Delhi, the capital of India, is a place where the entire country, it seems, comes together to make it what it is, ‘the city improbable’, to quote the words of Khushwant Singh. From facades of Tughlaqabad to the streets of Chandni Chowk, from simpletons of the Sadar Bazaar to the elites of Khan Market, from C.P to Kalindi Kunj and with parliament and embassies on one side and hard rock cafes on the other, it is an all in one, the city, improbable at its best. The capital boasts of its rich historical legacy and dynamic advancements in one go; one can pay a visit to the mughals at noon and can shake a leg at one of the country’s most happening clubs in night. A mix of numerous cultures, sensibilities, traditions and languages, the city has emerged as a hybrid of its own kind.
Nestled between Uttar Pradesh (in the east) and Haryana (in the west), the two North Indian states of the country, Delhi cosily sits in about 1484 sq. km of area and is home to 12.25 million people.
Delhi being the capital city is a major world hub. The city’s connectivity to and from major cities in India and abroad is perhaps the very best in India. One can easily reach Delhi via any mode of transportation. There are some of the very best highways in service, for easy convey by road, the two main railway stations (old and new Delhi railway stations) have trains running to almost every corner of the country. Indira Gandhi international airport has recently been remodeled and is now the world’s 8th largest. Even within the city there is a comprehensive network of metro, buses, taxis and autos making travel convenient and swift.
The language most used in the city is Hindi. However, English and the languages of other Indian states can frequently be heard. Lying in the temperate zone and being an inland city, Delhi’s climate remains hot for the major part of the year. From April to mid-October there is summer season with monsoons arriving in between, while winters are mild and shorter in duration.
Places to visit
The USP of the city is perhaps the fact that this ultra modern cosmopolitan has its roots in traditional India. From the ancient times, Delhi has been a major town, a place of trade, and an administrative and political centre. Many kings have built their capitals in Delhi; there are innumerable tombs, minarets and structures that are the standing proofs of their once prosperous reigns. Even in British times the city played a pivotal role witnessing many important events; there are various places in the city which serve as the reminder of the British India. Because of all these reasons, Delhi has a special place in the history of our country and its vast experience with the past makes it truly unique. Almost every street and road in Delhi has a story to tell.
Red Fort (Lal qila), built by emperor Shahjahan is a beautifully carved structure in red bricks, Humanyun’s tomb is an exemplary monument of the architecture of that time, Qutub Minar is the tallest brick tower in the world and is a sight to behold. Then there’s Jantar Mantar, a sun dial, Purana Quila, which is both imposing and beautiful. India Gate, that was built to pay homage to the martyrs of the war, produces almost a surreal effect when viewed among the lights in the night.
Another marvel is the Jama Masjid, the biggest mosque in Delhi. Built in the times of the mughals, the mosque boasts of a blend of Turkish, Persian and Indian architecture. The Lotus Temple is a Bahá’í House of Worship and is a major tourist attraction owing to its beauty and design. Bangla Sahib gurudwara and the Goldakhana Church placed almost opposite to each other in the central Delhi area exposes the city’s cultural and religious integrity. The newly built Akshardham Temple is a huge, majestic Hindu temple and one can also enjoy the musical fountain show that takes place in the evening.
Connaught Place, covering most part of central Delhi is the very epicenter of the city. From the swanky showrooms of the inner and outer circles to the street fashion of janpath and palika bazaar, it’s an ultimate shopper’s paradise. In addition to this, Connaught Place also boasts of excellent and popular food joints and places of entertainment. Chandni chowk is a part of old Delhi and its food and streets (paranthe wale gali and chaat) are a must visit. Rajghat is the cremation ground of Mahatama Gandhi and is one of the most visited and revered spots in Delhi. The Garden of five senses, Mughal gardens, Buddha park amongst others are immensely beautiful, well kept parks and are popular destinations. The Parliament House, the apex government administrative building of the country and the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the residence of the president of India ( house No.1 being the address) both have quite a powerful feel about them and the most natural places of visit for a tourist.
Cuisine, Culture and Delhi
The people here are great patrons of food. While one can simply gorge on continental or Thai and ravish Chinese and Italian, Delhi’s speciality lies in the ‘desi domain’. The paranthas with butter, ghee and lassi, chaats like raj kachori, gol gappe, kachoris, pao baji, spicy chole bhature and all sorts of mouth watering, north Indian dishes can be found in every nook and corner. South Indian dosas and vadas aren’t less famous. One can find delicious Guajarati dhoklas and khakhras along side irresistible Bengali sweets. While one may recommend Connaught place cuisines and posh kebabs, the street food culture here takes all the accolades. Having its origins in the old Delhi area, Chandni Chowk has spread rapidly all over the place. The stalls of chaat, burgers and patties, of momos and banta (lemon drink) are omnipresent.
As is the case with most metropolitan cities, Delhi has a highly vagrant and colourful culture. There are people from all walks of life and from everywhere. It is a place where one expects to see diwali and Christmas being celebrated with the same vigour (81% of delhi-ites are Hindus).There is a fusion of modernity and traditions in the thoughts, words and deeds of the city.
India is described as incredible, and so is its capital. Delhi is the very destination for travel bugs, an experience worth a lifetime.
Image Source: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/breic/2136781863/]