Top 5 things to do in Delhi at night. Fortunately, you have found a page which isn’t talking about bar hopping, for a change. Delhi being the national capital of India, sure has a lot to immerse you with – other than liquor for a Delhi night out.
This post is about what the mettle of Delhi is made of – its spiritual, historical and cultural wealth. Let me take you on a journey of Delhi as never before.
Sound and Light show at Purana Qila
Featured as number 1 amongst all Sound and Light shows in India by Tripsavvy, for all the right reasons.
The moment I got inside the massive gateway of the Old Fort, I knew I was in for a treat. I could feel all the history enveloping me as the darkness was enveloping the fort. It was the perfect venue for a story to be told, of my beloved Delhi.
There were mosquitoes, because of the lush gardens with trees all around. As soon as the officials noted that some guests weren’t well equipped, they started distributing tubes of mosquito repellent. You can carry your own patch if you want to.
We went beyond half an hour of the time it was supposed to start, but nothing happened. My patience was over and I ran into the in-charge of the show, who explained that there has been a fault. However, they are trying their best and in worst case scenario, they shall give up and the monies returned.
I folded my hands in prayer and finally the show started.
Within 15 seconds of it running, I had forgotten about all my woes – the delay and the mosquitoes. The show was one of its kind! Much advanced than the simple light projections combined with sound that you usually see all over India.
It was a high tech digital saga, projected upon a piece of history. The display of light and sound was superb and very artistic.
It showcased the story of all the 10 cities of Delhi. Of all its empires that it has seen come and go. How Delhi is not one city but an amalgamation of 10 different cities that form different parts of the whole of it.
Most beautifully done, it was artistically and emotionally appealing. With the interesting stories of how these cities were formed, one after the other. Involving the stalwarts of the history of Delhi with their love and desire for it!
This is one thing that actually made me familiar with Delhi, more than anything else.
Once the show starts, no photography is allowed. So the only way you can relish it, is by being there. See you!
Gurudwara Bangla Saheb
This sikh temple has the best approach in terms of location amongst 6 significant others. I took a metro ride and walked to the temple, you can also take a taxi. However, if you are taking a self-drive, be sure to find it hard to park because it is a very popular one too!
I started my tour of the temple with their exhibition hall, just when you enter the temple. That turned out to be a great decision, because it talked about the founding principles of Sikhism very well.
Sikhs came forward as the major protective force in India against Mughal rulers in the 18th century. Fighting like a warrior clan to save plundering of India against plunderers like Ahmad Shah Abdali.
However, Sikhism was founded based on non-religion, a sort of belief that introduced humanity to its own self. The central tenet of Sikh philosophy is ‘Om’ – the supreme sound of the universe. It only encourages its followers to believe that we all are one, coming from one source.
So now when it was clear to me that I was in a place of spirituality, not religion, I moved forward.
There is a small pool created just when you enter the temple, so your feet are washed automatically.
Everything in the sikh temple is community based. Every service that you see happening in a Sikh temple is voluntary and anybody can take part in it. From the stall where I deposited my shoes, to the giant community kitchen where they serve food to approximately 25000 people per day.
Everything is run by volunteers, donating their service in the name of God. It is important to note here that they come from all walks of life, to the economically average to people who have parked their Rolls Royce in the parking.
The main sanctum was reverberating with the sounds of the ‘Ardas’ – which is the evening prayers. Sikhs don’t do idol worship and the holy book in which the teachings are there, is everything. The book was tucked cosily in between beautiful clothes in the main sanctum.
To sit there was a refreshing experience. With the prayer being flashed in English on the TV screens all inside the hall, I could also follow it a little.
I then went over to the big pond which the Sikh take as holy. Sprinkling water over themselves to attain peace. Upon asking a young cameraman who was also a volunteer covering the evening beauty of the temple, he told me something very interesting.
The water of the pond is holy not because of any faith, but because of the positive energy it accumulates through the chanting in the Gurudwara. Now, that made sense!
So after witnessing happy people, some immersed in God’s name and some socializing away – I smiled and caught my way back home. Gurudwara Bangla Saheb shall always be on my list of places to visit in Delhi at evening.
Qawwali at Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah
One of my personal favourites, ‘Qawwali’ happens live every Thursday here at Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah in Delhi. A form of Sufi devotional singing, Qawwali is soulful singing accompanied by nothing else but a special clapping of the hands. Its a treat for the eyes and mostly for the soul.
As The Better India nails it – ‘The scent of rose petals mixes with the searing aroma of the chargrilled kebabs’. Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah experience is quintessential Delhi, and the place might become one of your favorite late night hangout places in Delhi too.
We were expecting crowds and so mentally prepared for it. However, once we found a place and became settled for Qawwalis, that is all we were looking forward to. Just claim your space and be there, that’s the best idea.
The divinity of the singing is something I won’t be able to explain here. Luckily for me, one of the members of the oldest ‘Qawwal’ family found me inspired and hence shared some precious information with me, which I can share with you here.
Saqlain Nizami Ji, talked to me about how 12 kids were selected and then trained in Qawwali 750 years back. By none other than the world renowned Sufi poet and scholar, Amir Khusrow. He is also worshipped as a Saint in the Dargah.
His resting place absolutely in front of his beloved Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya – to which this worship place is dedicated.
The 52 Qawwals who sing at the Dargah today are the direct descendants of those 12 kids. Saqlain Nizami ji is one of them and has kept the heritage of his forefathers alive, even today.
Although each of these family has its own group now, but when they sing for Hazrat Nizamuddin, they sit together – as one family!
To break it for you, ‘Qawwali’ is nothing but the singing of ‘Aqwal’ which are the spiritual teachings of the self-realized men.
To me the best part was the spirit with which Mr. Nizami talked to me – the spirit of a Qawwal, the spirit of a human being – not of any particular religion.
Timings for the qawwalis keep changing as per seasons. Winters, first session happens around 4:30 and in summers around 7:30.
Depending what time you are visiting, keep time aside for having one of the best non-veg food in Delhi. Well, I am a vegetarian, but my meat-eating friend was licking her fingers away. One of the best Tandoori Naan – clay oven bread I ever had, was here only.
Night Food tour, Old Delhi
In any Delhi night out guide, I would keep this night food tour amongst the top fun things to do in Delhi.
Conducted by none else, but the best in the business ‘Delhi Food Walks’. This tour is your introduction to real Delhi street food. Set in Old Delhi, this food tour shall take you through some of the most antique streets of Delhi.
Kinari Bazaar – even today the place to go to for all fashion designers trying to come up woth an authentic Indian collection. Dariba, the historical market of the silver traders – today houses all kinds of jewelry including silver. And also, Asia’s biggest spice market called ‘Khari Baoli’.
This tour is not just about food, but the soul of Delhi – come sample some with me.
We started our tour from the very interesting ‘Sis Ganj Gurudwara’ – a Sikh temple. Specifically, because of the community kitchen – any food tour can only start from the kitchen 😊
This kitchen prepares food for thousands of people every day and all the workers are volunteers. From the cooks to the ones washing the dishes. In-spite of the rush, the enthusiastic and welcoming spirit of the volunteers was something to learn from.
The men in the shoe deposit room were polishing and mending shoes as a free and un-mentioned service.
After meeting these lovely people, we moved towards our first food stop. Potato cutlets dunked in a variety of Indian sauces and sprinkled with spices – we finished it all while it was still hot and steamy.
Making our way through some of the busiest roads of Delhi, we sat in a small shop to samples some heritage. In this shop a few hundred years old, we had one of the most favourite rite Indian meal – Parathas. Indian breads stuffed with varieties you cannot even imagine!
I had breads stuffed with lemon powder, condensed milk made after hours of boiling and also mixed vegetables.
Cruising our way through the market of all things ornate ‘Kinari Bazaar’, and the silver market, we sampled our first Indian sweetmeat – Jalebi. It’s a juicy maze in which you will lose yourself! Try making one too, its fun!
After satiating ourselves with lots of sugar in clarified butter, we moved on to see the largest spice market of Asia. But only after drinking a whole glass of think Mango Lassi – a speciality that is only available in summers.
Just to give you an idea of the fact that the contents and the stops of this tour keep changing as per season.
In this spice market, you can find rare spices that even the Indian families don’t use anymore. World renowned chefs and lovers of Indian food can be seen taking walks here often.
This photo is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Just nearby was the oldest flower market of Delhi and the fragrant roses there, just took my heart away with the evening breeze. Marigolds were glistening in the light – reminding us of where we were standing – ‘Chandni Chowk’ – the square of the eternal moonlight. Well, that is a story for another time as I always say.
Now was the time to get on a rickshaw and get to a completely different part of Old Delhi. The Jama Masjid lane still retains flavors of the past. The recipes of the Mughal era are still in use here and we had the fortune to sample some of them tonight.
For non-vegetarians, this is a dream come true. For me, I still managed to taste some subtle Mughal flavors, at the best restaurant in Delhi when it comes to authentic Mughlai flavors – Karim’s. Read more about it in ‘Where to find the best Mughlai Dishes in Delhi’ on Culture Trip.
‘Khamiri Roti’ is a signature Mughal break that is soft, chewy and a little tangy. They are said to go best with non-vegetarian curries, though I had it with the special butter lentil soup called Daal Makhni.
I also sampled some Pulao which had exquisite flavours long forgotten in Indian families.
To top it all, we had some delicious rice pudding set in terracotta – giving it an absolutely unique flavour! And more than a dozen Kulfis – Indian lollies made of nothing but real fruit pulp. It was the season of Indian Black Plum and it turned out to be my favorite!
Water Show at Akshardham Temple
Not to feel the eras gone by, which is the case in most temples in India. Visit this one if you want to see an ornate Indian temple with rich carvings in mint condition!
And I say night, because the view of the temple through the various windows around the colonnade is nothing but ‘picture perfect’. The intricate carvings inside the temple, specially the roof – are something to relish. But what won my gravest attention was the work in the main dome where ‘Swaminarayan’s’ idol is placed.
It looked like a combination of the interiors of a French palace embellished with glass and Indian figurines. Interesting without a doubt.
Why Akshardham is featured here is specially because of its water show. For less than a dollar, you shall be witnessing a high-tech fountain show with laser lights and an amazing display of Indian mythology.
The cheering of kids and the aahs and oohs of the entire audience as the fountains go up and down, make up for everything else.
Expect heavy crowds, because after all there is something so magnificent that is displayed here almost for free. They say 70% of the travellers who come into Delhi, go to Akshardham. I wouldn’t be surprised.
The show is only in Hindi, but quite well presented – so shouldn’t be difficult to understand for a non-hindi speaker. Plus the feel of being in India is not compromised at all, after all this is why you visit other countries 😊
Cameras are not allowed inside and there is long queue for depositing it and other electronics, so better leave them home! Or get ready to be in the queue.
I watched the entire water show while it was raining, and I say, it was worth it!