Delhi as a city is similar to Rome in more ways than one. A great historic city that has its unmistakable flaws, yet is extremely charming. If you are someone who is a history buff, you are likely to find remnants of a lot of powerful empires spread across the city.
History And Culture of Delhi
Delhi has been the capital of India for at least the last 7 civilizations. One of the earlier mentions of Delhi was as Indraprastha; the kingdom of the Pandavas, in the Mahabharata.
Delhi’s central location to both the western as well as the eastern parts of the subcontinent meant that it would be a strategically favorable place to rule. It would become the most powerful seat of the subcontinent from the 12th century, up until when the British decided Delhi needed a facelift. So a ‘newer delhi would be built’, thus moving the capital to Kolkata.
Delhi is also one of the most culturally diverse cities you’re likely to visit in the country. A clear dichotomy exists. Once the walled capital of the Mughal empire, now, Old Delhi is full of old houses, mazy lanes, bustling traditional markets and chaos. New Delhi, as the name suggests, is where all the modern infrastructure is. The access to explore different worlds that coexist in Delhi makes it a very special place.
In terms of architecture, The Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Humayun’s Tomb, Chattarpur Temples and Qutub Minar are just a few of the landmark monuments that are frequented by locals and tourists alike, they speak volumes of Delhi fabled history.
Food is a big deal in Delhi! You are almost certain to find excellent food around every nook and corner. Delhi gets a lot of its cuisine from neighboring states, Mughal influences and migrant communities. Being a metropolis means even the distinct international cuisine is extremely easy to find.
Mughlai cuisine (food of the Mughals) has become synonymous with the cuisine that the people of Delhi savour the most. The street-food scene in Delhi is also top-notch, primarily vegetarian with the likes of chhole-bhature, kulche, jalebi, samosas and pakoras, there’s plenty non-vegetarian options as well in Kebabs, Momos, and Nalli Nihari. Some would argue that you can even find Biryani as a street-food option in different parts of Delhi.
The hero dish, the one dish that Delhi truly revels in, is ‘The Butter Chicken’. The Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi takes pride in inventing the Butter Chicken, and it is one dish you are likely to find in most restaurants in Delhi. If you are the foodie who likes to experiment, head to Aslam Butter Chicken for their literal take on butter and chicken.
How to get to Delhi
By Air – Delhi has the 12th busiest airport in the world. It is also the busiest in the country, which makes it extremely likely that whichever city you choose to fly from, you will have at least one option of flying directly into Delhi.
Other metros like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata and a few other cities like Lucknow, Varanasi, Cochin and Guwahati also have great connectivity with the capital. Getting to Delhi by air is definitely a reliable option.
By Rail – Delhi has an extremely strong rail connectivity as well. The city has 5 major railway stations. The busiest and the most well connected is the New Delhi Railway station, which is just under 3 Kilometres away from Connaught Place.
The Rajdhani Express, which is a daily train that runs between Bombay and Delhi is known for its punctuality and convenience of travel.
By Road – You are very likely to be able to take a bus from Delhi to pretty much anywhere in North India. Leh? Yes! Manali? Yes! Rishikesh? Yes! Amritsar? Yes! Varanasi? Also Yes! Delhi is extremely well connected to North India by road. Delhi has 3 state bus terminals at Kashmere Gate, Sarai Kale Khan and Anand Vihar. Your bus to Delhi would in all probability culminate at one of these bus stands.
Best time to travel to Delhi
Between October and up until March (or whenever Holi is) is the best time to travel to Delhi. The weather is pleasant and not too cold since it’s winter in India. There are various festivals and concerts in the city from November onwards, and it is a really nice time to be out and about in Delhi.
Late March to June is when it gets warm and the heat can be quite severe. August onward, depending on the severity of Monsoons, the weather in Delhi gets pleasant again.
So we recommend you head to the capital anytime between October to March
Getting around Delhi
Delhi undoubtedly has the best metro connection in the country. What was built as a prerequisite to host the commonwealth games is today the preferred means of commute for millions, and the network of the transit keeps increasing.
The bus system in Delhi is also a very popular mode of transit. The entire fleet of Delhi’s buses are CNG fuelled, which means your next commute on Delhi’s bus transit is easier on the environment. Buses in the Delhi transport corporation network are extremely well connected as well and are definitely an option should you choose to use one.
Taking an Ola or an Uber in Delhi is also an option that is safer and more transparent on costs in comparison to taking Rickshaws.
Taking an auto rickshaw means you are going to be quoted a ridiculous amount, since not following the standard meter charge is the norm here. Ensure you negotiate the asking price down to something that is more reasonable. Although, we have realized once the hurdle of agreeing on a price is out of the way, you can have an interesting conversation with the auto drivers, making the whole hassle of bargaining worth it at times.
Some of the denser neighborhoods in Old Delhi rely on cycle rickshaws. We are always in awe of the strength and tenacity of these rickshaw pullers!
Breaking Stereotypes About Delhi
Scams in Delhi or people here are not helpful. More than a stereotype, this one is a cause for concern that is thankfully changing for the better. Most touristic sites and cities will have touts, people who try to make a quick buck at the expense of the unassuming tourist.
However, the bad rep that Delhi gets is that the people and the authorities aren’t helpful. While this is true to an extent, it doesn’t paint the entire picture.
You are likely to find yourself being scammed outside railway stations, airports, mosques, temples and historic sites. Remember despite the presence of such touts, most people around you are commoners and locals. Dehiites are warm and generous people who are extremely upset with the reputation their city gets. They have nothing to gain from you if you ever find yourself in such a situation. So don’t be afraid to ask for help from a local and you will see them come to your rescue.
Go Check out
Delhi is obviously famous for its food, architecture and its nightlife. Here are a few things we recommend you check out:
Open Spaces & Parks – Delhi has some of the nicest parks and open spaces, most of these are fused with history. Like for example, The Lodhi Gardens, a sprawling city park which is also home to the tombs of the rulers of the Lodi Dynasty. The Central Park and the Mehrauli archaeological park are also great for people who crave open spaces in congested metros.
We also recommend checking out Hauz Khas, The Tomb of Humayun and The Tomb of Safdarjung as they also have pretty little gardens around them.
Art – The Art scene in Delhi is booming and for good reason. If you find yourself relaxing in Lodi Gardens, head to Lodhi Art district, which is India’s first public art district. A definite must visit the next time you’re in Delhi.