Delhi isn’t a city that people often rave about. It’s busy, noisy, dirty and full of people desperate to make a rupee or two off every unsuspecting tourist. It’s not uncommon to hear of people being scammed immediately upon their arrival to Delhi, and it’s often their first stop in India which can sour the initial impression. Most people don’t think of visiting Delhi with kids, however there are a decent number of fun places in Delhi for youngsters. If you’re prepared for the intensity, and know what to do, Delhi might just surprise you!
Delhi was our last stop in India, and I’m glad we saved it for the end. By this point we were used to the craziness that is India, and we were a bit savvier so were able to avoid being scammed. We also had an Indian SIM card in our phone (highly recommend), so we always had a map on hand and knew if we were going in the right direction or not!
A Farm in Delhi? Omera The Farm Stay
We arrived into the New Delhi train station from Amritsar, and immediately went to our Farm Stay in Gurugram, on the outskirts of Delhi. It was SO nice to be away from the constant noise we’d become accustomed to. The girls were incredibly excited for the farm stay too. They were ready for a few days of just relaxing and playing, and that’s exactly what we did!
The farm provided a welcome respite from the craziness of travel. Although it’s technically not in Delhi proper, it’s likely one of the best places to visit in Delhi for youngsters. The only downside to our visit was that it was only 2 nights! I could’ve stayed there for a week, eating the delicious food and letting the kids run a bit wild. It was the most relaxed I’d been in months! We spent the mornings catching up on our computers (boring, I know), while the girls did Yoga, made crafts, read books and jumped on the trampoline. In the afternoon, we escaped from the heat by splashing in the pool, we followed the baby ducklings around, and planted seeds in the garden.
A few weeks before our visit the girls and I had listened to a guided meditation that talked about planting seeds to help the earth. Kacela took this to heart, and couldn’t stop talking about when she’d get to plant her seeds. There was a large garden at the farm, and they were happy to give us some seeds, and show us where and how to plant them. Both girls were in heaven, and I was incredibly grateful to finally stop hearing about planting seeds everywhere we went!!
About Omera the Farm Stay
I would highly recommend this farm stay to anyone visiting Delhi. There’s a good-size pool, lots of play equipment, a trampoline, large field to run around and well-appointed rooms with tons of games and crafts. The food was incredible and our host very friendly and helpful. She came in both mornings and played with the girls without us even knowing the girls were awake!! There were only 2 rooms when we visited, so we had the whole place to ourselves. It was undergoing expansion, so has the potential to be a bit less private in the future. I’d still visit though, even if there were other guests at the farm.
Cost – $209.61CAD for 2 nights, full board for a family of 4. + 1000 rupees ($20) for staff tips.
Getting To & From – We used both Uber and Ola and found them to be about the same price. From the Delhi train station it cost 700 rupees on Uber (getting there), and 730 rupees on Ola (getting back).
Our Kids Chose the Best Places To Visit In Delhi With Youngsters
Our time at the farm came to an end too soon, and we made our way back to Delhi. After checking into our guesthouse, Meditation Palace, we pulled out a book of things to do in Delhi, and each chose an activity. The city is massive, with an almost endless list of possible things to do. We wanted to take it easy and choose only a few of the best things to do.
Calais – Akshardam Water& Laser Show
Kacela – Humayan’s Tomb
Kyla – Salaam Baalak walking tour
Randy – the girls also wanted to go to the Lotus Temple, so Randy gave up his choice!
I also REALLY wanted to visit Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the main Sikh temple in Delhi, for Langar (free lunch). However, we sadly didn’t find the time. I found out afterwards that Calais was sad we didn’t get to go, as she was looking forward to it as well. I guess we needed to leave something for the next visit!
Visiting The Lotus Temple With Kids
After spending much of the year learning about different religions around the world, the Lotus temple was the perfect stop for us. We all enjoyed learned about the Baha’i faith at the Lotus Temple. After taking some pictures from the gardens, we made our way inside the temple. We arrived just in time for the morning prayer. The four of us settled into the pews at the back of the temple and listened as chanting and song filled the space around us. It was beautiful and haunting all at the same time. Once it was over, I left the temple with a feeling of stillness and sadness. It was as if this one simple thought had the power to change the world, but never would because of the stubbornness of man.
About The Lotus Temple
The Lotus Temple, also knows as the Baha’i House of Worship, is a temple of the Baha’i faith, and provides a good amount of information about the faith without being pushy or preachy. I suggest entering to the right side of the temple to read and learn about the faith on the bottom floor of the complex before going upstairs and inside the prayer hall.
You’re not allowed to take pictures inside the prayer hall, and you have to take your shoes off before entering!
I highly recommend coordinating your visit with one of the short (5-10min) prayer services, which occur daily at 10am, 12:00noon, 3:00pm and 5:00pm. Prayers from different religions are chanted or sung, and the acoustics of the lotus structure are quite impressive.
Cost – Free
Hours – 9:00am-5:30pm in winter. 9:00am-7:00pm in summer.
Getting To & From – The nearest metro stations are Okhla NSIC (magenta line) and Kalkaji Mandir (purple line). You can walk or take a short rickshaw ride from either station.
The Taj Mahal’s “Big Brother” – Humayun’s Tomb
The sounds of Delhi quickly washed away my thoughts as we left the temple grounds. We made our way back to the metro, and further into the heart of the city, to Humayun’s tomb.
Kacela chose Humayun’s tomb because it was the precursor to the Taj Mahal, and she wanted to see the place that the Taj Mahal was modeled after. When we were there, we learned that Humayan’s tomb was modeled after the tomb of his great-great-grandfather, Timur. We’d visited the tomb of Timur months earlier in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, and we all thought it was pretty neat that we’d followed the inspiration for the Taj Mahal right from the beginning. This little connection made the whole experience so much more meaningful, and really reminded me how incredible travel can be!
The grounds and gardens are quite large, and there’s so much more to see than just Humayun’s tomb. As soon as we entered, we took a quick right to visit Isa Khan’s tomb and mosque. The crumbling architecture was in stark contrast to the large, manicured garden surrounding it. Both the tomb and mosque were almost empty of people, and it was easy to picture how magnificent this would have been in the 16th century.
After exploring the garden’s around Isa Khan’s tomb, we decide to skip everything else and head straight for Humayun’s tomb. We were starting to get hot and tired, and there was no need to push it too much!
The shaded walkway provided a bit of respite from the growing heat, and as we ducked through the Bu Halima gateway, the large red mausoleum came into view. Other than the colour of the building, the similarities to the Taj Mahal were instantly obvious. The entire complex was perfectly symmetrical, and I felt a bit funny walking down one side, throwing off the balance. The girl’s must’ve felt the same, because they walked straight up the middle, with one foot on either side of the small water feature.
The biggest difference from the Taj Mahal (other than the colour), was the number of people. There were significantly fewer people and it made the experience so much more enjoyable. We were able to leisurely wander around the building, poke our head inside the chambers, and not feel like we were bothering anyone else in the process.
About Humayun’s Tomb
The complex is massive and there’s quite a lot to see if you want to spend a significant amount of time here. If you’re really interested I’d suggest hiring a guide to walk you through the various different areas. If you’re short on time, skip the rest and head straight up the middle of the gardens to the piece de resistance…the grand tomb.
Getting to & from – Get off the metro at Jangpura (purple line), then take a rickshaw to the entrance (no more than 100 rupees). You can also take the train to Nizamuddin East train station and take a rickshaw or walk from there.
Hours – Sunrise to Sunset (generally!)
Cost – 250 rupees per foreign national, kids up to 15 are free. A guide costs a further 250 rupees, or you can rent an audioguide for 100 rupees.
An Added Bonus – Lunch And a Children’s Park!
By the time we finished wandering around Humayan’s tomb, it was way past lunch and we were starving! I found a BBQ place on google (BBQ Nation, which is apparently quite popular in India!) and we enjoyed an incredibly filling lunch/dinner and our second non-vegetarian meal of our entire trip to India! The food was delicious, and made even better by the fact that there was a great park right down the street. Randy and I sat on a bench in the shade and let our copious amounts of food digest while the girls played the afternoon away.
Cost – The Park was FREE!!
Getting To & From – It’s located across the street SE of Jangapura station. Coordinates: (28.5821080,77.2406330)
Salaam Baalak Street Kid’s Walking Tour
A slum tour is a popular thing to do in both Delhi and Mumbai, but I didn’t think the girls were quite ready for the reality of the New Delhi slums. Instead, I opted for a tour with Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT). Our tour guide was a former street-kid who walked us through what it was like to grow up on the streets of Delhi. The tour took us through the side streets around the New Delhi station, and gave us a glimpse into the lives of the approximately 100,000 street kids in New Delhi, including the 2500 kids living in and around the New Delhi train station.
We started at the train station, but quickly found ourselves dodging random liquids and “land mines” (our affectionate term for dog poop) at the entrance to a narrow alleyway. Once we turned in, the ground was a bit cleaner. Both walls were lined with photos of various Hindu Gods, which seemed rather out of place. As the alleyway narrowed, our guide explained that many people used to urinate on the walls, and because the alley is so narrow it made quite a mess. Someone decided to put the paintings on the walls because they believed it would stop people from using the alley as an open-air toilet, and they were right!! Personally, I think they just chose either end of the alley instead, but it was easier to avoid in a larger space!
As we continued our walk the stench in the air grew stronger. Large garbage bins, spilling over with all sorts of trash, lined the side of the road. We had made it to the “garbage street”. Many of the street kids earn a meagre living by collecting garbage and selling it on this street. It’s a little like recycling, but not quite as clean. Just like as home, some garbage is valuable, and some is not. The kids learn what to collect, and will bring their haul to this street to sell for a meagre 50-100 rupees/day ($1-2CAD).
We learned that they don’t use the money they earn to buy food! The Sikh temples provide one free meal a day (langur) so the kids quickly learn to utilize this. The money is used for clothes and entertainment, often things like going to a movie or arcade. Our guide told us the best thing to give to any street-kid is open food. Although they find a meal a day, food is always welcome, and already opened food will be consumed and not re-sold!
After learning a bit about how life as a street kid in Delhi, we had the opportunity to see a bit of what Salaam Baalak Trust is all about. This incredible company is dedicated to getting kid’s off the streets, and offers 13 contact enters and 5 shelter homes in Delhi. We visited one contact centre, near the train station, where a group of kids ranging in age from about 5-15 were hanging out for the day. They’d receive a free lunch, as well as education, medical care and counselling.
The emphasis of SBT is always to encourage the child to return to their family, if it’s both possible and in the child’s best interest. However, this isn’t always a possibility, and in these cases there are shelter homes available. Our last stop was at one of these homes, near the the train station. We had a few minutes for the girl’s to play and interact with the kids, who were happy to play along.
Our guides then shared their personal stories.
Following his parent’s divorce, our male guide had jumped on a train in Nepal, fallen asleep and ended up in Delhi. He didn’t speak Hindi, and had no idea how to take care of himself. By watching the other street kids living at the train station, he learned how to pick garbage, find lunch, and eventually made his way to the SBT drop-in centre. Today, he has graduated from high school, speaks fluent Hindi AND English, and is working as a guide for SBT. There are countless success stories like this coming from SBT, and we were incredibly grateful to see the difference they’re making. It sure made us feel a bit like spoiled brats given what we have at home.
About Salaam Baalak Trust
If you’re at all interested in contributing to the lives of the less fortunate in Delhi, this is a great way to do it. The money from the tour helps fund the organization, giving back to hundreds of Delhi street kids on a daily basis. I also love that they take the time to raise awareness in the form of these tours, rather than just asking for donations.
Cost – 300 rupees ($6 CAD) per person. We left a further donation as we’d booked through the website ilikelocals. Although we wouldn’t have found the tour without the website, because this is a non-profit organization I suggest booking direct if possible. Click HERE to get to the SBT website.
Hours – Every day except Sunday at 9am in the winter. Contact them for summer times, or private tours in the afternoon/evening.
The Intensity Of Chandni Chowk (And The BEST Jalebi)
It was impossible for us to visit Delhi and not spend at least a bit of time wandering around Chandni Chowk market. Since we’d already done a bit of walking during our Salaam Baalek walking tour, we really just planned on spending a short time walking from the Chandni Chowk metro station to the Red Fort.
However, things don’t always go as planned, and we got incredibly lost trying to leave the metro station! We ended up walking almost all the way around Kacha Banh park before giving up and paying a rickshaw to take us a very short distance to the street. This ended up not being the worst thing, as he dropped us off at the end of the street, near Fatehpuri Masjid, giving us the opportunity to walk the ENTIRE street!
The rickshaw ride was crazy enough in itself, and wandering through the streets took it to another level. The sidewalk was lined with vendors of all kinds, and much of the good spilled out into the street. I can’t imagine why anyone would choose to drive through it as it was a giant maze of carts, bicycles, bags and boxes. We enjoyed smelling the various spices, and had one vendor try to convince us his spices were the best because he sold them wholesale to President’s Choice in Canada!! I’m not sure how many Canadians that line works on, but I can’t imagine it’s a whole lot!
It didn’t take long before we were tired of jumping out of the way of all the people carrying large bags on their heads, and decided to find a snack. The girls had developed a bit of an obsession with Jalebi, so we went on a hunt for the “best Jalebi” in Delhi (and maybe the world!!) at the Old Famous Jalebi Wala. Luckily for us, it was on the way to the metro station.
The eastern end of Chandni Chowk is at the Red Fort. If we’d had more energy we would’ve kept walking into the fort complex to spend the rest of the day exploring. However, we’d done enough walking for the day and wanted to make sure we were back in time to get to Akshardam for the evening laser show!
The other thing we could’ve done, if we had the energy, is have lunch on Paranthe Wali Gali street. The paratha’s here are apparently to die for…but we opted for Jalebi instead!!
About Chandni Chowk
Cost – Free to wander
Hours – 9:30am – 8:00pm (most shops). Closed on Sunday.
Getting To & From – Starting from the West: take the yellow metro line to Chandni Chowk station, then get a rickshaw to Fatehpuri Masjid. Starting from the East: take the violet line to Lal Quila.
The Water Show At Akshardham
Our host referred to Akshardham as “Hindu Disney” and this pretty much sums it up!! The complex is incredible and we could’ve easily spent the better part of a day exploring it. However, we didn’t go for the temples or exhibits, we went for the water show!!
We arrived early enough to wander through the main temple, gawking at the incredible opulence adorning both the interior and the exterior. Akshardham was built in 2005, and it always amazes me at the amount of money spent on some of these giant monuments with so many people starving in the streets. It’s a bit more understandable with something built a few hundred years ago, as I feel there wasn’t the same level of social awareness or trend towards taking care of others. However, with something built this century it seems outlandish! Never-the-less, we enjoyed our time here.
The water show started just after sunset, and we made our way to the arena early enough to procure decent seats. The girls enjoyed ice cream while we sat with our elbows protruding and legs outstretched to keep our seats! The arena is built like a stepwell, so many of the seats face away from the stage. A number of people tried to cozy themselves up to us so they could see better, but we stood our ground!!
The show itself was incredible. The story is all in Hindi, so we couldn’t understand much of what was going on, but we’d pre-read the gist of it, so were able to follow along somewhat. And really, it didn’t matter what the story was, because the show was spectacular! What they were able to do with lights, lasers and water was incredible, and kept us mesmerized the entire time. Unfortunately, cameras aren’t allows in the complex, but here are a couple pictures from the website.
If you have the time, this entire complex is worth visiting, beyond the water show. The line-up to get inside is quite long, and you’re not allowed to bring anything inside. My recommendation is to only bring cash as cell phones, camera, food etc is not allowed inside. If you have any of these things, you’ll have to wait in another line both going in and coming out, in order to check your bag.
Cost – Free entrance. Water Show is 80 rupees ($1.60 CAD) for adults and 50 rupees ($1 CAD) for kids ages 4-11. (Under 4yo free)
Hours – 9:30am – 6:30pm (water show just after sunset, so you need to arrive before it closes). Closed Mondays.
Getting To & From – 5min walk from Akshardham metro station (blue line).
Other Fun Places In Delhi For Youngsters (that we didn’t visit)
There are so many things to do in Delhi it’s hard to fit them all in! Plus, it’s always good to leave something for the next visit…right?! Here’s a few more places that were on our list but we didn’t have time to visit.
If the craziness of Chandni Chowk is too much for you, a visit to Dilli Haat is a reasonable alternative. This open-air bazaar has food and craft vendors, and the handicrafts are legit, handmade items. It’s a great place to pick up some souvenirs before heading home.
Visit One Of The Many Amusement Parks
- Entertainment City
- Kingdom of Dreams
- Worlds of Wonder
- Khalindi Kunj – Atlantic Water World
- Appu Ghar
Take A Break At The Best Playgrounds
- Central Park in Connaught Place
- Children’s Park at the India Gate
- Sulabh International Museum of Toilets
- National Rail Museum (and toy train ride)
- Shankar’s International Doll’s Museum
Other Fun Activities for Kids In Delhi
Where to Stay in Delhi
This was the perfect place to stay for our trip to Delhi. It’s located in the South Eastern part of New Delhi and is easily accessible to the city via both the violet and magenta metro lines. Each floor had 4 rooms, a living-room and kitchen. We had 2 of these rooms, both with a private bathroom. In hindsight, we likely only needed one with a private bathroom and one with a shared bathroom (this way we could’ve had our rooms side by side rather than across the living-room from each other). We were so comfortable in our little home away from home and enjoyed hanging out in the living room in the evening chatting with the other travellers while the girls slept! Abhi, the owner, was incredibly friendly and helpful. I can’t recommend this place enough!
Cost – 10,900 rupees ($218 CAD) for 2 rooms with private bathrooms, for 3 nights.
Where to Eat in Delhi
There are SO many incredible places to eat in Delhi it’s hard to know where to start. Here are a couple highlights from where we ate. My best advice is to just find somewhere the looks busy, and give it a try!
This was one of the only non-veg meals we had our entire 5 weeks in India (I still had a veg meal), and it was delicious. We got a ridiculous amount of food and it was all delicious. This is a chain of restaurants and can be found throughout India. If you’re looking for Western-style food with an Indian twist (and air conditioning!!), this is a great option.
Cost – 1281 rupees ($25.63 CAD) for 1 veg and 1 non-veg meal. It was TONS for food for the whole family.
We sought out this place for the girl’s favourite Indian sweet, Jalebi. Thankfully, it delivered! It’s seriously the BEST Jalebi in Delhi, maybe all of India (and the world!).
Cost – 150 rupees ($3 CAD) for 2 Jalebi and 2 samosa.
On The Street
This is a matter of personal preference, as many people will warn you not to eat on the street in Delhi. This is partly due to sanitation, and partly due to the massive amount of pollution in the air. We found a few great places on the street, mostly for breakfast, and didn’t get sick once! We always chose a busy stand so the food turnover was high, and picked something where our food was cooked fresh in front of us. Another street-food tip is to eat vegetarian, as this significantly reduces the risk of getting sick.
Total Spent in Delhi
We spent an average of $119.13/day, on what I’d say was a mid-range budget. There’s so much you can do in this city for so little!
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