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Delhi tours and excursions

Delhi tours

Walking tours

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) offers heritage walks of Old Delhi and Mehrauli Archaeological Park at weekends. You can also arrange private guides. Alternatively pick up a copy of Old Delhi: 10 Easy Walks for inspiration. Join the charitable organisation Salaam Baalak Trust for a city walk with a difference. These two-hour walks (Monday to Saturday) are led by a former street child who show you what life is like for kids living on the streets.

Tel: (011) 2464 1304 ; (011) 2358 4164.
Website: http://www.intach.org

Bus tours

The Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation (DTTDC) operates the HOHO bus service - hop on, hop off sightseeing tours covering New and Old Delhi (daily 0800-2000). The New Delhi tour takes in Jantar Mantar, Birla Mandir, Qutb Minar, the Lotus Temple and Safdarjung's Tomb. The Old Delhi tour stops at Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Rajghat and Humayun's Tomb. They also offer Delhi by Evening tours. All tickets must be purchased in advance and are available online or at the booking office at N-36, Connaught Place.

Tel: (011) 4094 0000.
Website: http://www.hohodelhi.com

Charitable tours

The Hope Project is a charitable organisation that was set up in 1980 to help the poor with education, health and livelihood projects in the Nizamuddin community. The centre also runs tours around the Nizamuddin basti offering visitors the chance to visit the mosques, dargahs (Islamic shrines) and culinary delights of this predominantly Muslim neighbourhood.

Tel: (011) 2435 3006.
Website: http://www.hopeprojectindia.org

Delhi excursions

Ranthambore National Park

Southwest of Agra, and a few hours' drive or train ride south from Delhi, the Ranthambore National Park offers the opportunity to see the elusive tiger, along with other large wildlife including leopards, hyenas, crocodiles, snakes and much more – an Indian equivalent of a safari. A number of operators will organise inclusive trips, among them Gurgaon-based Tour My India.

Tel: (0120) 405 2615.
Website: http://www.ranthamborenationalpark.com

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal has been described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love. It is also India's most emblematic and famous tourist attraction. Renowned for its tree-lined reflective pond leading up to the fabulous domed roof, few know that the Taj Mahal is, in fact, a mausoleum, not a mosque. Completed in 1653, it was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth. The Taj Mahal reportedly took 20,000 workers 22 years to complete. Sunrise is the best time to see the monument in all its glory. Most impressive are the four tall minarets, the majestic dome in the middle and the black-and-white chessboard marble floor.

The Shatabdi Express, an air-conditioned train, covers the 199km (124 miles) to Agra from Delhi in between two and three hours, departing from New Delhi station every day except Friday.

Agra, Uttar Pradesh

UNESCO:
Yes

Tel: (562) 222 6431.
Website: http://www.tajmahal.gov.in

Fatehpur Sikri

About an hour's drive from Agra, and atop a hill offering great views, another spectacular example of Mughal architecture near Delhi is the 'ghost city' of Fatehpur Sikri. Dating from the latter half of the 16th century, this fortified settlement was originally intended as a twin capital with Agra, but was soon abandoned due to a lack of suitable water supply to support the residents.

The city boasts a remarkable collection of palaces, gardens and other buildings, and one part, containing a large mosque and an awe-inspiring entrance gateway, is very much alive and functioning as a centre of worship.

Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh

UNESCO:
Yes

Agra Fort

Near the Taj Mahal is Agra Fort with its striking high red sandstone ramparts. The fort houses the graceful Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience), the Hammam-i-Shahi (Royal Bath), the Nagina Masjid (Gem Mosque) and the Zenana Meena Bazaar, where the ladies of the court would linger over silks, jewellery and brocades.

The complex boasts a number of individual palaces built from both the ubiquitous local red sandstone, and from white marble. There are also mosques and a number of other buildings.

Agra, Uttar Pradesh

UNESCO:
Yes

Featured Hotels

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Optus Sarovar Premiere

In the heart of the Gurgaon commercial district to the southwest of New Delhi, this is a business hotel with a difference, in that it has a genuinely Indian character to its modern and comfortable facilities. It's not a bad place for relaxation either, with its rooftop swimming pool, lobby lounge bar and up-to-the-minute gym facilities. The hotel has 80 rooms, all equipped with the latest TVs and other technology, and also offers a choice of meeting/conference rooms. Central Delhi is connected to Gurgaon by metro link.

Hotel Marble Arch

A new property conveniently located at Karol Bagh – 10 minutes by metro from Connaught Place, and little further from the New Delhi railway station, this is a comfortable and friendly place to base yourself for a short stay in Delhi. The accommodation floors surround an open-air courtyard restaurant area. Wi-Fi access is available, and the hotel will arrange collection and drop-off at both the airport and main railway stations if arranged in advance.

The Lodhi

Formerly the Aman New Delhi Hotel, The Lodhi is an contemporary, upmarket resort featuring exquisite Indian decor such as hand-made rugs and jaali screens. It offers 40 rooms, with balconies offering city, courtyard or garden views, deep bathtubs, a spa, tennis courts, 50m-long (140ft) pool, restaurants and even a library and a cigar lounge.

The Imperial New Delhi

Built in 1931, this contemporary colonial hotel was a favourite haunt of Nehru, Mountbatten and other luminaries. It continues to welcome many dignitaries and affluent Delhiites who drop by for Sunday brunch (one of the best in Delhi). There are 233 beautifully appointed rooms and 43 suites. Additional amenities include a swimming pool, beauty centre, shopping precinct and a selection of superlative restaurants and bars.

The Oberoi New Delhi

An elegant and modern hotel, The Oberoi occupies a peaceful position overlooking New Delhi's principal golf course and the historic Humayun's Tomb. Ideal for business travellers and well-heeled tourists, it offers a state-of-the-art business centre, spa, swimming pool and gym. Fine dining options are plentiful and include the excellent Italian restaurant Travertino and the popular Threesixty, which is also the setting for The Oberoi's indulgent breakfasts.

The Claridges New Delhi

Positioned among the leafy boulevards of New Delhi, The Claridges is one of the capital's most elegant and atmospheric places to stay. There's a touch of art deco to this low-rise building, which dates from the mid-1900s. Its 137 rooms and suites are a blend of classic and modern styles, all spacious and well presented. There is also a decent health club, swimming pool, beauty parlour and a choice of several restaurants.