Delhi has been home for more than 20 years. Despite the accusations about its notorious nature, I have a distinct fondness for the city. Delhi angers, agitates, irritates, excites, soothes, all at the same time on any given day. But, it has survived the wrath of time gracefully and has been rebuilt seven times. There’s a stubborn resilience.
One shouldn’t let a sole emotion drive their perception about Delhi because the city deserves more.
Connaught Place (Picture credit: Travelogy India)
Gallant kings & mighty dynasties made their way to Delhi swept by the charms of this city and evaporated into thin air over time. Delhi survived.
In any conversation about Delhi, I have heard complaints about the current inhabitants of the city the most. Loud, obnoxious, unpleasant, and narcissistic are some of the characteristics that define the people of Delhi now.
There was a time when the city’s inhabitants were revered for their poetic finesse, court customs, savoir-faire, affability, and above all class. That era has now become merely words in books, but judging the city by its current state would be unfair without reading those chapters.
And, when I travel to those corners of the city that still radiate flavors of the old bygone times and read fine books such as the City of Djinns & Twilight in Delhi, I am transported to another time. I realize a city as charming as Delhi would always attract people, of all kinds. When you remove that element, Delhi can shower the best on you. One must have an eye for beauty, as a beholder.
Rashtrapati Bhavan (Picture credit: Make My Trip)
To start with, you can make a visit to the numerous historic monuments, specifically built by the Mughals, to know how they came, conquered, prospered and left their mark on the city. Reminiscence of their poetic eloquence and artistic inclination can be found in those forts and palaces. Taj Mahal has found its way to the seven wonders of the world list, but the other wonders are waiting for you in Delhi.
Safdarjung Tomb (Picture credit: Maps of India)
Humayun Tomb (Picture credit: TravelKhana)
Lodhi Garden (Picture credit: Maps of India)
In my travels, I have noticed that food is a mirror to the culture & history of a place. Erstwhile rulers traveled with their butlers to satiate their taste buds and that ensured that recipes traveled from place to place. That’s how Delhi tasted biryani and korma. For Mughlai cuisine, I profusely thank their invasion.
Their masterpiece, Biryani, is a delicacy revered by tons of people across Asia and Middle-East. Meat (Goat/Beef), basmati rice and whole spices are the ingredients that make this dish, yet it’s not something that everyone can cook, though relished equally by all. To taste the best, make your way to the narrow winding alleys of old Delhi where you can savor a tête-à-tête meal with the locals.
When your soul is satisfied, move to the part known as Lutyens’ Delhi. The English had to leave their mark, albeit elegantly when it came to architecture. Edwin Lutyens, a famed British architect, designed the administrative circle of New Delhi, largely.
The Rashtrapati Bhawan (current residence of India’s President), Rajpath, Connaught Place, Secretariat Building and the Parliament House beam of English architecture, designed by a team of architects led by Edwin Lutyens. All these buildings and spaces are frequented by tourists regularly, however, most of them miss the Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone. This zone, brimming with massive mansions and sprawling gardens, would give you a taste of English aristocracy.
Picture credit: Whats Up Life
Picture credit: Zee News
Picture credit: Wall Street Journal
Theaters, art exhibitions, history museums, cultural fairs, and niceties flow throughout the city. Just don’t get an image of Delhi from the chaos, traffic jams, swearing, pollution, and shopping malls.