Delhi, the heart of the biggest democracy in the world, and it’s current capital. Formerly known as Shahjahanabad, the city enjoys quite a reputation when it comes to tourist attractions, food, and marketplaces. So much of Delhi’s ancient history has little but no records, this may be regarded as lost time in the history books. If you’re visiting India for the first time, it is a great introduction to our country’s culture and vibe. You can find every single type of people you’d hope to find. Delhi was the only home I knew for the first 18 years of my life. I’ve lived in the city all my life and to say that I have some mixed feelings may be a slight understatement. It has the perfect mixture of a rich cultural background and the disgusting industrialization, which is inevitably going to destroy the world but we don’t need to dwell on that too much. One good thing which came from the industrialization was the Delhi Metro. Now, every part of Delhi is connected through this rapid transit system. There are 250 stations and 8 lines (red, yellow, blue, green, violet, orange, magenta, and pink). It is cheap, easy to access and very reliable.
The old, rustic city
The yet mostly un-industrialized part of Delhi is called Old Delhi. The old Delhi architecture is a perfect example of Mughal architecture, with plenty of nostalgia. A stroll through the streets of old Delhi, you realize every wall has a story to tell. It is like the backpacker area of Delhi, so you can find a lot of cheap hotels, markets, and really good food. The atmosphere can be described as generally chaotic.
Crisscrossed by narrow streets with shops sprawled every which way, Chandi Chowk (a part of old Delhi) gives a feel of authentic old Delhi shopping. It has been rightly dubbed as a “shopper’s paradise” in Delhi. The streets are swamped with a whole variety of perfumes, clothes, electronic items, jewelry, idols of deities and lifestyle goods. It is also famous for the food, most people would tell you to visit ‘parathe wali gaali’. Out of the 20 paratha shops first established, only 3 remains today. Some other places of interest may be Paharganj market, Red Fort, Delhi Gate, Mumtaz Mahal, Sunheri Masjid. Dariyaganj book market which is an exclusive Sunday market for any lovers of literature.
The industrialized city
Coming to the more factory made part of the city, Connaught Place is the biggest financial, commercial and business center of Delhi. It is housing Georgian architecture built during the British rule. The area is easily recognizable on any map of Delhi as a big circle in the middle with radial roads spreading out in all directions. The Central Park is a common local hangout, which houses Trigana, the national flag of India, was hoisted for the first time on 7 March 2014. It houses my personal spot in the city, Cha Bar which is a book café by the side of Oxford Bookstore. India Gate is a memorial to 70,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army who died in the period 1914–21 in the First World War. It sits aside Rajpath, a ceremonial boulevard, where each year on the Republic Day parade takes place. Rajpath runs from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, house to the President of India to the National Stadium, through the India Gate.
Hauz Khas Village
If you’re interested in a drink across town you need to look no further than Hauz Khas village. There is a selection of pubs for you to select from. If you fancy a day outing, you can pop into Elma’s Bakery, Kunzum Travel or The Tea Room for a nice cup of tea. Or if you want some coffee you can visit Blue Tokai (also in Saket) for their self-brewed ground beans. Just nearby there is the Delhi Art Gallery, hosting works from an array of talented artists.
The city of culture?
Speaking of art and culture, you can visit the National Gallery of Modern Art near Rajpath. There are multiple Theatre groups all across Delhi putting on enticing shows. Plays are constantly being put up and events at the Indian Habitat Centre. IHC is a multipurpose building in New Delhi, India. Mixing work, commercial and social spaces. It has a great restaurant called the All American Diner (I had one of my best birthday parties there). If you’re interested in the more posh part of the city, South Delhi is your calling. Khan Market is the most expensive retail location in India. The market includes a variety of luxurious cafes and restaurants. Try Nehru Place, another commercial and business hub of the city but with a lit nightlife. One of the best Japanese restaurants in the city YUZU Sake Bar is at Epicuria Mall, Nehru Place. There are a bunch of obscure cafés in Saket for you to explore, where you can grab a quiet cup of coffee. A few of the best and my personal favorite libraries in the city include Delhi Public Library, the British Council Library, and the Japan Foundation Library. Some other important tourist spots include Jama Masjid, Qutub Minar, Lotus Temple, Lodhi Garden, Mughal Garden, the National Zoo, and National Science Museum. Perchance you’re visiting in November, you shouldn’t miss the Trade Fair held at Pragati Maidan every year around the mid-week of November. The Delhi Comic Con is another yearly event alongside the Delhi Pride Parade.
In case you don’t mind going a little to the outskirts of the city, you must visit Murthal on the Delhi-Haryana highway. There are more than 20 beautiful picnic spots within the 50km of the city. The famous Buddh International Circuit, where the Indian Grand Prix was held at for three consecutive years (2011-13), is an hour and a half drive from the main city. In case you don’t mind going a little to the outskirts of the city, you must visit Murthal on the Delhi-Haryana highway. There are more than 20 beautiful picnic spots within the 50km of the city. The famous Buddh International Circuit, where the Indian Grand Prix was held at for three consecutive years (2011-13), is an hour and a half drive from the main city.
Done with the city?
The important thing to remember is to stay safe if you’re going out at night. Or in the afternoon. Pack a good sunblock for the summer and a nice warm coat for the winters and you’re all set to move. Delhi is definitely not an easy place to love, it takes a lot of getting used to. It may be all kinds of a bad place but I love the physical aspect of the city. I may not like the city to its bones but I love it with all my heart .