My date with the city – Dilwalon ki DELHI!
‘Dilwalon ki Dilli’ as the common saying goes for the capital of India. Like everyone who has heard about its rich history, heritage and diverse culture, it also possessed some level of mystery for me. It was my first visit to Delhi last month and I was surprised to find it completely different from everything that I had read or heard about the city. Delhi welcomes all and has to offer something for everyone. So, here goes my exploration of the city and how it mesmerized me with its splendid charm.
Well, first of all, I’ve discovered that chaat is served at every second lane in Delhi is a myth. You can find a variety of food from North Indian dishes to South Indian delicacies, flavours of the North-East and a lot more! From food to clothes, Delhi has adopted every culture and has been able to develop its own unique identity with changing times. I loved the fact that Delhi has perfectly blended the concept of contemporary and old within its culture, heritage and lifestyle. From the Mughal and British era to the modern-day, each time-period has left a distinct mark on the city that is still intact. Being a tourist in Delhi allowed me to experience the diversity of the city with a unique charm of its own!
Here is a sneak peek of my experience in Delhi and a glimpse of some of the best places that I have visited during my Delhi tour.
Mughlai restaurants, British buildings, Religious sites, Street markets, Museums, Malls, Luxury hotels and modern-day urbane locales you just name it and Delhi has it all! Delhi is indeed a representative of the whole country, it is often known as mini India. If you are a tourist from any part of the world, you don’t need to visit each state to savour their delicacies and culture. Delhi offers the best culinary and shopping options from across the country without tampering with their culture, flavours, and quality.
Delhi is the ultimate city where there is something for everyone! With deep roots in history and yet an even more vibrant present, Delhi has everything from local street style life to luxurious living – it offers every kind of experience. The city never fails to surprise its visitors!
Here are some of the top picks which I loved and would recommend you to visit when you are in Delhi.
When it comes to food, it’s impossible to beat Delhi. My first stop was Old Delhi, which has plenty of options offering delicacies from the past. Visiting the ‘Paranthe vali Gali’ in Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi made me relish a variety of delicacies of the capital like matar-parantha, mix veg parantha and the likes. If you love ‘chaat’ or street-style food for which Delhi is particularly famous, Old Delhi is a must-visit as it is a hub for street food, sweets and Mughlai cuisine. I have tried the street style chaat stalls to have the authentic Dilli wali chaat flavours. If you want to visit fine dining restaurants then Pandara Road, near India Gate offers some of the best fine dining restaurants (very expensive) in the city. Hav More and Gulati are a few of them. Famous Delhi streets like Nizammudin and Jama Masjid are a paradise for foodies, especially for the non – vegetarian dishes. I was surprised to find out that Connaught Place (CP), the heart of the city offers food that fits every budget, from fancy dine-ins to local rajma chawal. CP offers local as well as international cuisines, some of the famous options are Kwality, Odeon Social, The Embassy, Sarvana Bhawan (South Indian), United Coffee House, Jain Chawal Wale, Kake Da Hotel and many more… If you are an ice-cream lover, then like me you should rush to the ‘Naturals’ ice cream parlour for your favourite scoop of fruit ice-cream. I loved their anjeer ice-cream though!
Delhi food is spicy and is famous particularly because of this attribute. If you are a tourist like me who doesn’t like too much of a spice, then it’s better to ask your vendor to modify the taste accordingly or you may end up with a burning stomach.
After the gastronomic exploration, my heart was craving for some street shopping. The capital city does have a lot of vibrant markets selling fabrics, readymade clothes from across the country including handicrafts. Janpath and Tibetan Market are great places to shop and take back something for your home, though you need your bargaining skills here! Chandni Chowk is not just famous for good food but also a variety of items at wholesale prices. Make sure to make your list before you go there, as you might be confused with so many options within the chaotic narrow lanes of this market. Another shoppers’ paradise is the famous Sarojini Nagar market, a must-go place for ladies that offers cheap to branded clothes at throwaway prices, keep your bargaining powers at the peak! Close to Sarojini is an open-air food plaza cum craft bazaar known as Dilli Haat in INA, famous for the variety of cuisines and artisans from all over the country (a hub for souvenir shopping).
Surprisingly, Delhi is a multi-cultural and multi-lingual city with people residing from all over the world! The best way to get connected with multiple cultures is through the markets that offer a variety of food, apparel and more from across the country (like Dilli Haat)!
Well, all food and market explorations did, I was then ready to visit the religious sites in Delhi. It is an abode to temples and sacred sites across religions. Lotus temple was on the top of my bucket list while visiting the capital. I loved its beautiful lotus shape and the fact that it has no restrictions and people from all religions can pray there. Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple is my next stop which is one of the largest Hindu temples in the world. It is a stunning architectural workpiece and has a boat ride, a theme-based garden and a water-light show! Some of the famous Hindu temples that I couldn’t visit but will be on my list the next time I visit the city are the Birla Temple, Iskcon Temple and the Chattarpur Temple. Bangla Sahib Gurudwara is one of the most sacred Sikh Temples in Delhi and serves langar (free food) to people of all faiths and religions. Eating the Karha Prashad is a divine experience that I suggest everyone relish! I felt a sense of peace and being with the divine entity within this holy abode.
As we know Delhi has a rich history and heritage, how could I miss all these on my trip? My first attraction was the famous UNESCO world heritage site the Red Fort built by Shah Jahan the Mughal Emperor in 1683. An evening at India Gate is a sight to behold. This is the monument that was built as a memorial for the martyrs of this country and is also the icon for the capital city. I went for a picnic at the lawns near India Gate with a few of my friends who stay in Delhi. We had tried the food there and played games on the lawns too and had so much fun! Qutub Minar is another UNESCO world heritage site in the city, that I went to next. I have seen Rashtrapati Bhawan, from the road itself the presidential residence of India as it has restricted access. During February each here a flower show is held here and open for the general public to visit.
After exploring the street markets, it was time for mall hopping in Delhi There are a lot of lavish malls in Delhi and its outskirts (like Noida and Gurugram), the most famous ones that I visited while in Delhi are Select Citywalk (Saket), DLF Mall of India (Noida), Ambience Mall (Gurugram) and the Great India Palace (Noida). You can visit any of these malls if you are high on brands and fashion, many international brands like Gucci have their stores in India in such malls offering luxurious and international shopping experience to their Indian customers.
Museums speak the history of a place with proof to you. So, missing the museums in Delhi was impossible. On my visit to the city, I went to the Crafts Museum located in Pragati Maidan popular for preserving and nurturing the traditional crafts of India. went to Café Lota, a famous eatery on the premises as well to save my folks from hunger pangs! National Rails Museum is another highly educative and interesting place for kids as well as adults, as the museum exhibits over a hundred trains from the Indian Railways. I was happy to explore this museum and learn about the history of Indian Railways. Shankar’s International Dolls Museum is one of its kind museums that one can’t miss irrespective of age. I was elated to see such a wide collection of exclusive costume dolls from over 85 countries including the USA, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. These museums must be on your list if you are visiting Delhi along with children.
Delhi has plenty of options to excite everyone in any aspect. You name it and Delhi has it!
Through my journey, I have learnt that a very important aspect while travelling in Delhi is to make use of public transport as much as possible, especially Delhi Metro. Delhi Metro is not only cheap but also convenient, as the major parts of Delhi are well connected by it. Metro saved me from the exhausting traffic and heat and pollution, as well as reduced my travelling time. But at times when I wished to travel on private transport, I booked taxis with Uber and Ola and avoided rental cars as I found them expensive.
Delhi is a city that welcomes warmth and hospitality. The people are helpful at most times, but at times one needs to be careful and judgmental to avoid any harm like theft in crowded places. Sometimes the auto wallas and street vendors charge the tourists more than the actual price, but you got to act smart and bargain for a fair amount.
I had an amazing time in Delhi. So, when are you planning to visit Delhi and explore the culturally rich, heritage city with the perfect dash of modernity?
Don’t forget to share your experience with us. We would love to hear from you!