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Things To Do In New Delhi – The Backpackers Guide

Things To Do In New Delhi – The Backpackers Guide
, with its distinctive aroma, vibrant energy, and diverse culture, possesses a unique charm. As the world's second most populous city, with approximately 23 million inhabitants, Delhi showcases its bustling nature effortlessly. Whether it's a leisurely stroll during the day or a late-night adventure, the city's population becomes evident, creating an immersive experience for visitors.

In this lively and bustling environment, you will be surrounded by a multitude of individuals utilizing various modes of transportation, such as rickshaws and bicycles. You will observe people driving, enjoying meals along the sidewalks, and strolling along the roads alongside carts being pulled by cows. Additionally, there will be goats tethered to poles and children merrily playing along the pavement.

Delhi transport system

is home to a modern and efficient subway system that operates beneath busy roads and chaotic sidewalks. Despite the bustling street eateries and leisurely cows that sometimes slow down traffic, the city's underground transport network provides a convenient means of travel for residents and visitors alike.

The train service connects commuters from the northern areas of the old Delhi market to the central New Delhi Station, which is conveniently located near the popular market street of Paharganj. It also provides transportation to the modern central business district of New Delhi, the airport, and the surrounding suburbs. For solo female travellers, there is a designated female-only cart located at the front of the train, clearly marked in pink, which offers a more comfortable and secure travel experience.

Areas

The subway system in offers a convenient way for travellers to visit the key attractions within the city. From the bustling market streets in old Delhi to the popular shopping areas and in Paharganj, as well as the central business district and upscale shopping destinations, the subway allows easy access to all these locations. Additionally, it provides a means to explore the city's historical sites, buildings, and temples.

Must-see attractions

The city offers a variety of main attractions for visitors to explore. These include historically significant landmarks such as The Red Fort, Humayun's Tomb, and Qutub Minar.

Things to do in New Delhi – Visiting The Red Fort In India

Places To Visit in New Delhi – Humayun's Tomb, India

Qutb Minar – A Must See in New Delhi, India

The bustling Main Bazaar of Paharganj and the lively streets of Old Delhi are also popular destinations for shopping enthusiasts. Cultural sites like Jama Masjid and the serene Lotus Temple showcase the city's religious diversity. Additionally, Connaught Place serves as the main central business district, while India Gate, Secretariat North and South Block, and the surrounding garden areas provide pleasant spots for leisurely walks and relaxation.

Things To Do In New Delhi - Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid

To access these attractions, you can conveniently take the subway and in some cases, a quick rickshaw ride. It's recommended to have a street and subway map on hand for easy navigation. Additionally, carrying a Lonely Planet Discover India book is helpful as it features stunning photographs and comprehensive coverage of the entire country.

Things To Do In New Delhi - India Gate

India Gate

Shopping

Located near Khan Market Metro Station, the shopping area of Khan Market is the go-to place for those seeking fresh fruits, vegetables, and branded packaged foods that they would typically find in their home country. It is the only place in the vicinity that offers supermarket-style shops. One pleasant surprise is that the imported items are available at affordable prices.

Things To Do In New Delhi - Kahn Market

The Main Bazaar, located near the New Delhi Metro Station in Paharganj, is a bustling street known for its wide variety of clothing, saris, shoes, bags, gifts, and other items. Comparable to the vibrant atmosphere of Khao San Road, Main Bazaar is filled with a constant flow of cars, rickshaws, cows, and a lively crowd of people.

Located in the south, near the President's Estate and the Central Secretariat, the streets are adorned with trees and are easily navigable. Unlike the bustling streets of Old Delhi, this area offers a tranquil respite with minimal traffic and crowds. Here, one can observe monkeys and birds frolicking in the fountains, while the vast lawns filled with towering trees further enhance the peaceful ambience.

This location is ideal for enjoying a picnic, relaxing with a good book, or browsing through a guidebook from a second-hand store to learn more about the historical sites you have visited or plan to visit.

The streets

Old Delhi, located in the northern part of the city, is known for its bustling streets filled with cars, constant honking, and frequent traffic jams. The roads are lined with street food stalls, while the sidewalks are mostly occupied by men, although some women can also be seen. Cows roam freely, adding to the unique atmosphere. Shop workers actively try to attract customers. The vibrant and colourful saris are a common sight, and the aroma of spices and curries fills the air. However, it is important to note that the initial sensory experience in Old Delhi can be overwhelming due to the strong odours of urine and faeces.

New Delhi traffic

In the city, English is widely understood and spoken by residents regardless of their location. Street signs, as well as signs and announcements at train stations and subways, are written in English. From Delhi, there are trains available to popular tourist destinations including the Taj Mahal in Agra, as well as Amritsar, Chennai, Goa, , Khajuraho, , Udaipur, and .

Train station

Located on the first floor of the New Delhi Train Station, there is a dedicated booking office exclusively for foreigners. To find it, simply go up the stairs and continue down the hallway, passing the canteen food area.

Things To Do In New Delhi - New Delhi Train Station

When walking in the train station, it is important to be cautious of individuals who may approach you with the intention of profiting from your situation. It is a common occurrence for tourists to be informed that the tourist booking office is closed, only to be pressured into purchasing tickets at inflated prices or through a questionable travel agency.

To easily find the tourist booking office, simply walk past the entrance and proceed up the stairs. If you're unsure of the way, don't hesitate to approach any ticket counter and ask for directions.

The experience

Things To Do In New Delhi - New Delhi traffic

During my time in India, I had a unique experience due to my physical appearance. As a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, 5'9″ tall female, I stood out and received a considerable amount of attention that I did not necessarily welcome, which made me feel uneasy.

During my time at the hotel, many locals expressed curiosity about the absence of my husband. This question was posed by both men and women, and it became a frequent topic of discussion whenever I ventured outside. After clarifying that I was neither married nor seeking a spouse, the locals were often taken aback by my response.

During my time in Delhi, I often received marriage proposals from men, who were surprised when I declined. People were curious about my origin and destination. Additionally, I noticed a scarcity of foreign tourists during my stay in Delhi.

During my travels, I had the pleasure of meeting friendly students from at the train station and a young couple from at a restaurant. However, for the majority of my time, I found myself being the only foreigner in various places such as the street, restaurants, and even sitting on the pavement. Despite this, I was warmly embraced by locals who would approach me with curiosity, asking a variety of questions and generously offering me food, valuable information, and invitations to attend parties, weddings, and festivals.

The clothing

In order to minimize unwanted attention, I discovered that wearing a complete Indian fashion outfit called a Punjab, which consists of full-length pants, a top, a head scarf to cover my hair, and sunglasses, significantly reduced the amount of staring and photography directed at me.

You can find these outfits in various street markets. They are not only comfortable and cooling but also provide protection from the sun and dust.

In the Main Bazaar of Paharganj, you can find affordable black pants and a pink embroidered dress top at a side cart stall for approximately US$2.50. This area offers lower prices for such clothing compared to regular shops, although buying from the walking vendor carts may be slightly more expensive.

India is a great travel destination for vegetarians like me. In the northern part of the country, the streets are filled with food stall owners. They serve delicious vegetable samosas and curried chickpeas, often in brown paper bags. It's interesting to see them use their hands to serve the food while still cooking it.

In India, a majority of the population follows a vegetarian diet. As a result, there is a wide availability of vegetable curries, lentil and chickpea dishes, and fast food options such as vegetable patties and pastry snacks. These vegetarian options can be easily found in restaurants and street food stalls throughout the country.

Accommodation

Paharganj, located near the New Delhi Metro and Train Station, is a popular area for budget travellers. It offers a wide range of affordable accommodations, including hostels and hotel rooms. The area is known for its Main Bazaar, where visitors can find a variety of shops, cheap restaurants, and street food options. With its convenient location and budget-friendly amenities, Paharganj is a great choice for backpackers and travellers looking to explore Delhi.

This area is budget-friendly and popular among backpackers. However, if you prefer luxurious hotels with amenities like pools, have children, or prefer to avoid staying on a dirt street, this area may not be the best fit for you. Instead, you might want to consider looking for accommodation in the modern Connaught Place.

My personal experience

During my time in India, I had a variety of experiences that allowed me to immerse myself in the culture. I had the opportunity to meet a yogi master who provided insights into my life. I also had the chance to interact with shop owners and learn about the spices and cooking techniques unique to the region. Attending a festival was a memorable experience, where I had the chance to get my arm painted with henna and embrace the local traditions by wearing a Punjab and bindi. Additionally, I had the chance to learn about the different gods worshipped in the country and even participated in temple prayer time.

However, it is important to note that I also encountered some uncomfortable situations during my trip. I experienced unwanted attention from men, including being grabbed on my arm, leg, and waist, as well as receiving prolonged stares. While dining alone in restaurants, I was often joined by men who were quite forward in expressing their intentions. Furthermore, I found myself frequently being photographed and videoed, sometimes with polite permission and other times without any exchange of words from a distance.

India is a unique country that offers a one-of-a-kind experience. It is an eye-opening destination filled with excitement and adventure. After my visit, I am eager to return in the near future.

Some important information

  • Delhi Metro (6am – 11pm) – www.delhimetrorail.com
  • New Delhi International Airport – www. new Delhi airport.in Terminal 3 offers nap-go rooms equipped with Wi-Fi for travellers in need of a relaxing and productive space.
  • Train Station – At the train station, I successfully avoided encountering any touts. It seems like there are a significant number of them who loiter at the entrance on a daily basis. To ensure privacy, I wore a headscarf and sunglasses, and confidently walked past the group of touts, increasing my pace. Fortunately, none of them approached me.
  • Incredible India – www.incredibleindia.org There is an office associated with the website, but I didn't discover this information until I had already left India.

When visiting a new city, it's important to be aware of the presence of unreliable travel agencies and information centres that may falsely claim to be the official Government Tourism Office. Recently, while going about my own errands in the CBD, I encountered approximately 14 different travel agency offices, all vying for my attention and asserting their status as the official tourism authority. This serves as a reminder to exercise caution and verify the authenticity of such establishments before making any travel arrangements.

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