India's New Delhi

India's New Delhi

If you're going to go backpacking in India, the chances are at some point you will spend some time in Delhi, don't let the phrase 'Delhi belly' put you off from giving the capital of India some respect and dedication in exploring and seeing what this metropolis has to offer.

Arriving in Delhi and Finding a Place to Stay

Indian Main Bazar Delhi

Having spent over two years in total travelling around India I have of course found myself in Delhi numerous times, and each time I go there I discover something new. So if you are going to Delhi there are a few things you should be aware of. If you arrive at Indira Gandhi International Airport, when you leave the airport you will be accosted by auto-rickshaw drivers and taxi drivers (an auto-rickshaw is a three-wheeled vehicle common all over Asia). Chances are if you are a backpacker you will want to go to Paharganj, the main bazaar which is next to New Delhi railway station. So, IDrying Saris would ask to be taken to the station, which is an easy landmark. I once arrived in Delhi at around 3am, and when I asked to be taken to Paharganj, the taxi driver took me to a different area with more expensive hotels, and lied to me saying that all hotel prices have gone up in Delhi. He did this to get commission from these other hotels, Tricks like this are very common in India and if you suspect someone is lying to you, then act on your suspicion and call them out. Ask to be taken to the police, this always puts the fear into people trying to cheat tourists. Paharganj is the central point for all backpackers in Delhi, the area is full of hotels and guesthouses; from as little as $US2 a night you can find a room.

Discovering Delhi on Foot, by Metro, by Auto-rickshaw

Delhi Street Life

Delhi is a huge city, getting around has recently been made easier by the metro system, and auto-rickshaws are everywhere, and are very reasonably priced, especially if you can get a driver to use the meter, which they should do by law, but very rarely do the drivers use them, especially for tourists.

Delhi has a modern shopping district called Connaught Place, it is where you will find familiar fast food restaurants and sports clothes shops. It is one of the cleanest areas in Delhi, and one of the newest. For me though it's just worth a passing look.

Temples and Palaces are where the real gems of Delhi are, and within walking distance of Paharganj you can find your way to a giant statue of 'Hanuman' the half-man half-monkey god. This statue is actually a temple to Hanuman, you can go inside him and see shrines to many of the other Hindu gods in there. Another temple to see in Delhi would be the 'Lotus Mandir,' which is a huge stone lotus flower dedicated to the Bahai religion, a relatively new religion which encompasses elements from all other religions with the aim of uniting mankind.

A Trip to a Sufi Temple

India Haircut Barbers

The last time I was in Delhi I went to the Dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya, which is a tomb for a Sufi Saint. Sufism is the more liberal side of Islam. They allow dancing and music, and worship past Islamic saints, something which mainstream Islam is strictly against. The Dargah is located in the Muslim area of Old Delhi, which is easy to get to by metro (Chandri Chowk station). Once here I asked for directions to the Dargah and found it quite easily. Inside the complex of tomb's and temples of Sufism there is music and colour and incense. It reminded me more of Hinduism than Islam. In one of the tombs to a dead saint there was a group of women wailing in sadness, screaming in grief about the death of the long dead saint. To see these women screaming like they were, not only got my attention, but also many of the local people there were also interested in what was going on. However, I was told to move along since I guess I was staring too much.

Shopping in Delhi

Hanuman Mandir

Delhi sells a good representation of all the things you can buy in India: jewels, saris, incense, spices and more. Most of which can be found on and around Paharganj, the place you will be most likely staying if you are backpacking. There is a scheme going on between some shop owners and rickshaw drivers where if the drivers bring tourists to their shops they will get some commission, so be aware if a driver asks if he can take you to some shops, and you don't have to buy anything for the driver to get some commission. These shops are mainly for tourists only though, and they do have inflated prices.

Delhi Belly – What To Do

Tali Food India

Can you avoid it? I'm not really sure if it's possible to avoid getting sick in Delhi. The thing to do would be to prepare for when you do get sick. Make sure you have rehydration salts for your water, and you can also buy a heating coil very cheaply and boil all the water you drink, especially if you are sick. Avoid fats and spicy food when you're sick, and just rest. You can speed up your recovery time by taking care of yourself.

Delhi, Dirty and Wonderful

Paharganj Delhi Area

Delhi is huge, filthy and polluted. There is a massive homeless population and widespread poverty. However, there is real wonder there. There are grand palaces built by the British, there are beautiful temples to all the world religions, there's cuisine from all over the world. The people living there show a dedication to life that is amazing to see. The capital of India is the capital for a reason, you just have to look under the negative aspects to see it.

Guide to India