Exploring Delhi-Vol IV

Deepanshi Ahuja, Travel Writer, India

31 January 2018

A symbol of the country’s rich past and thriving present, Delhi is a city where ancient and modern blend seamlessly together. It is a place that not only touches your pulse but even fastens it to a frenetic speed. Home to millions of dreams, the city takes on unprecedented responsibilities of realizing dreams bringing people closer and inspiring their thoughts.

Even today, one can have a fascinating glimpse into the past in Old Delhi, with its labyrinth of narrow lanes, old havelis, and colorful bazaars. Rickshaws wind their way through this crowded, bustling capital of the Mughals, where life continues, much as it did hundreds of years ago. It is home to three World Heritage monuments—Qutub Minar, Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb that have survived many centuries, and give an idea of architectural wonders created by emperors in the past. Central Delhi, with its tree-lined avenues, imposing structures and buildings such as the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House and India Gate, reflect Delhi’s colonial past. A number of museums provide a glimpse into the country’s fascinating history.

But the modern Delhi has a lot more to offer. Delhi has a modern, well-planned and extensive Metro network that connects all corners of Delhi; this network is still growing. New roadways and flyovershave improved connectivity, the latest of which is the Signature Bridge, an ambitious project of Delhi Tourism, which is under construction at Wazirabad – it promises to be a landmark.

New malls and entertainment centers jostle for space with a growing number of brand new hospitals, residential complexes, and sporting facilities. Delhi is now a dream destination for those seeking expert medical attention and superior OPD and IPD facilities. Thanks to the advent of the Commonwealth Games, there are world-class stadia like the revamped Nehru Stadium that can be accessed by one and all, throughout the year. All of this has been developed and sustained while maintaining Delhi’s green cover, a unique feature that distinguishes this truly global metropolis from other cities in the world where the tree line is subdued by skyscrapers.

Besides the Metro, which connects all of Delhi’s landmarks to the city centre as well as most suburbs, the new, a fun way to explore Delhi is by booking a HOHO bus tour. Hop on- Hop off buses, better known as HO – HOs, have been introduced by Delhi Tourism for visitors who wish to tour the city in a single day. With so many transport options, visitors now have the ability to go wherever they want – and there are a lot of places to see and a lot of things to do here. There are the age old-yet-perfectly preserved, sprawling heritage complexes featuring architecture from the Mughal and Tughlaq periods.

So don’t be put off. Delhi is a city that has been repeatedly ravaged and reborn, with vestiges of lost empires in almost every neighbourhood. There’s so much to experience here, it’s like a country in itself. This is all we have discussed in all of the volumes of Exploring Delhi.

So, This is the vol 4 of exploring Delhi…

1. Party away at Connaught

The nightlife in Delhi may not be so vibrant, but it has its fair share of restobars, clubs and music outlets in Connaught Place, the commercial and party hub of Delhi.

Joints like, Excuse Me Boss, Lord of the Drinks and Junkyard cafe have a large and energetic crowd following. Modeled like the Royal Crescent of Bath, England, Connaught Place is without doubt the number one night out destination of Delhi.

2. Enjoy a meal at India Habitat Centre

This spectacle 9 acre complex, adjoining the Lodhi Gardens, is a venue for conferences, art galleries, auditorium and hospitality areas.

The top draw here are the number of restaurants serving finger-licking food from most corners of the world. Set among a stunning landscape full of gardens and fountains, adds to the ambiance of the this architectural marvel.

3. Shahpur jat- Boutiques, Cupcakes and Art

Shahpur jat is actually a village set among the urban areas of Delhi. The paved streets and narrow lanes are dotted with homes occupied by the Jats, a caste native to the neighbouring state of Haryana.

The village has a vibrant collection of bars, rest and boutiques patronized by the upper class of the capital and visitors from abroad.

A new generation of Indian and foreign designers have made deep forays in this quaint locality and opened up a chain of vintage clothing outlets. The place is a real treasure house of clothing, street art, accessories and home products.

4. Savour the food at Paranthe Wali Gali

This narrow and famous street of Chandni Chowk, is home to some of the most lip-smacking paranthas, or fried bread. The recipes offered by some of the stalls are said to be generations old.

The alleys are packed with customers at most times of the day, with the smell of oil and food filling the atmosphere all around.

Different types of pastes and chutneys do the rounds with the main course. The din of the shopkeepers, calling for customers, fills the air as people jostle with each other to refill their plates for more and more of the delicious offerings.

This can be quite a sight in itself even if you want to skip the oily stuffed Indian flat breads.

5. Watch the fair at Pragati Maidan

Pragati Maidan in New Delhi lies opposite the ramparts of the Old Fort aka the Purana Qila.

The grounds are exclusively used to organise National and International exhibitions. Under one roof, a visitor can visit stalls ranging from textiles, food, beverages, automobiles, electronics, furniture and much more. Not only are the products authentic, but come from exhibitors in India and a host of foreign countries there are hundreds of outlets displaying an astonishing array of products which attract customers from far and wide.

6. Enjoy a heritage walk

The city of Delhi enjoys a long and chequered history, where several century old monuments mingle with towers of new buildings.

To make the locals and visitors aware of this rich heritage and culture and maintain a harmonious relation with them, a series of Heritage walks were envisaged, way back in 2005.

These now hugely popular walks are conducted every weekend by some extremely knowledgeable guides and tour leaders.

7. Lose yourself at the Jantar Mantar

The Jantar Mantar, or Maze Puzzle, is a complex in the heart of Central Delhi. The area comprises of an open air observatory, having thirteen different instruments, which involves the use of the different structures to observe the astronomic cycles. The walls of the structure are designed for astronomical observations that resemble a maize where a visitor can get easily disorientated, hence the name Jantar Mantar. A nominal entry fee is levied for all visitors.

8. Join the chanting at the ISKCON temple

Situated just a few kilometers away from the Lotus temple, this is the largest temple in Delhi devoted to ISKCON or International Society of Krishna Consciousness, as it is  commonly called.

It is an ideal place to walk around freely and participate in the constant drum and chant of Hare Krishna which resonates over the entire temple.

9. Experience the haunting thrills of Feroz Shah Kotla fort

The old version of the city of Delhi, Firozabad, was the spot where this fort was built. Sultan Feroz Shah Tughlaq founded this fort in early 14th century.

The fort got its reputation as a haunted house due to the presence of supernatural spirits or Djinns, which have been known to inhabit this place.

The fort is frequented by tourists and locals, who come here to appease the Djinns and in return get their wishes granted. The guides here will relate many a spooky experience and stories about the moody spirits which reside here. A thrilling feeling awaits those aspiring for the supernatural beings.

10. Have coffee at Kunzum Travel cafe

Set amidst the 14th century ruins of Hauz Khas village, this one of a kind cafe caters mostly to travelers. With the option of paying as you please and staying as long as you want, the Kunzum cafe is the only travel cafe in Delhi.

The cafe has free wifi and you can plug your ipod into the music player too. This pocket friendly city hangout is the ideal joint for people who love to travel to meet up with like minded persons, make friends and even form new travel partners.