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Delhi

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Asia : South Asia : India : Plains : Delhi
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Lahore Gate at the Red Fort
For other places with the same name, see Delhi (disambiguation).

Delhi (Hindi: दिल्ली, Urdu: دلّی, Punjabi: ਦਿੱਲੀ) [1] is northern India's largest city. One part of it, known as New Delhi (Hindi: नई दिल्ली Naï Dillî), is officially designated the capital of India, but the names are often used interchangeably.



Understand

History

Delhi is said to be one of the oldest existing cities in the world, along with Damascus and Varanasi. Legend estimates it to be over 5000 years old. Over the millennia, Delhi is said to have been built and destroyed 11 times. The oldest alleged incarnation of the city shows up in the Indian mythological epic Mahabharata as Indraprastha. The earliest historically recognized version of the city is:

  • Quila Rai Pithora - This dates back to the 10th century A.D. as per available historical records. Also known as Rai Pithora, this city was the capital during the reign of Prithviraj Chauhan, the local hero famous for his resisting, before finally losing to, the marauding invaders from central Asia (Muhammad Ghori in particular). Chauhan's ancestors are said to have captured the city from the Tomar Rajputs who were credited with founding Delhi. Anangpal, a Tomar ruler possibly created the first known regular fort here called 'Lal Kot', which was taken over by Prithviraj and the city extended. Some of the ruins of the fort ramparts are still visible around Qutab Minar and Mehrauli
  • Mehrauli - Muhammad Ghori managed to defeat Prithviraj Chauhan in battle in 1192. Ghori left his slave Qutub-ud-din Aibak as his viceroy, who captured Delhi the subsequent year. After Ghori's death in 1206, Aibak proclaimed himself the ruler of Delhi and founded the slave dynasty. Qutb-ud-din contributed significantly in terms of architecture by getting Mehrauli built. His most prominent contribution is the starting of Qutab Minar. This 72.5m tall tower was built across three generations and finally completed in 1220AD. A visitor to the Qutab Minar could also see the mausoleum of Kaki, Shamsi Talao and some other mosques. The Slave dynasty ruled till 1290, among them was Razia Sultan who ruled for just three years, but became a historic figure for being the first empress in India.
  • Siri
  • Tughlakabad
  • Firozabad
  • Shergarh
  • Shahjehabanad
  • Lutyen's New Delhi

Orientation

Districts of Delhi

Like the rest of the Gangetic Plains, Delhi is as flat as a pancake. The only geographical features of any significance are the river Yamuna, which flows down the eastern side of the city, and the Aravalli Hills, which form a wide but low arc across the west. On the west bank are crowded and congested Old (Central) Delhi and, to the south, the broad, tree-lined avenues of New Delhi, built by the British to rule their empire. The rest is an endless low-rise sprawl of suburbia and slums, with southern Delhi (nearer to New Delhi) generally somewhat wealthier and the western reaches rather poorer.

Climate

Delhi's climate is, sad to say, infamously bad, combining the scorching aridity of Rajasthan's deserts with the frigid cold of the Himalayas. From April to October, temperatures are scorchingly hot (over 40°C is common), and the monsoon rains deluge the city in July and August. With every air-conditioner running at full blast, the city's creaky infrastructure is often stretched beyond the breaking point, with power and water outages common. In winter, especially December and January, temperatures can dip to near-zero and the city is blanketed in thick fog, causing numerous flight cancellations. The shoulder seasons (Feb-Apr and Sep-Nov) are comparatively pleasant, with temperatures in the 20-30°C range, but short.

Suggested reading

  • The City of Djinns, William Dalrymple; another travelogue and well-written.(ISBN 0142001007)

Get in

Map of Delhi

By plane

Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI, IATA: DEL) [2] is the arrival point for many visitors into Delhi. The airport has been taken over by an international consortium. Most terminals have basic facilities like money changing and restaurants, but the major problem remains overcrowding — during the peak hours (middle of the night for int'l flights, early morning for domestic).

The airport is split into three terminals, with the domestic terminals 1A and 1B commonly known as Palam Airport.

  • Terminal 1A (Domestic): Indian, Kingfisher and GoAir
  • Terminal 1B (Domestic): All other domestic flights (except Indian, Kingfisher and GoAir)
  • Terminal 2 (International): All international flights and Air India domestic flights

Terminals 1A and 1B are fairly close (around 0.5kms), but both are a long way from Terminal 2 and you should reserve at least three hours to connect. If you are making connections, it can take between 15 and 30 minutes once you exit one terminal to get to the other one by car, depending on time of day and traffic. There is supposed to be a free shuttle bus between T1 and T2, but it runs only once per hour. (On the upside, it crosses through the airport, and can be much faster than detouring on the congested roads outside like taxis do.)

Security at the airport is tight, so you should show up at least two hours before your flight is scheduled.

In Terminal 2, carry-on is limited to one (1) bag and all hold baggage must be X-rayed and sealed before check-in. Note that all lounges and tax-free shops are between immigration and the final security check: once you pass the final check, there is no way back and nothing to do, so plan accordingly.

The easiest and safest way to get from the airport to the city is to arrange transport ahead of time from your hotel (some hotels provide this service for free). Alternatively, pay for a taxi at the prepaid taxi booths in the international terminal (it is advised to to check your change). The number of the taxi assigned to you will be on the receipt. Then, go straight through the airport and turn right immediately outside the front doors and someone will help you find your taxi. There are several options, but the booth operated by the "Delhi Police" is considered the best, with non-A/C taxis to most points in the city Rs.200-300. Some good-humored visitors find that being shortchanged by the police is actually an excellent introduction to what they can expect during the rest of their visit to Delhi. If you don't view it this way, however, try to appear familiar with the currency, carefully count out your payment and your change, and do not use a large bill. Another scam, at the Traffic Police taxi booth is to "return" your note saying something in Hindi. If you give a 500 ruppee note (the most likely to be used by arriving tourists), the man there will pick it up, "search" his drawer, with the same hand holding the note and then "discover" you only gave a 50 or 100 ruppee note. Thinking, it must us who made a mistake (and unless you have read this page, thinking the Police cannot possibly cheat), you will cough up more money.

Do not give the receipt to the driver until you get to the destination as this is what they are paid on. Also, ignore any explanation the driver offers at the destination to explain why he requires additional payment. Take your baggage first, then give the driver the receipt and walk away without further discussion. There is a problem with this as there is a checkpoint manned by the traffic police just as your taxi moves away, you will have to give the receipt to the driver who will hand it over to the police who will record the number - try getting the receipt back from the driver! Looks like the police are really helping the drivers out.

It is also possible to take a city bus during the day, or a private one run 24 hours a day. As everywhere in India, ignore taxi touts!

During the winter (Dec-Jan), Delhi often experiences dense fog and visibility is reduced considerably, making it difficult for flights to land and take off. Both international and domestic flights are often diverted or cancelled, so plan accordingly and allow for 1-2 days of possible delays.

By bus

Buses arrive from Kathmandu and Chitwan in Nepal (36+ hours) and virtually every city in India. Not as comfortable as the trains, buses are the only choice for some destinations, mainly those in the mountains.

Delhi has a confusing slew of inter-state bus termini (ISBT), which all have two names to boot. The Delhi Transport Corporation [3] is the major operator, but every state also runs its own buses and there are some private operators too.

  • Kashmere Gate ISBT (aka Maharana Pratap), Metro: Kashmere Gate. This is "the" ISBT and the largest of the lot. Buses to points north, including Nepal.
  • Sarai Kale Khan ISBT (aka Vir Hakikat Rai), next to Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station. Buses to points south.
  • Anand Vihar ISBT (aka Swami Vivekanand), on the east bank of Yamuna. Buses to points east.

By train

Trains arrive at one of three main stations: Delhi Junction, also called Old Delhi or Purani Dilli, the second at New Delhi which lies in Central Delhi, and one at Hazrat Nizamuddin a few kilometers to the south. (A very few trains also use Delhi Sarai Rohilla or Delhi Cantt stations.) Delhi Junction and New Delhi Railway Station are now conveniently connected by Metro Line 2, just minutes apart. It will take around 40 minutes to an hour to travel from the New Delhi Railway Station to the airport by car, depending on traffic.

A ticket office open to all is on the road to Connaught Place with longer hours and often has waiting times not much longer than at the tourist booking office, you will need to know the number or name of the train you want to take. Easiest of all, though, is to book on-line through the Indian Railways booking website.

New Delhi Railway Station

The main entrance to New Delhi Railway Station (NDLS) is located just outside of Paharganj, the backpacker ghetto. The Delhi Metro now connects directly here, but the metro exits are on the "wrong" (Ajmeri Gate) side near platform 12. You can also take prepaid rickshaws and taxis from the plaza outside the main entrance.

The station is large, crowded, confusing and packed with touts, so allow one hour (yes, really) to find your train the first time you visit. Don't trust the electronic display boards, which often show incorrect information, instead listen to the announcements and ask multiple people in uniform until you find your train. However, anyone, in uniform or not, who approaches you spontaneously should be ignored. Use one of the porters (in orange) who will find your train easily.

A tourist ticket office called the International Tourist Bureau is open during office hours, upstairs of the main New Delhi railway station. Ignore touts who will try to convince you that it has moved or is closed. Note that it is only for foreign tourists, so you must have a tourist visa (i.e. student and working visas are not acceptable). Non-resident Indians can also book their tickets through this office. Bring your passport and cash or traveller's cheques in US dollars, British Pounds or Euros. If you wish to pay in Indian rupees you must show an official exchange certificate (from India, not valid if you changed in another country) or an ATM receipt. To get a ticket, first get a form from the centre of the room, and fill it out. Then go to the information desk near the entrance. There, have the clerk check the availability of the train(s) you desire, and fill out your form accordingly. Then line up at one of the two u-shaped lines of chairs for the reservation desks.

Delhi Railway Station

Formally Delhi Junction (DLI), but best referred to as "Old" Delhi Station for clarity. Like New Delhi RS, this station is huge and confusing: the platforms are not in linear order, with some hidden in the west and east wings of the stations. The railway station is served by Metro Line 2 Chandni Chowk station.

Hazrat Nizamuddin

Hazrat Nizamuddin (NZM) is the departure point of many trains heading south. Practically speaking, the only way to get here is by taxi or auto. It's the least chaotic of the Big Three, but still pretty big and poorly signposted — listen to the announcements to figure out your train. The station has a pretty good Comesum food court that also sells cheap, hygienic takeaway snacks (sandwiches, samosas, etc).

If you have some time to kill, pay a visit to Humayun's Tomb, which is so close to the station that you can hear the announcements from inside — although it's a long, circuitous walk from the station to the entrance.

Get around

Getting around Delhi is always an adventure. Traffic is, by and large, horribly congested and many drivers will think nothing of quoting ten times the going price to a tourist. Use the prices below as broad guidelines, agree on prices before setting off, and don't get too hot under the collar over a rupee or two — they mean a lot more to the cycle rickshaw-wallah earning Rs. 50 on a good day than they do to you.

By metro

Delhi Metro and rail network

Three lines of the new Delhi Metro [4] are now open and provide a cheap, quick, hassle-free and air-conditioned way of zipping around the city. Unfortunately, the network is still limited and does not cover southern Delhi or neighboring areas like Gurgaon or Noida, but ambitious expansion plans are under way. As of 2006, the following lines are open:

  • Line 1 (Red Line): Shahdara-ISBT-Rithala
  • Line 2 (Yellow Line): Vishwa Vidyalya (Delhi University)-ISBT-Connaught Place-Central Secretariat
  • Line 3 (Blue Line): Indraprastha-Connaught Place-Dwarka City

Line 2, in particular, is useful for getting to the Old Delhi (Chandni Chowk, Jama Masjid) and New Delhi railway stations, the ISBT bus terminal and the backpacker ghetto of Paharganj. Fares range from Rs. 6 to 22. Take the token till the final destination and change lines if required. If you're planning on sticking around for a while, you can buy a "Smart Card" for Rs. 200, which is worth Rs. 110 and includes a Rs. 100 deposit. There is also a "Tourist Card" allowing unlimited use for Rs. 70/day, but it's highly unlikely that you'll travel enough to make this pay off.

Line 3 is useful for reaching Karol Bagh, a large shopping area. The Karol Bagh metro station is located in the crossing of Pusa Rd and Ajmal Khan Rd. The RK Ashram Marg station is very useful for reaching the western parts of Paharganj (and the station is located on the same side of the railroad tracks, which is not the case with the New Delhi station on line 2). Unfortunately the line 3 stations are not marked on most tourist maps as the line has only recently been opened.

Note that Metro stations all use the new Indianized names, so Connaught Place is "Rajiv Chowk", Old Delhi Railway Station is "Chandni Chowk" and ISBT is "Kashmere Gate".

By train

There are limited commuter services on Delhi's railways, but the facilities are a far cry from the user-friendly Metro and stations are for most part inconveniently located. There is no passenger service at all on the Delhi Ring Railroad outside rush hour.

By bus

You're never alone on a bus in Delhi

All parts of Delhi are well connected by buses and with tickets ranging from Rs.3 to 10 they're very cheap, but they're also the least comfortable means of transport and the hardest to use. Delhi's buses are quite crowded, rarely air-conditioned and drivers often drive rashly. Bus routes are often written only in Hindi and bus stops don't have any route lists, so it can be difficult to find your way — asking other people at the bus stop is often the best way to find out about bus routes to your destination. Buses are pretty frequent, running every 15-20 min or so on most routes. There are two kinds of buses in Delhi:

  • Government run DTC [5] buses
  • Privately run Blue-Line buses

If you have a choice, go for a DTC bus: they will stop less frequently and will generally be less crowded too. Note that many buses, DTC ones too, will stop pretty much anywhere if there are enough people getting on or off.

Board buses at the back and pay the ticket seller sitting right next to the door; be sure to hang onto your tickets, as ticket checks are fairly frequent. Some seats on the left side of the bus may be reserved for women and the handicapped. When it's time to disembark, move to the front of the bus and hop out from the door near the driver. As you might expect, all these guidelines are regularly ignored when buses are very crowded.

By taxi

A taxi or hired car (usually with driver) is required to see many of the far-flung sites around and just outside Delhi. To get a taxi or a hired car, you have to go to a taxi stand; they are not usually flagged from the street. Alternatively, you can call for a cab at 1090.

Most Delhi taxis are old but reliable Ambassadors in distinctive black-and-yellow livery. While all are equipped with meters and should cost Rs. 6 to start plus Rs. 7/km, they are often rigged and it's better to agree on the price in advance. Most trips around the city should be Rs. 50-100, while a trip to the airport would be around Rs. 200. An eight-hour charter should cost around Rs. 500, and a tip is expected if the driver is helpful. Note that most Ambassadors are not air-conditioned.

The death knell of the Ambassador was rung in December 2006, when a modern radio taxi service was launched. At Rs.15/km, they're twice the list price of the competition, but they use modern vehicles with air-conditioning and can be dialed up 24 hours/day at 123. The fleet starts off with a rather modest 15 vehicles, but this is expected to increase to 500 by March 2007 and 10,000 by 2010.

You shouldn't take non-official taxis, sometimes they take you to a wrong hotel, or to a "tourist information center", and try to sell you overpriced things.

By auto rickshaws

Auto rickshaws (also called three-wheeled scooters or simply autos) are good for shorter trips. Always in a distinctive yellow-and-green livery, auto rickshaws are three-wheeled partially enclosed contraptions (no doors!) that run on CNG and can seat three people in the back. In general, they are much cheaper than taxis and can be hailed from the street. Although by law the rickshaw drivers should charge according to the meter in their vehicle (Rs. 10 for the first km, Rs. 4.50/km after), they will almost always try to haggle for price. (If they don't, the meter is probably rigged!) Even the shortest journey will cost around Rs. 20.

If you have any trouble with them, go to any of the numerous tourist police stations in the city center and they will give you a complaint slip which will result in a 500 rupee fine for the auto driver. There should also be a telephone number written on the vehicle to call in case of any complaint.

There are a number of "PRE PAID" Auto stands run by the Police. Tell them where you want to go and pay them upfront. The charge will include 5 Rs for the service. You then take the coupon and stand outside where a policeman will direct you to the next available Auto. When your journey is completed you hand the coupon to the wallah and that's it. Nothing more to pay (despite what they may say).

By cycle rickshaws

Cycling in Old Delhi's Chawri Bazaar, facing Jama Masjid

Cycle rickshaws are three-wheeled pedal powered rickshaws with seats in the back to seat passengers and a driver in the front. They are good for short distances, or places which are too far to walk but too short for taking a bus/taxi/auto rickshaw. Cycle rickshaws don't use meters, so establish a price before getting on. Rs. 20 is reasonable for most journeys of a kilometer or two, although many Delhiites will haggle if the driver dares to suggest Rs. 10.

Cycle rickshaws are best to use in Old Delhi to visit the intricate galis (walkways) and to enjoy the smells and sounds of the city.

On foot

Much of Delhi is quite pedestrian-hostile. Distances are long, road signage is poor, and you'll be constantly accosted by beggars and touts. Crossing roads often involves wading across multiple lanes of heavy traffic: try your best to move in a predictable straight line, so vehicles can weave around you. (Better yet, latch onto a group of locals and cross in their shadow.) If you really want to walk around, these places would be good:

  • Walk from Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's house) to India Gate on the Rajpath - a walk of close to 3-4kms.
  • Walk from Jama Masjid to Red Fort in the Chandni Chowk area.

See

The staff at the Delhi tourist office are very helpful and have lots of free information: The Government of India Tourist Office 88 Janpath , Connaught Place. Tel:2332 0005, 23320008, 23320109, 23320266. Please note that there are various private 'tourist information' offices around Connaught Place openly claiming to be the official government tourist office. These offices are selling their own travel packages and have nothing to do with The Government of India. The local police can always be reached at 100 (much like the 911 in US) and in case of foreign tourists they do act swiftly!

Red Fort

Lahore Gate of the Red Fort
Inside the Diwan-i-Am
Diwan-i-Khas

The Red Fort (Lal Qila) is one of Delhi's top tourist sights. A brilliant red sandstone fort built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (who also built Agra's Taj Mahal) as his ruling palace. Completed in 1648, the years since have not treated the buildings kindly: the rooms have long since been stripped of all objects, the marble inlays are long gone and quite a few buildings are off limits. Still, the scale remains imposing and the gardens are kept lush and green even in midwinter. Major buildings within include:

  • Chatta Chowk (Covered Bazaar). True to the name, this is a covered bazaar between the gate and the fort itself, now filled with souvenir hawkers.
  • Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience). This building separates the outer court from the inner court, and has a marble platform for the emperor's throne.
  • Hayat Baksh Bagh (Life-Bestowing Gardens). Once a grand garden of full of fountains and streams, now sadly all dry — only dry channels and acres of green grass remain.
  • Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience). Built completely of marble, this is where the emperor received special visitors.
  • Khas Mahal (Private Palace). The Emperor's main residence. The octagonal Mussaman Burj tower looks out toward the Yamuna River, and is where the Emperor used to appear before the public for each morning.
  • Rang Mahal (Colour Palace). The residence of the Sultan's main wife.
  • Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel Palace). Contained six apartments for the Sultan's harem. Now used as a museum of court textiles, carpets, weapons, etc (free).
  • Daawat Khana. A minor palace at the northmost end of the Fort, this was originally the residence of a prince, but it was converted into a tea house by the British, a function it continues today. Basic meals go for around Rs. 60, drinks Rs. 10-20, and it also has the cleanest toilets around.
  • Swatantra Sangrama Sangrahalaya (Museum of the Independence Movement). To the left after the Chatta Chowk, this is a reasonably well-presented museum on the history of independence activism in India, starting from the Mutiny of 1857 all the way to Gandhi.

The only open entrance is Lahore Gate, on the west side. Security in and around the Fort is very heavy, as it was the scene of a terrorist attack in 2000 that killed three people; bags are allowed, but they'll be X-rayed and you'll be patted down. Tickets cost Rs 10/100 for Indians/foreigners, photography free, video cameras Rs. 25 extra. Open sunrise to sunset daily except Monday. Allow for 3-4 hours in your schedule in case of long weekends and national holidays as lot of tourists flock around there. The most scenic way of reaching the fort is to take the Metro to Chawri Bazaar and then a cycle-rickshaw through the incredibly packed bazaar to the Fort (price negotiable, aim for Rs. 20).

The fort has a light and sound show (Rs.30) in the evenings between 7:30 and 9 PM depending on the season.

Be careful buying tickets at the booth, as the ticket sellers here often attempt to shortchange tourists.

Humayun's Tomb

Humayun's Tomb

Humayun's Tomb in south Delhi, near Hazrat Nizamuddin station, is one of Delhi's three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Open daily from sunrise to sunset, entry is Rs.10/250 Indians/foreigners.

The tomb is located in large, immaculately maintained gardens in the Persian Char Bagh (four corners) style that were thoroughly renovated in 2003 with the Aga Khan's help and are consequently probably the best in Delhi. As you enter the complex, the first major structure on your right is the bulbous, octagonal tomb of Iza Khan, a court noble who built it in his own lifetime, some 20 years before Humayun's tomb. As you pass through the first gate, you will glimpse the dome of the tomb and enter a floral path leading to the second (West) gate, which now acts as the entrance to the giant central garden.

The centerpiece is the eponymous tomb of Humayun, the second Mughal emperor. Built starting in 1562, it was the first major Mughal structure in the city and has been described as a predecessor or prototype of Agra's Taj Mahal. The structures are, indeed, stylistically similar, although Humayun's Tomb is built from red sandstone, not white marble, and was built by a wife grieving for her husband, not the other way around. You can climb up to the second level (the stairs on the west side are very steep, those on the south side less so), and on the south side you will find the entrance into the main crypt where Humayun is buried.

Before you leave, be sure to visit the South Gate, the original royal entrance, from where you can get picture-postcard views without too many tourists in the way. In the southeast corner is the Barber's Tomb, also built in the same style, but regarding which very little is known.

Qutub Complex

Ala-i-Darwaza (left), Imam Zamin's tomb (right) and Qutb Minar in the background
Intricately carved alcove, Tomb of Iltutmish
Calligraphy, Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque

This complex in Mehrauli, south Delhi, houses structures dating from the Slave Dynasty (1206-1290) and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The gardens are kept in excellent shape, making this a popular relaxation and picnic spot. Open daily from sunrise to sunset, entry is Rs.20/250 Indians/foreigners. Light-and-sound show held most nights after sunset.

  • Qutub Minar. The most famous structure on grounds, this 72.5m minaret was the tallest "skyscraper" in the world when built (1193-1368) on the orders of Qutb-ud-din Aybak. Delicately carved, it has been astonishingly well preserved and is still an awe-inspiring sight today — it's often visible from air when flying into IGI airport! (Sticklers for archaeological truth will, however, note that the top of the tower has twice been rebuilt after an earthquake, and the base has been restored more recently.) While entry into the tower itself is no longer permitted, for Rs.10 per 5 min you can view the scenery via a little webcam on top.
  • Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque. Delhi's first and grandest mosque, now mostly in ruins, but many parts of the complex are still standing and the sandstone decorations are still impressive. Check out the extraordinarily ornate carvings near the tomb of Iltutmish on the west side of the complex.
  • Iron Pillar, in the center of the mosque. True to its name, this is a seven-meter iron pillar erected c. 400 AD by Chandragupta II Vikramaditya, also known as "he, by the breezes of whose prowess the southern ocean is even still perfumed" according to the inscription carved on the base. Alas, Chandragupta II's perfume has long since faded, but to the amazement of metallurgists everywhere his pillar is still going strong after 1600 years.
  • Ala-i-Minar. Ala-ud-din-Khilji set out to build a tower twice as high as the Qutub Minar, but died after a mere 24.5m was complete. The first story stands to this day.
  • Ala-i-Darwaza. Square, domed building that once acted as the entrance to the mosque, but is now tucked away behind the minar. Inlaid marble decorations and latticed stone screens.
  • Tomb of Imam Zamin. Outside the main complex, next to the Ala-i-Darzawa, this octagonal tomb commemorates a Turkestani iman who was based in the mosque during the reign of Sikandar Lodi.

Monuments

  • Rajpath. A main parade route that leads to the President's residence (Rashtrapati Bhavan). Wide avenue, the splendid India Gate, and many grassy lawns. Especially nice in the evenings and at night when the buildings are lit, and the vendors come out to supply the many picnicking families.
  • Rajghat Memorial of Mahatma Gandhi [6] - check for closure dates/security checks around national holidays/gandhiji's death anniversary (30th Jan).
  • Lodi Estate
  • Nehru House 'Teen Murti Bhavan'. The house of the first Prime Minister of India. Only for people interested in politics. Free entrance.
  • India Gate. This monument has been built as a memorial for the Indian soldiers who died in World War One. There is also a fire ("eternal flame") burning for all fallen Indian soldiers.
  • Parliament House

Parks and Gardens

  • Lodhi Garden - a peaceful park in the heart of New Delhi, Lodhi garden is ideal for mornings walks in the hot season and for afternoon strolls and picnics during the cooler months
  • Nehru Park - a large park in the South Delhi neighborhood of Chankayapuri

Museums

  • India Habitat Center, Lodhi Road, +91 (0) 11 2468 2001 (thru 2009), [7]. Most noted for its ever-changing art exhibits, plays and film shows, as well as an international selection of food items in its food court.
  • International Doll's Museum, Nehru House, 4 Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg. +91 (0) 11 2331 6970 (thru 6974), [8]. Tue-Sun 10-6. A museum of dolls from all over the country. You get to see the costumes and art from all over India, as well as some nice craftsmanship. Rs 10.
  • National Museum, Janpath, [9]. The layout is labyrinthine and the presentation won't win any awards, but the collection is unparalleled and contains some true masterpieces. Keep an eye out for the 4600-year-old Harappan temple dancer, the Gandhara-era standing Buddha with Greek hair and a Roman toga, the stunning miniature painting gallery, and the giant temple chariot parked outside. Entry Rs. 300 for foreigners (includes useful audioguide), Rs. 10 Indians (optional audioguide Rs.150 extra), Rs. 1 for Indian Students, plus Rs. 300 if you want to use a camera. Decent restaurant on the 2nd floor (lunch buffet Rs.100). Open Tue-Sun 10 AM-5 PM.
  • National Railway Museum, Chanakyapuri, [10] +91 11 2688 1816 houses a collection of Indian trains from the past to the present - a worthwhile look into India's proud railway heritage. The collection includes carriages belonging to Indian potentates and British viceroys. Children can ride the small train that circumnavigates the museum. There is a small cafe on the premises. Open 9:30 AM to 7:30 PM (April - Sept.) and 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM (Oct. - March). Closed Mondays and national holidays.
  • Teen Murti Bhavan former residence of India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, now a museum of his life.
  • Tibet House, 1 Institutional Area, Lodhi Road, +91 (0) 11 4611 515. thouse@nde.vsnl.net.in. Established by HH Dalai Lama with the aim of preserving the cultural heritage of Tibet. There is a museum, exhibition space and library.

Religious buildings

Akshardham Temple
Lotus Temple
Jama Masjid
  • Bahá'í Lotus Temple, Kalkaji, South Delhi, [11]. Shaped like a lotus bud with 27 petals, this stunning temple suspended above milky-blue ponds is surely one of the magnificent monuments ever made from concrete -- but there is very little to see inside. The lush park around is well landscaped but mostly off-limits. Free entry. Open Tue-Sun 9 AM-7 PM summer, 9 AM-5:30 PM winter.
  • Chhattarpur Mandir Huge & beautiful temple complex with a big surrounding campus - located near Mehrauli area of South Delhi.
  • Gurudwara Bangla Sahib[12], just off Baba Kharak Singh Marg near Connaught Place, is the main gurudwara for the many Sikhs of Delhi. You will need to cover your head (scarves provided for free) and stash your shoes in the shoe storage run by volunteers (also free).
  • Gurudwara Sis Ganj on Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, a short walk from the Jama Masjid and Red Fort, is an important Sikh place of worship. Built on the spot where their ninth guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, was beheaded on the orders of the mughal emperor Aurangzeb, it is an oasis of calm in the chaos of Old Delhi's Chandni Chowk. You will need to cover your head (scarves provided for free) and stash your shoes in the shoe storage run by volunteers (also free).
  • ISKCON (Hare Krishna) temple, at East of Kailash. Centre for Krishna Consciousness, it has robotic shows and multimedia presentations, apart from the traditional temple complex. Lively atmosphere and excellent tasting sweets - and the delicious Govinda's restaurant on site.
  • Jama Masjid, opposite the Red fort, next to Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi (Metro: Chawri Bazaar). The largest mosque in India and a must-see while in Delhi. Entry is free, but use of a camera (still or video) costs Rs.200. The climb up into the minaret is steep, dark and somewhat claustrophobic, but is worth the extra Rs.20 for the great views over the complex and the city around it. You'll need to cover up your shoulders and legs (scarfs and lungis available for rental), and take off your shoes — either carry them with out or leave them with the gatekeeper, who'll ask for some money when you collect (Rs.5 is more than enough). Open from 7 AM to sunset, but note that tourists are not allowed in between 12:15 and 1:45 PM and pictures should not be taken during prayer hours.
  • Lakshmi Narayan Temple or popularly known as Birla Mandir, located next to Connaught Place, is a big Hindu temple complex. Closest Metro - Rajiv Chowk (Yellow Line)
  • Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple, off National Highway 24, East Delhi, [13]. Completed only in 2005 by the controversial spiritual organization BAPS, no expense has been spared in decorating this large and elaborate temple carved of red sandstone. The central monument, built without any steel, houses an 11-ft golden statue of the founder of the Swaminarayan faith, Bhagwan Swaminarayan. The Premvati food court on grounds serves up fast, cheap, huge but mediocre portions of vegetarian food (Rs. 75 for a thali). Note that there is a strict ban on all electronic items, cameras, tobacco and pretty much everything except the clothes on your back; you can leave your worldly belongings in the cloakroom outside. Free entry, guide booklet Rs.5, access to multimedia exhibitions Rs.125. Allow at least three-four hours to explore it all. Open Tu-Su 9AM-7PM.
  • Sai Baba Temple, 17,Institutional Area, Lodhi Road, [14]. Though there are many Shirdi Sai Baba Temples in and around Delhi. The one located at Lodhi Road is the oldest. Temple Opens at 5AM; Kakad Aarti at Morning 5.15AM; Mangal SNAN 6AM; Noon Aarti at 12noon; Doop Aarti Evening Prayer 6.30PM; Shej Aarti at Night 9.30PM.

Other

  • Majnu ka Tilla Tibetan Colony. One of the more accessible Tibetan resettlement areas in India, and certainly a nice piece of variety for Delhi; to get there head north along Ring Road just past Majnu ka Tilla Gurudwara, or take the Metro to Vidhan Sabha station, and a cycle-rickshaw is Rs 15 from there.

Do

  • Take the Footloose in Old Delhi half day walking tour around Old Delhi.
  • Take a walk at Connaught Place, the heart of New Delhi.
  • Do a heritage walk in Chandni Chowk. Start at the beginning of the road near Red Fort and meander through Lala Lajpat Rai market, rows of camera repair shops, Gurdwara Sisganj, the fountain, the old movie halls, all the way to Fatehpuri mosque. Take detours into Nai Sarak and Chawri bazaar, or stop by at the Parathewali Gali, the jalebiwallah at Dariba Kalan, Annapurna (on the crossroads), or Ghantewallah. Might be a bit heavy on the senses, but a walk you will not forget
  • Appu Ghar - Amusement Park
  • Visit the International trade fair exhibition centre

Buy

Delhi is a shopper's haven, but only if you're not afraid to haggle and bump elbows in bazaars. Western-style malls and shopping emporia are creeping in on the outskirts (esp. Gurgaon, NOIDA), but there's little Indian about these sanitized shopping experiences, or the goods in them. Until a few years back, all shops closed on Sunday; while rules have been relaxed, many districts (eg. Connaught Place) are still mostly shuttered. Saturday is thus the main shopping day and hence also the most crowded.

Start your shopping tour of Delhi with a visit to Connaught Place [15], a rather unique cross between a European shopping arcade, an Indian bazaar and an upmarket shopping mall. At the intersection of the Yellow and Blue Lines of the Delhi Metro[16], it's easy to get to, and with all shops laid out in two circles it's easy to get around and explore.

Bazaars

  • Chandni Chowk, Metro Yellow Line. The heart of Old Delhi, this is the place to go for the full-on Indian experience of crowded, twisting alleys and tiny shops. The Fountain serves as a useful orientation point, and there are great Delhi-style snacks to be found in the vicinity too (see Eat).
  • Janpath is a bargain-hunter's dream and just a two minutes' walk from Connaught place. Think of it as a vast fleamarket, where you can get all kinds of knick-knacks and clothes. Janpath is not a place for those unwilling or unable to bargain ruthlessly. Also, as in any flea market, quality will vary greatly.
  • Palika Bazaar, Connaught Place. A large underground market in the center of Connaught Place. This is a great place to hunt for DVD's, VCD's and Audio CD's of Hindi, English and a few regional and foreign language films and PC based games. Vendors stock both legal & pirated wares — quite easily distinguishable, but vendors may try to charge you full price for fakes. For all discs, try before you buy at the shop. It's best only to enter into negotiation about the price if you are genuinely interested in the product. The best way to bargain is to offer what you think is a little below the fair price, so that during the negotiation you can raise your offer to what you think is fair. Don't try ruthlessly to get a dirt-cheap price; remember the merchant has to make a living.

Note that shops outside the enclosures are mostly wholesalers, who are less interested in bargaining with you.

Handicrafts

  • Cottage Emporium, located near Connaught Place, is the main government-run location for selling handicrafts from all over the country. The prices are a little more than what you'd find if you went bargain hunting, but you can shop in air-conditioned comfort, all the sales people will know English, and the quality of items is quite good. You can pay with credit cards.
  • The state emporia are the state equivalents of Cottage. They are all located on Baba Kharak Singh Marg, one of the radial streets coming off of Connaught Place, and each state specializes in certain kinds of crafts. Some are better on price than others, and you can bargain a little. Many of them will take credit cards.
  • Dilli Haat, located in South Delhi near the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), is a place where crafts fairs keep happening every few weeks. It is a wonderful place to get crafts from all over the country. What is distinctive here is that the artists themselves come to sell their goods, so your money goes directly to them, rather than to middlemen. Some bargaining may be necessary if you want the best price. Prices are higher than elsewhere, but the modest entry fee keeps out beggars, ripoff artists, and most touts, and many visitors find the mellow atmosphere is worth the extra costs of shopping here.

Clothing

  • Ansal Plaza is a mall and favourite shopping haunt for the local middle/upper class and is located in South Delhi. Great place to get bargains on international branded clothing & jeans (as these tend to be 30-50% cheaper than in the west depending on the brand and time of year). The mall also houses many Indian and Western eateries (including: McDonald's). International brands like Guess, Marks & Spencer, Benetton, Lacoste & Apple have retail outlets here.
  • South Extension is another shopping mecca in South Delhi but is not a single mall and is spread out over a large area, but many international brands have stores here. International brands include the likes of Mango, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, Benetton, Levis, etc.
  • Karol Bagh reputed to be the largest shopping area in Asia with 20,000 shops and traders. A growing area for accommodation as well.
  • Sarojini Nagar Market reputed to be the largest outdoor, pedestrianized shopping area in Delhi. Huge bargains on all sorts of western and Indian wear, and is known by expatriate teens as THE shopping area for affordable current hip fashion trends. If you are lucky you can also get many reputed western brands here (export surplus) Also a great market for fresh fruits, vegetables as well as household goods!

Books

The Indian book industry is huge, producing annually about 15,000 books in English, and obviously far more in Hindi and other native languages. Delhi is hub of this industry, and so small, specialist bookstores abound. Locally produced books can be very cheap, and many popular titles available in the West are published here under license and sold at a fraction of their original cost.

  • Khan Market Shopping area for the local diplomats. Many book shops with wide collection.
  • D.K. Agencies (P) Ltd., A/15-17, D.K. Avenue, Mohan Garden, New Delhi - 110059. (Nearest Metro Station: Nawada -- CP Dwarka Line) [17] Top ranking Indian bookhouse serving a global clientele since 1968, providing books in Major Indian Languages from South Asia. Open Monday to Saturday. 9.30 am to 5.00 pm.
  • Oxford Bookstore, 1st floor, Statesman House, Barakhamba Road (near Connaught Place), [18]. One of Delhi's largest and most modern bookstores, with an emphasis on art and culture. The great Cha Bar allows you to read up on any book from the shelves and relax with a cup of tea, available in several dozen varieties from Rs. 30 up. Open daily.
  • Chawari Bazar and Daryaganj, the perfect gully type bazars for finding all types of ancient and rare books. Located in old Delhi, they are very conjested areas and you can either take a rickshaw or walk. One of Delhi's oldest and shopping complexes you can find any book there after a day of searching. Also good areas for sightseeing.

Computers

  • Nehru Place, [19]. An IT hardware market complex and a perfect place for finding gadgets at very cheap rates. It is also a huge marketplace for both pirated and original software. Any computer-related accessory can be found here, but parking is a monumental problem. Beware of congestion and pickpockets. Open Monday to Saturday.

Eat

Delhiites complain about many things in their city, but the food will satisfy even the most demanding gourmet. Not only can you find some of the best Indian food on the subcontinent, but there are an increasing number of excellent (if often pricy) international restaurants offering cuisine from around the world. When ordering, do remember that Delhi is about 1000 km from the nearest ocean, so vegetarian, chicken and mutton dishes are the way to go.

Budget

Chaat
If you want to eat chaat, the North Indian streetside snack food, Delhi is the place to be. Like Spanish tapas or Greek mezze, chaat can cover a vast variety of things, but Delhi style tends to mean a deep-fried pastry shell, stuffed after cooking with potatoes, lentils or almost anything, then topped with yogurt, chutneys and chaat masala spice mix and eaten fresh.

Some typical chaat items are paapdi chaat (a mix of small round fried crispy things with yoghurt and other sauces), paneer tikka (cubes of cottage cheese baked in a tandoor with spices), pani puri or golguppa (small round hollow shells filled with a potato-based filling and a spicy sweet blend of sauces).

Haldirams RajKachori.JPG


The best place to go for chaat is the Bengali Market near Connaught Place in the center of town. The restaurants are of high quality, the food is great, and there are ATMs there as well. One of the best known restaurants there is Nathu's. But for the really good chaat you have to make your way to Old Delhi, and particularly to Ashok's near Chawri Bazaar. While connoisseurs insist that the best chaat is prepared on the street, most travellers try to find a comfortable middle ground between hygiene and authenticity.

  • Andhra Pradesh Bhavan Canteen, Ashok Road (near Man Singh Road). Open for lunch and dinner, a favorite of local Delhi foodies who are looking for an authentic Andhra meal. They serve all you can eat veg/non-veg thalis for 60RS/120RS. For carnivores, you have a variety of non-veg options (chicken/fish/mutton) but the mutton fry is recommended. The service is quick and efficient. Also another favourite is the Karnataka Bhavan canteen beside Ansal Plaza near Mool Chand offering all possible South India food.
  • Haldiram's, 1454/2 Chandni Chowk (just west of the Fountain) and other outlets around town, [20]. Famous manufacturer of Indian snacks and sweets now gone global, but this always-packed two-story outlet in the heart of Chandni Chowk was their first in Delhi and dates back to 1924. The ground floor houses a vast array of sweet and sticky Indian confections, while the first floor has a popular vegetarian restaurant — a great place to try authentic and hygienic Delhi chaat and other Indian snack foods. Try the Raj Kachori (pictured left), a mixture of different types of stuffing with sweetened yogurt and chutneys in an oversized hollow dough shell. All chaat are under Rs.50, or you can get a full daily thali for Rs.90.
  • Tadka, 4986, Ram Dwara Road (side road off of Main Bazaar), Nehru Bazar, Paharganj. A notably clean restaurant by Paharganj standards. Serves only vegetarian food, a full thali for Rs.60. Their tea is really good and their most popular dish is Paneer B. Masala.
  • Nangarg, Rajgur Marg Road (side road off of Main Bazaar), Paharganj. A really good hole-in-the-wall restaurant that serves vegetarian and non-vegetarian for about 60Rs. The workers there are genuinely good people, which can be hard to find in this area. You'll have more luck finding a sign that says "Veg-Nonveg" than their actual restaurant sign.

Mid-range

You will find McDonalds, KFC, Subway's and Pizza Hut scattered at various locations (in malls and otherwise) throughout the city, and the heavily Indianized menus (no beef, lots of veggie options) can be interesting even if you would otherwise steer clear. Figure on Rs. 100 for a full serve.

  • Club India Cafe, 4797, 2nd Floor, 6 Tooti Chowk (next to vegetable market), Paharganj. Don't be put off by the cramped stairway up, this is a clean and bright little haven of peace with bird's-eye views of the chaos below. The menu spans the gamut but the thing to try is the Japanese food, prepared under the watchful eye of the Japanese owner. Rs.100-200.
  • Karim's, Jama Masjid, Gali Kababian, tel. +91-11-23269880, [21]. As you'd expect from a restaurant on Kebab Lane, the name of the game here is Mughal-style meat (mutton and chicken), served up since 1913 and still going strong. Favorites include Badam Pasanda (boneless mutton cooked with yoghurt, almonds and spices) and Chicken Noor Jahan, but if you're really hungry, try Tandoori Bakra — an entire stuffed goat (Rs 3,500, advance notice and down payment required). Under Rs.200 at the original, more at the branches.
  • Moti Mahal Deluxe, M-30, Greater Kailash Part I, tel # 6412467 (and other outlets). Famous for their tandoori chicken.
  • Nirula's, L-Block, Connaught Place, +91-11-23322419, [22]. India's answer to McDonalds, serves both Indian and Western fare.
  • Sagar Shop No 24, Defence Colony Market, Defence Colony, New Delhi - 110024 +91 11 2433 3815, +91 11 2155 1097 Considered by many the best place for authentic South Indian food, Sagar does justice to the reputation. Menue features dosas, idlis, vadas, uttapams, rasam and thalis. A/C. There's likely to be a queue for seats during peak hours and definitely on Tuesday nights. The upmarket version (quieter, better laid out and more expensive) is at Sagar Ratna, Ashok Hotel, 50-B Chanakyapuri +91 11 2611 0101
  • Saravana Bhavan, 46 Janpath, +91 11 2331 7755 +91 11 2331 6060, [23]. A good South Indian joint located in Janpath very close to Connaught Place. They are a Chennai chain operating in Delhi. If you go at lunch time, prepare to wait a while. Recommended to eat are the various dosa's, the thalis (meals) and the sweet dishes.
  • Sri Balaji Restaurant, 17A/41, W.E.A. Gurudwara Road, Karol Bagh, serves North and South Indian food for good prices, but offers only veg food.
  • On tighter budgets, recommended are Pindi or Havemore at Pandara Park.
  • Khan Chacha, Middle lane, Khan Market. A Kathi Kebab stand serving chicken, mutton and paneer (cottage cheese) kebab rolls. Very popular with Delhites

Splurge

  • Bukhara, Maurya Sheraton. Regularly tops the charts as India's best restaurant (and certainly among the priciest), the roast lamb and the Bukhara Dal here are legendary, but the other items can be disappointing. Reservations recommended. Rs. 2000+.
  • Chor Bizarre, Hotel Broadway, 4/15A Asaf Ali Rd, [24]. Now franchised worldwide, but this is the original, serving up Kashmiri food in eclectic surrounding like a chor bazaar (thieves market). The buffet is laid out inside an old car! Figure on Rs. 300 for a full meal.
  • Naivedhyam, Hauz Khas Village. Offers quality South Indian meals and service at slightly higher prices.
  • Punjabi by Nature, 11 Basant Lok, Vasant Vihar, tel. 011-5151-6665. One of Delhi's best-known Punjabi restaurants. Rs. 500 or so, more if you order seafood.

Italian

  • The Big Chill, Khan Market and East of Kailash, is popular with a young crowd for great smoothies, ice creams, cheesecakes and Italian food.
  • Flavours of Italy,near the Moolchand Flyover
  • Little Italy, Defence Colony Market
  • The West View at Maurya Sheraton. Italian food.
  • Olive near the Qutub Minar. Italian food.
  • Diva at Greater Kailash Pt.2. Italian food.
  • San Gimignano at Imperial Hotel. Italian food.
  • La Piazza at Hyatt Regency. Italian food.

Japanese

  • Enoki, The Grand, Nelson Mandela Rd, Vasant Kunj-II, [25]. Pseudo-rustic yakitori (Japanese chicken kebab) restaurant offering fairly authentic food, including a limited range of sushi and sake. Rs. 1000+.

Thai

Delhiites have eagerly adopted Thai food into their culinary pantheon, although the recipes and ingredients are often rather Indianized.

  • EGO Thai, Friends Colony Market.
  • Culinaire, Greater Kailash 2
  • Chilli Seasons, Lodhi Colony market
  • Ban Thai, Oberoi.
  • Thai Wok, Mehrauli, tel:26644289. Should go at night for a view of the lit up Qutab Minar.
  • The Kitchen, Khan Market tel: 011 4175 7960/7961

Drink

Delhi's nightlife scene has undergone a total transformation in the last decade, and there are plenty of modern, cosmopolitan joints out to separate you from your rupees. In a desperate attempt to keep the sex ratio vaguely equitable, many lounges and clubs have couples only policies (that is, no single men or men-only groups), enforced with varying degrees of strictness. While everything is theoretically supposed to shut down by 1 AM, quite a few keep going much longer.

Coffee

  • For coffee go to Barista or Cafe Coffee Day, two of the large Indian coffee chains, with multiple locations around the city. The partly UK-based Costa Coffee has also made a recent foray into the market.

Hookah/Sheesha

Indian bar food, hookah and an amazing lounge experience. The crowd that frequents these two places is young, hip and trendy.

  • Hookah, Basant Lok (in Priya Cinema complex), Vasant Vihar, tel. +91-11-41663522. Three-level bar-restaurant offering surprisingly good (if pricy) Middle Eastern fare, a wide range of drinks, and an even wider range of flavored water pipes. Inexplicably, there's no outdoor seating or hot drinks though.
  • Mocha, Greater Kailash I

Nightclubs

  • Aqua - At the Park Hotel
  • Aura - At the Claridges
  • Climax - Nice lounge located not far from central delhi.
  • Ministry of Sound, Vasant Kunj, [26]. India's first branch of the international superclub. Closes by midnight and security is dodgy. Entry Rs. 2500/couple.
  • Orange - Dodgy nightclub at the Ashoka Hotel but fun.

Sleep

Budget

Paharganj

Picturesque Paharganj
Everything a backpacker needs and then some, Main Bazaar

This street, also referred to as Main Bazaar, opposite New Delhi railway station, has many cheap hotels and is very popular with travelers, with a double room with attached bathroom costing between 200-300Rs, or less. Note that the Delhi Metro's exits are on the Ajmeri Gate side of the New Delhi Railway station, so you'll need to cross over the railway station (Platform Ticket may be needed for entering the station) to go to Paharganj. Main road is very noisy during day time. Below is a list of a few of the more popular places:

  • Ajay Guest House, 5084-A, Main Bazaar, Paharganj, New Delhi 110055 (Opposite Khanna Cinema), :+91(11) 41541226, +91(11) 23583125 (, fax: +91(11) 41541701), [27]. Double rooms cost 250-300Rs (no A/C) or 450-500Rs (with A/C). (latitude,longitude)
  • Chanchal Deluxe, Aakarshan Road, Behind Sheela Cinema, Paharganj, Delhi. A little more expensive than average Paharganj hotel. Rs.700. (latitude,longitude)
  • Sai Palace, Middle lane opposite railway station, Paharganj, Delhi. Rs.200/300. (latitude,longitude)
  • Hare Rama Guest House, 298 Main Bazaar (Down the side road near the Khanna Cinema.), 2743-3017. Really popular and also a popular place to book nicer sleeper buses if you're heading to Dharamsala or Pushkar. (latitude,longitude)
  • Metropolis, 1634 Bazaar Hand, 2351-8074. A little more expensive than average Paharaganj hotels, also has a good restaurant. (latitude,longitude)
  • Namaskar, 917 Chandiwalan, Main Bazaar, Paharganj, New Delhi 110055 (located down a side alley), +91(11) 23583456, +91(11) 65263010 , +91(11) 23582233 (), [28]. Only 5 mins from the train station. 250Rs for a double room. (latitude,longitude)
  • Navrang, on a side street off main bazaar at the intersection with the vegetable market, +91(11)2356-1922. Cheap and cheerful. (latitude,longitude)
  • Royal Palace, Main Bazaar (200 meters down Main Bazaar from New Delhi Station before Star Palace Hotel), +91(11) 2358-6176 (fax: +91(11) 27537103). Clean and pleasant design/style. (latitude,longitude)
  • Vivek, 1534-50 Main Bazaar, Paharganj, New Delhi 110055 (about a ten minute walk from the railway station), 2351-2900. Pleasant rooftop restaurant but rather bland food . 300Rs for a double room up to 1,200 for deluxe.. (latitude,longitude)

Majnu ka Tilla

Majnu ka Tilla is a compact Tibetan settlement and the place of departure and arrival for Dharamsala, the home of the Tibetan Government in Exile and the Dalai Lama. Stay here if you have an interest in Tibetan culture, politics and religion, or if you need something quieter (and just slightly more expensive) than Paharganj.

An auto-rickshaw from New Delhi train station should cost around Rs50 (use the prepaid stand). The Vidhan Sabha metro station is also nearby and popular - from there cycle-rickshaws charge Rs 15 and take about 5 minutes.

  • New Peace House. (latitude,longitude)
  • Peace House, 2393-9415. (latitude,longitude)
  • Lhasa House, 2393-9888. (latitude,longitude)
  • Ida Guest House, +91-22-2222-1234. (latitude,longitude)

Other Areas

  • New India Hotel, 172 Katra Baryan, Delhi, 110006 (Next to the red fort in Old Delhi), +91 (0)11 235 117. Noisy a/c, rudimentary shower, they watch bollywood movies at night which can be somewhat embarrassing. 250Rs for single room; 350Rs for double bedroom. (latitude,longitude)
  • Sun rise Villa, K Block, Kalkaji, New Delhi. Price around Rs 1600+tax for single room, gives WIFI access free, food is also some what ok.

Connaught Place

  • Asian Guest House, 14 Scindia House, 2nd. Floor with elevator, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, Connaught Place, +91 (0)11 23313393 (), [29]. Clean quiet rooms, centrally located. Not recommended for families. Corridors and cheapers rooms are dirty and desperately in a need of renovation. Interesting speciality are the monkeys living outside the building (and cockroaches inside). Singles from Rs 675, doubles with a/c and cable TV for Rs 1575 including 12.5% tax. Book through their website and get 5% discount on room tariff. (latitude,longitude)

West Delhi

  • Ajanta Guest House, Ajanta Guest House, +(91)-(11)-25128937, +(91)-(11)-25128948 (), [30]. A guesthouse in Mayapuri near the airport, offers clean comfortable budget accommodation, room service, a/c, 24hr hot water, and a travel agent on site. 15 US$ for a double room. (latitude,longitude)

Mid-range

Delhi's chronic lack of quality hotels has led to a mushrooming of guesthouses of widely varying quality and price.

  • Hotel Marina Connaught Place. High mid-range.
  • Bajaj Indian Homestay, [31]. 10 themed rooms hotel (latitude,longitude)
  • Bed and Breakfast New Delhi, I-9 Maharani Bagh, +919899099042 (), [32]. 3-room bed and breakfast. Private bathrooms. Free wifi. (latitude,longitude)
  • Mehar Castle, [33]. Large rooms with a/c, tv, hot shower, room service. 750 Rupees/night for one and 1500 for two persons. (latitude,longitude)
  • Narula Inn, [34]. Bed and breakfast in Heart of New Delhi, Connaught Place. (latitude,longitude)
  • Hotel Ajanta, Main Bazaar, Paharganj, New Delhi 11055, +91-11-23620925/26/27 (), [35]. Recommended by Lonely Planet and others, therefore populated by foreigners only and highly recommended. Excellent restaurant and nice atmosphere on rooftop bar. Internet room. Single room from Rs1000. (latitude,longitude)
  • Hotel Sunstar Residency, 8A/50, W.E.A. Channa Market, Karol Bagh, New Delhi 110 005, 25853688, 89, 42503285, 42502767 (), [36]. Room service and a restaurant are available for breakfast and dinner. Lockers available. Doubles with A/C, TV, private bathroom from Rs 1300.. (latitude,longitude)
  • Ahuja Residency, Golf Links, Defence Colony and Gurgaon, 91-11-24622255 (), [37]. Recommended by Alistair Sawney in the book 'Special Places to Stay in India', therefore very difficult to get in. Family-owned houses in different parts of Delhi. Simple, clean, good locations, minimal service and minimal hassle. rooms. (latitude,longitude)

Splurge

At the high end of the scale, demand far outstrips supply and it's not unusual to be asked US$400 for a very ordinary room. Getting any on the list below for under $200 will require good luck or timing. Beware that by law taxes in high-end Delhi hotels are charged on the rack rate, so 12.5% on a $400 room discounted to $200 will still cost $50! Hotels in neighboring cities, including Gurgaon and NOIDA just across the border, do not do this.

  • Ashoka, Chanakyapuri
  • Claridges, near Pandara Road.
  • The Grand, Nelson Mandela Road, Vasant Kunj Phase II, tel. +91-11-26771234, [38]. Formerly the Grand Hyatt, the hotel still maintains high standards with an opulent lobby, modern rooms, pool and spa. The South Delhi location 15 min from the airport is good for business, but rather awkward for tourism.
  • The Oberoi, near Khan Market. Mostly a high-end 'business' hotel. 5 stars. Expensive. Very tacky. Bad food and bad service in restaurants.
  • Hyatt Regency Delhi, Bhikaiji Cama Place, Ring Road, tel. +91-11-26791234, [39]. Huge and slightly aged, but still five stars, featuring an outdoor pool, small gym and spa, three restaurants, and all the usual amenities. Well located halfway between the airport and Connaught Place.
  • Imperial, Janpath (near Connaught Place), houses the only Chanel store in India. It houses a priceless art collection 'British Art on India' and has the largest collection of land war gallantry awards in India and neighbouring countries. Very classy, best value for least money in first class range. Good food and excellent service in restaurants.
  • The Maurya Sheraton, Sardar Patel Marg in Chanakyapuri. One of the best in the city. Great restaurants, including the above mentioned Bukhara.
  • Park Royal Intercontinental in Nehru Place
  • Radisson on way to the Intl. Airport, has the famous Great Kebab Factory restaurant
  • Sheraton New Delhi, Saket. Formerly Marriott WelcomHotel.
  • Taj Palace in Chanakyapuri. Part of the Indian Hotels Chain. High End Luxury. In the diplomatic enclave in Chanakyapuri (close to the US embassy etc.)The best in terms of food, hospitality and leisure.
  • Taj Mahal in Central Delhi. As above. In the 'Lutyen's Bungalow Zone' in central Delhi.
  • Shangri La Part of the renowned Shangri La chain, boasts of having splendid sea-food buffets.
  • Le Meridian A splendid % Star in terms of the newly renovated lobby. Famous for its new year bashes and great architecture, it is an ideal stop for foodies, tourists and business honchos.
  • Jaypee Vasant Continental Newly renoated, it has beautiful interiors and fabulous service. It is, however, relatively smaller. Famous for the all-egg restaurant called Eggspectation.
  • Jaypee Siddharth Another Jaypee venture, this is a semi-5-Star Hotel. Good interiors but rather less plush by name. Also dwells Eggspectation.
  • Hotel Samrat Just touches the luxury hotel levels, is a conjoined twin of The Ashok

Stay healthy

Dust and pollution make Delhi an asthmatic's worst nightmare for most of the year, with only the rainy season bringing a brief respite. In April through June, temperatures regularly top 40°C, meaning that proper hydration is a major concern. In winter, seasonal fog added to the mix creates dense smog and, on a bad day, it can be difficult to see across the street. Rather unbelievably, the situation was even worse before all autorickshaws and buses were forced to convert to CNG!

Every six or seven years, there is a plague of dengue fever in Delhi. Be sure to wear long sleeves and long trousers and to use repellent in the day time in those critical years, especially when near water (like in Majnu Ka Tilla). There is no drug against dengue fever. Second time you catch it, you may die of internal bleedings.

Tap water in Delhi is completely and totally unsafe — do not even wash your teeth with it. Better restaurants will use purified water, but at cheaper ones you're better off sticking to the bottled stuff and avoiding the usual culprits (leafy vegetables, ice, etc). Always check seals on bottled water carefully.

Stay safe

Delhi by the night

Many first time travelers to India find themselves falling victim to scams and touts, and unfortunately Delhi has lots of both. Be on guard for anybody trying to help you by giving you unsolicited directions or travel advice, and take any advice from taxi and auto drivers with a grain of salt, especially if they tell you the place you want to go to is closed, dangerous, etc. If this is your first time to India do not admit it, as this will make you a mark for the scam artists.

Delhi is an increasingly unsafe place for women. It is not uncommon to receive lewd remarks or even physical touching. If you are coming into Delhi at night, stay in the airport lounge, or well lit areas until daybreak. Try to avoid walking around alone or hiring cabs alone. Dress conservatively (preferably in Indian clothing so as to blend in), learn to shout, and consider carrying mace/pepper spray. Police vehicles (called PCR vans) are parked almost on every major intersection. Dial 100 in case of emergencies.

Carry your cash, passport, and cards in a secure money belt, with only enough cash for a few hours at a time in your wallet or other acccessible place. Some travelers recommend carrying an expendable wallet with a few ten rupee bills in it in an obvious place such as your hip pocket as a decoy to Delhi's ubiquitous pickpockets.

As a general rule, expect anyone handling your cash in Delhi to attempt to shortchange you; you may be favorably surprised once or twice during your visit. Learn the currency, count out your payment and change carefully, and be insistent in any dispute.

Cope

Power outages and water shortages happen not just every day, but often several times on the same day, with summers especially bad. Better places have water tanks and generators to alleviate the pain, but keep a flashlight handy at night and do your part by not wasting too much water.

  • Laundry service is offered in most hotels, even budget accommodations. If you would rather save the money and do it yourself, buckets are found in almost all bathrooms - but perhaps wash it out well first.
  • Exercising outdoors is not recommended due to the level of pollution and swimming in rivers is also not recommended. You'll want to look for a hotel with a gym or a pool (many offer day passes). Or a evening/morning walk can be taken in the parks.

Embassies and High Commissions

  • Afghanistan Embassy, 5/50 F Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, +91 11 60 33 28.
  • Australian High Commission, 1/50 G Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, +91 11 688 5637, [40].
  • British High Commission, Shantipath , Chanakyapuri, +91 11 687 2161, [41].
  • Chinese Embassy, 50 D Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, +91 11 688 9028, [42].
  • German Embassy, Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, +91 11 44199 199 (fax: +91 11 2687 31 17), [43].
  • Nepalese Embassy, Bara Khamba Road, +91 11 332 9969.
  • Pakistan Embassy, 2/50 G Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, +91 11 467 6004.
  • US Embassy, Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, +91 11 688 9033, [44].

Contact

Public call offices (PCO) line all major streets in Delhi.

Internet cafes can be found in places where backpackers congregate, notably Paharganj.

Get out

Delhi is a major transit hub for trains, planes and buses for all of India and internationally.

  • Agra and the Taj Mahal is a 3-4 hour drive or train ride.
  • Dharamsala, the seat of the Dalai Lama's government in exile, 10-12 hours north. Tickets can be purchased from Main Bazaar Tourist offices, Majnu ka Tilla Tibetan Settlement or the I.S.B.T.
  • Jaipur and Rajasthan are reachable by plane or overnight train.
  • Kathmandu in neighboring Nepal is a rough 36+ hour coach ride, or longer (but more comfortably) on a combination of train and coach.
  • The holy cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh, in the foothills of the Himalayas, are a 5-6 hour bus or train ride away.
  • Mussoorie, the original British hill station in India
  • Nainital, another beautiful hill station in the Kumaon hills with a magnificent lake





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