Very Rough City Guide – Delhi
A potpourri of culture and character. Where art, culture and tradition thrives amid global influences. Delhi, India’s capital city is full of history and has so much to experience.
Who else could be a better expert to tell us more about Delhi than Punita, who has been living in Delhi for over 30 years now.
Punita made an unconventional choice when she shifted gears dramatically from publishing and editing a successful HR magazine to pursuing her passion of part-time travelling and full-time writing. A self-confessed history buff and architecture lover, her writings reflect her love for all things dreamy and vintage.
Her blog, 100 Cobbled Roads, carries her personal narrative interpretations of her travels across legendary old cities, hilltop villages, everyday exotic and mesmerizing natural wonders.
Let’s get started now.
Sai: How do you sum up Delhi?
Punita: The bustling nerve-centre of India, vibrant, cosmopolitan, energetic. A modern metropolis with a centuries-old soul. The political power hub of the country, always in the news for something exciting, good or bad.
With all the urban conveniences and infrastructure, India’s eternal city, Delhi, has attracted power-seekers since the 10th century and has endured even after multiple conquests and destructions.
What are the top things to do in Delhi?
Soak in the grandeur of its heritage by exploring its various monuments and museums, including the Rashtrapati Bhawan and India Gate. Savor the rich traditional cuisine, a legacy that has endured over centuries. Immerse in one of the many ongoing cultural events, whether its jazz festivals or classical music or theater.
Enjoy the vibrant entertainment and nightlife at the various restaurants and pubs of Connaught Place, Gurgaon or Hauz Khas Village. Explore the sprawling bungalows and tree-lined avenues of Lutyens Delhi and the white colonnades of Connaught Place. Walk in the various public gardens and feel part of nature.
Spend a mystical evening at Nizamuddin Dargah with soul-stirring Sufi music. Discover the funky street art of Lodi Colony.
What if someone has only one day to explore Delhi….
Take a Hop On Hop Off bus through the city, for a complete overview of all the major, iconic sights and monuments, its forts, temples, mosques, old bazaars, tombs, gardens, lush greenery & street vibe, modern malls & sleek commercial spaces, its plush neighborhoods & crowded back alleys.
All the chaos, confusion and diversity that is so quintessentially Indian.
Where can someone find the perfect meal in the city?
Delhi offers endless variety of cuisines across budgets.
For mouth-watering street food, pick chaat, parathas and kababs of Chandni Chowk.
For the most authentic Indian fare, choose one of city’s legendary restaurants – Karim’s, Bukhara at ITC Maurya Hotel or Moti Mahal.
And for world-class European food like Mediterranean, Italian, Turkish, Spanish, Moroccan, Greek, German or French, you’ll be spoilt for choice at Diva, Olive, Tres, Lodi Restaurant and Seville.
Specialty restaurants from different regions of India have mushroomed in the last few years, including Bihari at Potbelly Cafe, Parsi at Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu, SodaBottleOpenerWala and Bengali at Oh Calcutta.
For kulfi, the go-to vendor is Moet’s in Defence Colony and for scrumptious pastries and savories, its Wenger’s in Connaught Place.
What is the best thing about Delhi?
Despite having its fill of crowded neighborhoods, it is the greenery and wide open spaces that intrinsically define the city. 20% of Delhi has forest or tree cover, as compared to 15% of other Indian cities. We are lucky to have so many parks and green belts to add to the beauty of the ever-expanding urban facade.
What is the worst?
We have way too many people and way too many cars, sometimes this interferes with the process of enjoying peaceful moments in this lovely city. 27 million is a large number!
Selective perception can help to a large extent… just focus on the essentials 🙂
What is a little known fact about Delhi….
Delhi has over 1300 small and large heritage monuments, of which three are UNESCO protected and Humayun Tomb, whose architecture inspired the Taj Mahal itself.
Tourists only know about a handful of these. It is a delight bumping into forgotten tombs behind buzzing markets or hidden away in a quiet residential corner.
Your favorite spot in Delhi is….
Lodi Gardens on an early winter morning, enveloped by soft, floating mist. Unless its 4 am, you will never be starved of company. Despite dozens of walkers, joggers, fitness addicts and nature lovers of diverse ages all over, the serenity of the setting is admirable.
On a typical weekend what would you be doing?
Having a gourmet meal at a restaurant, watching a play or a music concert, taking a heritage walking tour or indulging in a photography session somewhere.
Taking a slow stroll in the monsoon that washes the city to a fresh green, sipping hot coffee at a delightful garden cafe or indulging in gajar halwa during the extreme winters and quenching the Delhi heat with a refreshing fruit drink indoors in the peak summers.
Delhi is a city where we have the privilege to revel in the intensity of every season.