Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Delhi Days

A bunch of nice places I haven't managed to go yet on this visit

When you are losing your sanity because of bureaucratic runarounds in Delhi (no names please), and suffering from post-Ladakhitis and the stench of the dead Yamuna, here are a few places to go where you can breathe relatively easily.

Lodi Gardens
in South Delhi. This is a lovely, clean, green space filled with trees, grass, dog walkers and Mughal mausoleums. Really classy. And it's in between two major historic sites, Safdarjung's Tomb and Humayan's Tomb. Admission is free to the Gardens.

The Hauz Khas Deer Park is another verdant, safe, shady relatively clean park, not as well known as others....I think there are even a few deer still there. There is a small admission fee (like 10Rs).

Hauz Khas is a semi-trendy neighborhood in South Delhi. (I like South Delhi, I just cannot afford to stay there.)
After your walk, you can complete the feeling of being in western Suburbia by visiting the local Pizza Hut. (!)

The Metro does not run directly to these locations; your best bet for Hauz Khas is to get in an autorickshaw. Humayan's Tomb is in an area called Nizamuddin, reachable by the #459 bus from Connaught Place.

Jantar Mantar is very centrally located, just walking distance from Connaught Place. Its array of salmon-coloured abstract formations, which look like modern sculpture, are actually a 300-year-old Mughal outdoor observatory. All kinds of sundials and stepped pyramidal formations dot the park like giant building blocks. I think there are still astronomers around who can read these instruments. At one time there were five Jantar Mantar ("Yantra Mantras") - in cluding Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Varanasi. The largest is still in Jaipur.

Jantar Mantar has also become the place of choice for "staging a dharna" (holding a demonstration or protest).

There is a $2 (or about 90rs, which is actually now more than $2) admission fee for foreigners to JM...but I suggest trying the unmanned back gate.

Seven Cities in One
Delhi is just really, really vast and was made in a very ad-hoc way ( it is actually 7 historical cities adjoining one another and overlapping) so different areas vary wildly.

Another nice thing about Delhi is that there are enough foreigners living here residentially, for various non-touring reasons, that we do not excite so much attention. It is still definitely an Indian place - but a cosmopolitan one.

Delhi has gotten a reputation for crime, especially against women, so I am now careful to get home by about 9 or 10pm. The Metro, one of Delhi's star attractions for this budget traveler, stops running at 11pm.


Anoop said...


That is a wonderful little description of some of the many intriguing places in Delhi. I am an Indian student (a native of Delhi) studying in the US, so it is especially interesting for me to see Delhi from an internationals eyes. Now that I am half the world around, I think I should write a piece on my interpretations and opinions of places here.

Sirensongs said...

Hi Anoop: You should have heard the responses of Jeff and Susanna (next day entry) - it was their first day in India ever!

Where are you in the US? It's always interesting to hear about the place one grew up through a newcomer's eyes.