Thursday, March 12, 2009


Delhi-India's potpourri

No other place qualifies so completely to deserve the sobriquet of 'The Capital City' as Delhi does! Delhi is made of everything that is India and vice-versa. The sixth most populous metropolis in the world (15.3 million/2005 census), Delhi is the melting pot of all Indian States and it remains a commendable absorbent even for those beyond the compass of the nation. The climate, however, may not be that inviting during the summers, but you have a choice of the milder seasons. The contrast of antiquity and modernization this land exudes is both curious and awesome.

The Tale of the city

Delhi is as old as 5000 BC. Staggering, isn't it? The earliest reference of Delhi was found in the Indian epic Mahabharata where it was the site of the Pandava capital Indraprashtha. A trail of dynasties 'came, saw, conquered' and left their imprints, viz. - Mauyras, Guptas, Rajputs, Afghans, Khiljis, Tughluq, Sayyids, Lodhis and lastly the Mughals to be finally overthrown by the British. It was, however, the Mughals who ruled India for over three centuries, that Delhi dazzles as an architect's archipelago. Over 60,000 historical remains echoing different ages of the past make Delhi a historians apple-pie.


Old Delhi : The Mughals and Indian heritage seem to entwined that it would be nearing blasphemy to refer to them as mere conquerors. Old Delhi, an erstwhile walled city, Shahjahanabad, of Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan, actually seems like a piece of history sliced out and preserved, while the rest of the world marched ahead. The royal palace at the Red-Fort or the Lal Quila, named after its red-sandstone facade, the Jama Masjid (world's largest mosque) and the congested sprawl of Chandni Chowk, where the royalty once shopped about, the railway station with red-turban coolies flocking about - make Old Delhi (Purani Dilli) what it is. A befitting location indeed for the Indian Prime Ministers to pulsate the very air with his Independence Day speech from the premises of the Red Fort.

Purana Quila : The river Yamuna meanders along this vintage mile-long fort partly built by Mughal Emperor Humayun and by Sher Shah Suri. The notable buildings sheltered within are the Sher Mandal (Humayun's library) and the 16th century Quila-I-kholina Mosque (a landmark in Indo Islamic architecture).

The Qutub Minar : Its 72.5 meters (237.8 ft) makes it the tallest brick minaret in the world. Delhi's first Muslim ruler Qutb-ud-din Aibak wanted a replicate of Afghanistan's Minaret of Jam or even better. The walls have intricate carvings of verses from Quran.

India Gate : It is majestic 42 meters high arched gateway look-a-alike built as a memorial to the Indian soldiers killed in the World War I. India Gate, today has become synonymous with weekend family picnic-spot.

Akshardham Temple: Flanking the banks of river Yamuna, is this 2 billion architectural grandeur - an initiative of the Bochasanvasi Aksharpurushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS). A fine blend of faith and technology, Akshardham temple complex is replete with a majestic 11 ft statue of Lord Swaminarayan, 20000 other statues, an IMAX theater, artificial lakes and an elaborate musical fountain.

Lotus temple :A piquant lotus-shaped insignia of the Bahai faith, its quietude is a stark contrast to the bustling purlieu of Kalkaji where it stands. The Lotus temple is the meditative refuge that draws people from across the globe irrespective of creed and community

Birla Mandir: Embellished with statues, shrines, waterfalls, gardens and an ambiance so peaceful in spite of the tourists that throng the place. Janmasthami (Lord Krishna's birthday) is when you should tune your trip if you want to partake in its festive uproar.

Rashtrapati Bhavan : Where Indian President lives! The erstwhile residence of the Viceroy of India during the British Raj and designed by British architect Edwin Lutyens (who also laid the design for New Delhi), the Parliament House is larger than the Palace of Versailles. The plush Mughal Gardens, a Lutyenian replica of its counterpart in Kashmir, appositely adorn the House with its fantastic fountains, paved pathways, ornamental plants and of course a metropolis of most fantastic flowers.

The Art Galleries and Museums : Come and witness the India filtered through some of the more sensitive Indians. The India International Center (Max Muller Marg), Delhi Art Gallery (Hauz Khas Village), National Gallery of Modern Art (near India Gate) are the best picks amongst others. The Crafts Museum (Indian crafts, wooden Carvings, metal ware, paintings), Doll Museum (one of the largest collection of costume dolls from all over the world), National Rail Museum (tracks the genesis of Indian Railway), National Museum (pre-historic archeology, jewelery, paintings, manuscripts, Central Asian antiquities, arms and armor) - mouth watering historians


The markets here are a melting-pot of everything found just anywhere in India. A grand spread neighboring the Old Delhi Railway Station, Chandni Chowk's crowded lanes, famous sweet shops of yore, the tourists visiting Jama Masjid and Lal Quila (Red Fort) - give it that 'just Dilli' air. Go there, but with some Indian friend or a guide, and shop just anything Indian in very reasonable rates.

In central Delhi, Connaught Place (tall pillared corridors and branded show-rooms) and Janpath (antique Indian souvenirs) are the must-go's. Also check out the different state's Government emporiums here for indigenous buys.

Other popular shopping arcades are Karol Bagh Market (in West Delhi,one of the largest in Asia), Kamla Nagar Market (North Campus), South Extension (close to the Embassies), Central Market (Lajpat Nagar), GK II M-block Market, Sarojini Nagar Market (the cheapest in Delhi) and Dilli Haat (a confluence of wares from all Indian States). Some very Indian brand-chains you should check out are - Fabindia, Anokhi, Kurta Palace, Nalli, Tantra, People Tree and so on.


Punjabbi khana (food from Punjab), tandoori chicken (roasted chicken), lassi (yogurt shake), chaat (savory snacks) of a hundred kinds, kulfi faluda (ice-cream cousin), kebabs (grilled meat) and biryani (a rich dish) - Dilli is synonymous with these for a well-versed gourmet.

For the best Mughal cuisines (kebabs, biryani, korma) go to Karims at Old Delhi and Nizamuddin where recipes date back to the days of the royalty or the Great Kaban Factory (Radisson). Hunt for Punjabi delights at Punjabi by Nature and Khaja Chowk (both at PVR Priya Complex), Bukhara (Maurya Sheraton), Delhi Ka Aangan (Hyatt Regency), Darbar (Ashoka Hotel) and Corbetts (Claridges). And Dilli Haat is the place where you can taste a flavor each of all Indian States.

Speciality hubs are a blessing and the noted ones are - EI Arab (at Regal Building); Dum Pukht (Maurya Sheraton); Kashmiri food at Chor Bizarre (Hotel Broadway); Thai food at Baan Thai (The Oberoi) and Sukothai (Hauz Khas Village); Japenese food at Tokyo (Ashoka Hotel) and Osaka (Hauz Khas Village); Chinese at I-Ching (Radisson), Tibetan food at eateries near Chanakya Theater; South Indian at the Sagar Ratna joints and Coconut Grove (Ashok Yatri Niwas); and Mexican food at Rodeo (Connaught Place).

Weekend Gateways

Delhi is veritably positioned and it initiates the Tourism industry highest-traffic zone, the Golden Triangle, i.e. Delhi - Jaipur - Agra.

Forts: Prithviraj Chauhan III's 15th century Neemrana Fort Palace is about 133 km SW of Delhi (just off the Jaipur highway). It is a resort now and a classic energizer for the city-sick metropolis. The 14th century Kesroli Fort is 155 km south of Delhi and situated atop the rare, dark Hornstone Breccia Rocks with ramparts 200 ft high, from where the eyes can sweep the entire locale. From Kesroli you can head for the neighboring palaces, museums and sanctuaries at Alwar, Sariska and Siliserh.

Surajkund (Haryana): Situated on the Delhi-Faridabad highway (opposite Tughlaqabad Fort), this sequestered hamlet nestled amongst the rocky outcrops of the Aravalli hills, is famed for its annual Crafts Mela (fair) held 1st to 15th February every year. The ancient tank, the amphitheater, the Surya Temple, the folk theatre and rustic performances during the fair, are tourist interests here.

Sultanpur (Gurgaon, Haryana): Located 46 km from Delhi, is this petite bird sanctuary. A former Salim Ali (famous Indian Ornithologist) haunt, the jheel (shallow lake) serpenting Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary takes on a multi-colored hue with migratory avian guests every November-December. Some exciting staying options are the Banjara Camps (with bonfires, adventure sports, jungle strolls), and farm-houses like the Kalki Mystic (with poultry farms, open fields, stress management programs), Golden Creeper (outdoor games - volleyball, hurdles race, horse, bullock cart, camel rides, treasure hunts), Great Escape (terracotta-red contrasted with lush rose lawns, poultry and a stud farm, carts, camels, horses to ride, puppet shows) and so on.

Kurukshetra (Haryana): The site for the Hindu mythological war of with the 'Kurukshetra Lake' is only 3 ½ hr drive away from Delhi.

Location :
North India

Go there for :
India in a capsule

Climate :
25°-44°C (Sum); 2°-16°C (Win/Dec-Jan)

When to Go:

Local Tongue:

Literacy :

STD Code :

No comments:

Post a Comment