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Delhi – with its tenacious touts and crush of mechanical and human traffic – can be downright confronting and confounding for the first-time visitor. But don’t let petulant first impressions muddy the plus points of this truly multidimensional metropolis. Scratch beyond the gritty surface and you’ll swiftly discover that India’s capital is sprinkled with glittering gems: captivating ancient monuments, magnificent museums, a vivacious performing-arts scene and some of the subcontinent’s yummiest places to eat.

A vibrant melting pot, you’ll hear a jumble of vernaculars spoken in Delhi, the most common being Hindi, English, Punjabi and Urdu. In terms of its layout, Delhi encapsulates two very different worlds, the ‘old’ and the ‘new’, each presenting deliciously different experiences. Spacious New Delhi was built as the imperial capital of India by the British; rambunctious Old Delhi served as the capital of Islamic India. Visitors can easily dip into both, spending half the day immersing themselves in history at the dramatic Red Fort, Jama Masjid and medieval-flavoured bazaars of Old Delhi, and the other half reviving themselves over frothy cappuccinos or frosty cocktails at one of New Delhi’s swanky cafés and bars. Furthermore, Delhi’s recent global cuisine revolution means that hungry travellers can now feast on everything from meaty Mughlai curries and plump South Indian idlis (rice cakes), to crispy wood-fired pizzas and squishy sashimi.

Famous places in Delhi

Delhi has seen a number of dynasties to take birth and die in its soil for many centuruies. The monuments, cenotaphs and mausoleums of kings and queens fringed in the city still narrate the bloody heritage of the city. You will also be amazed to see the sky high forts and palaces depicting the grandeur of yore as you take tour in Delhi. Some famous destination which you should visit once you come in Delhi are -

Red Fort

Red Fort, New Delhi
Red Fort, New Delhi

Built in the red sandstone, the magnificent Red Fort or Lal Qila is yet another creation by the Emperor Shah Jahan after Taj Mahal which will be remembered by the people eternally. It is a part of the walled city of Shahjahanabad in Old Delhi. Within its fortifications are exquisite palaces, a finely proportioned mosque, the Moti Masjid or Pearl Mosque, the Diwan-i-Am or hall of public audience and the finely ornamented Diwan-i-Khas or hall of private audience, where the Mughal emperors held court seated on the bejewelled golden Peacock Throne. The small holes on the walls of Diwan-i-Khas and Diwan-i-Am narrate the vacancy of the jewels and stones that were used to decorate the facade. Recently, Red Fort has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not only has this increased the number of tourists visiting the magnificent fort, it has also made the authority and travelers more conscious in preserving this unique treasure of histoy.

The Red Fort Archaeological Museum

The Red Fort Archaeological Museum is situated in the Mumtaz Mahal of the Red Fort. It flaunts a rare collection of Mughal artifacts. One part of the museum is dedicated to Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and exhibits the personal belongings of the Emperor. The silk robes embroidered with pearls and the silver hookah used by the emperor himself are the major attractions of the museum. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm and remains closed on Fridays.

Purana Qila - Reminiscence of Yore

Purana Qila, Delhi
Purana Qila, New Delhi

The old fort with its massive walls and imposing gateways overlooks the modern city of New Delhi. It is located on what is possibly the site of the ancient settlement of Indraprastha - the city founded by the Pandavas during the epic times of the Mahabharata.

It was the second Mughal emperor Humayun who embarked in 1538 on the construction of the fort and the city he named Din Panah. Sher Shah Suri who took control of the empire shortly afterwards completed the fort and built many of its fine structures including the octagonal sandstone tower and the Sher Manzil. An interesting hour long light and music programme takes the visitor through the history of the fort.

Qutab Minar Complex

Qutab Minar, Delhi
Qutab Minar, Delhi

Dominating the ruins of the earliest existing settlement of Delhi is the city's famous landmark- the Qutab Minar. The imposing victory tower 73 metre high was built by Qutbuddin Aibak (1192-98) the founder of the Slave Dynasty. The tapering, fluted structure has five storeys, each marked by intricately carved projections or balconies.

Elaborately carved pillars-which come from Hindu temples of the earlier setdement of Qila Rai Pithora embellish the courtyard of a nearby mosque. At the centre of the courtyard is the amazing Iron Pillar-the dhvaja stambha (flag pole) of a Vishnu Temple (4th-5th century AD). Cast in a process that is lost to the present world, the 7.2 metre pillar has not rusted through the centuries. Other interesting structures in die vicinity include die base of another unfinished tower - the Alai Minar

The National Gallery of Modern Art

Located in the stately Jaipur House the museum has a splendid collection of contemporary art. The gallery is open from 10 am-5 pm and remains closed on Mondays.

The National Museum

The National Museum, Delhi
The National Museum, Delhi

This prestigious institution houses artifacts from the time of the Indus Valley Civilization (2500 BC) to the present times. Bronzes from South The National Gallery of Modern Art India, an impressive collection of stone sculpture, miniature paintings, textiles, coins and tribal art form part of its extensive collection. Of special interest is the superb Central Asian Gallery that exhibits the silk banners, sculpture and wall paintings that form part of Sir Aurel Stein's collection - brought to India in the early part of the 20th century. Open from 10 am to 5 pm and Monday remains closed.

Ancient Tughlaqabad Fort

In the southern periphery of Delhi are the ruins of a massive fort. This was once the capital of the Tughlaq kings - an impregnable fortification built by Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq in l321. The elegant tomb of the emperor, in red sandstone with its sloping walls and white dome, located near the fort, is considered to be one of the best examples of Tughlaq architecture.

Floral Beauty of Lotus Temple

Lotus Temple, Delhi
Lotus Temple

Beautifully designed, the Baha'i House of Worship (also known as the Lotus Temple) is built in the shape of a lotus. Its petals constructed in concrete and faced with white marble have an extraordinary lightness. Nine pools of water around the structure add to the illusion of a lotus floating in water. It belongs to the Baha'i Sect and is dedicated to the oneness of all religions. People of all faith can come and pray in the sprawling prayer hall. The temple remains open everyday from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.

Feroz Shah Kotla

The remains of the second city of the Tughlaqs is to be found between the Purana Qila and the walled city of Shahjahanabad. It was erected by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 1354. Very little remains today but still standing rather incongruously on top of the ruins is an impressive Ashoka Pillar. Monolithic and over 12.8 metre in height, weighing 27 tonnes, it was brought by Feroz Shah and installed here.

Flourishing Mughal Gardens

Delhi has beautiful gardens around the city. The beautiful Mughal Gardens in the Presidential Estate is open to the public only in February and March (9.30 am. to 3.00 pm.). The Nehru Park with undulating lawns and a fine show of flowers in winter, is opposite the Ashok Hotel in Chanakyapuri. Another landscaped garden along the southern ridge is the Buddha Jayanti Park. The Kamla Nehru Park lies along the wooded northern ridge. At Kalindi Kunj (24 km) is an attractive park with green lawns and fountains. The Dhaula Kuan complex has an artificial lake, water falls and playgrounds.

Ancient Heritage of Hauz Khas

The Royal Tank (Hauz Khas) was excavated in 1300 AD by Alauddin Khaiji to supply water to his new capital Siri. Today the ruins of a madarsa are to be seen here. This theological college was built at a later date by Feroz Shah Tughlaq and his tomb also stands close by. The complex is surrounded by parkland and the little village of Hauz Khas is now an attractive shopping area.

Humayun's Tomb – The Royal Heritage of the Mughals

Another magnificent Mughal building, the tomb of the emperor Humayun was built by his wife in 1565-66. Set in a square enclosed garden, the finely proportioned structure in red sandstone and marble served later as a model for the Taj Mahal and many other Mughal tombs. It is open to all till 10 pm on all days of the week.

Splendours of Akshardham Temple

The exquisite Akshardham Temple situated on the bank of the serene river Yamuna is a wonder to the modern world. Embellished with 20,000 statues, floral motifs, arches and intricately carved pillars show the immense artistry that human hand can do. Spread over an area of 100 acres, the temple complex consists of exhibition halls, an IMAX theatre and a musical fountain besides the main temple. It has also got a restaurant portraying the architecture of the Ajanta-Ellora caves and an Ayurvedic Bazaar. The architectural style of the temple follows the famous Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The entire temple compound is built in pink stone and pure white marble, where pink stone symbolizes bhakti (devotion) in eternal bloom and white marble of absolute purity and eternal peace. The temple is fast becoming one of the most favoured destination in Delhi. This splendid architectural marvel has also made it to Guiness Book of Wolrd Records for being the largest Hindu Temple Complex in the world. This is a much deserved recognition that Akshardham temple has recieved.

India Gate, The Majestic Arch

At the heart of the elegant capital city, laid out by the British, is the India Gate. This elegant 42 metre arch in buff coloured sandstone stands at the end of the ceremonial avenue, the Rajpath. The memorial is dedicated to the 70,000 Indian soldiers killed during the First World War and bears the names of more than 13, 516 British and Indian soldiers. The foundation stone of the memorial was laid by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught in 1921 and was designed by Edwin Lutyens. Another war memorial Amar Jawan Jyoti was constructed in the premises after the independence and is dedicated to soldiers who died in the Indo-Pakistan War of December 1971. A flame burns under the arch day and night reminding the nation of the great sacrifice done by the Indian soldiers and their families.

Jama Masjid, The Royal Mosque

Located just opposite the Red Fort is the imposing Jama Masjid with its black and white striped onion domes and minarets is one of the largest and the most elegant mosques in India. The sprawling courtyard has a capacity to hold 25,000 devotees at a time. One of the major attraction of the mosque is the treasure room where a hair of the beard of Hazrat Muhammed, his used chappal, the canopy of his tombstone, the footprint of Muhammed on the stone and a chapter of Koran taken from its original holy book is kept. People following other religion are not allowed to enter the premises frm 12:30-2 pm.

Ancient Observatory, Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar, New Delhi
Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

This fascinating observatory, with enormous astronomical instruments constructed in brick and plaster, was erected by that intrepid astronomer and king, Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur in 1724. He also built similar observatories in Jaipur, Ujjain, Mathura and Varanasi.

Lodi Garden

Lodi Garden, New Delhi
Lodi Garden, New Delhi

A splendid landscaped garden surrounds the 15th century tombs of the Lodi kings. Ibrahim Lodi the last Lodi ruler was defeated in 1526 by Babur who established the Mughal Empire in India. A walk amidst the ancient, fat trees gives a true pleasure in the heart of Delhi. This is a favourite destination of the lovers of the city.

National Rail Museum

The fine outdoor museum has on view a range of locomotives and carriages ranging over the 150 years of the railways in India. A toy train takes children around the museum. CRAFTS MUSEUM The Crafts Museum with its fine collection of textiles and artifacts is set in a delightful rustic village complex in the Pragati Maidan grounds. Here rural craftsmen come every month from different parts of the country to demonstrate their techniques and sell their beautiful crafts.

Parliament House of India

The elegant circular design with 144 pillars, Parliament House flaunts excellent architecture by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker. Built in buff and red sandstone, the beautifully proportioned structure has a circumference of nearly one third of a mile. There are chambers of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the library inside the sprawling building. Indian Nationals can apply at the Parliament Secretariat in order to have the visitor's pass whereas the Foreign Nationals have to apply through their respective Embassies or High Commissions.

Rashtrapati Bhawan – Residence of the Royalty

When set to build new British Capital, Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker chose the vacant land of Raisina situated at the south of Shahjahanabad for their project. Built atop Risina Hill, the 340-roomed Viceregal Lodge is now the residence of the President Of India and is known as 'Rashtrapati Bhawan'. Though Lutyens' claim the dome to be inspired from the Pantheon, Rome, the architecture of the palace bear much evidence to the Indian architecture. The Mughal Gardens designed by the Lutyens' inside Rashtrapati Bhawan premises is one of the major attraction of Delhi. The gardens are open to public from February to March every year. The entry to the gardens is allowed from 9:30 am-2:30 pm.

After a sojourn in Delhi you may find your whole world changing and when you compare your prior life with the new one, there is only one difference and that is you have visited all the unforgettable monuments and heritage sites of the Delhi where time has also forgotten to roll.

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