While the Taj Mahal is the hot destination in India, if you plan on spending any time in Delhi, there are several other landmarks worth checking out, including Qutb Minar and India Gate. Qutb Minar is the tallest minaret in all of India, which is made of red sandstone covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur’an. Back in the 80’s you actually used to be able to climb to the top, but according to my guide, a serious of unfortunate incidents, including several suicides have consueqently resulted in the minarets interior to be closed to the public. Regardless, the minaret and surrounding courtyard provide some interesting insight on what Delhi was like back in the early 1100’s.
Most tourists travel with tour guides, which is a smart move if you have no connections in Delhi. Luckily, my friends offered to let me use their car and driver, who would pick me up and drop me off at different locations that I wanted to visit day to day. Because of this, it was necessary to get a guide for all of the major monuments once I arrived. I payed 400 rupees (roughly $7) for a guide who was waiting outside of the entrance. This is normally quite high, but after having a quick conversation, it was easy to determine that his English was impeccable, and he could answer my wierd questions without any problems. As I mentioned in my Taj Mahal post, often times guides have a limited list of facts and their English can be difficult to understand at times, so when I’m looking for a guide, I am quite picky and willing to pay an extra 100-200 rupees. And let’s be honest, in the grand scheme of things, it’s only a few more dollars for a much better experience.
When visiting India Gate, it is not necessary to have a guide. If you are just swining by to snap a few photos, you would be like the majority of tourists who stop by. But, if you find yourself with a little more time, the gorgeous courtyard does offer a nice place to sit and enjoy a late lunch and a good book, as well.
Qutb Minar and India Gate are great to schedule on the same day. They are relatively close to each other, and they are both close to Connaught Place, which is important for someone who enjoys to shop as much as I do. From pashminas, to jewlery, and art, this is the top place to go and hunt for treasure. It takes a bit of persistence to find the gems hiding in the shops, and once you do, as a tourist be prepared to negotiate, otherwise you are going to pay substantially more for an item. For eample, I negotiated several pashminas down from 34,000 rupees ($575) to 9,000 rupees ($150). Persistence is definitely the key!
So, if shopping and sightseeing are on your to-do list for your time in Delhi, this itinerary including these two monuments and some shopping at Connaught Place, can make for a perfect day!