Delhi is a sprawling and ancient city of 13 million people in northern India. New Delhi, the national capital, forms a small part of the wider metropolis. Most people use New Delhi and Delhi interchangeably to mean the greater city of Delhi.
Old Delhi today has a rich and colourful character stemming from its organic growth over several centuries and its still somewhat medieval ambience. Majestic monuments, labyrinthine alleys, crowds of beggars and street-vendors, bazaars of the jewelry market at Dariba Kalan, the embroidery brocade market at Kinari Bazar & the Parathewali Gali (Indian bread street) are all within the limits of Chandni Chowk (literally, “moonlit square”). A cycle Rickshaw tour through the winding lanes and by-lanes will show you all it has!
In contrast stands the New Delhi of Edwin Lutyens, who also designed the vice-regal palace to represent “the ideal of British Empire”. Close to the palace, the ceremonial Beating the Retreat is replayed each year on Republic Day as the sun goes down, showing off the monumental pink sandstone of the Secretariat.
Today Delhi is growing at a breathless pace, beyond the scattered citadels of erstwhile dynasties and far beyond the ken of the colonial and latter-day town plan. Delhiites display an amazing ability to adjust to influences from various communities and regions yet retain their culture.
The National Capital Territory of Delhi is split out into nine administrative districts drawn out around new and historical cities that now make up, what most people think of when people say “Delhi”. The National Capital Territory includes New Delhi, the capital of India.
Delhi is a modern and vibrant city, but also contains remnants of several cities attributed to its long history as a seat of power in the Indian subcontinent. Many of the vestiges of these ancient cities make for interesting day trips for those looking for an extended stay in Delhi. The ancient cities include: Indraprasta, Dhili, Mehrauli, Siri, Tuglaqabad, Jahanpanah, Ferozabad, Shergah, Lodi Complex, Shahjahanabad (now called “Old Delhi) and Lutyens (now New Delhi).
There are quite literally hundreds of neighbourhoods in Delhi, each functioning with it’s own local market, main roads, parks and community resources.
Notable Delhi Neighbourhoods
- Old Delhi – The Walled City of Delhi, founded as Shahjahanabad by the Mughals has 14 gates with 26 feet high walls, 12 feet deep made of impressive red stone and includes the amazing Red Fort. It’s filled with many narrow streets, many with their own specialties: Silver, Wedding supplies, animals, spices, books. There are several notable temples and is a has Muslim regions where you can try tasty Mughlai eats.
- Central Delhi – Central Delhi is an administrative district for the municipality of Delhi. It includes three 3 regions: Pahar Ganj: well known to backpackers for the numerous affordable accommodation options. Karol Bagh: with busy market streets and a growing number of western stores. Darya Ganj: Part of the wall city, known for it’s Sunday book market.
- New Delhi – This is the core of Lutyen’s Delhi, formed by the British Raj during their reign. Connaught Circle, a large business, financial and commercial business center. There are two large concentric circles of Georgian architecture. Twelve roads lead out from Connaught Circle, the most well known of these being Janpath. Adjacent to Connaught Place is the Bengali Market. New Delhi also includes Parliament Street area and Chanakyapuri. Chanakyapuri is home to most of Delhi’s foreign embassies and the large estates of politicians and government officials.
- South Delhi – Technically not a neighbourhood, South Delhi represents an a extensive area including the Indira Ghandi Airport in the west to the Yamuna in the East. Treating is as one neighbourhood is useful and a well known short hand used by Delhiites. South Delhi is a fairly affluent residential regions of Delhi, including Defence Colony, Greater Kailash, Lodi Colony and Jor Bagh. It also includes interesting archeological sites for some of the ancient cities of Delhi: Siri (including Haus Khaz), Tughlaqabad and Mehrauli (including Qutab Minar). South Delhi has many beautiful green spaces, affluent shopping areas and is well known for its educational institutions (AAIMS and IIT). South Delhi also includes Nizamudin (Humanyun’s Tomb), a large muslim neighbourhood with lovely mosques near the New Delhi Golf Course.
- Mehrauli – Mehrauli is the oldest continuously inhabited area of Delhi, with a history of more than 1,000 years. The Tomars were its earliest rulers. They were defeated by the Chauhan Rajputs and then in 1192 Afghan Muhammad Ghori established Islam in the region. From 1206, the Mehrauli area became the capital of the Delhi Sultanate under the Slave Dynasty. The first Sultan of Delhi, Qutb-ud-din Aybak, was a former slave who rose through the ranks to become a general, a governor, and then Sultan of Delhi. He started the construction of the Qutub Minar and the Quwwat-al-Islam (“Might of Islam”), which is the earliest extant mosque in India.
- The District of East Delhi – located on the other side of River Yamuna or in the Trans-Yamuna area. It is bounded by the border of Uttar Pradesh comprising of Noida and Ghaziabad. It has an elevation of 239 metres above sea level.
Sights and Activities
Red Fort – Laid along the River Yamuna (which is almost dry most of the time), Red Fort was built by Emperor Shaha Jahan (of Taj Mahal fame). It is today a symbol of independence. Depending on the time of year (not the winter), visit the Fort at night when they have a very good light and audio show that tells the history of the Red Fort and India. Hours: Open sunrise to sunset, Closed on Monday, Price: Rs.100
Major buildings within Red Fort
- Chatta Chowk – This is a covered bazaar between the gate and the fort itself, now overflowing with keepsake hawkers.
Diwan-i-Am, (Hall of Public Audience). This building separates the external court from the internal court, and has a marble stage for the emperor’s throne.
- Hayat Baksh Bagh (Life-Bestowing Gardens) – Once a splendid garden of full of fountains and streams, now miserably all dry – only dry channels and acres of green grass stay behind.
- Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience) – Built entirely of marble, this is where the ruler received extraordinary visitors.
- Khas Mahal (Private Palace) – The Emperor’s main house. The octagonal Mussaman Burj tower looks out toward the Yamuna River, and is where the Emperor used to become visible before the public for each sunrise.
- Rang Mahal (Colour Palace) – The residence of the Sultan’s main spouse.
- Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel Palace) – Contained six apartments for the Sultan’s harem. Now used as a museum of court textiles, carpets, weapons, etc (free).
- Daawat Khana – A minor palace at the northmost end of the Fort, this was initially the home of a prince, but it was rehabilitated into a tea house by the British, a function it continues today. Basic meals go for around 60 rupees, drinks 10-20 rupees, and it also has the cleanest toilets around.
- Swatantra Sangrama Sangrahalaya (Museum of the Independence Movement) – To the left after the Chatta Chowk, this is a practically well-presented museum on the history of independence activism in India, starting from the Mutiny of 1857 all the way to Gandhi.
Other Places in North Delhi
- Jama Masjid (Open sunrise to sunset; Entrance Rs.110) was built in 1656, Jama Masjid is the country’s largest Mosque, opposite the Red Fort.
Chandni Chowk – Chandni Chowk or the moonlit square was the eyes and ears of the Mughal instincts, and still is by way of the largest whole sale commercial hub, designed by Jahanara Begum one of the daughters of Shan Jahan. This entire region was then known as Shahjahanabad. You can join a Heritage Walk through the lanes on a Sunday and explore it on a rickshaw on other days.
- India Gate is a symbol of Edward Lutyens’ architectural heritage. It is 42 metres high and was built as a War Memorial in dedication to the Indian Jawans (soldiers) who gave up their lives fighting in World War 1.
- Old Fort (Purana Quila) (Open sunrise to sunset. Entrance Rs.110) is a ruin of an old Fort in the heart of this capital, which gives a great character to the city. Built by the great Sher Shah Suri some time in the 16th century. It was from one of the towers of the Old Fort that Humayun fell and died.
- Jantar Mantar (Open sunrise to sunset; Entrance Rs.100) is a natural observatory to see the movements of the stars and the planets. It was built on the lines of the one in Jaipur by Sawai Jai Singh in 1724.
Humayuns Tomb – Humayuns Tomb is aptly called the predecessor of the Taj Mahal because of its ornate Mughal style architecture, later perfected in the Taj Mahal, also built by the grieving wife of Humayun in 1565-66. The great architectural splendour becomes overpowering upon entering the lofty double-storied gateway. Simple, yet a work of highly developed engineering skill of the Mughal period. Hours: Open sunrise to sunset, Price: Rs.250
Dargah Nizamuddin Aulia – Dargah Nizamuddin Aulia is the shrine of one of the most important revered Sufi Saints in India is close to Humayun’s tomb. It was as per Humayun’s wish that he was buried near the tomb of the Sufi saint and Shah Jahan’s daughter, Jahanara, is also buried within the tomb complex of the saint next to the tomb of the poet Amir Khusro (who was a disciple and friend of the Saint). The live qawwali sessions held on thursday evenings here are not to be missed. Please note that the shrine is amidst people living in poverty therefore there are a lot of beggars in the vicinity. An option could be to get the food coupons that are sold in shops enroute to the shrine and distribute amongst the poor.
- The Parliament House can only be admired from outside. Close to India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential palace) and the North and South Blocks.
Gandhi Smriti – Gandhi Smriti on Tees January Marg is the former house of business tycoon Birla where Mahatma Gandhi spent his last 144 days of his life and where he was shot on 30th January 1948. The house has been converted to a multimedia museum and memorial for Gandhiji.
Qutab Minar – Qutab Minar is considered one of the most perfect towers in the world and is 72 metres high. In front is an iron pillar built in the 5th century that has not caught rust to date. Belief has it if you can encircle your hands and hold both from drawing across your wish can be fulfilled. Hours: Open sunrise to sunset, Price: Rs.250
Shrine of Khwaja Syed Muhammad Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki – The most famous site in Mehrauli is the shrine of Khwaja Syed Muhammad Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, locally simply known as Qutb Sahib, who was a renowned 13th century Muslim Sufi mystic, saint, and scholar of the Chishti Order. This shrine has been held in great esteem by the rulers of Delhi and was continuously extended throughout the centuries. There is also the Jahaz Mahal (“Ship Palace”), Delhi’s most important Jain pilgrimage site, the Dadabari Mandir, the mystical Kala Mahal building, the city’s most beautiful baoli (step-well), the Rajao ki Baoli, and the Jamali-Kamali compound. Curiously, the shrine of the Sufi saints Jamali and Kamali is significant for the Indian gay community, which sometimes refers to it as India’s only gay monument.
Going clubbing is comparatively expensive in Delhi and is more something for the upper income classes. However, nightlife activities become increasingly popular and more and more local people are able to afford it. Besides, there are plenty of other cultural events, mostly for free. Newspapers including the Hindustan Times and The Times of India carry daily and weekly listings and information on interesting events. For Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore the famous Time Out magazine is published and gives you lots of ideas of what is up in the city. In Delhi there are other local magazines such as First City and Delhi Diary.
But also outside of Delhi there is a very lively cultural scene. If you are willing to adjust a little bit, you will be able to make the most of the local festivities and religious observances you are most likely to encounter. Ask around in Delhi to learn about things that are happening. Often you will end up being a guest of honour at a marriage or shaking a leg during some lively celebrations.
There are several walking tour operators in Delhi and walking tours of heritage sites are an experience that should be tried out at least once during your Delhi visit. Some of the better known walking tour operators are: Delhi heritage walks with scheduled walks each Sunday, India Offtrack which offers unique single day and multiple day tours by professionals in other fields ranging from photojournalism to women’s empowerment who have a common interest and fascination for their city’s heritage sites, Intach heritage walks which offers scheduled walks led by enthusiastic volunteers at INR 50 per person.
For those interested in shopping, there is a range of shopping venues from Sarojini Nagar market for street shopping of export surplus or slightly defective products to the Greater Kailash extension I and II for shopping on the high end. Products on offer at Dilli Haat varies according to who has rented out the stalls at any given time but the concept and design of Dilli Haat – where the rural producers/ sellers from all over India can directly rent out stalls and sell their products is nice. Mainly sarees, shawls and sometimes handicrafts such as jewellery or ‘jhootis’ (shoes) can be found here. Live music performances, regional food stalls all add to a unique ambience. Hauz Khas village has a range of designer boutiques where prices are significantly higher than in other places but what is on offer is quite exquisite and arty and does not confound you with a vast offering so well worth a visit. A significant number of malls have opened in the suburbs of Gurgaon and Noida and for those interested in western style clothing and brands, the malls would be interesting.
Events and Festivals
Republic Day is a National Holiday commemorating India’s new constitution in 1950 and the declaration of independence of 1930. Every January 26th, Delhi puts on a fantastic exciting show of strength with the Republic Day Parade at Rajpath in New Delhi. Enormous crowds gather along the route to remember the sacrifice that was made during and since Independence, salute India’s exemplary citizens and watch the colourful procession of armed forces in full battle regalia. Before you think airplanes and tanks aren’t your thing, consider:
- Border Security Force Camel Contingent including the camel mounted “marching band” with bright turbaned men on brightly decorated camels;
- Fun floats representing each of India’s 28 states and 7 union territories;
- Impressive rows of infantry regiments, with unique regional uniforms and mounted regiments on caparisoned horses;
- Military helicopters that drop millions of flower petals over the crowds;
- Daredevil motorcycle stunts performed by the Indian Arm including human pyramids on 2 wheels;
- And of course, battle tanks, Barrel Rocket Launchers and jets aerial stunts.
Even if large crowds aren’t your thing, you can come a day or two early and while you are catching some of Delhi’s must-see sights, you’ll be sure to glimpse parading elephants, camels and soldiers rehearsing along the route.
Phool Walon Ki Sair
Phool Walong Ki Sair means “procession of florists” and every September, at the end of the rainy season there is a secular 3-day celebration of the florists of India, including an enchanting procession of musicians, dancers and large floral displays that weave around the Mehrauli Bazaar. Cultural troupes from different regions of India perform dances, plays and songs, giving the festival a national flair. At any time of the year, Mehrauli’s flower market is worth a visit even if you aren’t in town for the festival.
Garden Tourism Festival
The Garden Tourism Festival is prepared by the tourism ministry of Delhi and has nothing to do with any particular society and tradition. The festival takes place in the month of March and continues till four to five days. It draws interest and excitement from garden loving neighbourhood in Delhi. The basic idea is to bring citizens of same likings under one roof where people throw colored waters on each other. The month of March is also the spring season and the city is full of beautiful flowers all around. So, this time of the year provides a favourable surroundings for hosting such a festival where tourists also find somewhat new and exceptional to appreciate.
The Mango Festival is celebrated in the month of July which offers you varieties of mango to choose from. It is held in Delhi and people gather to buy Mangoes of more than 1000 varieties grown in the country. India also happens to be the largest mango producing country of the world.
The Qutub Festival is celebrated at the Qutab Minar in the month of October. Artists and performers from different parts of the country gather to perform on the occasion.
Other Events and Festivals
- Holi is quite popular in the Indian sub-continent and is traditionally celebrated on the day after the full moon in the month of Phalguna (early March), according to Hindu calender. Holi is a thanksgiving festival, where people offer prayer to God for good harvest and fertility of the land. Holi is a festival of freedom from social norms and caste inhibitions are shed for a day as people indulge in fun and merry-making. Colors and ‘gulal’ are showered on the people dressed up for the occasion and the whole community seems to merge into one big family under the guise of colors, without any distinction whatsoever. Children with face smeared with colors run around with ‘pichkaris’ (big syringes to splash colored water) and play amongst themselves. People exchange good wishes, sweets and gifts. Holi is also marked by vibrant processions which are accompanied by folk songs, dances and drum beating. Parties are also organized where snacks and the traditional milk-based drink “Thandai” is served which is often intoxicated with “Bhang”. Of late, lots of foreigners have started taking interest in this festival and they even enjoy the colors and the intoxicating drink. It is advised to cover your hair with a cap and eyes with sunglasses to avoid the colors splashing the eyes and damaging the hair.
- Gandhi Jayanti – Gandhi Jayanti is a national public holiday commemorating the birth of the peaceful activist, Mohandas Gandhi on October 2, 1869. The celebration coincides with the United Nations’ International Day of Non-Violence. In India, Gandhi is remembered through statues, flower and candle offerings, prayers and singing the devotional hymn Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram. The Indian government issues special mint rupees and postage stamps bearing his picture.
- Diwali – Diwali is the five-day festival of lights held in India in late October or early November each year. The widely celebrated Hindu event marks Lord Rama’s victory over the demon Ravan. Homes and streets are decorated with lights, candles and small clay lamps, and new clothes are worn and sweets are exchanged.
Delhi, like most of India, has three seasons. In general, from June to October the country is influenced by wet monsoon from the southwest. The coolest, driest time is from December to February, when light northerly winds bring clear skies and little rain. From March to May, Delhi becomes hotter and hotter and the drought continues. The rains only come when the wind turns again to the southwest. Summer temperatures are extremely high from March to June, just below 40 °C on average, but over 45 °C has been recorded. The rainy season typically starts in June and continues through to September. Winter daytime temperatures are nice, but nights can be chilly, with temperatures occasionally reaching freezing. In December and January fog can also be an issue, preventing you from enjoying some of the sights of the city and even causing frequent delays to flights and occasionally even affecting trains. Even so, December to February is the best period to visit, as you avoid the hot weather and the rainy months.
Urban sustainability investigation of the greater urban area of the city using the ‘Circles of Sustainability’ method of the UN Global Compact Cities agenda, Delhi is the most polluted city in the world and according to one estimate, air pollution causes the death of about 10,500 people in Delhi every year. During 2013-14, peak levels of fine particulate matter (PM) in Delhi increased by about 44%, primarily due to high vehicular and industrial emissions, construction work and crop burning in adjoining states. Delhi has the highest level of the airborne particulate matter, PM2.5 considered most harmful to health, with 153 micrograms. Rising air pollution level has significantly increased lung-related ailments (especially asthma and lung cancer) among Delhi’s children and women. The dense smog in Delhi during winter season results in major air and rail traffic disruptions every year. According to Indian meteorologists, the average maximum temperature in Delhi during winters has declined notably since 1998 due to rising air pollution.
|Avg Max||20.8 °C||23.7 °C||29.7 °C||36.1 °C||39.8 °C||39.4 °C||35.2 °C||33.7 °C||34 °C||32.9 °C||28 °C||22.7 °C|
|Avg Min||7.7 °C||10.3 °C||15.4 °C||21.5 °C||26.2 °C||28.3 °C||27.1 °C||26.3 °C||24.7 °C||19.4 °C||12.8 °C||8.4 °C|
|Rainfall||20.6 mm||21.5 mm||14.7 mm||11.1 mm||17 mm||68.3 mm||197.8 mm||205.5 mm||129.3 mm||20.5 mm||3.7 mm||8.8 mm|
The Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) serves Delhi and is one of the busiest airports in southern Asia and the biggest in India itself. Recently, it has improved a lot and has become bigger, safer and more convenient.
International flights are numerous. Air India has flights from Delhi to Chicago, Dammam, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Jeddah, London, New York, Osaka, Paris, Riyadh, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Tokyo, Toronto and Washington, D.C..
Indian Airlines flies from Delhi to Bangkok, Dubai, Kabul, Kathmandu, Muscat, Sharjah and Singapore, while Jet Airways serves London, Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Brussels, Dhaka, Dubai, Hong Kong, Kathmandu, Singapore and Toronto.
Several dozens of airlines have many other places served, including Amsterdam, Moscow, Almaty, Beijing, Mauritius, Seoul, Vienna, Warsaw, Rome, Taipei, Guangzhou, Addis Ababa, Helsinki, Bahrain, Kuwait, Munich, Tehran, Kuala Lumpur, Lahore, Karachi, Amman, Kabul, Colombo, Zürich, Istanbul and Tashkent.
Besides this it has two other domestic terminals for flight departures to other parts of the country and one domestic terminal for all arrivals from all over India. Destinations throughout India include Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Agra, Varanasi, Khajuraho, Jaipur, Udaipur, Nagpur, Jodhpur and Goa, among many more cities.
The airport is connected to Delhi by the Delhi Airport Metro Express train line and the 8-lane Delhi Gurgaon Expressway. Low floor buses regularly run between the airport and the city. DTC operates several buses to the airport. The Delhi Mass Rapid Transit System will connect the new Terminal 3 with Delhi city.
You can find prepaid taxi booths at the airport. They are operated under the direct supervision of the traffic police. It helps to avert over-charging, refusal, misbehaviour or harassment by the drivers. You simply go there, tell where you want to go, and then a duly signed receipt indicating the taxi number, destination, service charges, and the fare will be given to you.
During the winter, Delhi frequently experiences thick fog and visibility become poor significantly, making it complicated for flights to land and take off. Both worldwide and local flights are often abstracted, cancelled, or postponed.
Train services only link to Pakistan during times of peace and are not very reliable. There are numerous trains connecting the rest of India though. There are two main stations in Delhi: (Old) Delhi train station in Old Delhi, and New Delhi train station at Paharganj. There’s also the Nizamuddin train station, south of Sunder Nagar, where various trains (usually for south-bound destinations) start or finish. Many trains between Delhi and Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner and Udaipur operate to and from Sarai Rohilla train station, about 4 kilometres northwest of Connaught Place.
Trains get there at one of four main stations: Delhi Junction, also called Old Delhi or Purani Dilli; the second at New Delhi which lies in Central Delhi; Hazrat Nizamuddin a few kilometers to the south; and the upcoming Anand Vihar station to the east (very few trains use Delhi Sarai Rohilla or Delhi Cantt stations). Delhi Junction and New Delhi Railway Station are now suitably connected by Metro Line 2, just minutes away from each other, while Anand Vihar is served by Line 3. It will take about 45 min-1 hr to travel from the New Delhi Railway Station to the airport by car, depending on traffic.
A ticket office open to all is on the road to Connaught Place with longer hours. It often has waiting times not much longer than at the tourist booking office. You will need to know the number or name of the train you want to take. Easiest of all, though, is to book online through the Indian Railways booking website. (Note, however, that you are compulsory to have both an e-mail address AND a mobile phone number that is registered within India in order to admission the booking area of the site.)
Delhi Railway Station
Officially Delhi Junction (code DLI), but best referred and know to as “Old” Delhi Station for precision. Like New Delhi RS, this station is massive and puzzling. The platforms are not in linear order, with some hidden in the west and east wings of the stations. The railway station is served by Metro Line 2 Chandni Chowk station, with an entrance just outer at the east end of the station and also just above the main road outside (last metro at about 23:30). If taking an Auto Rickshaw from here, the prepaid desk will often try and charge you as much as four times the authentic price described on the authorized price guide displayed clearly in their window – bargaining is sadly often cheaper.
Hazrat Nizamuddin (code NZM) is the arrival and departure point of many trains going towards south India. Practically speaking, the only way to get here is by cab or car. The budget choice is to take a bus to the Sarai Kale Khan Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) on the ring road and then walk over to the station (400 metres). It’s the least disorganized of the Big Three, but still appealing big and inadequately signposted; listen to the announcements to figure out your train. The station has some appealing food points that sells low-cost, clean takeaway food and drink including sandwiches and samosas. If you have some time to take train, plan a stopover to Humayun’s Tomb, which is so close to the station that you can listen to the announcements from inside – although it’s a long, circuitous walk from the station to the entrance.
Anand Vihar Terminal (code ANVT) is Delhi’s newest station, located well to the east of the city near Ghaziabad – Delhi Border. Repeatedly delayed, the station finally opened in December 2009 and will gradually take over all east-bound services. The station can be reached by Delhi Metro Line 3. Anand Vihar Terminal is just opposite to Anand Vihar Interstate Bus Terminal (ISBT).
Delhi is connected by highways to most major Indian cities. By road one can easily visit nearby historical places like Jaipur, Agra and also hill stations in Himachal Pradesh.
Good Luxury buses are advised for road travel. Delhi’s main bus station is the Inter State Bus Terminal, north of the (Old) Delhi train station. There are numerous services to other Indian cities. There are services to Jaipur (six hours, several services daily between 6:00am and midnight), Udaipur (15 hours, one daily service at 7:30pm), Ajmer (nine hours, daily at 7:30pm, 10:00pm and 11:15pm) and Jodhpur (11 hours, one daily service at 10:00pm). Buses connect many more cities, but sometimes travelling by train on long journeys is far more comfortable and faster as well.
Not really an option here.
By Car or Auto-Rickshaw
For short trips within Delhi you will normally use an auto-rickshaw. For 10 kilometres all the way across Delhi, for example, you should pay Rs.80. As the drivers sometimes try to charge strangers (but also locals) a highly over-priced fee, it is all about bargaining, which can be lots of fun. At the same time these experiences will be a good practice for other daily situations. Taxis are around double the auto-rickshaw price but also more comfortable. Take one if you want to have a nostalgic ride in the typical black and yellow Ambassador cars, which were copies of the 1950s British Morris.
By Public Transport
The Delhi Metro is a world class rapid transit system which became operational from December 2002. The metro uses both elevated and underground lines and has received the ISO 14001 certification for environmentally friendly construction. Currently three lines are operational covering many parts of the city. A dedicated metro line from the International Airport to New Delhi railway station is currently under construction and is scheduled to become operational by September 2010. An ambitious plan is in place to connect Delhi with its adjoining areas by additional metro lines, which will become fully functional by 2020, taking the length of all lines to 413 kilometres.
There is a choice of tickets to choose from:
- Token is available for a single journey and the fare ranges from Rs.6 to Rs.22.
- Smart Cards, which are valid for year are convenient for frequent commuters and are available in denominations of Rs.50 to Rs.800 and usually a discount of 10% is given on all travels made using them.
- Tourist Cards are popular amongst the tourists and are available for 1 day (Rs.70) and 3 days (Rs.200). These can be used for unlimited travel on the metro network within the specified period.
Most of the city buses plying in Delhi are non air-conditioned and can be quite uncomfortable during the summer months. Recently a fleet of A/C buses have been introduced on select routes and many more such buses will be introduced in the coming years.
Walks are recommended in the historic Delhi areas, such as Old Delhi and Mehrauli, in the evenings when the city is buzzing with activity. Summer months (April to June) can be extremely hot and is not recommended to cover the city on foot especially during the day.
You can hire bikes in small colonies and residential areas. City limits are too congested and over populated to even think of biking. Leave it for visit in small towns.
- Bengali Market is located off the greater circle of Connaught Place. It is like a regular fast-food restaurant, except you get sweet, sour, spicy delights very cheap and at fast speeds of service (faster than McDonald’s). Recommendations are Gol Gappas, Delhi Papri Chat, Aloo Tikki, Samose, Gulab Jamun, Kulfi, Chole Barute.
- Nizam’s is located in the inner circle of Connaught Place. It is one of the oldest Kebab and Biriyani fast-food restaurants.
- China Fare is located in Khan Market, South Delhi. It serves delicious, mouth-watering Chinese-Indian spicy dishes.
- Big Chill , also located in Khan Market, South Delhi. One may have never thought about where the best Italian food is served in the world but that’s right, it is served in big-chill. Italian pastas with Indian touch.
- Andhra Bawan at Ashoka Road near India Gate is a canteen of the Andhra Pradesh Government office in Delhi. It is open to outsiders and generally packed as the South Indian food served there is delicious. Long queues during lunch hours and you will need to wait to be seated after you get your token.
- Dilli Haat has a food court in the middle with food stalls from different Indian states. It is a good introduction to Indian food.
- Paranthe Wali Gali – Located in the Chandni Chowk area of New Delhi, the Paranthe wali gali as the name suggests is renowned for the huge number of shops selling paratha that is a fried Indian bread. Note that the parathas are strictly vegetarian! The parathas are very budget-friendly and you can eat to your taste buds content!
- Bishan Swaroop – One of the hidden gems of Chandni Chowk is Bishan Swaroop. Located on the unruly side streets of Chandni Chowk, this place is totally worth the effort put in finding it. The average cost for two is a meager Rs. 50 for two people! The fruit chaat & aloo kulla (scooped out boiled potato and having the filling of chickpeas with the garnishing of spices and lemon) is totally mouth watering!
- Prince’s Paan & Chaat Corner Not everyone would be comfortable to delve deep in to the by lanes of Chandni Chowk, to satisfy the taste buds of such individuals Prince’s Paan & Chaat Corner is the solution. The apt up-market place for those who want to taste delicious street food in Delhi without venturing much. Owing to its location in the posh Greater Kailash I, this place has got great expats visiting it. The cost is steep at Rs. 250 for two but so is the taste!
Delhi has eateries to suit every palate and pocket. The chaats are the best but you get food from throughout the world.
In Delhi most of the people drink tap water (which is often not safe to drink). For the tourists packed bottled water is recommended. It is easily available all over Delhi (but make sure that the seal is not broken). The popular brands are Bisleri, Aquafina and Kinley. The average cost is Rs.15 per bottle of 1 liter. You can also request your hosts to boil water for you to consume or request filtered water in hotels and restaurants.
Alcoholic drinks are always comparatively expensive. A bottle of local beer costs around Rs.60 in the shop but restaurants, bars and clubs will charge you between Rs.120 to Rs.350 or even more. So going out (in the sense of Western nightlife) costs in Delhi about the same as in other expensive cities around the world.
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Delhi’s economy is expanding rapidly. In analogy many interesting work opportunities emerge. Monster and other online job platforms are a good starting point to see what kind of jobs are on offer. Traditionally foreigners often work in the social sector or in teaching. Increasingly, however, expats work for multinational companies and even local Indian companies.
There is a great variety of employment opportunities in Delhi for foreigners, whether they would like to work in business, NGOs, educational institutes, or even government. Still, there is one caveat: the labour market in Delhi is highly competitive and so at many prestigious organisations, the number of applicants far exceeds the number of positions available, which allows employers to receive highly talented applicants for rather meagre salaries (especially when compared to other international destinations).
When you get to Delhi you should make it a point to pick up some of the local language: Hindi / Urdu / Hindustani. Although English is popularly assumed to be a widely spoken and understood language in Delhi, it is still far from sufficient for understanding local culture or have meaningful conversations with most of the locals. For Delhi, learning Hindustani language will be an excellent investment of your time, as it functions as the lingua franca and will allow you to communicate with the maximum amount of people in the country across most of India’s varied geography.
Hindustani, also known as “Hindi-Urdu”, is a term covering several closely related dialects in Pakistan and India, especially the vernacular form of the two national languages, Standard Hindi and Urdu. Hindi and Urdu can be seen as a single linguistic entity, the key difference being that Urdu is supplemented with a Perso-Arabic vocabulary and Hindi with a Sanskritic vocabulary, especially in their more literary forms. Besides, the difference is also sociolinguistic. When people speak Hindustani, Muslims will usually say that they are speaking Urdu and Hindus will typically refer to themselves speaking Hindi, even though they are speaking essentially the same language.
Besides, Delhi is a key centre of learning in India. The most famous universities in Delhi are JNU, DU, IGNOU and IIT. The official website of the Delhi Government’s Directorate of Education is a good starting point for learning more about study opportunities in Delhi. Apart from undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral courses, there are many training and diploma-level institutes and polytechnics that cater to the growing demand for skill-based and vocational education.
Links to some of the major universities:
There’s good coverage over most of India for Internet cafes. However, following the recent terror attacks in Mumbai and some other cities, all internet cafes have been instructed by the authorities to maintain a register and note down the identification details of all persons using internet. Sify iWay is a reliable and cheap cafe with over 1,600 cafes over India. iWay also allows you to open a pre-paid account that you can use all over India. Whenever you have Internet access probably the best and cheapest way to call family and friends at home is software that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet such as Skype.
Wifi hotspots in India are, for most part, limited. The major airports and stations do offer paid wifi at around RS.60-100 an hour. Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai are the only cities with decent wifi coverage. At Mumbai airport, you get to use WiFi internet free, for an hour or so.
See also International Telephone Calls
The country code for India is 91. To dial outside the country from India, prefix the country code with 00.
The general emergency number is 100 (emergency response police & fire), while for ambulance you should dial 102 or 112, though some regions have 108 for this emergency. 108 is used in in the Indian states of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Goa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha,Assam, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. 108 can be called for medical, crime, fire, or any other emergency from any phone.
Local phone numbers can be anywhere from 5-8 digits long. But when the area code is included, all landline phone numbers in India are 10 digits long. Cellphone numbers usually start with ‘9’, ‘8’, or ‘7’. Toll-free numbers start with 1-800.
If staying longterm it is probably wise to think about investing in a mobile phone. You’ll possibly need to provide a photocopy of your passport and itinerary, so come prepared. Make sure you arrange it upon arrival in a big city, as it can sometimes be difficult to organise with language barriers and such in more regional areas. You can buy a cheap nokia for about RS.1,200 with a pre-paid plan. Airtel is a good carrier to think about as they have great coverage, and constant offers for cheaper calling. To recharge, most shop vendors with phone carrier signs can do it via their own phone. You give them your mobile number, they put it in their phone and you’ll both get messages as to whether or not the recharge has been successful. Also, if possible, buy the phone in the state where you do the most travelling as the charges are higher in the states where you did not originally buy the phone.
Over the entire country there are plenty of public phones, even in the middle of the countryside. Although most of the time these phones are not very well maintained and have horrible connections. Therefore remember when using one of these public phones one must be extremely patient.
For international calls from payphones, you’ll have to visit a reputable internet cafe with a phone-booth. Mobile phones are usually a better and cheaper option.
India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost RS.50 to 200. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.
If you want to send bigger packages/parcels, it might be better, faster and sometimes even cheaper, to contact a private company like DHL, TNT or UPS.