Delhi is quite the enigma, an intriguing minx that creeps up and charms its way into your soul. This massive, sprawling city of over 18 million people can be challenging, frustrating and daunting; but there’s a heart that transcends the congestion, the over-population and the chaos that will win over any visitor open-minded enough to accept its flaws and embrace its humanity.
Here are 10 thing we love about Delhi:
- The food: Indian food is the bomb, and as a vegetarian, it’s a revelation, the tastiest way to eat sustainably and ethically. You can dine like a maharajah in Delhi, whether it’s cheaper-than-chips street food or silver-service at opulent restaurants such as Dum Pukht, which serves slow-cooked Northern Indian food such as biryanis, stews and kebabs. Don’t be surprised if you put on weight during your visit!
- Old Delhi: This congested maze of alleys and markets is the commercial heart of the city, and a fascinating place to experience street life at its most frenetic. The craziness is best explored on a bicycle rickshaw or on foot, taking time to discover temples, street food stalls, spice markets and ornate havellis tucked into quiet laneways.
- Home stays: Indian people have a gift for hospitality, and love to welcome visitors into their homes. A home stay is not only a cheap alternative to hotel accommodation, but also provides a local perspective on the city, with hosts happy to recommend restaurants, shops and activities in the area.
- Green Delhi: Despite its size and population, a large proportion of Delhi is dedicated to parkland, with green patches such as Lodhi Gardens the ideal way to escape the chaos and regroup amid nature. Delhi has the second richest bird population of any city in the world, so if you’re a twitcher at heart, grab your binoculars and be prepared for a wonderful surprise.
- History: Delhi’s history spans several thousand years, and it’s fascinating to wander around its architectural wonders such as the Red Fort (constructed in 1639), the towering Qutab Minar minaret (dating from 1192) and Humayun’s Tomb (1572).
- Shopping: Delhi is a shopper’s paradise, with bargains in textiles, clothing, handicrafts and homewares. For cool Indian-style clothing, hit the shopping malls for shops such as Fab India, Pantaloon and Anokhi; or for artistic treasures and souvenirs, head to Dilli Haat market.
- Cool Delhi: Delhi is a surprisingly hip city, with cool bars, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs rivalling any Western city in terms of sophistication and design. Wander through the historic neighbourhood of Hauz Khas, for instance, to discover funky bars such as Social and independent designer boutiques.
- Colonial splendour: Even if you can’t afford to stay in one of Delhi’s magnificent luxury hotels, you can still enjoy Raj-style hospitality at a brunch or High Tea. The Art Deco Imperial Hotel is well worth a gawk, with tea served daily in its airy Atrium.
- Getting married? Why not tie the knot, India-style! Indian wedding fashions are bold, beautiful and lavish, with voluminous embroidered saris and lehenga choli and an inconceivable amount of bling. Even if you’re just browsing, why not try on divine creations at wedding emporiums such as Frontier Raas – a girl can always dream!
- The chaos: With more than 7 million registered vehicles, Delhi can be one big, frustrating traffic snarl. Horns are constantly honking, big vehicles bully smaller ones and there are any amount of obstacles on the road such as wandering cattle and rickshaws. But the mayhem can be hugely entertaining, with very little road rage and surprisingly few accidents. Sit tight, be brave and marvel at the spectacle.
Have you travelled to Delhi? Tell us what you love about Delhi in the comments below?
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