Why visit Delhi?
Delhi is huge. That is one of the strongest impressions I still hold after having spent all of my 23 years in this city. It stretches your idea of a city to perhaps more than your imagination can take. And this sheer massiveness is not merely physical, the city offers its culture in similar magnanimous and overwhelming tones. There is no easing into it. The best thing? You can immerse yourself in it, soak all the colours in all their vibrance.
So, why should you visit Delhi?
To meet some colourful people
With Delhi being the second most populous city in the world, people are what you will see everywhere. While crowds can be a source of discomfort for many, once you get beyond the mass and focus on the actual people, you’ll find a diversity of lifestyles and behaviours that coexist in intriguing ways. In Delhi, you are likely to come across people from all walks of life, from regions and cultures all over the country and the world. And thanks to this considerable diversity, there’s not much that that would be considered odd. There’s no pressure to be a certain way, to dress in a particular fashion or behave in a specific way. Delhi is a land of migrants. For all its known history, the city has had people coming in from all over the world–some hostile and some seeking refuge. All of them have been assimilated and have shaped the city’s culture in important ways. You can predominantly see influences of Persian, Punjabi, Afghan, British colonial cultures among others–aside from the global West increasingly these days. Walk through the lanes of Majnu ka Tila to get into our little slice of Tibet, or get lost in the little bylanes of Shahjahanabad, the liveliest place in the city.
To rethink the notion of “concrete jungles”
Most people wouldn’t associate greenery with an urban space. But Delhi happens to be one of the greenest cities in India with numerous spaces that are beautiful and serene. There are several mughal and colonial era gardens, be it the iconic and well-frequented Lodi gardens, or the charbagh around Humayun’s Tomb. Aside from manicured gardens, we also have a few forests that attract bird lovers and thrill-seekers alike. Delhi is also an amazing place for bird-watching. It is said to be the world’s second most bird-rich capital city after Kenya’s Nairobi! While the winter season is the best time for the exotic varieties, we regularly see a wide range of indigenous birds like parakeets, various kinds of pigeons, barbets, magpies, cuckoos and myenas among several others. I am running out of space, but have you seen our sunsets?!
To meet the world on a platter
Where there are so many different cultures, they are bound to come up with some great food together! Starting from its famous street food and chaat from Chandni Chowk, to courtly Persian-inspired delicacies like biryani and kulfi near the Jama Masjid to yummy Tibetan dishes at Majnu ka Tila and the Punjabi Butter chicken– you’ll find it all and more! There are places like Dharampura Haveli and Tihar jail’s food court that don’t just offer great food, but also unique experiences.
To hear the stones speak
The diversity of architectural styles found here are astounding. The kind of buildings you see changes depending on the part of the city you’re in. You could be in New Delhi and view modern European buildings housing the administrative offices and residences or take a trip into the past and see arches and domes develop right before your eyes in Mehrauli. Our buildings have been inspired by everything from Rajputana styles to European gothic architecture and Central Asian heritage. What’s more, each of them tells stories of eras gone by, of the people who erected them and occupied those spaces–stories of bravery, intrigue, love and intellect. These structures are still very much full of life for that reason. You can picture that female monarch demanding her rights in a public assembly, see that slave rise up in ranks to become the king, and hear the conversations of artisans thoughtfully designing these ornate structures! There’s so much more I could tell you about Delhi that mesmerises me every day. It’s a complete sensory experience that is bound to shift your perspective, give you a new way of looking at things. In the words of Michael Creighton, “”There are mysteries in this land between city and sprawl that would take much digging to uncover…”