There were some ruffled egos. Hurt sentiments. And huge scandals almost knocking to spill over in other words – a total washout, but sigh! The bride is here. The reception date is fixed. Guests have arrived. I think we should bury our small and big differences and the proverbial hatchet and place our best foot forward to welcome the guests. Confused? Am I speaking of some scandalous wedding back home? Ah! No. isn’t it apparent? Yes I am speaking of the commonwealth games to be held in Delhi. Delhi – A city rich in history, culture, spirituality and the people. Well maybe the people are not rich in wealth but they have a greater wealth called spirit! Not for any lesser reason is Delhi called Dilli – Dilwalon ka Sheher (city of large hearted people or spirited people.)
So what can Ginger Chai do for you? You will find websites galore with well written articles about the history of Delhi which we won’t dare to parallel with. Neither will there be any dearth of travel guides to guide you in the web. Images! Travel Informations! Tidbits! Trivia! History! Simply put it, Delhi is flying around all over the web. Hence we in Ginger Chai have attempted a slightly different take on bringing Delhi before you. Here we will bring before you the top five recommendations of some common things as seen from the eyes of a common Delhite, A Delhite who swears by Delhi and who is constantly exploring Delhi in her own way.
Alright, Here I go! What does Delhi bring to your mind? Or rather my mind? The magnificent Red fort, Qutub minar, Raj Ghat, India Gate, The Mausoleums, Beautiful monuments, Independence day, Wide tree lined roads. Yes the same things that you have read about or heard about or may have shown or seen just like me . If you haven’t visited them yet, I am sure your host out here must be scratching their heads off trying to form an itinerary for the same. But if we for a few moments come out of the tourist trap and think like an explorer then?
Yes that’s what I will try to do but of course with the fact in mind that the exploring has to be completed within a stipulated time and my write up within stipulated word limit.
So finally you have completed your tour of the beautiful historically oriented trip to the past, marveled at the architectural wonders. Transported to the romantic magic moments of the yore, so what next? Next, there come the things that are minor yet impossible to resist when you are traveling in a new place. Like? Shopping! Hanging out? Some fun? Unique spots?
Well, so here I am to take you on a journey through my personal version of destination recommendations but before zeroing in on specific places and activities I would like to first go for my idea of top circuits or routes or areas or should I say hot spots?. Confused? Amused? Read on to understand better.
My top 5 recommended circuits are:
Coming to Delhi and leaving without visiting Connaught place will be like visiting New York and not visiting the Times Square. Situated in the heart of Delhi and built in 1931, it’s a circular formation of a parallel set of buildings which are mostly shops housing big brands. Being a parallel circular formation, it has got an inner circle, middle circle and an outer circle. The center has a beautiful park where you can rest your weary limbs after checking out the curios and shops. Just beneath the park is the famous underground market – Palika bazaar famous for electronic goods and great bargaining (not bargains, but). Post shopping, regained your stamina with that lemonade or shikanji? Good, then you can walk over to Janpath, just a few blocks away, (a market, famous for affordable mementoes), in the periphery if you walk along straight by the side of N block. You can also visit the emporiums nearby. (More on these two in the shopping section). There are numerous fine restaurants which will provide you with choices of continental food as well as Indian cuisine. Then again, if you want to catch a movie, the PVR multiplexes are just nearby. Reaching Connaught place is easy as it is well connected by the Metro and the station goes by the name of Rajiv Chowk. One can also take a bus as it is well connected to all the places.
Well that was Connaught Place in very brief for you. Now that you have covered it somewhat then you can proceed towards the India Gate Chanakya Puri area or commonly known here as the Diplomatic enclave, the Hot seat of political power. You can cover the area in a later date too. So here goes for you.
India Gate- Rajpath- Chanakya puri –
It is one of the most beautiful and planned area in Delhi and more famously known as Lutyen’s Delhi after its chief architect. The moment you drive through that area, the prosperity that it projects with neat tree lined roads, beautiful spacious houses with neatly trimmed lawns, the embassies and all, gladdens your heart. (More on that later on) The circuit has some interesting spots like the India Gate, Shanti Path, Rashtrapati Bhawan or the residence of the President of India. Ah Now Rashtrapati Bhawan! Now though I had mentioned that I will be skipping the conventional tourist attraction with historical significance, I am tempted to add some in my write up. One being our own Rashtrapati Bhawan or the Presidential palace. Situated on top of an elevation, a little less than a hill though – the Raisina hill, it has an interesting history. It was formerly known as the Viceroys palace before being converted into the Presidential Palace in 1950 and is the world’s largest residence of any head of the state. It was built by Edwin Lutyen which he said was inspired from The Pantheon in Rome and has Mughal and European influences in it. The Mughal Garden inside the palace is opened out to the public in February every year.
So that was the Presidential Palace, well now lets move a bit east from the Rashtrapati Bhawan through the Raj path and there, we are at the India Gate, a war memorial, designed again by Lutyen, a must visit in Delhi , both for its history, its location and as a beautiful tourist spot. It’s a memorial for the soldiers of the British Indian army who lost their lives for British Empire in the World War I. More famous as the Amar Jawan Jyoti – or flame of the eternal soldier. Its better to visit India Gate during the evening as the lighted silhouette casts a serene glow and makes the view more memorable. There is also a children park and boating grounds over there to while away your time. If the street sellers cannot tempt you for a bite there, than I suggest you drive on just a little further to Khan Market in South Delhi or Yashwant place in Chanakya puri. Now I would prefer you visit Khan Market as it has this interesting tag of being one of the costliest market in Delhi. But guess what! One check with Wiki and it has been named there as being India’s costliest market and world’s 16th costliest market!!! A coffee over there, with the set crowd of Bureaucrats, Diplomats, Politicians and who’s who of the glamour world will make you feel completely uplifted in an undefined manner. I would recommend you to take a cab to tour this area rather than the metro as it is quite a walk from the nearest metro stations of Pragati Maidan or Central Secretariat
Well after the two hot spots, I will be moving on to my third hot spot which is Noida sector 18. Yes these time I am leaving Delhi to move on to Noida in the NCR and the reason I am choosing Noida sector 18 over another hotspot of Gurgaon, is basically that sector 18 houses the best of some of the fun activities and that too localizing in one perimeter where as Gurgaon is uniformly vast. Good for Gurgaon, but more convenient for a visitor to have fun in Sector 18 Noida without much transportation hassles or movement. Noida Sec 18 has a central Atta market if you want to shop for bargain products and take my word, you will be spoilt for variety. If you are more comfortable shopping in the controlled glitzy environs of a Mall, well, you have two very grandiose malls in Centrestage mall and The Great India Place. It houses many top brands and fine dining restaurants and bars and movie multiplexes. If you are the one who love to have fun and frolic, there is a top of the notch Amusement park over there called Worlds of Wonder. If you are into discotheques and pubbing, then there is Elevate- probably the best night club in India and the largest – spreading over four floors and a total area of 14000 square feet. The décor, the energy, ambience and the music are simply noteworthy. So there you see all these facilities are rolled inside a common perimeter. The place is well connected with Metro and commuting is no more a problem.
South Delhi, the so called plushiest area of Delhi and if I do not include it as the hot spot, I will not be doing justice to Delhi. But again as it is vast, I am having a slight confusion where to start from. Other than some of the most famous monuments located in South Delhi, it is more famous for the up market crowd though. As expected there are great eating places and bars. It’s a shopping hub. But it has got some of the coolest hang outs for the young crowd Like the Delhi Haat, Sarojini nagar market, South ex market. It has got some great malls too as in the Select city walk, the best in Delhi at present and Ansal Plaza, the first shopping mall of Delhi… There is the PVR Saket Cineplex, one of the forerunners in the multiplex business of the country. Some of the great discotheques and night clubs are situated here. The world famous Indian designer brands of clothing have their studios in South Delhi. If you are an art and culture connoisseur then, you have the India habitat centre and the India International centre – a place where you will experience the best of theatre, arts and culture. Be sure to find some cultural show being listed at these places at any time of the year. (More on it below). The famous Fashion designers have their retail units scattered in South Delhi. So a whole day in South Delhi will not be a waste for you.
Now this is one thing where I am totally deviating from the concept of tourist hot spots but of course with a reason. The reason is, my wish to introduce you to Indian Art and culture which is totally diverse yet each unique and very much enriching. Delhi is culturally a very rich city and the numerous state of the art auditoriums present here testifies to that. The calendars of events in all of them are almost always full, showcasing regional art and music forms, dramas, seminars etc. The notable auditoriums over here are
India habitat centre near Lodhi gardens, with a range of facilities propagate their principle – to restore at every level- environment and ecological- a balanced, harmonious and improved way of life. Spread over an area of 9 acres it incorporates innovative new technologies in building management, conference systems, communication and energy conservation, creating as stated the most intelligent building in the country. Other than offices and research organizations, it also houses a club, the most comprehensive convention centre, several restaurants and performance venues for cultural activities.
India international centre- This is another non official organization and institute which attempts to play an important role in enhancing the cultural and intellectual aspect of the society by their aims and objectives. This place also offers a variety in seminars and concerts or exhibitions. If you want for a change to pursue intellectual activities then this is one of the right places to visit on a fine day which is again near Lodhi Road…
Kamani Auditorium: – Kamani Auditorium has the history of show casing the talents of the likes of Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Sharukh Khan and it is primarily a platform for promotion of Performing and Applied Arts and Theatre services. Everything about Kamani is professional including the acoustics, logistics, lights curtains and wings. It is just near the Mandi House metro station making your journey there easier. Well my suggestion- Catch a show at the Auditorium – Where legends perform, as their tag line goes.
Over and above the mentioned ones, there are also other noteworthy places like the largest Auditorium in Delhi – Sirifort Auditorium. Or the Shriram Centre for Arts and culture, their forte mostly being puppet shows and drama. You can enjoy an enriching experience culturally at any one of these places…
So these were my top five recommendations for a whole some day. There are numerous other hot spots too but I chose mine keeping in mind the over all feasibility and variety of choices offered at a featured place.
Well that was a long winded beginning to a short three part series that I hadn’t planned to be so long winded. But that is Delhi, be it just enjoying being a part of it by exploring, or by writing and speaking about it, you just get into the flow and lose track of time. In my next I will be taking you shopping and driving around the beautiful driveways of the city.