I asked my soul what is Delhi? It replied, the world is the body, Delhi is its soul….”, is how a 19th century poet described this city that has ever been so many things to so many different people. Delhi is perhaps the only city in the world that fuses its past present and evokes its future without losing an iota of its identity. This visit is an orientation tour of New and Old Delhi. We have used the local modes of transport including Tuk-Tuk, Metro and Cycle Rickshaw.
New Delhi - seat of the Largest Democracy in the world: We proceed for our visit which evokes what New Delhi stands for – one of the most beautiful, well planned cities of India
Our first stop is India Gate, a war memorial arch which Lutyen built in honor of 60000 soldiers who died in WW I. It is also inscribed with the names of some 13000 Indian and British soldiers missing presumed dead. Next to it is Lutyen's last imperial monument he built; a stone canopy in which he placed the marble statue of King George V after his death in 1936.
We then return to an innocuous parking lot where a surprise awaits us – we disembark to the sight of Auto Rickshaws in the parking area. This is our mode of transportation as this will allow us to get a very "local" feel of the city as well as get an authentic experience similar to that of the inhabitants of this teeming city.
We set off on our rather unique sightseeing of Lutyens Delhi which takes which take us past Delhi’s splendid array of architecture in the Raisina Hill area where one can see the corridors of power, which signify Delhi to be the “Seat of the Largest Democracy” in the world. These are all in a fusion of Western and Victorian in architecture yet Indian in detail evoking its colonial era.
Our tuk tuks drop us outside the Viceroy's House (now the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the residence of the President of India) and Lutyen's magnum opus. It is larger than Versailles and architecturally is a fusion of Indian and Western design. Within the courtyard is the 145 feet high Jaipur Column, a symbol of victory designed by Lutyen. Lutyen created another masterpiece – the 250-acre Mughal Gardens on the grounds of the Rashtrapati Bhawan, which at one time required the care of 418 men. The great Vice Regal Palace required a staff of 2000.
We ride past the Parliament House, which Lutyen built in a circular coliseum design. It was here that the constitution of independent India was drafted.
We are transferred to the metro station for a Metro Ride on Delhi’s new pride and joy – its Metro system. We embark our train and proceed to Old Delhi.
Organized Chaos – a unique visit of Old Delhi: We disembark the Metro and exit into a completely different world from where we boarded our train in the confines of Lutyen’s majestic New Delhi. As we exit the station, we find our transportation lined up in the parking lot -- cycle rickshaws! We board our chauffeur driven rickshaws and ride past the Red Fort -- this palace citadel which was built by Shah Jehan in 1648 and was a veritable city within a city. When Shah Jehan transferred his capital from Agra to Delhi he built the Red Fort as his residential palace as well as his military fortress. The fort is a complex of marble buildings with balconies, filigreed windows, massive red sandstone walls, ramparts and gateways. The most elegant building is the Diwan - i- Khas or the Hall of Private Audience.
We then proceed to through the Chandini Chowk or the Moonlit Square. It is a medieval area in which we will recognize not just Cairo or Istanbul, but also Chester and Heidelberg. This is perhaps one of Delhi's most populated areas and the largest marketplace - jewellers spice merchants, food vendors, money lenders, shopping arcades, workshops as well as residences, are crammed here.
Lunch at Basil & Thyme Sunder Nagar
This is one of Delhi's oldest and most beloved Continental restaurants that is owned and run by a family. This lunch spot is a favorite of Delhi's upper crust and the embassy crowd, done in simple, classy hues with a delish range of continental fare. .Dining at Basil & Thyme is like dining in a bistro in Europe: concise menu, efficient waiters, ever-present owner. The Basil & Thyme approach to food is simple, classic, timeless and tasty. None of the dishes are nouvelle, but on the other hand, they aren't old fashioned either: they're simply timeless.