I am back in Delhi, for the third time, if you can believe it! Currently I am working on arranging a new travel plan as my trip to Kathmandu was canceled due to the earthquake. During the earthquake I was in Bodhgaya. which is just south of Nepal, and we felt the tremor of the quake there, but luckily no one was injured or killed nearby.
My next travel plans were to go to Kathmandu and then explore a bit of Nepal. But very unfortunately many people in Kathmandu and other areas of Nepal were devastatingly impacted by the 6.7 magnitude earthquake, and rescue teams and aid are now helping to find the bodies of those that died, to get people food and clean water, and to start cleaning up and rebuilding after the catastrophe.
I thought of going over to help since I already have a flight booked to Kathmandu and then one to Greece, however, flights going in and out of the area are not yet running smoothly, so I decided it is best to cancel my flights.
So, in the meantime I am here in Delhi again, enjoying a city which I never thought I would like.
The first time I came to Delhi I was actually scared for my safety, and thought it would just be a busy, dirty, polluted city.
But turns out, Delhi is not as intimidating as I had initially thought, and it really isn’t any dirtier than other Indian cities. Besides being surprised about the cleanliness and safety of the city, I was quite surprised by the many cultural activities, and even parks throughout Delhi.
Thus far, I have spent about a total of two weeks in Delhi, as it is a main transit hub for northern India, and will probably spend a few more days there before leaving India for Europe.
Delhi is a huge city, with a population of 21 million people, and is now the largest city I have ever been to. Traveling through Delhi itself can take hours depending on the time of day, so planning your time in Delhi accordingly is important.
For seeing the sights it is best to stick around South Delhi, or anywhere near Connaught Place. Most of the time I stayed farther north in a guest house near my friend, but I was just there to hang out with him, and I made many girl friends at the guest house so it was a great opportunity for cultural exchange.
I stayed with another friend in the south for a few days, and really enjoyed south Delhi and the proximity to the major Delhi sights. I also was on an organized tour with my parents, and we did a day in Delhi by tour bus which was comfortable of course.
So here’s what I saw in Delhi. And believe it or not, this is just a small selection of wonderful places around the city:
Lotus Temple: The Lotus Temple is a gorgeous B’hai Temple. When you go inside, there is an open space for prayer or meditation and open to those of all faiths, backgrounds, beliefs, or lack of belief. I loved this space, and the energy inside, and I wanted to stay longer –maybe I will go back!
Haus Khas Villiage and Deer Park: Deer park is a huge green space with a big lake in the center, and you guessed it, many deer! There are historical monuments scattered throughout the park, and it is a lovely place to take a walk and forget that you are in a major city. Neighboring this park is a very charming, artistic neighborhood called Haus Khas Villiage. This is kind of like the SoHo of Delhi and is filled with interesting places to eat and charming narrow streets and alleyways.
Jama Masjid: The largest Mosque in all of India, and a very lovely place to visit. The detailing and inscription on the mosque is very beautiful and being in this mosque reminded me of the many mosques I visited in Turkey. Beware, foreigners are asked to pay a 300 rupee charge, but I have heard from several people this is total BS because one should not have to pay to enter a place of worship. Just tell them that and yous should be fine, or pay, which is what I did.
Old Delhi – Chandni Chowk: Jamu Masqid and the Red Fort (I didn’t go to the Red Fort but you can see it from Jamu Masjid) are located in Old Delhi. On the way to these locations, you will pass by a large market full of crowded streets and many shops offering everything from motorcycle parts to fancy wedding dresses. My friend and I stopped for some street snacks and I had a delicious cashew milk beverage flavored with saffron, vegan yum!
Mughal Gardens: These gardens are found on the President’s estate, and are only open for several hours per day in February and March. I was lucky enough to be in Delhi during this time, and experience the beauty of these gardens!
Nizamuddin West: This is a six block colony connected to a large mosque in the center. The streets in this area are like a maze with shops, beggars, and religious pilgrims. For me, the best part was the delicious and unusual sweets. Make sure you find a sweet parantha, they are like a French croissant, but better!
Qutab Minar: A large tower made of sandstone and marble which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Construction for the site began in the 1100’s and was competed in the 12th century. It is a very beautiful complex with plenty of green space to relax for a few hours.
What were your favorite sights in Delhi? Would you like to visit any of these places?