Hotels in Delhi, India
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Delhi – a spicy concoction of beauty and chaos
Delhi, home to 25 million people, is sheer mayhem. That is its attraction. However, amidst the bombastic rhythm of life, with its constant din, vivid colours, powerful aromas and spicy flavours (that send your senses into overdrive) you'll stumble across monuments, palaces, gardens and temples of real innate beauty. And moments of pure calmness. You can either live the life of a Raja in one of the lavish hotels in New Delhi or opt for a cheaper and more authentic experience of India's capital. Whatever you seek, you can find it in this eclectic and vibrant city.
Delhi is a veritable melting pot - dosed with spicy flavours of course - of thousands of years of history, cultures and religions. The chaotic city is littered with monuments of past empires and dynasties. A place of tolerance, where many religions practice side by side, you will be warmly welcomed by the locals.
Whilst there are stunning sights to see in abundance, the main experience is Delhi itself – simply embracing the way of life, the bombardment of aromas and the incessant noise. Visiting the chaotic bazaars, such as Chandni Chowk is something you'll never forget. With rickshaws and cyclists jostling for a precious piece of space amongst the dense crowds, you can find almost anything to buy here, from books to spices and hand-crafts to silk clothes. You can take a chance on an authentic food seller, which may be little more than a hole in the wall, and introduce your taste-buds to some whole new spicy flavours. If you'd prefer to err on the side of caution though, the city has a wealth of fine-dining restaurants and “continental” eateries.
Even if exploring the city can get quite exhilarating, you have to be on constant guard against pickpockets and being hassled for money or services. You are bound at some stage to reach a point of physical, emotional or mental saturation. Instead of retreating back to your hotel room, this is the time to visit some of the Delhi's havens of tranquillity, such as The Lodi Gardens. These idyllic gardens, adorned with monuments built by Lodi kings is a favourite place for jogging and yoga, as well as peaceful walks.
Relics of empires and dynasties
There are enough palaces, monuments and temples here to fill several cities. Which is indeed what Delhi is: a combination of no less than seven cities; some would say up to 12.
There are so many places to visit, you may not know where to start. You could commence with Delhi's three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The Red Fort, Qutub Minar and Humayun's Tomb. The 17th century Red Fort, made with distinctive red sandstone and protected by an 18-metre-high wall, was built in the peak of the Mughal dynasty's reign. The incredible 16th century Humayan Tomb and gardens, where the second Mughal emperor Humayan was buried, is said to have been the inspiration for Agra's wonder: The Taj Mahal. Finally, the 12th century minaret Qutub Minar, towering at 73 metres over Delhi, is one of the finest monuments in the world and offers some stunning photo opportunities.
No matter your faith, you'll be welcomed into Delhi's many places of worship, such as the wonderful Sikh temple of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the Jama Masjid mosque or the gigantic Swaminarayan Akshardham Hindu temple, opened only in 2005 and epitomising 10000 years of Indian culture. Many even offer Langar (food) to people passing through. As well as feeling awe at the incredible architecture, you'd need to be pretty insensitive not to be moved by the sensations of peace of mind and inner calm that these sacred places evoke. The white marble Lotus Temple, is an equally stunning, in a contrasting way. Designed in the shape of a lotus flower, this modern temple encourages people of any faith to come and worship.
Where to stay in Delhi
Hotels in Delhi are mainly concentrated in certain zones. There are a number of four and five star hotels, in and amongst a few mid-range offerings near to or practically in Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport. Unless you are passing by or wanting to stop in a hotel for more than one night, you'll probably want somewhere more central.
The new airport express service takes you from the international Terminal 3 to the city centre in 25 minutes, stopping by the railway station or the modern commercial centre, Connaught Place. Centrally located and full of designer boutiques and coffee shops, Connaught Place is a popular place to stay and home to some of New Delhi's finest five star hotels.
For a more flavoursome and “authentic” experience, you could try the Paharganj neighbourhood, by Delhi's railway station. Known as “The Traveller's Ghetto” you can find more colourful, budget accommodation or guest houses here.
If you want a mid-range hotel, the Karol Bagh district might be your best bet. Not far from Old Delhi, there are many shops and markets around and a few places to eat.
However, if you are looking for the best luxury Delhi can offer, you may be advised to head towards Chanakyapuri, the diplomatic quarter where the foreign embassies are based. Here you'll find some of the most lavish hotels in the city.
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