I often hear and read about how India is difficult to experience in a short span of time. A country where language, food and the way of life change every few hundred miles, those to say this aren’t wrong. Experiencing extremes can be difficult in a week or 10 days.
If you too want a taste of India but don’t have the time you would like, Delhi is perfect for you. Delhi has had communities from practically every corner of the country settle down and make it their home. What stands today is probably the most multicultural city in India. In fact, even if you have time for extensive travelling, Delhi is so unique that I’d say travel here too.
Drive through Delhi and you might find yourself looking at a monument or driving alongside the broken walls of a fort. Delhi houses many monuments and has a mix of history of the Mughal empire and British rule imbibed into it. Humayun’s Tomb is renowned for its stunning Persian architecture and surrounding garden which was designed to replicate paradise as described in the Quran. India gate is a sight to see at night, a beautiful building dedicated to soldiers who lost their lives in Indo-Pak war in 1971. It is lit in golden and yellow and the Indian flag on it gleams in national colors.
Shiva. New Delhi, India | Marji Lang/ Flickr
Delhi has a community of art lovers and you would find exhibitions and galleries in many popular destinations. Go to the National Gallery of Modern Art for stunning works by prominent Indian artists. Walk through Lodhi Art District, an open-air art gallery and witness street art by some of the most acclaimed graffiti artists in the world. Go to Dilli Haat in INA to witness cultural events and buy artisan bags, decorations and even quilts with vibrant and colorful designs.
Aloo Parantha with butter |Nadir Hashmi/ Flickr
Go to Delhi for an expansive choice of food from every region in India. Go to Chandni Chowk for delicious parathas- stuffed wheat dough balls rolled out and lightly fried on both sides. Crispy on the outside and soft filling on the inside, at Chandni Chowk you will find dozens of stuffings available- raisins, bananas and even papad (poppadom) paranthas. Go to Sarvana Bhavan or Coast Cafe for delicious South Indian cuisine. Try Rooftop Potbelly cafe for authentic Bihari cuisine and Ama restaurant in Majnu Ka Tila, a Tibetian-refugee colony in North Delhi for Tibetian cuisine.
Delhi has bustling nightlife on the weekends. Young people here enjoy their fair share of partying after a week of university or work. Go to Kitty Su at The Lalit to party- they have a state-of-the-art music system, great drinks and stay open practically throughout the night. Summer House Cafe is a good choice too and well known for its great live music scene with amazing drinks.
Photo by Zabeeh Afaque
Come to Delhi to see a variety of beliefs thrive together. Spend a day at Akshardham temple- a magnificent structure dedicated to Hinduism with an unmissable fountain show in the evenings. Go to Gurudwara Bangla Sahib- a very well known sikh temple in Connaught Place at dawn for meditative silence and peace of mind. Listen to mesmerizing qawwalis (sufi devotional music) in the evenings at Nizamuddin Dargah.
Sense of gratitude
If you have wanted to use your time to travel for greater good, Delhi has many opportunities for you to make a difference. Take english-guided tours in Paharganj led by adolescents of Salaam Baalak Trust City Walk who once lived and worked in the same streets. Experience the streets through their eyes and help sustain the initiative. Volunteer to serve food at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib which prepares a langer (food served free of cost) that feeds about 10,000 meals everyday.
The beauty of Delhi is that it has something for everyone. Whether you are searching for the true meaning of life or looking for a different view of the world, Delhi will have something in store for you.