It’s a great place to shop for Western clothing and accessories.  It gets crowded but the deals are incredible, and you can find some great pieces if you’re willing to rummage through the racks.  

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Hours and Cost: 11:00 am to 9:00 pm (closed Monday) – free

Dharavi’s Flowers by Alaniz and Federica in Lodhi Art District

Lodhi Art DistrictDharavi’s Flowers by Alaniz and Federica in Lodhi Art District

Take an auto-rickshaw or Uber from Dilli Haat INA or Sarojini Nagar Market to India’s first outdoor art district.  Get dropped off by Carnatic Café which is in the middle of the area.  From there you can walk through the neighborhood lanes and view the giant murals painted on the building facades.  These apartment complexes were built by the British to house government staff during the 1940s.  

There are over 50 murals and most have an environmental or social theme.  

While there walk to Devan’s South Indian Coffee House for a coffee, or Jaatre for ice cream. Both are excellent.

Hours and Cost: 24/7 but to see the murals go in the daytime – free

Lodhi GardenDelhi’s most alluring park, Lodhi Garden

Walk back up to Lodhi Road and cross the street to Lodhi Garden, the most captivating park in Delhi. 

The park was planned in 1931 by Lady Willingdon, the wife of the British Viceroy at the time.  It’s a stunning park with mature trees, walking paths, and flowers, but it is the tombs, mosque, and arched bridge from the Sayyid and Lodhi periods (1414 to 1526) that make it so magical.  Make sure you have your camera – you’ll want to get some photos.

Lodhi Garden is also a botanist’s dream with over 100 species of trees, numerous shrubs, and flowers.

Hours and Cost: 6:00 am to 7:30 pm, daily – free

India Gate on a Sunday evening, a favorite place for Indian families

India GateIndia Gate

Now it’s time to see one of Delhi’s most iconic sites, India Gate.  From Lodhi Park, take an auto-rickshaw.  It will take you through an area called Lutyens’ Delhi – the planned part of New Delhi designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens while India was still part of the British Empire.

India Gate was built as a war memorial in the style of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe in the 1920s.  It is always full of activity and Indian families.  

At the opposite end of India Gate are the parliament buildings, Rashtrapati Bhavan.  It’s about 2 km, but if you’re feeling energetic you can walk along Kartavya Path to see them. 

Hours and Cost: 7:00 am to 11:00 pm, daily – free

Evening

The inner circle of Connaught Place during winter

Connaught Placeinner circle of Connaught Place 

A trip to Delhi is not complete without visiting the unofficial center of the city, Connaught Place.  Known affectionately as CP by Delhiites, this is the city’s favorite hangout and meeting place.  Your 24-hour layover in Delh is not complete without a visit to CP.

The easiest way to get to Connaught Place from India Gate is by auto rickshaw. Tell the driver to take you to the inner circle or one of the well-known eateries, like United Coffee House or Wenger’s.  CP is immediately recognizable by the white colonnades.  

The British built this commercial and retail hub and it’s still a hive of activity any time of the day. You’ll see many western branded shops as well as Indian outlets, movie theatres, art galleries, restaurants, and cafes.  

It’s comprised of 3 concentric traffic circles but heads to the inner circle for the most entertainment.  Blocks are all lettered, so it’s easy to navigate.  

Hours and Cost: 11:00 am to 10:00 pm (hours may vary), daily – free

Have Dinner in Connaught Place

This is an excellent spot to have dinner.  Some of the best restaurants in CP are Daryanganj Restaurant, Saravana Bhavan, Zaffran, and Naivedyam.  Unplugged Courtyard is also great and has a lovely terrace with brick oven pizza and live Indian music on the weekends.

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If you are feeling adventurous, go to Kake da Hotel.  It is very famous in Delhi and locals crowd outside to get in every evening.  This is a super casual, local joint – but the food is excellent, and eating here is a very authentic Delhi experience!  It’s located on the outer circle of CP.

Where to Stay in Delhi for a 24-Hour Layover

If you’re flying into and out of Delhi the next day, the most convenient place to stay is Aerocity by the Indira Gandhi International Airport. There are many hotels in Aerocity, including all the major brands.  My favorites are: 

Andaz Delhi $$$

Lemon Tree $$

If you’re departing Delhi by train, you may want to stay closer to the train station.  Delhi has several centrally located train stations.  Avoid the Paharganj area (near the New Delhi Railway Station) which is very congested, noisy and not entirely safe at night. Instead, stay in Connaught Place which is close by:

Imperial Hotel $$$ – Connaught Place

Hotel Palace Heights $$ – Connaught Place

Bloomrooms @ Janpath – $$ Connaught Place

Use the Metro Get into Delhi from Aerocity or the Airport

The Delhi Metro is one of the best systems in the world.  It’s also the most efficient way to get from the airport or Aerocity into town. Terminals 1 and 3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport have metro stations and there’s a station in Aerocity.  

Every metro station has self-serve kiosks you can buy tickets at. The system is very easy to use and in English and Hindi.  The airport metro line has racks for luggage. 

Check the Delhi metro site for routes and a system map.

Guest Author: Suzanne Hooker of Suzanne Wanders Delhi

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