Birds flying over India Gate
For centuries, Delhi, the Indian capital, has welcomed emperors and immigrants alike, and they in turn have woven their stories and cultures into the city's fabric, adding layer upon complex layer to the city's personality. This dichotomy, of old and new, of history and new possibilities, is a running theme through the city.
A Seat of Power
New Delhi exudes power; British era architecture, broad boulevards bookended by leafy green lawns, and important addresses. And at its centre is the Rajpath, the ceremonial Kingsway, that takes you, yellow police barricades and all, up to Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's official residence), and the Mughal Gardens beyond them; these sites are only open to the public in February and March. This road now stands witness to the most significant moments - the celebrations, parades, protests, funerals - of India's timeline. And within the vicinity, more landmarks, like the Indian Parliament, India Gate, the WWI memorial for the fallen Indian soldiers, and Raj Ghat, a memorial that honours Mahatma Gandhi.
Red Stone and Minarets
Where New Delhi is the custodian of modern Indian history, Old Delhi, with all its chaos, lays claim to a time before that, when it served as the capital of the Mughal Empire, which preceded British rule in India. Old Delhi has some of the most elaborate Islamic architecture in India, starting with the erstwhile royal residences at the 17th century Red Fort complex - they host a sound and light show every evening for visitors, and India's largest mosque, the Jama Masjid. It accommodates up to 25,000 people in the courtyard, and the two minarets offer some of the best views of the city. Other monuments that beg a visit include the Akshardham Temple, the Lodi Gardens, Humayun's Tomb, the Qutb Minar, and the Lotus Temple.
The ceremonial Kingsway, Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s official residence), and the Mughal Gardens beyond them are only open to the public in February and March.
Sixes and Wickets
A religion of a different kind can be followed at the Feroz Shah Kotla, India's second oldest cricket stadium. Apart from hosting international games and the Indian Cricket Team, the Kotla is also home to the Delhi Daredevils in the annual T20 Indian Premier League (IPL). Games here are known to draw in large, festive crowds, complete with banners and vuvuzelas, and whether you are a cricket fan or not, it's easy to find yourself in the middle of a Mexican wave, and screaming out for sixes that sail over your head.
Hipster Cafes and Shopping Sprees
Ironically, the newest, hippest, spots in Delhi are also some of its oldest. The bohemian enclaves of Hauz Khas Village and Shahpur Jat in South Delhi were once ageing forgotten corners. Now they are enjoying a second innings as vibrant and creative urban spaces full of galleries, studios, cafes, eateries, pubs, and boutiques. But if shopping is on the list, Delhi offers many more options. From easy on the wallet outdoor markets on Janpath in Connaught Place, a place for Indian and Tibetan trinkets, to the authentic Central Cottage Industries Emporium, full of authentic Indian crafts and artefacts, from wood to metal, to precious stone, to branded and designer garments and jewellery at the popular Khan Market.
Old Delhi has some of the most elaborate Islamic architecture in India, starting with the erstwhile royal residences at the 17th century Red Fort.
Delicacies, Cooked in Ghee
For all its new age and high-end eateries, the essence of the city's culinary culture thrives on the tangled lanes of Old Delhi, in areas such as Chandni Chowk and Jama Masjid. The food is fresh and full of flavour, and usually sold off carts or even at nondescript shops. It's the kind of food that's easy on the wallet and hits all the right spots. There is no better place to partake in local favourites like parathas (stuffed flat breads), chaat (savoury street food), biryanis and kebabs, rich glasses of lassi, and desserts like jalebi (a deep-fried sugary orange pretzel shaped treat), the perfect way to end things, the perfect sign off.
Port of Entry: Indira Gandhi International Airport. Delhi is also well connected by a rail and road network.
Weather February to mid April and September to November are generally pleasant. The monsoon season (late June-August) and summer (late April to mid June) are best avoided.
Currency: All transactions are carried out in Indian Rupees (INR). Credit cards are widely accepted. Smaller establishments may accept only cash. ATMs are easily available. It is common to tip 10%
Transport Get around using taxis and rickshaws, private cars, or via the Delhi Metro