What to do with 3 Days in Delhi India


3 days in Delhi Itinerary: Humayun’s Tomb
Consider spending 3 days in Delhi no matter where you are headed in India. Delhi is one of the international gateways into India and my go to airport to layover on my way to Hyderabad. Delhi is an ideal destination for an Indian city break and also one of the corners of India's Golden Triangle. What kinds of things to do will you find in Delhi? Read on to learn more about how to fill 3 days exploring Delhi and the business suburb of Gurgaon near the Delhi Airport. 

3 Days in Delhi Itinerary - Day 1 - Gurgaon and Around

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary

We had one extra day in Gurgaon (a business city just to the south of Delhi) before heading out on our holiday around India's Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur). We decided to spend the day at the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary. I knew we were in for a treat when we pulled up in the parking lot and saw monkeys cavorting all over a delivery truck. There was even a monkey sitting in the driver's seat!. One of the little guys was trying to make friends at the ticket window but we decided to keep a safe distance. Monkeys are fascinating and cute but also can carry rabies.
3 days in Delhi: Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary in Gurgaon
We spotted all kinds of birds on the lake in the center of the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary. We followed the path in a loop around the lake. Signs (some in a state of disrepair) called out the types of birds we could expect to see. We were also treated to some inspirational quotes peppered around the sanctuary. For example: Nature provides a free lunch but only if we control our appetites.

The trail ebbed and flowed to and from the water. We spotted a good number of happily grazing cattle on the property. The path was generally dry and dusty with some stalwart trees alongside. We spotted some hawks soaring overhead. We were happy we'd brought our binoculars. We just wish they had a camera attached! Some people seemed to be there on a package photo tour and had enormous cameras. They must have captured some amazing close-ups of the birds. I did manage to capture one bright green parrot nibbling on the leaves of a lush tree. The cows stood very close to the path minding their own business. We passed a stretch of marsh with blooming algae. Sandpipers raced about in the shallow water. As we completed our 360 degree circuit of the lake, we looked up and spotted a family of monkeys in the trees above. They seemed to be wishing us well.

Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon

Some of my colleagues recommended that we check out the Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon. We could sense when we approached an ornately carved elephant that the Kingdom of Dreams was a tourist attraction to be reckoned with.
3 days in Delhi: Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon
We underwent the obligatory security check and pat down (common at all high-end hotels, malls, and attractions in India) and emerged into a lovely courtyard. We approached the grand entrance complete with rose petals floating in water. Inside, we felt we'd been propelled into Delhi's version of Disney World or a theme hotel in Las Vegas. Kingdom of Dreams has restaurants and fast food joints representing the cuisines of different parts of India. We stopped for a thali with dosa. Thalis are a great way to try small portions of a variety of things. After eating and shopping a bit, we emerged back into the sunlight. Rajastani puppeteers sat outside putting on a show.
 We decided to a take a little walk to the park across the street. A grand fountain ran the length of the park. The spouts sported lions heads on all sides and a gator. Too bad the water elements weren't on that day. We negotiated with an auto-rickshaw driver to take us back to our hotel. Hold on! We were headed for the highway! Fortunately, we made it there safely. 

Ambiance Mall in Gurgaon

What to do in Delhi: Visit Ambiance Mall in Gurgaon

We took a quick stroll through the Ambiance Mall. Gurgaon is known for its abundance of shopping centres. Ambiance Mall has, well, great shopping ambiance. A colleague recommended a drink at Rockman Beer Island. Rockman Beer Island was much like any microbrew pub you'd find in Europe or the US with large scale equipment overlooking the restaurant floor. The main surprise was that all the beers and the menu were German-inspired. Ambiance Mall also features a local bowling and entertainment venue. I loved the bowling pins in the shape of Bollywood favorites. I saw Jab Tak Hai Jaan on the airplane on my way to India and was pleased to see two of the stars represented Katrina Kaif and the oh-so-sexy Shah Rukh Khan.
Things to do in Delhi India: Go Bollywood bowling at Ambiance Mall in Gurgaon

3 Days in Delhi Itinerary - Day 2 - From Connaught Place to Lodhi Gardens

Walk Connaught Place

We finally got to stretch our legs in Delhi. Despite fears of poo squirters (touts that squirt dung on your shoe and then conveniently appear to clean it off for a fee) on the prowl in Connaught Place, we ventured out from our hotel on foot. Connaught Place is composed of two circular rings with a park in the center. Signature white columns line the promenade. The blocks are lettered to make it easier to find your destination. Wild dogs sought shelter among the shady columns. We joined the locals strolling through the shops. We popped into an English Bookstore and picked up a few books by Indian authors (The Sunset Club and The Three Mistakes of My Life). As always, I like to pick up books about the place I'm traveling. On this trip, I also read Delhi a book about a British expat who walks in concentric circles around Delhi to really get to know his adopted city. 
3 days in Delhi: Connaught Place white columns

Cottage Industries Emporium

After a number of taxi and rickshaw drivers tried to convince us to let them take us to CIE (Cottage Industries Emporium), we chanced upon it ourselves. This is a fixed price/fair trade market featuring crafts from all over India. 
Delhi in 3 days: Visit Cottage Industries Emporium

Rajpath to India Gate

We kept walking down the green leafy streets of South Delhi. I liked how many of the traffic circles featured lush parks in the center. We soon arrived on the Rajpath which stretches from the Indian government buildings to India Gate. Bright yellow flowers lined the path. India Gate loomed in the smoggy haze in the distance.
What to do in Delhi India: Walk on the Rajpath to India Gate

Before we knew it, we had joined the throng of tourists congregating at the base of the structure. This monument to fallen World War I heroes was particularly impressive up close. People posed for pictures in front of the small gazebo behind the India Gate. Vendors selling all manner of beverages and snacks were located conveniently nearby. A murky fountain sat alongside the India Gate. We finished our circuit through the area and hopped into an auto-rickshaw to take us to our next stop: Gandhi Smriti.
What to do in Delhi India: Visit India Gate

Gandhi Smriti Museum

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated outside his home in Delhi and today the area has been turned into a museum (Gandhi Smriti). We followed the plant lined path past a series of storyboards explaining Gandhi's life and times. We entered Gandhi's open prayer room and took a moment to reflect. We followed the raised footprints placed over the area where Gandhi took his last steps. Walking around the grounds, we caught a glimpse of a life-sized statue of the man who led India to independence. We spotted a small courtyard with a door ajar. We peeked inside and were surprised to find a detailed and interactive museum. We plucked a harp that played Gandhi's favorite songs. We checked out scenes from Gandhi's life on a kaleidoscope. We picked up figurines from Indian history and placed them on a center board to learn more. We placed our hands on top of wooden ones to play additional music. Wax statues of Gandhi and his beloved wife sat smiling at us as we explored the exhibit. Clearly a lot of thought and effort had gone into constructing this museum. Gandhi Smriti was definitely worth a stop.
3 days in Delhi: Gandhi Smriti Museum

Defence Colony Market

We took an auto-rickshaw from Gandhi Smriti to Defence Colony Market. The area is home to the original location of Sagar Ratna, a South Indian vegetarian chain of restaurants. We opted for steamed idli and sambar followed by a dosa and savory sauces. After we'd eaten our fill, we negotiated for another auto-rickshaw ride to Lodhi Gardens.
Things to do in Delhi: Defence Colony Market
What to eat in Delhi India: dosa with savory sauces at Sagar Ratna in Defence Colony Market

Lodhi Gardens

A large green gate beckoned us into Lodhi Gardens. We spotted a grand tomb in the distance. We walked all over the gardens basking in the quiet grandeur. Almost everywhere we turned, we spotted impressive Mughal structures peeking through the trees. Palms lined the main path and offered shelter from the sun. A wild dog caught some rays on the lawn outside the tomb. We got up close to one of the tombs and had a look inside. The vaulted ceiling was impressive. Signs along the paths pointed the way to various features of the Lodhi Gardens including Bada Gumbad Mosque and Muhammad Shah Sayyid's Tomb.
3 days in Delhi: Lodhi Gardens

We spotted a parakeet going toe to toe with a chipmunk. Colorful flowers lined the path. We approached a second tomb and associated mosque. The crumbling facades simply added to the charm of this place. A local gentleman stood quietly in the doorway contemplating his surroundings. I liked looking at the various structures framed by the doors and windows of the tomb. We passed a large rose garden laid out in the shape of a wagon wheel with several spokes. We could see a spouting water feature in the distance and went over to check it out. A huge fountain burst forth from the lake. We even spotted a hawk playing in a puddle of water. 

Riding the Metro in Delhi

We decided to walk from Lodhi Gardens to the nearby metro station. We took a brief detour through Khan Market on the way. A variety of food, clothing, and other shops lined a small alley. We finally found the Khan Market Metro Station and descended the escalator inside. We passed through airport-style security (bag check and pat down for everyone) and bought a token. It happened to be rush hour and we pushed our way onto the train. Each train has a car for ladies only but since I was traveling with my husband, I decided to join him in the main compartment. It was so crowded we were wedged in like sardines. When the door opened at our station, we surged forth with the crowd in a wave of momentum. I've never seen anything like it. It's definitely worth taking the subway at least once if you visit Delhi -- it's quite an experience.
What to do in Delhi India: Ride the metro (Khan Market)

Delhi's Chandni Chowk

Delhi in 3 days: Chandni Chowk (Old Delhi)

Back in Central Delhi, we took the Metro from Connaught Place to Chandni Chowk (Old Delhi). We spent some time exploring the jumble of markets along narrow alleys. Various streets specialized in spices, watches, fabrics, and more. We were in town a few weeks before Holi and many vendors were selling brightly colored powders for the upcoming festivities. On the way back, we stopped at Haldiram's for some sweets. The contrast between the scene inside the store (orderly and quite) and outside (sheer chaos) was striking.
What to eat in Delhi: Haldiram sweets
We selected some treats and walked back to the Metro station past a temple fronted by charging horses. Unfortunately, I had my one and only negative experience with an Indian man in this area. Guidebooks warn to dress very demurely to avoid unwanted advances from men. For almost 2 weeks in India, I'd had no problems at all. I was wearing a loose long sleeve shirt and baggy pants; essentially covered up from head to toe. It was a little crowded in the streets of Chandni Chowk and a man lightly brushed up against me 'accidentally on purpose'. I looked over, gave him a hard shove and that was the end of that. He and his buddies howled with laughter. I didn't find it funny but at least I gave him the smack down -- he won't be trying to get grabby again with anyone else! 

Delhi’s Red Fort

Rising above Chandni Chowk, we spotted Delhi's Red Fort. We approached the fort, passing a striking Jain temple en route. We joined the crowds of locals and foreign tourists queuing for entrance tickets. We made our way inside past a large imposing gate. A covered market was just inside selling all manner of Indian arts and crafts. We emerged onto a serene courtyard. We walked further toward a squat but dramatic structure. We spotted an ancient gnarled tree on the property. I can just imagine what stories it could tell.
Delhi Points of Interest: The Red Fort

The Red Fort was lined with channels meant for water although most were dry when we visited. We escaped from the heat and sun to visit the museum on the property. I liked the decorated scalloped arches around the area. We walked around another open space featuring plentiful seating and a large water tower -- an interesting combination. Taking in the views from the courtyard, we spotted different types of gazebos and a building that would normally be partially submerged in the fountain; a kind of mini-water palace. The open exterior structures were grandly decorated. After spending some time relaxing on the property, we retreated through the market and out the gate into the just-barely-organized chaos of Chandni Chowk.

Catch a Bollywood Movie in Hindi

We enjoyed our time in Delhi. Our hotel on Connaught Place was right around the corner from a large Cineplex so we decide to end Day 2 of our 3 days in Delhi with dinner and a movie. We went to see Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya a Bollywood movie in Hindi about a rickshaw driver that dreams of opening a travel agency and the daughter of a rich man arranged to be married against her will. Even though the movie didn't have sub-titles, the plot was straightforward enough for us to follow. 

What to Eat in Delhi

After the movie, we stopped at the location of Sagar Ratna on Connaught Place. We sampled idli in broth (surprisingly like Matzo ball soup...) and a vegetarian dosa with sambar and coconut chutney for dipping. Peas and rice and a rich chana masala (spicy chickpeas) rounded out the meal. The breakfast at our hotel was also quite good. We opted for a pot of masala chai (spicy tea) each morning and a cheese filled paratha. The richness and variety of the food was definitely a highlight of our trip.
What to eat in Delhi India: cheese filled paratha

3 Days in Delhi Itinerary - Day 3 - Delhi by Taxi

India Government Buildings

On our last day in Delhi, we hired a taxi for the day to take us around to the remaining sights on our list. We started with a drive by the Indian government buildings along the Rajpath. There were some dignitaries in town so a military band and color guard were on hand to put on an appropriate show of pomp and circumstance. Even the security guys were enthralled. 
3 days in Delhi: India government buildings

National Rail Museum

Our next stop was the National Rail Museum. We queued up behind several large groups of young uniformed school children. I was surprised that there were 'field trips' scheduled for a Saturday. Inside, we wandered around an impressive collection of train cars and locomotives highlighting the importance of train travel in India's history (especially during the British colonial period). Each railway line was represented by a colorful logo. After our brief stop, we hopped back in the cab to continue our whirlwind tour of Delhi.
Things to do in Delhi: National Rail Museum

Qutb Minar

Qutb Minar is an impressive archaeological site set in South Delhi. Construction began in the late 12th century. The centerpiece is the tallest minaret in India. We wandered around the site past the base of what was meant to be even larger than the hallmark minaret. Construction barely got going before losing steam. Various tombs are scattered about the site. The detailed Arabic writing carved into the arches is particularly impressive. A large flock of birds overhead added to the atmosphere.
Delhi in 3 days: Qutb Minar

We wound our way through narrow passages in the rocks to the main attraction. The Qutb Minar reached for the blue sky. We continued to explore the grounds. We approached an ancient iron marvel; a pillar that dates back to at least the 4th century AD. It's made of iron but somehow has been resistant to rust for more than 1500 years defying all expectations of science!
Delhi Points of Interest: Qutb Minar

Dilli Haat

Our next stop was Dilli Haat, an arts and crafts market nearby. We paid a small entrance fee (20 - 30 rupees, about $0.25 USD) and leisurely strolled among the stalls. Products ranged from scarves to kurtas and saris to bangles and carved gifts. Dilli Haat is worth a stop if you're looking for nicely made gifts to bring home.
Delhi in 3 days: Dilli Haat arts and crafts market

Baha’i Temple

Our last two stops of the day in Delhi were both impressive. The first, Baha'i Temple, is a marvel of modern architecture. Reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House, the Baha'i Temple in Delhi is all white curves and angles. From a distance it resembles a lotus flower. Locals and foreign tourists alike flocked to check it out. We removed our shoes and approached the temple which was surrounded by pools. We looked back on the queue of people waiting to get in. A spokesperson for the temple handed out brochures to people interested in learning more. We took one and learned that the Baha'i faith is more about living together in unity and peace than about any particular god or set of beliefs. All are welcome to enter and contemplate in silence. After a brief tour through the inside (no photos allowed), we emerged and looked up to admire the gentle curves of the structure. We looked back a final time to drink in the beauty and peacefulness of this spot. 
What to do with 3 days in Delhi: visit the Baha'i Temple

Humayun’s Tomb

Our final stop of our the final day of our 3 days in Delhi was impressive for completely different reasons. Humayun's Tomb is a grand showcase of Mughal architecture. Built in the 1500s, the tomb is surrounded by gardens, water features, and fountains. We walked through a large gate and into another world. An even larger gate lay just beyond. We finally emerged in front of the tomb which simply glowed in the dusky light. We approached from the front and then skirted the structure to admire it from all sides.
What to see in Delhi in 3 days: Gate to Humayun's Tomb

We climbed up and looked down on the grassy knolls and water channels below. We walked around the crumbling perimeter which reminded us just how old this place is and how much effort has gone into restoring the tomb over the past 20 or so years. In contrast to the Red Fort, the water features here were full and dancing. Originally, water would have been pumped through this structure from the river. Now, the water is pulled in through a modern pump but you'd be none the wiser if you didn't go inside the source like I did. The source doesn't detract from the atmosphere. We followed the water channels around and watched birds frolicking in the fading light. We completed our circuit of the property and spent a few moments in the shade reflecting on our whirlwind 3 days in Delhi. India has by far been the most chaotic, unique, and varied place I've ever visited. We're looking forward to seeing more in due time.
Delhi in 3 days: Humayun's Tomb

Map of Delhi Points of Interest

Check out the handy map below to orient yourself to the various points of interest to explore with 3 days in Delhi.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: What to do with 3 Days in Delhi India
What to do with 3 Days in Delhi India
Spend 3 days in Delhi India. Find out about things to do in Delhi. Experience what to do in Delhi in 3 days.
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