Almost all of New Delhi's attractions lie south of Connaught Place, which you will no doubt visit to make onward bookings, get cash, eat, or shop. Built on concentric circles surrounding a central park, the retail heart of New Delhi was designed by Robert Tor Russell in the late 1920s. With its deep colonnaded verandas, gleaming banks, and host of burger joints and pizzerias, it's a far cry from Chandni Chowk but is still quite chaotic, crawling with touts and hucksters whose aim is to part you from your money as quickly and seductively as possible. From here, the closest attraction well worth visiting (unless you're moving on to Jaipur) is Jantar Mantar (daily sunrise-sunset), which lies on Sansad Marg, on the way to Rashtrapati Bhavan. It's one of five open-air observatories built in the 18th century by Maharaja Jai Singh II, the eccentric genius who built Jaipur. The sculptural qualities of the huge instruments he designed are worth a visit alone, but note that Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, built by the same king, is both bigger and better preserved.

The easiest way to take in central New Delhi's imperial architecture -- for many the chief attraction -- is to drive to India Gate, built to commemorate those who died in World War I. There an eternal flame burns in memory of those who gave their lives in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, their names inscribed on the memorial. Sadly it's hardly worth pausing here -- the last time we visited, the beautiful lawns were slushy, unkempt and littered courtesy the hundreds who come every day, and the boating facility disfigured with canvas advertisements -- but set off on foot west along Rajpath (the 3.2km/2-mile boulevard once known as King's Way) to the beautifully ornate gates of Rashtrapati Bhavan, flanked by the two almost identical Secretariat buildings. Having covered the architectural attractions of New Delhi, you can double back to The National Museum or catch a ride to the National Gallery of Modern Art, which lies near India Gate (Jaipur House; tel. 011/2338-2835; Rs 150; Tues-Sun 10am-5pm). Farther west lies The Crafts Museum . Although the National Gallery is one of India's largest museums of modern art, it's pretty staid fare and unlikely to thrill those used to such Western shrines as London's Tate or New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Other museums you may consider in the area, particularly if you have an interest in the last 100 years of India's history, are (all three are incidentally a short auto-rickshaw ride from each other, so easy to combine) as follow: Try the colonial bungalow where Gandhi stayed when he was in Delhi, and where he was assassinated; it's in many ways more atmospheric than the museum near Raj Ghat in Old Delhi. You can visit it now in its present guise as the Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum at Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti (5 Tees January Marg; tel. 011/3095-7269;; Tues-Sun 10am-5pm, closed second Sat of the month). Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (Teen Murti Marg; tel. 011/2301-6734; free admission; Tues-Sun 9:30am-5pm) was the grand home of India's own "Kennedy clan": Nehru was India's first prime minister, a role his daughter and grandson, Indira and Rajiv respectively, were also to play before both were assassinated. The mantle has now been passed on to Rajiv's Italian wife Sonia, who holds the reins tightly as the President of the currently ruling Congress Party. Although Indians share a love-hate relationship with her (many feel she doesn't have the right to become prime minister owing to her Italian origins), there is no denying the fact that she is one of the most well known and powerful women in politics. Her dimpled poster-boy son Rahul, although being groomed to become the PM eventually, is at present happy to concentrate on building up youth initiatives and raking controversies (considered as acts of immaturity or breaking conventions, depending on where you are standing), while his sister Priyanka prefers to play from behind the scenes and is considered by many as a young Indira. Those interested in contemporary Indian history may thus also wish to visit Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum (1 Safdarjung Rd.; tel. 011/2301-0094; free admission; Tues-Sun 9:30am-4:45pm). A huge force in postindependence India, Indira Gandhi was murdered here by her Sikh bodyguards. Among the displays (which provide a real sense of the woman) is her blood-soaked sari, as well as the clothes worn by her son Rajiv when he was killed in 1991.


The best temples to visit in central New Delhi are Lakshmi Narayan Mandir (west of Connaught Place, on Mandir Marg; leave cameras and cellphones at counter outside), an ornate yet contemporary Hindu temple built by the wealthy industrialist B. D. Birla in 1938; and Bangla Sahib Gurudwara (off Ashoka Rd.), Delhi's principal Sikh temple. If you aren't heading north to the Golden Temple at Amritsar, a visit to the gurudwara is highly recommended, if only to experience the warm and welcoming atmosphere that seems to pervade all Sikh places of worship -- evident in details like the efficient shoe deposit, a scarf to cover your head (both free), genuinely devoted guides who expect no recompense (available at the entrance), devotional hymns (sung constantly sunrise-9pm), free food (served three times daily), and prasad (communion) offered as you leave -- be warned that it can be oily and you won't give offense if you decline. The gurudwara is certainly an interesting contrast to Lakshmi Narayan Mandir; a visit to one of the first Hindu temples to open its doors to all castes (including "outcasts" like the foreign Britishers) makes you feel very much like a tourist, whereas the more embracing atmosphere of the gurudwaras has you feeling welcomed and humbled.

If all this sightseeing has you beat, you can retreat to Lodi Gardens (5km/3 miles south of Connaught Place), where green lawns surround the crumbling tombs of the 15th-century Sayyid and Lodi dynasties -- the tombs are not well-preserved, but the green, shaded oasis may suffice as a break from the hectic traffic or shopping at nearby Khan Market. Early mornings are quite lovely and in case you want a bit more history to the gardens, we suggest you take a walk with INTACH (tel. 011/2464-1304;; Rs 50) who also organize walking tours in Hauz Khas, another delightful area to explore on foot, and ideal for early birds. The 18th-century Safdarjang's Tomb lies just south of Lodi Gardens, but more impressive by far is Humayun's Tomb (a short rickshaw ride west) and, across the street, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia.

Finally, for the special-interest traveler, you can view India's largest collection of rare stamps free of charge at the National Philatelic Museum, located at the post office at Dak Bhavan (Sansad Marg; enter at back of post office; Mon-Fri 9:30am-4:30pm, closed 12:30-2:30pm).


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.