I’m back. Soz for being MIA for over two months – I’ve had my hands full with friends visiting from abroad, hacking it as a business journalist and a little bit of travelling across India. Yeah, I went to Delhi, Udaipur and Jaipur last month – and what an experience it was! So folks, here it is, post cards from my travels!
Oh Dilli, what can I say? You have all the ingredients to be a terrific city but I just didn’t fall in love – soz! #itsnotyouitsme #givemebombayanyday
But in all seriousness, Delhi’s bad rap for female safety felt exaggerated. I have stayed out late, on my own, wearing (possibly) skimpy clothes, and not once did I feel insecure.
We stayed at Connaught Place, the bustling heart of Delhi – and perhaps the safest and most convenient place for tourists to lay their hats.
On the first night we stayed at Shangri-la’s Eros, and what a rip-off it was! The service was awful and the rooms were cramped — the free WiFi and the lush toiletries were the saving grace.
On our way back, we went for The LaLiT, which was better than Shangri-La’s Eros but not the perfect 5* experience. The hotel felt too impersonal, but the buffet breakfast went some way towards making up for it ;-) Then there’s the issue with its location: it is situated next to a dilapidated, pee-stinking building, and I felt kinda uncomfortable walking past it from the Barakhamba Road metro station in the dark.
As for shopping – by that I mean for desi wear – in CP, please resist the urge – everything here is so overpriced! Rather, you grab a java chocolate chip frappuccino from the Starbucks at block A and head to Karol Bagh, which is about a few stops from the Rajiv Chawk metro station.
Admittedly, Karol Bagh can be a tad overwhelming with the choices that it presents, but you can haggle a lot, which means you might not have to make too many crushing choices ;-) Yeah, I bought one-too-many sarees than I intended to, but the shining glory of my spree was this replica of the Manish Malhotra saree that Deepika sported in Badtameez Dil for just… Rs 980! Can you believe? I forgot the name of the store (it’s right at the beginning of Ajmal Khan Road and the store also has a tailor who takes orders for blouses) but it has replicas of all the sarees that Bollywood belles were seen in at just a fraction of the price – score!
For everything else, I’d recommend tootling down to Vasant Kunj for the troika of shopping centres – DLF Emporio, DLF Promenade and Ambience Mall.
After all that, if you have the time, do check out Hauz Khas Village and Khan Market as well.
Now on to sightseeing, which Delhi is replete with. But if you’ve to pick one, I’d prescribe the boulevard of magnificence that is Rajpath.
On one end is the India Gate, which is just too majestic to put into words, and way more imposing than the Arc de Triomphe in Paris (and I’m a fervent Francophile to begin with!). I wanted to go there in the evening (y-es, y-es, blame Rang De Basanti for it!) but our hotel concierge said it wouldn’t be too safe. We had to make do at noon, and the monument simply glistened against the azure backdrop.
On the other end are the Rashtrapati Bhavan and Central Secretariat, which are resplendent in their own ways too. Gotta hand it to the Delhi authorities for managing to keep this place so sparkly clean!
Right, as for getting around the city, use the metro as much as you can. It’s clean, cheap, convenient, quick, punctual and whatnot. Yeah, it easily puts the London Underground to shame. I loved it so much that I used it for getting to and from the airport as well. The. Best. Thing. About. Delhi. You’d save 10 percent if you buy a Smart Card for Rs 50 (which you can get back if you return the card to DMRC); plus, you don’t have to stand in ticket counters every time and can be flexible with your destinations.
The taxi drivers in Delhi are a pain, I’m afraid. Always ask a local how much would the fare be to get from point A to B (the cabbies are programmed to fleece you!).
While you can easily get by with English, your trip would be cheaper if you know Hindi – people assume you’re a loaded foreigner if you speak in English and look to rip you off.
That’s it on Delhi. Onwards to Jaipur then!