Recently one of my batch mates from MBA who’s not from Delhi was cribbing bout "Meri Dilli" .... I din like it ... I wrote him a mail telling him to stop cribbing or go back to where he came from or just appreciate the place where he is cuz the city really is great. Delhi rocks with all its "goods and bads" (wrong English I know - but it’s a joke b/w me n ma frnz so...)
So well, then I thought why not put together a small eye opener for some of you who know only the so called "BADS" (which by the way is always equivalent to safety for girls and which I believe is not great, but also been blown out of proportion). And before anyone says anything, I am already accepting that the city has its own shortcomings, but then which city doesn’t. So keeping that in mind and read along :)
And well, m not going to talk about the things you will easily find on a travel website like India Gate, Qutub Minar, Red Fort, etc....cuz they are all obvious. Like if u go to London u cant miss Piccadilly rite? Or if u go to Washington you can’t miss the white house. So I am going to talk more about what you should explore and see to really know the city beyond the honking horns and F1 race track traffic (thanks Duru for that thought). And wherever I can....I will beg, borrow, steal, click and put a pic to prove my point :)
Old is gold, so lets begin from old Delhi
Three religious places almost next to each other and still prevailing - Hanuman Mandir, Jama Masjid and Gurudwara Sheesh Ganj. One you get over the site of hoards of people lining up outside each of these for paying their tributes, try catching up with the chandani chowk...don try getting your car or a 2 wheeler here. You better walk...and if you don want to, try a cycle rickshaw. That’s the charm of chandni chowk. A cryptic Wall Street of bargaining and trade set in early early 19th century with glimpses of 2oth :) Here was where the business deal was born. Have to see it to believe it cuz even I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.
Now for specific interests - all the books lovers, every Sunday you get some great books, all originals at dirt cheap prices... I have bought some really old books that are not even in print now here. For the rest, the chor bazaar will give you everything from a laptop to a car...lol
Anyone interested in spices - well welcome to Asia's Largest Spice Market called Khari Baoli. Next to it is the Dariba Kalan known as the jewelers' lane. Here you can bargain hard for gorgeous baubles.
Chawri Bazaar for all your copper and brass accessories, tokens etc and the very famous Nayi Sarak for the best range of stationary u cannot possibly imagine. And if you remember the movie Fanna - the bangle's lane is also here and is called Churiwalli Galli .
Old Delhi still not over guys - the food heaven is still left. You must visit the Paranthewalli Galli and Karim's. If you don go here, you will be missing on the best food ever. You will even get the banana, cream and dry fruit parantha here. Yummmmmmmmmmmmm is not the word I say!!!!! Ones really got to taste it to experience what heaven feels like...lol!
Well then comes the Central - Connaught Place, popularly known as CP - was designed by Robert Tor Russell and W H Nicholls. It was named after the Duke of Connaught, a member of the British royal family. It was the largest of its kind in India at that time. It’s known for all the shopping n Jazz so m just going to mention the places you must go to.
Will start with my fav Chinese food joint - Bercos. It’s pretty famous for that and you can find it in Inner Circle. Just above it is Spirits, nice lounge so drop in. Then ther is Sagar Ratna in outer circle and Madras Cafe in inner circle. Loads of fancy restaurants to visit but if you really want to taste the mast punju food, then Kake ka Dhaba is the
place to be. Its bang opposite Costa Cafe in outer circle.
If you want to enjoy a nice time, try going to Mist or Aqua Lounge at the Park Hotel....but if u want to shake it baybayhh!!! - Then try Agni - the discotheque at Park again. Like Mexican, you can go to Rodeos. And if you like going around in circles, well Parkikrama offers the perfect solution and a unique view - being a revolving restaurant on top of a high rise building.
Not too far away is the Bengali market which houses the Bengali Sweets and Nathan Sweets next to each other. Nathans has been one of the best in Chloe Bather and Golf gape since a long long time. Mom used to work at a place walking distance from there and I used to look forward to Saturdays as it was mom's half day and dad would take me n my sis to her workplace. And then we all used to go to Nathus for lunch. Hmmmmmm!!! Ok this post is not about my childhood memories so back to Delhi.
Shoppers pay attention to Janpath and Palika. Janpath is a street side market mostly known for its export quality clothes and accessories. While palika is an underground fully AC market mostly known for its leather and electronic items. But if you go there alone, you better be good at bargain. Else take a typical dilliwala along with you, lest you crib bout paying more than u should have. Not to forget Shankar Market famous for all kinds of "kapda and latha". The fashionable cloth prints and designs hit this place even before you see someone else wearing them. For the more desi ones...you can try exploring the Central Cottage Industries and emporiums from each of the states. Khadi is by far the best, at least I think so.
And for all those who just want to sit around, well the central park with its absolutely green grass beds and multi-colored fountains is just perfect. And I know I said that I will not talk about famous places, but well, you can not can not miss an evening picnic at India Gate...trust me, its fun to just sit around on the lush green lawns and look around the amazing architecture of The Rashtrapati Bhawan, The India gate and The Parliament all at the same time!!!
On our way to my fav place in Delhi, we have two interesting stops...First - for the chaat lovers, you can not can not miss the UPSC chaat. The best chaat in the WORLD. You will get everything from a fiery aloo chaat to a cooooool kulfi faluda. But a personal recommendation is the Bhalla Papadi, simply superb n finger licking delicious!
And then Khan Market - Mrs. Kaur's cookies and Khan Chachas rolls. Yeh nahin khaya to kuch nahin khaya. Don’t leave Delhi without visiting these two eat outs. And of course Khan Market also houses the very famous Big chills - my recommendations are the chicken Piri Piri pasta, Lasagna, ginger fizz, The Mud Pie and the cheese cakes...everything just melts in to your mouth...yummmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!! One place which has never ever disappointed me!
We will now move on to my favorite place in Delhi - The India habitat centre. Lots of ppl ask me why so...actually I don’t know. It’s just so peaceful and calm and I love being there. It’s got lots of NGO offices running from there, has theatres for plays etc. Loads of workshops and classes related to art. Art galleries, photography and craft displays. This by the way is the same place where Rang De Basanti was shot. It was shown as the International Students Hostel in the movie. So the amphitheatre where the practice, the huge gardens where they take screen tests - its all IHC. And then there is the food court - Eatopia. Food tares good and is probably one of the cleanest Kitchens you will find not just in Delhi but across India. Grandma's Bakery corner is something you must check out. The desserts are mot just different but deliciously different.
Walking distance from here is the Lodhi gardens. Famous for its lover’s lane, this is an awesome place. Must have seen a garden inside a fort, but come here and enjoy the fort inside the garden. Try taking a walk or jog in the morning n evening, you may come across some really influential and powerful personalities of the nation being overpowered by their dogs ;)
Every time I go there, there is only thing I fail to understand. All these biggies come here to jog/walk and there houses are a stone throw away from the park...but they still come in their larger than life cars. LOL!!!
Anyway...we now move on to another Delhi gem - the Delhi haat. You will find everything you want to eat here - all Indian state's have their food stalls here along with handloom, art and crafts, accessories, etc. Special melas are also organized here from time to time - basant mela, mango fair, handicraft mela, diwali melas, etc etc etc. The hair braiding and stamp mehndiwalis sit just outside the complex and is much fun. And for all the Ladies, this is the place where you can get a range of earrings for just Rs 10 - YAYEEEEEEEE!!!
Not too far is another shopping abode - the sarojni nagar market. You will get anything and everything in this market...Other markets similar to this will be Karol Bagh - Gaffar Khan Market and Lajpat Nagar. These markets have electronics, clothes, accessories, shoes, food, etc etc...Literally anything you can ask for. And well for all those who want to buy some cool cell phone at even cooler prices...gaffar’s the place to be ;)
Oh! and the techno wise computer geeks must visit Nehru place....heaven for them. Personally I have been there only when I needed something or if I was driven someone there when they wanted to buy computer stuff so can’t say much, except that this place never disappoints anyone who wants to buy comp gadgets.
Other shopping places to visit will be Saket city Walk mall - ALL BIG Brands under one roof...And the PVR Priya, this place is "IN" since the time of my grand dad...lol...try the CHOKOLA restaurant at Priya, it’s got all these amazing cocoa recipes. I couldn’t finish their pure chocolate shake...was so delicious, yummy and MAN!!! It was so rich. A nice change from all the cafes around.
Some great restaurants here...and two dishes voted in top 3 chocolate preparations in India are available here. Oberoi's cake shop will provide you with their Rank 1 chocolate cake/pastry and Nirula's will server you the Rank 3 hot chocolate fudge. And there is a great Italian restaurant...can’t remember the name but it’s simply amazing.
Come a little further towards Gurgaon and there you have the Mahipalpur road...all brand factory price outlets lined up one after the other. Can buy some really good stuff. I remember buying a pair of Adidas shows for just 750 bucks, showroom price being 1750!!!
And well I generally do not like too many museums and all but two museums I really love are the Doll Museum and the Rail Museum. Doll Museum has one of the largest collections of costume dolls in the world. The museum host more than 6000 varieties of dolls and represents almost 85 countries. Simply enchanting.
And the Rail Museum is an open air museum, so its much fun that ways. It showcases various models of train engines and coaches including the model of India's very first train, a steam engine that made its journey from Mumbai to Thane in 1853 and the locomotives displayed in the open are simply lovable and the Toy train is adorable and still running .
And if you coming to Delhi in Feb.-March....you ought not miss the Mughal Gardens - personally I think this is sir Edward Lutyens best piece of work, he designed it for Lady Harding. It’s situated in rashtrapati bhawan and the best garden I have ever seen. A classy blend of the formal Mughal style with the design of a British Garden. It is beautified with Mughal style canals, fountains and terraces, adorned beautifully with hedges and flowers. With in the garden compound, there are many small and big lawns, like Pearl garden, butterfly garden and circular garden. The circular garden is the place which is beautified with massed segmental and tiered flower beds and is the best place to see butterflies.
Try going to the Garden of Five senses as well - A spectacularly designed picturesque located at Said-ul-Ajaib in southern part of Delhi. This garden is an amalgamation of color, fragrance, texture and form with a unique chime of 500 bells producing soothing sounds in its background
And if this is not enough...try taking a drive starting from Rajpath, through Akbar Road, Chanakya Puri and Satya Marg - won’t say much as I shall let some pictures do the talking.
Dont forgett to take a ride around the city in the metro. I personally believe that this is the best thing to happen to delhi. Comfortable, fast, suits the pocket too...and on top of this, no jihik jhik and no chik chik of traffic and pollution. An auto rickshaw costs me somewhere between 80 to 100 bucks from CP to my place in east delhi while a metro ride costs me just 17 bucks. I am waiting for the day it connects the entire city and my bank balance increases despite the fuel prices rising by the day.
And in the end, I would like to mention two new additions to my delhi family - The Millennium park and Akshardham
Millennium Park provides lush green lawns and a peaceful environment to dillwale dilliwales. It’s a 16 cr project that turned a landfill to a lush green garden which is divided in 5 sections. One of them is called smriti van and you can plant a tree there for yourself. I love the concept!!! It also has a beautiful white Shanti Stup with gold decoration. Amazingly beautiful...just looking at it makes one feel so peaceful!!!
And last but certainly not the least is the place where you can see technology working hand-in-hand with religion - Akshardham. It's a sort of cross between a hi-tech Disneyland and a traditional temple. There is a boat ride though an artificial tunnel, a yagna-kund that is also a synchronized colorful fountain, an "audio-animatronics" show, and a giant movie screen that shows a special movie filmed in over 100 locations in India, with a cast of 45000 people. The scale and drama of Akshardham make me wish it were a metaphor for modern India - eager to accept new learning, but at the same time, vibrant and self-confident enough to convert it into something uniquely Indian.
If this is not enough, well I would just like to say that I haven’t even started talking about Delhi, forget about the other places in and around NCR... and my fingers are aching already!!! And if you want more, m sure you can find loads of info about famous monuments like India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhawan, Jama Masjid, Birla Mandir, Red Fort, Old Delhi Fort, Delhi Zoo, Sheesh Ganj, Hanumaan Mandir, Lotus temple, Iscon temple, Chattarpur Mandir, Bangla Sahib, Rakab ganj, Rajghat, Himayun Tomb, Jantar Mantar, etc etc etc.
More some other time or on request :) and thanks to www.flickr.com and my new sony erricsson for the pics that speak for themselves!!!