Enjoy Delhi’s best things without burning a hole in the pocket

Take a stroll around the Lodi Gardens
Image courtesy: ©Smarta/Shutterstock

Delhi offers a seductive glimpse of all of India in miniature. Inexpensively explore ancient Mughal monuments and elegant architect-designed avenues or check out the colour and chaos of the old city. Enjoy spending time and attention on sights as much as your hard-earned cash? Feel free to do so here!

Be a bookworm

Keep cool, cultured and caffeinated at a Full Circle Bookstore. These air-conditioned bookshops with cafes are a browser’s heaven, due to their local, often cheap, editions of Indian and international writers, good history sections, meet-the-author events and laid-back coffee shops.

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Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH)

Take a walk in the past with INTACH. Led by passionate historians and popular with Delhi-ites as well as tourists, these weekend walks are a good way to see the city through the eyes of its residents, and areas less likely to be on an independent traveller’s sightseeing itinerary, such as Mehrauli Archaeological Park. Online registration required.

Evenings at India International Centre (IIC)

Set in leafy surrounds, the IIC is a great place to experience classic and contemporary performances, productions and presentations. It buzzes with energy as (depending what’s on) scholars rub shoulders with trendy types, and locals mingle with visitors before and after gigs. Most events are open to the public and there is also a massive library.

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Also Read: Heritage tour of Delhi

Hang out with flying foxes

In the huge trees that line Janpath, Delhi’s soundest sleepers ignore the never-ceasing flow of traffic below. Also known as fruit bats, the flying foxes snooze upside down during daytime, coming and going in wheeling clouds at dawn and dusk. (And beware below – an animal turning itself the right way up is a sure sign poo is on the way!)

Lodi Gardens

At any time of the day, join the crowd of laughing yogis, canoodling couples, dog-walkers, squirrel-feeders, serious runners, elderly strollers, casual cricketers or family picnickers that frequent this idyllic 36-hectare city park. All activity takes place against a fabulous backdrop of landscaped gardens, crumbling tombs and Mughal monuments (and, in the ancient trees, some of the best birdwatching in Delhi).

Breakfast tea Delhi-style

Drink tea at sunrise with chai-wallahs in old Delhi and watch the world awaken. Yawning drivers unfurl themselves from cycle-rickshaws, street-dwellers tidy their sidewalk patches, street-sweepers get busy and street-sellers hawk their goods. Head for a sweet-smelling fug of sugared tea and scalding milk, sit on a bench with a cuppa and, along with the locals, prepare for the day ahead.