Information About Delhi: What to Know Before You Go

Essential Guide to Visiting Delhi, India's Captial City

Muslim women perform ablutions before going to pray at the Jama Masjid mosque.
••• Tim Makins/Getty Images

Delhi, the capital city of India, strikingly evokes the ancient past while at the same time showcases India's modern future. It's divided into two parts -- the crumbling old city of Old Delhi, and the orderly and well planned New Delhi -- which exist side by side, but feel like they're worlds apart. This Delhi travel guide and city profile is full of useful information and tips.

Delhi History

Delhi hasn't always been the capital of India, nor has it always been called Delhi.

At least eight cities have preceded the Delhi of today, the first being the settlement of Indraprastha, which featured in the great Hindu epic The Mahabharata. Archaeological evidence suggests that it was located where the Red Fort now stands in Old Delhi. Delhi's long history has seen many empires and rulers come and go, including the Mughals who ruled northern India for over three centuries. The last were the British, who decided to construct New Delhi in 1911 and relocate India's capital there from Kolkata.

Where is Delhi

Delhi is located in the National Capital Territory of Delhi, in northern India.

Timezone

UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) +5.5 hours. Delhi does not have Daylight Saving Time.

Population

The population of Delhi is about 22 million people. It recently overtook Mumbai and is now the largest city in India.

Climate and Weather

Delhi has an extreme climate. It gets unbearably hot in the summer, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the shade, between April and June.

The monsoon rain cools things down somewhat between June and October, but when it isn't raining the temperature still reaches 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). The weather starts becoming noticeably cooler in November. Winter temperatures can reach around 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) in the day time, but can be much colder.

Nights are cold, with the temperature dropping below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit).

Delhi Airport Information

Delhi's Indra Gandhi International Airport is located in Palam, 23 kilometers (14 miles) south of the city, and has gone through a major upgrade. Construction and opening of the new Terminal 3 has vastly changed the airport's functionality by bringing international and domestic flights (except for low-cost carriers) together under the one roof. Low-cost carriers still depart from the old domestic terminals located about 5 kilometers (3 miles) away and connected by shuttle bus. There are a number of Airport Transfer Options, including a Delhi Metro Airport Express Train Service. Do note that fog often causes flight delays at the airport in winter, especially in December and January.

Getting Around Delhi

Transport in Delhi has undergone significant development in recent years to become the best in India. Visitors can look forward to air conditioned trains and buses, computerized tickets, and dial-a-cab services. The usual taxis and auto rickshaws are available as well. However, auto rickshaw drivers will rarely put their meters on, so it's a good idea to have an idea of the correct fare for the place you want to go to and agree on it with the driver beforehand.

For sightseeing, the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus service is convenient.

What to Do

Delhi's top attractions feature spellbinding mosques, forts, and monuments left over from the Mughal rulers that once occupied the city. Many of these are set in beautiful landscaped gardens that are perfect for relaxing. The contrast between rambling Old Delhi and well planned New Delhi is immense, and it's interesting to spend time exploring both. Whilst doing so, adventurous eaters shouldn't miss sampling some delicious Delhi street food in Chandni Chowk. Delhi also has some of the best markets in India, as well as one of the country's award winning luxury spas, Amatrra Spa. Check out the top Delhi bars and Indian fine dining restaurants too. To explore Delhi on foot, take one of these top Delhi walking tours. Otherwise, book one of these popular Delhi tours.

Wondering where to take the kids? These 5 fun things to do in Delhi with kids will keep them entertained and occupied! Once you've seen enough monuments, try these 12 unusual things to do in Delhi.

When you've seen enough of Delhi and are ready to venture further afield, take a look at these hassle-free tour options bookable online with Viator.

Where to Stay

There are a range of accommodation options in Delhi to suit all budgets. Backpackers usually head to the grotty Paharganj district near New Delhi Railway Station. However, groovy backpacker hostels have opened up in other areas in the city. Connaught Place and Karol Bagh are central city locations, while south Delhi is more sophisticated and peaceful. Here are some recommendations.

Delhi Health and Safety Information

As well as being India's capital city, Delhi is also unfortunately the country's crime capital. It's rated as the most unsafe city in India for women, and sexual harassment and molestation are common occurrences. Men can often be found lurking around tourist areas, and they greatly enjoy staring at, photographing and approaching foreigners. Therefore, very conservative standards of dress are recommended. Women should wear loose clothing that covers their shoulders and legs. A shawl that covers the breasts is also beneficial. Women should also take care not to be out alone at night. Where ever possible, try and travel with a male companion.

Tourist scams are also widespread in Delhi, particularly overcharging and commission rackets. Pick-pocketing is another big problem, so do take extra care of your valuables.

As always in India, it's important not to drink the water in Delhi. Instead buy readily available and inexpensive bottled water to stay healthy. In addition, it's a good idea to visit your doctor or travel clinic well in advance of your departure date to ensure that you receive all the necessary immunizations and medications, especially in relation to illnesses such as malaria and hepatitis.