Let me suggest that the exciting indian city of Delhi be one of the places that you visit in 2013.
Even though I visited and fell in love with Delhi a few years ago, I feel that a guide to visiting Delhi would be best served by an insider and Delhi expert.
Let me bring you Shalu Sharma, the contributor of today’s guest post. She runs two successful online community guides for India. Shalu will give you her expert opinion on traveling to India as a solo female, tips on safety, places to eat, things to see and much more! Shalu….take it away!
Guide to visiting Delhi by Shalu Sharma
Delhi is the capital of India and is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is a must-see destination for any traveler.
This city is not only a buzzing metropolis but also an ancient city with a glorious history. Delhi was the seat of power of what was “jewel in the crown” of the British Empire. There is no place in the world that is culturally magnificent as Delhi.
Delhi’s Top Attractions
Delhi has one of the best historical attractions in India. There are numerous historical monuments that you can explore. The most popular ancient monuments and sites include: Qutub Minar, Red Fort, India Gate, Jama Masjid, Jantar Mantar and Raj Ghat.
Qutub Minar: This monument was built by a Muslim king called Qutab-ud-din Aibak in 1202 AD, to commemorate the victory over the Hindu Rajput warriors and establishment of Muslim rule in India. It happens to be one of the most visited places in Delhi. The United Nation’s UNESCO has declared this monument as a world heritage site.
Red Fort: The red fort got its name as it was built with red sandstone. The fort was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1648 and is located on the banks of the river Yamuna. There are shows in the evening explaining the history of Delhi and the surrounding areas. This building is also designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Jama Masjid: Although India is a Hindu nation, it has been ruled by Muslims for over 1000 years. The rulers have constructed magnificent monuments and mosques. One such mosque is the Jama Masjid. It is the largest in India and was built by the emperor Shah Jahan in 1658. The mosque contains relics of the prophet Mohammad including a Koran written on deer skin, a strand of hair of the prophet, his sandals and his footprints that have been ingrained in marble.
Jantar Mantar: This monument is a masterpiece and one of my favorites. I have fond memories of this place as a child. Jantar Mantar was constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur in 1724 as an astronomical observatory. The main purpose of this observatory was to observe the movement of the planets, the sun, and the moon and to compile astronomical tables. This is a must-see for those interested in astronomy or science.
Raj Ghat: A trip to Delhi would not be complete without a trip to Raj Ghat, a memorial for Mahatma Gandhi. It marks the exact spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated on the banks of the River Yamuna.
India Gate: This monument was built during the British rule in 1931 by Sir Edwin Lutyens. India Gate was inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus and now serves as the national monument of India. This prominent landmark of Delhi was built to commemorate the lives of the Indian soldiers who died fighting for the British in World War I.
Where To Eat in Delhi
Delhi has an amazing range of places to eat, from street food to upscale restaurants. Here are my personal reccomendations.
The Bukhara Restaurant. This is believed to be one of the best restaurants in Delhi. It is situated in the ITC Maurya Sheraton Hotel. It is an expensive restaurant but it does have the best kebabs and naan bread that I have ever tasted!
Karim Hotel. This is where another one of my favorite restaurants is located. It specialises in non-vegetarian food at affordable prices. It is situated near the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi.
Dhabas. A special type of restaurant known for its excellent vegetarian Punjabi dishes. Some of the popular dhabas of Delhi include: The Dhaaba, Baujee ka Dhab, Om Hotel and Moti Mahal. I have always loved eating at the dhabas with my friends and family as they are cheap, nutritious, and have a wonderful rustic Indian feel.
There are no shortages of places to eat in Delhi. On every street you will find eateries and restaurants. If you have a strong stomach, you can also try some of the street food such as “gol gappa” and “chaat”, but do be careful.
A word of caution here is to avoid drinking tap water. Always drink bottled mineral water and check the cap to make sure that it has not been artificially sealed and re-filled with regular tap water.
Getting Around Delhi
The best ways to get around Delhi is by taxi and auto-rickshaw. I have travelled on buses operated by Delhi Transport Authority and I would not recommend this to anyone, especially women. I do not travel on them anymore and absolutely dislike it. Delhi has a great taxi service and you’ll find numerous taxi stands around the city.
Culture and customs
I personally find Delhi culturally backward compared to other areas such as Jaipur and Varanasi. The city is surrounded by four Indian states: Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Hence it does not have its unique cultural identity.
One of the best times to visit Delhi would be in November not only because of the mild climate but also because of the major Indian festival Diwali. It is also known as the festival of lights and is celebrated with great pomp and show.
A word of caution for the solo female traveler
Delhi is one of the most visited cities in the world. It is generally accepted that India is a safe country to travel to.
However, an incident of unimaginable crime has recently occurred.
In Delhi a woman of 23 years old was raped and brutally assaulted on a moving bus by six men. On 28th December 2012 she died of multiple organ failure. The whole nation has been in shock over this horrendous crime, I therefore advise all female travelers to be extremely cautious in India.
I suggest taking the following precautions:
- Use an internal door lock
- Carry an alarm and cell phone at all times
- Let your hotel know of your whereabouts
- Do not eat from strangers
- Do not travel late at night alone
- Be alert at all times and use your common sense
About the Author
Shalu Sharma is a blogger from Bihar (India). She is the founder of YouBihar.com, the social networking site for people of Bihar. She is also a travel blogger and writes about india and travels to india. Follow her at https://twitter.com/bihar.