Photo by Aquib Akhter on Unsplash

Delhi: off the beaten path

There are those who think that to transform your inner being you should go to an India.

Transformative or not, it is true that India never leaves anyone indifferent, nothing you can see here will be the same anywhere else in the world.

You do not visit India, India visits you, you do not see it but you live it. The kind of experience you have will depend on you

For the best you must assume a correct attitude: openness to the new, trust and let yourself go. If you try to control it, you lose.

India is perhaps the greatest challenge that a person traveling has to face. With miles of years of history, you will have to adapt and leave behind your customs, your beliefs and your problems. It's you adapting to India, not the other way around.

India is INTENSE: sensory, emotional and intellectually.

It is almost impossible to understand it, at most and only if you spend a good time, you can discover meanings and explanations where, apparently, there were none.

India is always a one way road, it is a challenging, surprising and arduous road, but it is worth it.

Most visitors entered this country through Delhi International Airport, and took a day or two to get to know its capital. First impressions are not always good, because it is a huge culture shock, in addition to the fact that it is a large, noisy, chaotic city, sometimes polluted and difficult to move around.

It is not love at first sight, but as you discover it, it can become lasting love.

I feel like my home in Delhi, so much I love it. It is a city with infinite possibilities, with hidden treasures that most tourists miss to find.

Many people wonder how many days are enough to get to know Delhi. There is no one right answer, as any time I can spare you will be fine, I am not exaggerating if I said it could take weeks or months.

Delhi, with its almost 22 million inhabitants, has a history that dates back to the 6th century BC, making it one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and if records of a good part have not survived, although it does have a vast documentation from the Sultanate of Delhi in the 12th century. Since then, Delhi represents the cultural heart and political center of the country.

 It is an eternal city, with varied green spaces, wide avenues, vibrant, chaotic, with countless places of interest and layer after layer of history built during seven previous civilizations, each of which has left a trail of monuments declared Heritage Sites by the Unesco.

Beyond these sites well known to tourists, there are others that are left out and that have a unique value for the visitor.

Old Delhi

If photography is your hobby, the opportunities here are truly incredible! Losing yourself in the narrow alleys of Old Delhi is like stepping into medieval times. They contain the very essence of India because it is inhabited by people from all corners and immigrants from neighboring countries. Therefore we find a multicultural and multilingual population that brought its gastronomy and its products.

Old Delhi becomes the heart of the Indian capital thanks to its history and dynamism. There you find Chandni Chowk, the great market of the city, giving away scents and colors and such iconic places as the Red Fort or the Jama Masjid mosque to remind us of the history of India contained in a single neighborhood: from the Mughal forts and palaces to the British Raj architecture.

Chandni Chowk

It is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi, its name means "Moon Square" and it was designed in 1650 by Princess Jahanara, daughter of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (to whom we owe the Taj Mahal). Within its walls, 3 million people live in a chaotic maze of bazaars, mosques, motorcycles, tuk tuk, pedestrians and bicycles. It represents an immersion in authentic India.

Here is Khari Baoli Road, the largest wholesale spice market in Asia. Spices connected India to the West, and the Khari Baoli Road market has been in operation since the 17th century. From its roof you get a unique view.

 Each turn to an alley brings a new surprise, as it ends, near the Kinari Bazar, to a quiet street with nine colorful painted Jain havelis (mansions), which were built in the 18th century.

In the heart of Old Delhi, and very close to Chandni Chowk, is the largest Islamic mosque in the city and in India, the Jama Masjid, the friday's mosque. It was built in 1650 by the emperor Shah Jahan, an impressive example of Mughal architecture that seats 25,000 worshipers. There are some great restaurants like Karim's and others in the surroundings, suitable for those who dare to make a Street food, the opportunities are great.

Another place to shop around is Paharganj, a picturesque neighborhood located next to the New Delhi railway station, known for its crowded streets, inexpensive shops and has become the place where budget hotels for backpackers proliferate. they arrive in Delhi.

Touring the Old Delhi in tuk tuk, passing through the very narrow alleys of the metal and paper market, is something that is not easily forgotten, the eyes will not be enough to see so much, becoming an almost surreal and highly enjoyable experience.

New Delhi

Leaving Old Delhi we then arrive in New Delhi, known as the Lutyens Delhi by the British architect who designed it, Sir Edwin Lutyens, in 1912. formed by a series of roundabouts, where luxury shops, restaurants and high-end hotels are located. 

Nearby is the largest Sikh temple in Delhi, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, whose peaceful atmosphere is a great place to see one of the most spiritual parts of this great capital, and also to take a break from the noises of the big city. As in any Sikh temple, volunteers prepare and serve free meals in the langar.

 In New Delhi is where the Gateway of India is located, a place where a crowd gathers to enjoy the sunset. The India Gate is a 42-meter-high monument, under which you can see a flame that is continually lit and honors the soldiers who have given their lives for their country.

To the south of Delhi you come to the Nizzamuddin area, one of my favorite neighborhoods. It is like entering another world, I am not exaggerating. There is the Nizamuddin Dargah, the resting place of one of the most famous Sufi saints, Nizamuddin Auliya, as princess Jahanara and Amir Kushro poet as well, who attracts Sufi devotees from all over the world. Every night you can hear the moving sound of live qawwalis (Sufi devotional songs) accompanied by traditional Indian instruments. 

Continuing south-west, you reach Hauz Khas, where history mixtures with this bohemian neighborhood, full of attractive art, antique and fashion boutiques.

Like Delhi's traffic, it can be maddeningly slow, more so at peak times, getting around by subway is a good option, and women have exclusive carriages.

And if you want to try local transport be sure to board a tuk-tuk, which is used for shorter stretches and you will be guaranteed fun with a good dose of adrenaline.

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