New Delhi India’s Capital City
INTRODUCTION New Delhi, the capital and the third largest city of India is a fusion of the ancient and the modern. Standing along the West End of Gangetic Plain, the capital city, Delhi, unwinds a picture rich with culture, architecture and human diversity, deep in history, monuments, museums, galleries, gardens and exotic shows. Comprising of two contrasting yet harmonious parts, the Old Delhi and New Delhi, the city is a travel hub of Northern India. The city that has served as the political, financial and cultural centre for generations. And to the several empires of ancient India, most notably that of the Mughals.
‘ New Delhi lies in northern India, almost entirely in the Gangetic plains. Both Old and New Delhi exert a beguiling charm on visitors. Narrating the city's Mughal past, Old Delhi, takes you through the labyrinthine streets passing through formidable mosques, monuments and forts. You will also discover lively and colorful bazaars that boast to cater all sorts of good and items at mind-blowing prices amidst a barely controlled chaotic ambience. The imperial city of New Delhi displays the finely curved architecture of British Raj. It generates a mesmerizing charm reflecting well-composed and spacious streets under the shade of beautifully lined avenues of trees and tall and imposing government buildings.
URBAN LANDSCAPE • New Delhi is structured around two central promenades called the Rajpath and the Janpath. The Rajpath, or King's Way, stretches from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to the India Gate. The Janpath, formerly Queen's Way, begins at Connaught Circus and cuts the Shantipath at right angles. • At the heart of the city is the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly known as Viceroy's House) which sits atop Raisina Hill. The Secretariat which houses various ministries of the Government of India, flanks out of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Parliament House, designed by Herbert Baker, is located at the Sansad Marg, which runs parallel to the Rajpath.
TRANSPORT Public transport is an important feature in New Delhi. There are buses, auto rickshaws, a mass rapid transit system (otherwise called Delhi Metro), taxis and suburban railways. Buses Buses are the most popular means of transport catering to about 60% of the total demand. The state-owned Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) is a major bus service provider for the city. Delhi Transport Corporation operates many routes not-only in Delhi, but also many inter-states routes. The mofussil buses operate around 34 depots, and the inter-state buses operate from the Three Inter State Bus Terminals in Kashmir Gate, Sarai Kale Khan and Anand Vihar.
Metro Delhi Metro, operated by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited. A world class metro system has been instituted in New Delhi. In order to meet the transport demand in Delhi, the State and Union government started the construction of a mass rapid transit system, including the Delhi Metro. As of 2007, the metro operates three lines with a total length of 65 km (40 miles) and 59 stations while several other lines are under construction.
Auto Rickshaws & Taxis Auto rickshaws are one of the most popular means of public transportation in Delhi. Auto Rickshaws are popular in New Delhi, and are popularly known as scooters. Since they run on CNG, they are environmentally-friendly and a quick way to get around. They are usually green and yellow. A cost of a ride is in the range of Rs.20 to Rs.75.Taxis are not as prevalent in New Delhi as rickshaws, and tend to be more expensive. However, both private taxis and the state-permit Taxis.
FESTIVALS & HOLIDAYS New Delhi's capital status has amplified the importance of national events and holidays. National events such as Republic Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti (Gandhi's birthday) are celebrated with great enthusiasm in New Delhi and the rest of India. On India's Independence Day (15 August) the Prime Minister of India addresses the nation from the Red Fort. Most Delhiites celebrate the day by flying kites, which are considered a symbol of freedom.
Festivals & Holidays The Republic Day Parade is a large cultural and military parade showcasing India's cultural diversity and military might. Religious festivals include Diwali (the festival of light), Durga Puja, Holi, Lohri, Maha Shivaratri, Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha and Buddha Jayanti. The Qutub Festival is a cultural event during which performances of musicians and dancers from all over India are showcased at night with the Qutub Minar as the chosen backdrop of the event.
Other events include the Kite Flying Festival, the International Mango Festival and Vasant Panchami (the Spring Festival) are held every year in Delhi.
PARLIAMENT Parliament, the supreme legislative body of the country, comprises of the President and the 2 Houses – the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and Raja Sabha (Council of States). The President has the power to summon and prorogue either House of Parliament or to dissolve the Lok Sabha. The Constitution of India came into force on January 26, 1950. The first general elections under the new Constitution were held during the year 1951-52 and the first elected Parliament came into being in April, 1952
Jama Masjid The largest mosque in India, was built by the great Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Begun in 1644 and completed finally in 1658 at a cost of 10 lakh rupees, it has 3 gateways, 4 angle towers and two 40 m high minarets. Situated on a rocky eminence in Old Delhi on the other side of road to the Red Fort. One of the finest Specimen of Mughal structure, its notable features are its bold treatment in red sandstone inlaid with black and white marble, spacious courts, massive pillars supporting engrailed arches, elegant bulbous domes - all well proportioned with decorative manipulation.
Birla House This is the place where Mahatma Gandhi was assasinated on January 30,1948. A 3 foot tall stone memorial has been erected at the site. Scenes from the Mahatma's life are painted on the walls and ceilings of the nearby red sandstone portion. Parliament House Designed by Sir Herbert Baker, its foundation was laid by the Duke of Connaught in 1921. With a diameter of 125 yards and a height of 75 ft. it was completed in just 5 years. Located near the Central Secretariat, this marvellous piece of architecture can be admired only from outside due to security reasons.
Qutub Minar About 15 km south of Delhi, in Mehrauli, this 238 feet and 1 inch high Minar has been referred to as "one of the wonders of world". This soaring tower of victory was built immediately after the defeat of the last Hindu Kingdom in Delhi. Qutb-ud-din Aibak laid its foundation in 1200 A.D. Iltutmish added 3 more storeys. After damaged by lightning in 1368 A.D. Firuz Shah Tughlaq rebuilt the 4th story, added the 5th and a harp shaped cupola. As of now, upper storeys are closed for visitors, yet its a treat to watch this Magnificent monument.
Red Fort • Built in almost 20 years (1639-1648), by the Mughal monarch Shahjahan, who shifted his capital from Agra to Delhi had a great significance in historical Delhi. • Built at a cost of Rs 100 lakhs, this imposing building in redstone has its walls that vary in height from 18 m on the river (Yamuna) side to 33 m on the city side. • Of the 2 gates, Lahore Gate and Delhi Gate, the former facing the Chandni Chowk is more imposing. The Lahore Gate faces to Lahore (now in Pakistan) and gives access to Chhatta Chowk (the vaulted arcade). • Of the prime attractions in the fort are Diwan-i-Am (the Hall of Public Audiences). It was in the Diwan-i-Am, wherein a marble dais is said to have supported Shahajahan’s famous Peacock throne which was valued at some 6 million pound sterling was taken away by Nadir Shah when he looted Delhi in 1739.
India Gate This 42-metre high free standing arch, designed by Lutyens was founded on February 10 1921 by the Duke of Connaught. It commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who died during World War I. Amar Jawan Jyoti, another memorial, added under the arch in 1971 is the nation's tribute to Indian Jawans, who laid their lives during Indo-Pak War of 1971. The names of the soldiers are inscribed all along the walls of the arch.
Jantar Mantar Of the 5 astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur (1699-1743), Jantar Mantar, at Delhi is one of them (others were erected at Ujjain, Varanasi, Jaipur and Mathura). Built in 1724, it contains 6 masonry instruments, the largest one Samrat Yantra (Supreme Instrument) is like a sun dial. Built for observing the movements of the stars and the planets, through these Yantras one can learn about the shortest and the longest day of the year, days of the week, months, time and other astronomical data.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS • The Rupee is the currency of India. The issuance of the currency is controlled by the Reserve Bank of India. The most commonly used symbols for the rupee are Rs, ₨ and रू. The ISO 4217 code for the Indian rupee is INR. In most parts of India, the rupee is known as the rupee, roopayi, rupaye, rubai. • Credit Cards: American Express, Master Card, Visa and Diners Club credit cards are generally accepted by large establishments including hotels, shops and airlines.
CLIMATE Summers are very hot, though the humidity levels are not much as in Calcutta and Bombay. Temperatures in the summer months can touch 45 degrees Celsius with May and June being the hottest months. Rains are spread over a month from early July and humidity levels at this time can cause uneasiness. The winter months October-end to February-end are cold and dry and the minimum temperatures can go as low as 3 degrees Celsius in late December and January. Heavy woolens are ideal during this time and can give a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment. Weather bulletins and forecasts are given regularly over the television and in the newspapers and are normally accurate as they are based on satellite information.
LANGUAGE Delhi is very much a mini India, attracting people from all parts of the nation. A perfect example of cosmopolitan culture. English, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu are most commonly spoken. In hotels and restaurants the staff speak English while the tourist guides are also well versed with the language. Indians being friendly can always help tourists who may not understand any other language than English.
FOOD & CUISINE • You will find the choicest variety of Indian food in Delhi, a melting pot of the country’s myriad cuisine. From the many restaurants offering world cuisine to the delectable street cuisine, Delhi has something to satiate any palate. Most hotels serve continental food and the city offers a variety of fast food outlets as well.
TIPPING • Tipping is common for porters in hotels as also the stewards and bearers and tourist guides, though it is not the practice with taxi and auto drivers and other means of transport within the city. The standard tipping amount in hotels and restaurants is 10% of the total bill.
SHOPPING • There is almost nothing that is not available in Delhi and within the very recent past outlets of big international names in fashion and retail have sprung up all over the city. And for one wanting to shop only for Indian goods the variety is almost mind-boggling. In fact as far as shopping is concerned, Delhi could well be termed the world within a city.
SMOKING • Smoking is banned in public places, public transport and government offices, inside cinema halls and theatres located in the state of Delhi. In several other places, boards prominently display the ban on smoking. Most hotels and restaurants have separate smoking zones.
Dos & Don’ts Delhi is a large city that has emerged through the confluence of many contrasting cultures and traditions. Hence, there is a lot to explore and experience. It can be a confusing place for newcomers, especially since it is always teeming with people from various communities. To make their visit a pleasant one, visitors should follow few general guidelines. • It is a good idea to make reservations for accommodation and transportation facilities well in advance, so that there is no last minute hitches when one arrives in the city.
Dos & Don’ts (cont’d) • The best months to visit Delhi are Feb.- March and Sept.- Nov. Between April and September the extremely hot weather can be very taxing. If one is visiting during that time, carrying a bottle of mineral water and sunscreen lotion is a very good idea. • The tropical sun is strong during summer months, so guard against sunstroke and dehydration. Wear a hat and dark glasses when you go out. Drink lots of liquids, water and fruit juice. Allow sweat to evaporate, wear loose cotton clothes. Use sunscreen lotions and talcum powder as a precaution against prickly heat rashes.
Dos & Don’ts (cont’d) • One should keep a fair amount of the local currency, especially loose change with one while travelling through the city. This way one can avoid having to pay a bit extra at any point. • One should trust one's own judgment when it comes to shopping and should beware of touts and agents. Bargaining is often the norm here (except in the up-market areas, of course!), so it is a good idea to be aware of the prevailing rates before starting the actual shopping. • If you feel lost or confused approach the traffic policemen to guide you. • Beware of beggars and even mendicants or anybody who approaches you for alms or donations. Keep your wallets safe, as you would anywhere else.
Dos & Don’ts (cont’d) • Stay away from so called ‘Tourist Information Centres’ which are near New Delhi Railway Stations, as they are not tourist offices, but tourist agents out to fleece unsuspecting visitors. • Indian's take sport very seriously and especially relish cricket victories against the likes of England. • Delhi has a surprising amount of sporting facilities for the active traveller including cricket pitches and a beautiful golf course at the Delhi Golf Club.
Dos & Don’ts (cont’d) • Bring a phrase book or phrase list with you. You'll get the most mileage out of a Hindu/Urdu phrase book in the north. You won't likely need it to get your point across, but it surely shows a lot of respect to give the language a try. If you have to learn one phrase, go for "Your child is beautiful." That will surely get you a lot of smiles and warm responses... :) • The key is to keep the most valuable things closest to you. You shouldn't remove the security belt when you're out and about, so that's where you'll keep you money, passport, tickets (unless you're about to use them), medical prescriptions, and the like.
Dos & Don’ts (cont’d) For travel health, it is best to use your common sense. Take care what you eat or drink. It is best to carry your own mineral water. Hot tea and coffee are good alternatives. Indian travellers do not worry too much about water, because they are tuned to local conditions. Even so, contaminated drinking water remains the main reason for most stomach-related diseases. Diarrhea (the English call it 'Delhi-belly') is the most common stomach ailment. Take a three or five-day course of anti-diarrhea tablets duly prescribed by a doctor. Along with medication, drink a lot of water with salt and sugar as diarrhea leads to dehydration. Alcohol, milk, meat, fried and spicy foods should be avoided. Porridge, stew and the local khichdi are easy to digest and, therefore, recommended.
At a Glance • Area: 1483 sq. kms • Altitude: 239 m above sea level • Density: 9294 persons per sq. Km. • Languages: Hindi, English, Urdu and Punjabi • Climate: Extreme Hot in Summer and Cold in Winter • Maximum Temperature: 46 Degree Celsius • Minimum Temperature: 04 Degree Celsius • Winter: December – February • Spring: March to mid April • Summer: April end to August • Autumn: September to November
At a Glance (cont’d) • Best time to Visit: October to March • River: Yamuna • Time Zone: GMT/UTC +5.5 • Daylight Saving Start & End: not in use • Currency: Indian Rupee (Rs) • Electricity: 230-240V 50HzHz • Electric Plug Details: South African/ Indian-style plug with two circular metal pins above a large circular grounding pin: • European plug with two circular metal pins:
EMERGENCY Nos. • Police: 100 • Fire: 101 • Ambulance: 102 • Accident & Trauma: 1099