Offbeat Delhi experiences.

Once you've exhausted your list of top attractions and essential things to do in Delhi, pull out some time to explore the city in a novel way. Skip the hackneyed city tours, and discover a different side to the capital. From admiring art and watching a sound and light show at the ramparts of the Red Fort, to cycling through the city's back alleys and going bird-watching right at the heart of the capital—these experiences shine a light on a lesser-known side to Delhi, and surprise you with their versatility.

Offbeat Delhi experiences


If you are fond of flowers and have a penchant for hardball bargaining, the Ghazipur flower mandi can leave you with some spectacular deals for some exquisite buds. The catch is you will have to get to this market as early as 4 am if you want to escape the mad rush and want to be able to choose your blooms undisturbed.The day begins at 4 am at this fascinating wholesale flower market with trucks offloading some of the most exotic varieties of flowers being sourced from the length and breadth of the country and even overseas. Proteas from South Africa, orchids from Sikkim, lilies, anthuriums, irises, gerberas all the way from Thailand, China and Holland. From 4 am to 9 am, the action in this part of town is an experience like no other.


One of the greenest areas in South Delhi, Sanjay Van (centre of South-Central Ridge) is right beside Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Another forest area, it also has remains of Qila Rai Pithora. Grab a pair of binoculars and head out to Sanjay Van, for it has a fascinating variety of birds such as the Asian koel, white-breasted kingfisher, Eurasian golden oriole, purple sunbird and more. A treat for ornithologists, it has dense forests of keekar and neem trees and also attracts sambar deers, hares and nilgais, which usually come out in the open around sunrise. Some parts of it are perfect for short treks as well. Best visited during early morning hours in summer time, for it simmers with heat during and after noon. Entry is free and barred after sunset.


Sometimes, there are better ways of exploring a new city than through the window of your car. Take a bicycle tour with the Delhi by Cycle group, which guides participants all the way from central Delhi to the back alleys of old Delhi to meander through parts of the city that are inaccessible by car. Your accompanying guide will serenade you with numerous anecdotes and the company of fellow cyclists is a good way to keep entertained. The group also offer tours to the historic Nizamuddin area and to the banks of the Yamuna river.


The Red Fort, also know as Lal Qila, was built by by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan between 1638 and 1648. Now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is also an enduring symbol of political authority. Instead of walking through the Red Fort accompanied by the monotone of a guide, make a night of it by attending the Son et Lumiere (sound and light show) at the ramparts of the fort. Not only will you see the fort in a different light (literally), you’ll also get an idea of the city’s heritage. The one hour-long show is held daily, in English and Hindi.

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Tune India Radio, Sydney, Australia.

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