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As a person coming from another part of the world to explore Delhi, you must be open to experiences you have never had before. The sheer number of people that live in this capital city is often off-putting for people who come expecting a calm hill station-like environment.
However, Delhi is a glorious city that has been the capital of not only modern India, but also seven previous civilizations – including the British Colonial rule. Its rich cultural heritage has left behind a vast trail of monuments waiting to be explored. The city is also a paradise for food lovers and shopaholics. There is plenty to see and do in Delhi, and many reasons to love the city.
I have travelled all over the city during the four years I was in college. From heritage sites to markets and some major food stops – I have tried to cover it all. I have also lived in this city for my whole life and I can guarantee that when you return from Delhi, you will have developed a certain liking to loose fitting clothes called salwar kurtas, elegantly draped sarees and Indian curries.
Fluent English is not spoken widely in many parts of town, so it is advised that you learn to speak basic Hindi. People are often amazed to see foreigners, and might even ask for a picture with you. Do not mind this as they usually mean no harm. (US travelers: the visa to India for US citizens is a little bit different than you’d expect).
If you want be transformed, the city is an escape. You can be lost and found at the same time. The experience is unforgettable.AG
Smoking and drinking in public is looked down upon, kindly refrain from doing so. Same goes for revealing clothes. You are expected to dress modestly and comfortably if you do not want to draw any unnecessary attention towards yourself.
The food in Delhi comes from a vast range of cultures throughout the country and the world. Your tongue is up for a roller coaster ride and your tolerance to spice will definitely be tested. The food is primarily vegetarian, but some parts of Old Delhi cook meat in ways you have never imagined. There is a possibility that you might be drenched in curries and naan breads, but if you go to the right places you will be spoiled for choice.
Be very very careful when travelling around as people might trick you into paying double or triple of what you should be paying, and you won’t even realise it due to the currency difference. It is advisable that you make friends with a young person and ask them how you should be travelling to different places and at what cost. Even the tour guides are not completely honest when it comes to matters like this. Also, keep your money safely in a handbag close to your body as pickpockets see travellers as easy targets.
If you are looking for affordable accommodation with a variety of food, central location and a bit of the flavour of the whole city, Paharganj is where you can go. The place has a huge market and an array of hotels for you to choose from.
If you want to stay outside the city, Mahipalpur is closest to the International Airport and has many choices for accommodation. If you really want to get the whole Delhiite experience, go for the small boutique hotels and B&Bs scattered all over the city. They are hard to find, but technology is there for your rescue.
You are in for a treat if you are looking for traditional Indian outfits or fusion dresses. There are a number of markets apart from the usual malls and brand stores. I suggest you get a feel for street shopping, which requires you to practice a new skill – bargaining. Whenever a street hawker quotes a price, quote exactly half of it and then pay an increase of 10-20 bucks if they refuse to budge. In the end, pretend to walk away and look at other vendors. I am sure they will come calling. Bargaining makes shopping an experience and not a chore. Once you get used to it, shopping in any other way will become boring for you.
The weather of the city is entirely dependent on the time of the year. There is a stark difference between the summer and winter months, so you will have to pack accordingly. February to April is possibly the best time to visit if you want to get around comfortably. The weather is pleasantly hot and springy at this time of the year.
That’s it for now. I hope this guide to Delhi will be helpful in planning your next trip to my wonderful city. If you ever need a guide, I’ll be happy to show you around. If you want to be transformed, the city is an escape. You can be lost and found at the same time. The experience is unforgettable.
For more, check out Mussoorie, India.