Delhi Discovery Guide

New Delhi is the capital of India, the seat of political power and a modern and bustling metropolis. It is also a region steeped in ancient history, having been presided over by a series of different powers before the British came to India, and the silent monuments sprinkled all over the city are traces of this area’s rich past.

Delhi is a city where the old and the new jostle for space simultaneously, presenting a fascinating landscape. Wide tree lined avenues burst with cars, scooters, auto rickshaws and buses as street-side vendors thrusting copies of the latest Cosmo adorned with a semi-clad model against your window. Gleaming Metro trains transport you from the majestic colonnaded buildings of Connaught Place to the bustling, chaotic alleys of Old Delhi.

Glitzy malls are fringed by street stalls selling everything from iced water to local street food. The crumbling ruins of an old reservoir and tomb lie amidst a trendy area of boutiques and restaurants. A bus stop, advertising the latest SUV, shelters people laden with packed lunches and satchels waiting for overcrowded public buses.

Landing at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, with its rather rundown, tired and bare interiors, can be quite a damper on one’s first impression of Delhi. Once one exits, the eager zeal with which foreigners and even Indian “out-of-towners” are greeted by pushy taxi drivers is quite overwhelming. Especially if you haven’t acquired the locals’ nonchalant attitude of shrugging them off with a brusque “Nahi chahiye”, which literally means, “Don’t want”.

This initial arrival will not be the only overwhelming experience one might have as foreigners are generally viewed as subjects of great curiosity here, as in the rest of India. Be prepared for what might seem to be overly intrusive questions about your family or work while shopping or a guide interrogating you as he takes you on a tour of the city. However, the apparent aggressiveness of some of the people and the initial arrival experience will soon fade away as you begin to notice this fascinating city of contradictions.

Delhi can broadly be divided into two distinct areas, with the landscaped grandeur of New Delhi contrasting with the vibrant chaos and color of Old Delhi. However, each part of this city has something unique to offer. You can learn more about the history and distinction between Delhi and New Delhi.

Central Delhi is the center of politics and commerce. Tourists throng the area to view impressive regal structures like the Rashtrapati Bhavan (the official residence of the President of India), the busy Connaught Place shopping district and the Parliament House (where India’s legislative houses conduct business). Many of the city’s 5-star hotels and other intriguing attractions like Jantar Mantar and India Gate are in this area. Haggling for silver jewelry or bric-a-brac with pavement vendors at Janpath Market is a great attraction for tourists and locals alike.

North Delhi, known to be a haven for backpackers, has wholesale markets, Paharganj, and vibrant Delhi University. The fashionable area of town, South Delhi, is filled with fashionable boutiques, restaurants, nightclubs, markets and a large portion of Delhi’s historic monuments as well as modern architectural extravaganzas like the Lotus Temple.

West Delhi, which is primarily residential, is gradually getting filled with malls, trendy markets and high rise buildings, tempting several businesses to move there. Along with the satellite towns of Noida and Gurgaon, Delhi is a sprawling metropolis, filled with fascinating contradictions and it is this quality that makes it so irrepressibly intriguing and enjoyable.

Several of the city’s trendiest restaurants, shops and bars are in South Delhi. This is also the area where the first cities came up around where the Qutub Minar stands. This combination makes South Delhi, which is also the greenest part of the city, especially attractive, with buzzing hot spots and historic monuments merging into a captivating landscape.

Other than its historic highlights, South Delhi is also known for its array of eateries, boutiques and shops, which attract hordes of visitors and locals. Hauz Khas and Shahpurjat are filled with designer boutiques, trendy shoe and bag stores and cosy silver shops. Dilli Haat is modelled on a rural village landscape and is filled with stalls run by artisans and craftsmen from different parts of India. It also has different regional food stalls. The oldest multiplex cinema in the city dominates Saket and the surrounding complex is a trendy mix of coffee shops, bars, branded clothes’ stores and restaurants. Greater Kailash Part One’s M-Block Market is filled with designer stores, slipper stalls and international food chains and is a favorite with the young, hip and moneyed class. Its N-Block Market is dominated by Fab India, with its chic cotton and block print clothes ad furnishings while Sunder Nagar Market, next to Purana Qila, is an upmarket area to shop for art, antiques and jewelry. Greater Kailash Part Two houses some of the city’s best restaurants like the Italian specialty restaurant, Diva, and China Garden along with bakeries, coffee shops and other eateries.

What To See in Delhi

India’s capital is filled with fascinating sights & attractions, a majority of them being architectural masterpieces, both ancient and modern. Along with these structures there are intriguing bazaars, renowned eateries, unique museums and much more that give visitors more than enough ways to enjoy and explore Delhi.

Delhi - Travel and Trip Advice

Here are a few tips to make your trip more comfortable and some general information that will help you plan an enjoyable trip.

As Delhi is the capital of India, it is well connected by air from almost all over the world and within India, as well as by rail and by road. More information about the city's transportation system and ways to get around the Indian capital.

Shopping in Old Delhi
A major part of the area’s allure is the shopping and vibrant bazaars. The streets of Chandni Chowk are filled with shops selling everything from clothes, books and watches to jewelry and shoes. Step into Asia’s largest spice market, Khari Baoli, filled with sacks spilling over with every conceivable texture and color. In Kinari Bazaar you can stock up on some gold and silver trinkets and accessories while Churiwali Gali offers dazzling bracelets and bangles. Shoppers can indulge in gorgeous jewelry at bargain prices at Dariba Kalan. Chawri Bazaar is full of Souvenirs and brass and copper knick-knacks and Nai Sarak is the place to go to for great stationary and books.

Eating and Dining
The Walled City is also renowned for its mouthwatering food. From famous Paranthe Wala Gali to mouthwatering jalebis and samosas and the food stalls that line the streets at Ramzan, it’s an absolutely delectable experience.

Nestled in a chaotic street opposite Gate 1 of Jama Masjid is, arguably, Delhi’s most famous restaurant, Karims. Strictly for carnivores with a robust appetite, this award-winning establishment is renowned for its succulent meat preparations, a rich inheritance from the royal kitchens of the Mughal Emperors. Started with the aim of bringing the royal cuisine to the public, this phenomenal place began in 1911with just enough space for ten to twelve people, serving only aloo gosht (meat and potatoes), daal (lentils) and rotis (whole wheat flour pancakes). It grew in popularity and more space had to be acquired to accommodate the people who just couldn’t get enough. Some of their culinary highlights include the popular mutton korma, melt-in-your-mouth shammi kebabs, biryanis (pilafs made with rice, meat and spices) and a range of breads. Another attraction is nihari, a concoction of bone marrow, meat and spices prepared through the night,and paya (trotters), which are served early in the morning, at 5 A.M, as breakfast. Celebrities are no strangers to this restaurant. Famous movie stars, the Bangladeshi cricket team, and the Pakistani President Parvez Musharraf’s mother, who supposedly shed tears of nostalgia when she ate the food, have all visited to savor the phenomenal experience that is Karim’s.

With other attractions like Feroz Shah Kotla, Raj Ghat and St James Church, Old Delhi is definitely worth a trip.

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