I reached New Delhi through a Spice Jet flight; however, there is no dearth of means to reach the city. All roads and railways lead to this city. The climate is such that no means to reach the city are ever blocked during any season, though in winters, the trains and flights can get shockingly delayed.
The Domestic Terminal of the Airport is operating and, simultaneously, under construction. The plans to develop the city are in full-swing, to prepare it for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in 2010. The scene observed at the airport can be seen throughout the city; it is under-construction while throbbing with life. The roads are being repaired and widened, flyovers are being built, the Metro Rail is spreading throughout the city and new buildings are coming up.
The climate of the city swings from one extreme to the other; there are times when the mercury soars and the loo winds blow, killing hundreds, while at other times, the mercury dips extremely close to zero, and the city is enveloped in fog. In the past few years, Delhiites have witnessed record-breaking summers, winters and monsoons, and have finally realized the fickleness of records, which are broken the very next year.
The best time to visit the city is either during March-April or September-November. The months of December and January are especially cold, while the months of May-June are swelteringly hot.
The traffic in the city is not that bad, unless you’re at certain wrong roads at the wrong times, such as the roads near Connaught Place and Dhaula Kuan. Delhi is a huge, sprawling metropolis, which welcomes everyone alike. There are high-end luxury hotels, hotels for the middle-class and reasonably prices accommodations at Paharganj, for those who wish to stay for a while without spending too much.
What makes this city unique is that it has something for everyone; whether you’re a foodie, an art buff, crazy for historical monuments or simply in search of shopping malls and discotheques. It helps in knowing some local person to show you around. The place has a culture of its own and outsiders, though welcome, are often swindled out of their money.
The Metro Rail is, beyond doubt, the most convenient and cost-effective way to travel through the city. The Delhi Metro is the pride of the city, the stations are clean and organized, the token system is designed to ensure orderliness, and the air-conditioned trains are comfortable. However, the trains do get unbelievably and inconveniently crowded during the morning and evening hours when people rush from home to office and back.
Connaught Place is the most popular destination for tourists visiting Delhi. The marketplace has a feel of the times of the British Raj and has some of the city’s oldest shops. Now, the place is also filled with outlets like McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Nirulas and the like. The marketplace is built in circular blocks, with the famous Palika Bazar, Asia’s largest underground marketplace, at the centre. At every corner of each block, you can find stalls selling cigarettes and paan.
A few minutes ride (if you’re lucky) from the Connaught Place is the Mandi House and Kamani Auditorium, where some of the best theatre plays can be seen. Though, it is advisable to get a ticket booked in advance.
Pragati Maidan or the Exhibition Ground, is another popular tourist destination. The place is almost always hosting some interesting fair or the other, right from the Book Fair, the Consumer Fair or the International Fair, where one can buy the most interesting things. Also on display, is a permanent exhibition of the weaponry from the defense forces.
If someone is interested in historical monuments, then, at least one week must be spared to do justice to them. The city is a living museum and historical monuments are scattered throughout. It would be best to hire a tourist agent and a taxi for the historical monuments. Qutub Minar, Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, India Gate, Jantar Mantar and Jama Masjid are some of the most popular historical monuments.
One surprising thing is the way historical monuments are spread carelessly through the city. You might be journeying to somewhere and on glancing out the window; you’ll see something interesting and beautiful. Once while traveling through the city, I glanced out and saw one of the most beautiful works of art, the Gyarah Murti; the black granite statue depicting Mahatma Gandhi leading the Dandi March to break the salt laws and the ten followers behind him. The beautiful statue depicts the Father of the Nation in one of the greatest moments of our struggle against British rule in India.
It is best to spend at least a week in the city, to absorb its beauty and diversity. The city represents the transformation of the country from the old to the new, while still clinging on to and holding dear the past.