The historical monuments, forts and wonderful chowks in old Delhi are typically where most tourists head for first. If you have the time, try and walk around areas like Nizamuddin East, and Prithviraj Road. The houses, trees and wide avenues show another side of this amazing city. They are upper-class areas, but still nevertheless close to parks like Lodhi Gardens, and old historical monuments. Safdarjungs tomb is very close to Nizamuddin East.
The architecture of these houses, and the gardens, is so different to the 'other'Delhi. I was amazed the first time we saw the grandiose mansions on Prithviraj Rd. It is known as 'Ambassador Row'.
Nizamuddin East is a 'gated' suburb, and thus very safe to walk around in.
The trees and shrubs are lush, and bougainvillia thrives here.
Birds - especially eagles, fill the skies with their distinctive cries as they ride the currents above Delhi.
Fondest memory: The sound of birds- that is everywhere in Delhi. In Old Delhi- racing pigeons fly back to their keepers, at a given signal. Eagles perch on overhead wires, and rooftops. Crows cheekily peck at anything in sight. And they all call to each other. That is the sound that I miss most when I am away from Delhi. What is astonishing is that all this bird-life flourishes in the busy city. But then- with so many trees, and wonderful parks- it is understandable.
As with most major cities in India today, Delhi too has sprouted its own suburban sub-culture - and it goes by the name of Gurgaon. Roughly an hour from the heart of Delhi, Gurgaon offcially comes under the State of Haryana. Minor detail however, since almost all the multinational companies and residents in the area will staunchly refer to themselves as Delhi-ites :) You'll be amazed at the number of shopping malls, multiplexes and boutiques that are spread out across Gurgaon. It's like you can hardly walk a step without bumping into a new structure or development. The area's got some really nice pubs & nightclubs as well - most of which, as usual, yours truly forgot to photograph :))
Fondest memory: There are a large number of towering residential complexes here. Thankfully, many of them have been designed and laid-out very elegantly. What's nice is that there are many farm-houses interspersed between these skyscrapers. It gives an interesting dimension to the Gurgaon experience.
It's amazing how many beautiful buildings there are in New Delhi. Even among the ordinary buildings, there's a graceful quality that seems to ooze out of the walls. Of course, like any other major city in the world, there are lots of really dreadful looking houses and structures as well! But it's negated by the greenery and beauty which swathe large parts of the city. Really intriguing is the manner in which large, modern pieces kind of mesh with the old Mughal pieces. All in all, an architectural odyssey that holds sway over you in a way you'd least expect.
Fondest memory: Be mesmerized by Lutyens' Delhi - a fascinating collage of buildings, residential structures and national heritage monuments. Including the President of India's official address - Rashtapati Bhavan. As well as the addresses for all the Embassies in New Delhi. As beautiful as it gets.
"Dilli ki Sardi" is a phrase that's known and loved all over India. Hell, there's even a Bollywood song about the concept! Exactly translated, it comes out as the Cold of Delhi. But the real meaning goes much deeper than that. It's about the magical season that sweeps in across Nothern India starting October-November. It's about the overcoats and mufflers being added to the jeans and short skirts. And most evocatively, it's about that sense of adventure which only beautiful cold weather brings about. Enough to leave even the first-time visitor singing praises about Dilli ki Sardi :)
Fondest memory: Step out onto the streets. Feel the cold lash across your face, as you stop in for a roadside chai. Drop into a few conversations with people huddled around a hastily convened bonfire. Experience how amazing roasted peanuts and Indian fast food (bhel, pav bhaji, wada pav) taste when the weather's biting. Unforgettable!
(last date took the service - Jan. 23, 2004)
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Address : 5136 Main Bazar, Pahar Ganj
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We were very pleased with the services of our local city guide in Delhi. A very pleasant and elegant lady named Deepa Kapoor, she was hired for us by our friend Navin of Gatik Eventures.
Deepa is a very hands-on and involved tour guide, sharing a great and intimate knowledge of the great city of New Delhi. Her explanations are concise, interesting and she obviously gears her presentation to the particular interests of her clients.
We particularly enjoyed that Deepa found "involved" ways to see the city and get a feel for India's capital. An example would be the choice of taking cycle rickshaws through the tangled, teeming and infinitely lively streets of Chandni Chowk, the series of old streets and alleyways in old Delhi. Cycle rickshaw was definite the way to get up close and personal to the pulse of the city, and it was incredibly entertaining.
Later, when we were deciding to eat lunch, Deepa had what many of you might think is an odd suggestion, but we loved it. She said that "McDonald's is different in India, because they don't serve beef", and she wanted to know if we'd like to see how this American culinary pop icon had been adapted for the subcontinent. So, we all went into "Mickey D's in Delhi" and enjoyed veggie burgers, fries and soft drinks. Very familiar and reminiscent of home, and yet so very Indian in the differences.
Deepa did an excellent job of sharing the intense and deep history of many sites we visited, most particularly over at Qutab Minor. Her passion for her culture, her city and her country were quite evident and inspiring to us, on our first day in New Delhi.
If you'd like an adaptable, flexible and extremely competent and knowledgeable city guide, I'd suggest you get in touch with Deepa. Tell her we said hello.
Fondest memory: Here is Deepa's contact information:
email@example.com (yep, that's an Australian yahoo address!)
D-602, 1st Floor
C. R. Park
New Delhi - 110019, INDIA
Telephone +91 98 1158 2202 or
+91 41 602 688
If you want to dedicate a bit of time (a day, week or month) there are lots of organisations that need volunteers for their educational programmes.
For INDIAN projects > GAPGURU IS A GOOD SOURCE >
the "Gapyear" directory has lots of interesting info >> http://www.embassyworld.com/embassy/India/India2.html
but also contact the indian embassy or consulat in your homecountry they will point you in the right direction.
If you are in a guest-house, hotel, also look at their noticeboards, as there are generally lots of ads on there requesting help.
Fondest memory: ... sitting down in a square with my painting pad and some colouring pencils and drawing cartoon animals for the children which flocked by and all got one paper.
I then tried to teach them right there and then the A B C drawing things that were word associations... that's the "rough guide to education" I guess... but it was fun and I did that throughout my journey and had some incredible encounters with kids who.... even though they never set foot in a school had a natural wisdom and were hungry for knowledge...
MY TIP: When you travel, go to the next shop and stock up on painting materials and hand them out to the kids ... I never give money but try to do something more positive. And also show the children how to draw or write.... it's great fun for them and you get to know a culture much better than from your hotel room and tour bus :)
Everyone can help like this, it just takes a bit of courage and creativity :)
Favorite thing: This is a photo I snap from a McDonald's restaurant in New Delhi. Me and Andy (brother in law cum travelling partner) on the way back from Red Fort seeking a place to evade the crazy 41 Celsius hot temperature found this restaurant more than comfortable to relax and to reduce the heat. While we eating, we saw a New Delhian young girl topless strolling outside the McDonald's windows. Her eyes keep looking at peoples inside and she goes around begging for money around the doorway which has a security guard standing firmly. I saw some customers went talking to her but I don't know what they want to do to her. I walked up front to snap some photos of her and I saw a beautiful face so innocently looking at peoples. OH NO! I told myself. I walk back to my seat and I asked Andy some questions. " Hey, do you think this little girl can live safely without being continuously rape by those men out there after she had grown up? "
Favorite thing: The restaurant we had our lunch has some waiters never stop looking at 2 of us, probably rare to serve foreign tourists. To let them know we are happy with the foods they served, Andy smiles to them and show them a common Universal gesture with a thumb high up representing good. Who knows that two waiters went out to the street for a while and I heard them talking to each other in Hindi language. Minutes later, one of them came to us together with 2 bottles of Coca-cola look-alike soft drinks. He opens both the bottle caps in front of us and then walks away. Me and Andy staring at each other in confused. We thought they usually serve customers this way with free drinks after meals but later I look closely at the logo of the bottle, Thumbs Up.
Well... not really the favorite thing..... but a necessary one nevertheless.
One thing I did before leaving the UK, I noted down all the emergency numbers of the places I went to, including embassy or consular offices... and boy... did THEY come in handy, so here's the delhi list...
EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS (DELHI)
Commissioner of Police
Police Headquarters 3352678
DCP Security 6885001(O) 4603727(R)
DCP Traffic 6198928(O)
Chanakyapuri Police Station 3011100, 3012003
Parliament Street Police Station 3361100, 3542700
Tughlak Road Police Station 3014878, 3012100
Tilak Marg Police Station 3382100
Fire Service 101
Accident & Trauma 10999
(Be warned, some of those lines are going to private house-holds, and you might have to wait a long time to actually have someone pick up)
The best way in case of emergency is, contact your embassy...
India Embassy directory
Fondest memory: Leaving the 48 degree dusty city for the monsoon ridden Nepal...
Favorite thing: The size of shops and restaurants here are so small for 6 tables or less. The one in this photo is a restaurant for sure, that's why I walk in to have my lunch. The reason I pick this one was because it has big menu with obvious price list on the wall. I sit down in a very compact environment full of aging paints and messy looking ceiling. My lunch is served in a big stainless steel plate with 5 compartments full of non-meat foods. The name of this meal is Thali, it cost 35 rupees each, very tasty. They wash plates on the floor beside the drain and if they wipe, they wipe with a piece of multi-purpose cloth for table, sweat, body, etc.
Favorite thing: What I saw in Paharganj area is shown in this photo. This area is for you to see 10 billions of Indian peoples with their rickshaw, trishaw, tuk-tuk, cows, animals, bike, car, trucks, etc. The way of driving in New Delhi is to make sure one of your hand standby anytime to honk while the other hand steer, in full speed. In the condition such as this photo, they still honk endlessly and they squeeze almost zig zag in between pedestrians no matter humans or animals. Cows can do anything they like on street, they are happy for sure. Tourists are happy as well to cram into every alleys and shops. I don't care, I just snap as many photos as possible.
Favorite thing: I like the hotel (guesthouse) in Main Bazaar of Paharganj. In the month of May, the temperature goes up to 41 Celsius, without A/C is nearly impossible for many tourists. I wanted to try the heat but Andy insist to take the air-con room which cost us 760 rupees with bathroom attached and TV. Looking out from our room is this photo where we saw many peoples sleeping on the rooftop in the early morning. They also bath and wash clothes there. This is Main Bazaar of Paharganj and this hotel is built in within these constructions but surprisingly comfortable when we enter to see a different world with clean stairs, floors, rooms and bathrooms.
Favorite thing: I am just another backpacker in the street of Main Bazaar Paharganj that day when I saw this guy showing off his skills to tourists. This is a very narrow back street but full of activities such as this one and many others. So many restaurants to choose and so many peoples to look at, even just a drain attracts me so much. My digital camera just couldn't stop snapping and then I saw this man looking at my camera over and over to wait for a shot and I move my hand towards him for this very special one. He wants me to send him the photo, I said okay and pull out a paper with pen for him to write his address but he keep shaking his head. Later he found a guy on street to help him writing the address for me.
Favorite thing: I saw many peoples all ages sleeping peacefully on streets of New Delhi in daytime also at nighttime. At daytime, they sleep alone but bunch at night. Women with kids together were sleeping on street to beg for money, especially targeting foreign tourists. I saw so many homeless peoples at night when our bus was about to depart to Amritsar where they had to look for a vacant place in the middle of highway each by each. I also saw them under the flyover, back street, garden and etc. The most eye opening was those who slept directly beside the road. They actually sleep on the road where those wheels of vehicles rolling pass their body just a tight distance away with dust, smoke and noises coming from honks and engines.