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The capital city of India, home to the Prime Minister, the President, the best street food, shopping and famous attractions, Delhi is a fabulous holiday destination as part of any itinerary to India. The city is divided into new completely contrasting parts: Old and New Delhi. Narrow, cobbled lanes, crumbling havelis (palaces) with the call for Islamic prayer sounding out from the beautiful mosques and the intoxicating aromas of freshly cooked street food filling your nostrils as you take a chaotic rickshaw ride into the hidden depths of the exotic Chandni Chowk are all part of the mystery that makes up Old Delhi.
A world away from the chaos and humdrum are the quiet, tree-lined boulevards with high fences & grassy hedges behind which sit the imposing buildings housing India's political leaders. The Gandhis, from the Mahatma himself to the iconic Indira and her descendants have all resided here. Today, it is the assassinated Rajiv Gandhi's Italian widow, Sonia, who serenely oversees the running of India's economy from the shadow of the Prime Minister's office.
What to See :
The most famous & most visited monument in Delhi is probably the Red Fort. The remnants of forts, mosques and monuments from the time when the Mughals occupied the city are still evident all over Delhi. Visit Jama Masjid in Old Delhi, the largest mosque in India, which took 13 years to complete and can house up to 25,000 devotees for prayer at any given time.
Visit Chandni Chowk for a culture shock! Cars, cycles, rickshaws, carts, cows and pedestrians all jostle for space in the narrowest, cobbled alleys you'll ever find! Congestion and confusion abound, but that's what makes Chandni Chowk what it is – a completely authentic experience and one not to be missed. A massive variety of parents (a fried & filled chapattis) are found in Gali Paranthe Wali – an entire street dedicated to these delicacies! The most famous kebab restaurant, Karim's, is also found here.
Other attractions in Delhi include Humayun's Tomb (the inspiration behind the design of the Taj Mahal) which was built in 1570 and houses the body of the second Mughal Emperor, Humayun. Lodi Gardens, built by the British in 1936, is a landscaped park designed around the tombs of 15th and 16th century rulers. The tallest brick tower in the world, the Qutab Minar, is also found in Delhi. Built in 1206, the tower is covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Islamic holy book, the Koran.
A poignant stop in any touristic itinerary would be Gandhi Smriti which commemorates the exact spot where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. India Gate, directly opposite the President's Palace, is a towering war memorial built in memory of all those Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting the British army in World War One. An eternal flame marks the event. Other Delhi attractions to visit include the Lotus Temple (Temple of no religion), the Garden of Five Senses (20 acres of landscaped gardens, flowers, waterfalls, fountains, bells, music, sculptures) and the Shiv Murti, Delhi's tallest Shivji statute that has recently been in the news for hindering aircraft landings at the Indira Gandhi International Airport!
Delhi is a true city of contrasts and anyone visiting Delhi cannot miss a trip to any of the amazing shopping malls which are both luxurious and comprehensive enough to better any of those in the UK or USA. Absolutely every brand of high street (Body Shop, M&S, La Senza, Sunglass Hut, MAC) to the designer (Christian Louboutin, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Cartier) is available in Delhi. The malls are akin to 5 star hotels in most other countries.
International food chains such as the famous Johnny Rockets (famous for its calorie-laden burgers in the US), Donuts R Us, Starbucks, Costa, Akira Back (Japanese at the JW Marriott) and the Michelin starred Yauatcha (lychee martinis to die for!) sit most comfortably alongside Indian favorites such as Bukhara (tandoori grill at the ITC), Evergreen (mouthwatering, freshly cooked sweets) and Haldirams (paanipuri, cholebhutara, dosa).
Food, drink, shopping and sightseeing are the four mainstays of any trip to Delhi and you're bound to indulge just that little more when faced with delicious temptation. Just remember to check with your travel agent for any excess baggage charges and we're not just talking baggage here!
Best Time / Season:
The best time to visit Delhi is from October to March when the weather is pleasant, although it does get very chilly in the winter evenings. From April, the weather heats up and temperatures can soar to 40C at the peak. The monsoon season hit Delhi from July to mid-September.