Nearly 10 million people wake up in Delhi every morning. They go about their daily lives familiar in their surroundings. We’ll be stepping onto Indian soil for the very first time in Delhi, knowing nothing. Like newborns with the benefit of clear vision. I’m excited, but nervous. A friend of mine, who visited Calcutta for the first time, said that the trip from the airport to his hotel was so overwhelming that he was reduced to tears. Is this the effect Delhi will have on us?
We need a loose plan of what to do for the short 2 day visit. According to Lonely Planet, below are 20 great things to do in India’s capital. We aren’t good at sight seeing. We like to get in amongst it. Meeting people, chatting, sharing and making friends. There’s no better way to do this, in our experience, than over food and an ice cold drink.
So let’s open this up. If you’ve got any suggestions we are completely open. Bars, restaurants, street vendors, locations. We arrive at 6am and are going to be hit the city running. Cramming in as many experiences as we can.
1. Try Dilli-ki-Chaat – Delhi’s tangy local street food, such as chaat papdi (fried wafers loaded with potatoes, chickpeas, yoghurt and chilli) or golgappas (fried hollow dough filled with chickpeas and spicy potatoes), in Old Delhi
2. Visit the great sandstone carcass of the Red Fort, and imagine the last days of the Mughal empire and the British era.
3. Humayun’s Tomb combines Persian style with local craftsmanship, and is surrounded by the fiercely symmetrical Mughal gardens: take a stroll here at dusk.
4. Hear qawwalis (devotional music) sung at dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya; religious songs resounding at around sunset at one of Islam’s holiest tombs.
5. A trip through the doors of the Imperial hotel is like a voyage back into the days of the Raj, with polished hallways hung with chandeliers and works of art. Drink a G&T in its 1911 bar.
7. Get lost and confused in the narrow bazaars of Old Delhi, and feel like you’ve wandered somewhere medieval.
8. Ride on the Delhi metro: so cheap, so clean, so democratic, unlike the other world upstairs.
9. Get a suit made in Khan Market – take one to copy and get made-to-measure at a fraction of the cost of Savile Row.
10. Visit the former home of Indira Gandhi, Indira Gandhi Smriti, where she was shot dead by one of her bodyguards in 1984, and learn about India’s most powerful dynasty.
11. Wander around Lodhi Gardens on a Sunday afternoon, the perfect place for people watching.
12. Discover the district of Hauz Khas, with its crumbling Mughal tombs and tempting art, antique and fashion boutiques.
13. Chow down on scrumptious masala dosas at the Janpath branch of Saravana Bhavan, and finish your meal with a deliciously gritty south Indian coffee.
14. Use the map from William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns for a different way to explore the city.
15. Eat a great Gujarati thali at pristine Rajdhani, opposite Rivoli cinema, just off Connaught Place.
16. Shop middle-class Delhiite-style at laid-back Khan Market, browsing its bookshops and hanging out for a chat at Café Turtle, fuelled by coffee and gooey cake.
17. Take a trip out to peaceful Qutb Minar, with its towering minaret resembling an ornate factory chimney.