New Delhi


City description

No other city in India expresses the country’s many contradictions as well as New Delhi, its capital, home to 18 million people. Noisy and crowded, at first glance it may not seem very welcoming, But New Delhi is well worth persevering with and offers visitors the opportunity to experience a truly multicultural society best explored in a rickshaw. Overwhelming modernity, despite the surprising absence of towering skyscrapers, and age-old traditions, live side by side for all to see, and here you can step from one world into another at every street corner, every street food stall, every shop or temple.

It’s at Connaught Place where it all begins: welcome to a thriving business district, built by the British in the 1930s. This huge circular memory of the country’s colonial past separates the two different Delhis: New Delhi in the south and Old Delhi in the north. In the latter, the narrow streets filled with traditional houses are home to a compact crowd of turbaned Sikhs and women wearing dazzling saris on their way to the bazar. Further on, the Red Fort rises up, reminding us of the city’s Mughal past, and the annual setting for the celebrations for Indian Independence Day. To find out more about the nation’s history, check out the nearby National Museum of New Delhi. But it is at the Karol Bagh Market that the bustling, vibrant atmosphere of the old part of the city really comes to the fore, with stands packed with shimmering saris and pashminas.

With shop-keeping in its blood, New Delhi has no shortage of bazars and huge open-air markets, like Lajpat Nagar, as well as shopping centers, led by Select Citywalk in the more recent part of the city. The slightly more sophisticated boutiques in Khan Market are a popular haunt, particularly with Indian high society and wealthy expats. New Delhi is crammed with thousands of tiny buildings that live alongside the architectural gems and iconic monuments that fill the city. Sai Baba Temple offers a great opportunity to learn about the subtleties of Hindu culture, before a trip to the impressive Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President’s official residence. Let yourself be won over by the beauty of Humayun’s tomb, whose architecture was inspired by the Taj Mahal. Slightly further north, still in New Delhi, Gandhi Smriti pays tribute to another Indian legend: Gandhi. India is fond of its icons and celebrates its heritage with the same enthusiasm with which it keeps its traditions alive. Diwali and Holi bring the whole city to life as stunning examples of this.

But New Delhi also has a more contemporary, creative side to it, fed by its many different influences. The National Gallery of Modern Art showcases the current arts scene while further south, Hauz Khas Village, known as Delhi’s answer to Montmartre, is a popular haunt with hip, arty youngsters who flock to its cafes, antique shops and designer boutiques.

Despite its hustle and bustle and millions of inhabitants, New Delhi has plenty of green pockets where you can get away from it all. Lodi Gardens, right in the heart of the city, are particularly popular with families and runners. Come here for a welcome break and explore its 15th century royal tombs, nestled in a lush green setting, before disappearing once again in the meandering streets of India’s capital.
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