I love the smell of air pollution in the morning! I kid, I kid…
November is the best weather of the year, but without significant winds, the pollution lingers heavy over the city. When I mentioned how surprised I was that the air was SO polluted, an Indian American friend of mine said, “Of course, it’s insane. Everything in New Delhi is insane.”
Sprawling and crowded, both modern and historic, Delhi is the seat of India’s government, an international hub, and arguably its most famous city. Old Dehli was founded in 1639 and was the center of the Mughal Dynasty until its collapse, which is why we have incredible forts and monuments to look at hundreds of years later. New Dehli was built from 1911 – 1931 by George V, Emperor of India. A good visit includes sites in both.
Here are some of the highlights of our day in New Delhi, in case it can help you plan your travels. If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me at samosasandsunshine[at]gmail.com
HOTEL: The lalit Hotel
Barakhamba Avenue, Connaught Place, Near Modern School, New Delhi, Delhi 110001, India
Clean and modern. A perfect choice for an international traveler who isn’t looking to “rough it.” The breakfast buffet was mediocre by my measure, but did include international food. For my family’s first trip, I think it was a good transition for them. The formal doorman is always a nice touch.
My favorite part of this World Heritage Site is imagining what it must have been like day-to-day. The fort includes the public audience hall where the local farmer brought his grievances to the emperor. The wives and concubines would watch the proceedings through grills carved into the the marble and sandstone because they weren’t allowed to be seen by the general public. There is an entire carved building just for dancers to perform for the royal family. There are the Emperor and his wives private quarters, including what must have been a very luxurious bathroom. Just take a moment to let the other visitors disappear and see the fort in its heyday. These pictures don’t do the sprawling fort justice. If you’re a fan of WWI history, there is also a military museum dedicated to the period in the entrance archway that once housed the musicians that played the emperors entrance music.
Open: Tue-Sun; Mondays closed
Timings: Sunrise to Sunset
Entry Fee: 10 (Indians), 250 (foreigners)
Photography: Nil (25 for video filming)
Sound & Light Shows: 6pm onwards in English and Hindi
Ticket: 80 (adults), 30 (children)
Mathura Road, Nizamuddin, New Delhi, Delhi 110013, India
Look a tad familiar? Humayun’s tomb is the predecessor to the Taj Mahal. Humayun, the second Mughal Emperor earned his place in Delhi. After his army was driven out to India to Persia, he made his triumphant return in 1555, only to die falling down a flight of stairs shortly after. It definitely leaves an stunning first impression. There is a steep set of stairs to enter the tomb. It is not handicap accessible.
Location: Opp. Dargah Nizamuddin, Mathura Road
Metro Station: JLN Stadium
Timings: Sunrise to sunset
Entry Fee: 10 (Indians), 250 (foreigners)
Photography Charges: None (`25 for video filming)
Parliament & India Gate
Big, impressive and covered in monkeys. They can’t fit their parliament into one building, so they have three. I’m not sure if a tour is possible, but the traffic was nonexistent on the weekend, so we were able to pull up in front, get out and take pictures. The India Gate is a straight shot from the parliament building through a long park, very similar to
LUNCH: The imperial
Janpath Lane, Connaught Place, New Delhi, 110001
Have you ever wanted to live at Downton Abbey? Have you ever wanted to live in Downton Abbey and then take a trip to India? The Imperial Hotel makes you feel like you’re walking into a novel or Masterpiece’s Indian Summers. We had the impeccably presented lunch buffet. If you ask the concierge, you may get a tour of the other restaurants and bars in the hotel – each have their own story and history.
If you’re too tired to enjoy it… take a nap!
A.K.A. Puranas Quila
After a quick walk through of the small museum earlier in the day, we came back for the light show (after dark, about $30-40 pp). About 80 folding chairs are set up facing one of the only crumbling, yet standing walls left of the Old Fort. For about 30 minutes brilliant colors and loud music guides through the history of the six Mughal emperors that ruled Delhi. If I was quizzed, I’d say I remember Babur, Human, Akbar and Sha-Jahan…4 out of 6 ain’t bad! I’d say the content was a bit dense and the program overall a bit long, but it was certainly a unique experience. However, if you’re a history buff and can’t make it, you will hear their stories many times in your travels across the North. The Mughal emperors’ lives rival soap operas, with wars, romance, family betrayal and more. For example, the emperor who built the Taj Mahal was arrested and locked away before he could build the black mausoleum that would have mirrored the Taj and been his own resting place. Or there’s Akbar who had one Hindu wife, one Muslim wife, one Christian wife, and 50 concubines. While there may have been drama in his personal life, his open and accepting love life reflected his political beliefs, and the region enjoyed tolerance, peace and prosperity.
Location: Near Delhi Zoo, Mathura Road
Nearest Metro Station: Pragati Maidan
Open: All days
Entry Fee: 5 (Indians), 100 (foreigners)
Days Closed: None
Photography Charges: Free (still camera); 25 (video camera)
Diplomatic Enclave, Sardar Patel Marg, Chankyapuri, New Delhi – 110021
I saved the best for last! Bukhara – a “frontier”, rustic themed restaurant with the best grilled meat (tandoori) I’ve ever had. I’ll admit I didn’t have the average experience. Our dinner was a wedding reception of around 35 people, so our menu was set. Dish after dish of meat kept rolling out: prawns, lamb, chicken, fish… It was all dowsed in Indian spices, predominately a coriander mixture – my favorite! They serve exclusively North Indian cuisine, but that seems to let them perfect the food they feature. The online reviews are over the top and for good reason. You can view the chefs as they cook from behind a class wall (probably to keep the smell of the grill from overwhelming). This is not a cheap date… but if you’re OK with the price, then you’ll thoroughly enjoy it. Trip Advisor has some pictures of the menu, if you’re curious about the price. Note: The restaurant is located inside a hotel.
Contact: Bukhara, ITC Maurya, A Luxury Collection Hotel
For reservations or details, please call 011-46215152 / 26112233 or email email@example.com