Planning Trips for the New Year? Romancing Dizzying Delhi
Did you know that a just a short flight will take you from our lion city to one of the oldest cities (5000 years to be precise) in the world – Delhi. Built and destroyed 11 times, Delhi sits pretty on the banks of the river Yamuna and is as chaotic as it is fascinating.
Given the city’s history, it should come as no surprise that Delhi is peppered with ancient forts, mausoleums, gateways, shrines, mosques and much, much more. Needless to say, one should not leave without visiting the Red Fort (named after the red sandstone it is built from) built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1638, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site or the Qutub Minar, a 73m high tower built by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak in the 11th-century. What would really tip the scales, however, would be attending a Friday prayer at the Jama Masjid, India’s largest, it holds a whopping 25,000 worshippers at a time, and is most famous – dating back to 1644.
When all the history starts to get too heavy, hop on a ‘shikara’ boat on the serene Nauka Vihar Lake and traverse its calm green waters with the 16th-century Purana Qila (Old Fort) peering down at you. Gorgeous.
Do not leave Delhi without romancing your taste buds at Dum Pukth at Hotel ITC Maurya that attempts to revive the culinary tradition of the 18th-century Awadh Kingdom of cooking in a sealed clay pot over a slow fire. Kakori Kebab, minced lamb kebabs, served with sweet breads seasoned with saffron, Mahi Sarson, fillet of Bekti fish with a mustard seed paste, Dum Pukht Biryani, rice simmered with lamb and spices, and Gulab Ki Kheer a dessert prepared with fresh rose petals and milk, are dishes that are truly fit for kings and a meal here will leave you feeling nothing less than one yourself.
Those with a more adventurous palette can make their way to Dilli Haat, an open-air complex that showcases food and crafts from all the different states of India in a village setting.
Shop with a difference at the city’s oldest marketplace – Chandni Chowk – located within Old Delhi, which was laid out in the 16th -century when Delhi was known as Shahjahanabad after Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Its narrow alleys house many bazaars that stock everything from silver jewellery and copper vessels to electronics.
Chandni Chowk is also home to the world famous wedding market Kinari Bazaar. Scour the racks (with world famous fashion designers by your side doing just the same) for every kind of lace, border, embellishment, beads and buttons at prices and craftsmanship hard to beat.
To many, this is the true beauty of the city – the old so intricately woven with the new. In fact, next time you are stopped at a traffic light flanked by the tomb of a king from centuries ago, you know you are in Delhi darling!
Written by Mandira Rai