Off the Beaten Track
Raj Ghat, not far from the banks of the Yamuna River, has a simple black marble memorial to Mahatma Gandhi marking the spot where he was cremated following his assassination in 1948. A commemorative ceremony takes place every Friday. Two museums dedicated to Gandhi are nearby. Jawaharlal Nehru was cremated just to the north at Shanti Vana (Forest of Peace). The area is now a beautiful park with labelled trees planted by a mixed bag of notables, including Elizabeth II, Dwight Eisenhower and Ho Chi Minh. The rarely-visited but quite beautiful Zinat-ul Masjid (Most Beautiful of Mosques) towers over Raj Ghat.
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Khari Baoli, the street that runs from the Fatehpuri Mosque to the western edge of the old city, is Delhi''s bustling wholesale spice market. It''s well worth a wander simply to take in the sights and smells because things have changed little here for centuries. Huge sacks of herbs and spices are still brought to the wholesalers on long, narrow barrows pushed by labourers, and there are eye-catching displays of everything from lentils and rice to giant jars of chutneys, pickles, nuts and tea.
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Coronation Durbar Site
Incurable Raj fans looking for a nostalgia fix should head to the Coronation Durbar site, marked by a lone obelisk in a desolate field located in open country north of ''Old'' Delhi. It was on this site that, in 1877 and 1903, the durbars were enacted and, in 1911, King George V was declared Emperor of India. Close by there''s a walled garden complete with a rogues'' gallery of marble statues of former Imperial dignitaries, languishing like disgraced schoolboys out of the public eye. Pride of place goes to a 15m (50ft) high statue of George V that rises ghost-like above the acacia trees. It was placed here after being removed from the canopy midway along Rajpath soon after Independence. Most of Delhi''s residents are blissfully unaware of the existence or significance of this place.
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The Shalimar Garden, which lies on the fringes of the city about 10km (33ft) north-west of ''Old'' Delhi, is one of the most important Moghul gardens in the city. This was once the first-night staging post for the Moghuls on their way to Kashmir and Lahore. Aurangzeb was crowned emperor here in 1658. The beautiful central pavilion, the Shish Mahal, was built by Shah Jahan. Although it is in a fairly advanced state of decay, some of the original painted flower decoration has survived and the place has lots of atmosphere.
I would recommend few things which are distinct and rarely covered by travellers.
1. Punjabi Shaadi: If you can get hold of a Punjabi 'Groom to be' I recommend you attend a wedding. Join the pompous procession in which Dulha (groom) travels on the horseback and his relatives and friends dance on the streets with accompanying Band. You could shake a leg too. Some rich families have even started hiring elephants and horse carriages instead of horse backs as Dulha's vehicle. Then observe the VIP welcome with Garlands and flowers which ladki waale (Bride's family) extend as baraat (Groom's marriage procession) reaches the marrriage venue. The feast that follows is not any less colorful. I hope you get the idea.
Hmm... finding such a friend who can have you invited can be an ordeal! If you are lucky you would see a marriage procession somewhere on the streets or you can write to me and I would see if I could help at that time :)
2. Cheap Shopping: There is a bazaar called as Monastery near ISBT which sells cheap apprels, footwear and other such small items. Designs are all copy of the popular brands, material is quite ok and the stuff comes at a fraction of what the original at a show room would cost.
Then on sundays you have a Chor Bazaar (Thieves market literally) behind the Red Fort. It is said that you get stuff that has been stolen from all over the place of course at a fraction of the cost and the assembly of thousands of people itself is quite a spectacle.
3. Meet a Jat: Most of the Delhi's cops and Bus Conductors belong to the community of Jats. JAT as the junta (hindi for public) here has defined stands for 'Just Avoid Them'. LOL, so meet him it may turn out to be a 'memorable experience'.
In this museum one can trace the history of the Indian Airforce. Located near the Indira Gandhi Domestic Airport, it is the perfect place one can spend one's time while waiting for the flight.