It is 3 in the morning when I find myself back in Delhi. After 8 years in time, experience, and life, I am back in a place which made me feel happy, sad, loved. A place which educated me, enraged me, and inspired me. Where I connected to people and myself. Just as last time I arrive with a small bag, and large expectations. And where the previous flight experience was jammed between two middle aged Indian friends who preferred me in the middle seat, this time I was entertained by a slick, bodybuilding shoe salesman who just came back from Milan.
A prepaid taxi brings me through the immer chaotic, busteling streets of Delhi to my friend where I can stay in the coming days. A warm, enlightening welcome after all these years. A special feeling creeps up through my spine when grasping the situation. To have a place that feels like home on the other side of the world. A place different in every aspect of my own country, but a place which feels just as much home.
Delhi is amazing, overwhelming, and unbelievable. All at the same time and constantly throwing you of your feet. Most people travelling to India try to avoid the mega cities of this county. The cities that are home to millions and millions of people. Jam-packed together in enormous slums and posh residential areas. Especially Delhi is ranked high on the avoidance list. Because of its chaos, pollution, and not the least the infamous Delhi-belly. I know this, I understand this, but I would love to show something different. As this city has been my home for nearly 1,5 years. Filled with beautiful moments, endless parties, romantic encounters and valuable life lessons. Because Delhi is not an ordinary city. Not a city which can be medium, just ok, or dull.
Delhi: ready, set, go! Chalo!*
The area in and around old Delhi, the main tourist area, where you arrive by bus or train is surely one to visit. However, I will not write about that, as you can find that in any guidebook. I want to tell you about some of my favourite places. Because Delhi deserves a fair chance with all people travelling to India. Not to be discarded as merely a port to enter the country and to quickly leave behind before heading to the mountains, beaches and smaller cities in India.
Delhi without the belly
Indians, especially Delhiites, love a good time, they love to party, they love to chat with friends. So, the restaurant and bar scene in Delhi is exploding. One place even more extravagant, outrageous and artistic than the other. Many of the (current) cool places are found in CP (Connought Place), around Hauz Khas village (the places inside are already a bit passé), and in the always popular and posh, Khan Market. Yes, it can be a challenge to find these bars in Delhi, as from the outside everything looks like big concrete buildings with electrical wire and construction in front. However, when you go up some stairs, through some doors you will find the most amazing designed hotspots. My favourite places in CP were The Masala Trail for food. They serve selected vegetarian street food dishes from all over India! And Bunta Bar for a drink. The design is amazing, and you will love me for the view from the rooftop of this place. Oh, and while you’re at it, try to find a Bira beer. It is Indian beer, brewed in Belgium, sold only in India! Around Hauz Khas visit The Junction. They have a romantic garden and serve different styles of food, or head to the always busy Summer house, for music, food, and drinks.
Chai, move over!
Even though India is a prominent chai country, and you will have plenty of opportunity to taste this sweet and tasty drink; in and around Delhi there are some pretty cool coffee places as well. Especially in Gurgaon they are popping up like mushrooms surrounding the numerous office buildings in this area. My favourite in Delhi would be Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters. You can find them, and some other cool little shops run by talented Indian artists in Saket. Also on my favourites list is Cafe Turtle in GK1-N Block. It’s a jazzy artistic place with delicious healthy food and good black coffee.
Delhi street style
After seeing the Delhi highlights in Old Delhi, and you are up for something completely different, head to Lodhi Colony. In this area different artists have created some amazing, colourful murals. ST+ART India wants to make art accessible to a wider audience by taking it out of the conventional gallery space and embedding it within Indian cities. I have been to this area many times by myself, and I have taken everyone who visited me in India to see this. The street art is amazing, and the area itself is a bit less chaotic, and cleaner.
Taxi? Auto? Rickshaw? How to get around a city of 20 million?
For transportation around the city USE THE METRO!! I absolutely loved it. It’s fast, cheap, and fun. So, get yourself a metro card and start exploring. Otherwise use an Uber. You don’t need to haggle, but be prepared to explain your exact location as google maps in India is not always correct!
Off course there is many many more. The above mentioned is just a little selection of my favourites. And while im writing this, my hands are itching not to write about all my other favourite places. However, as in many big cities, places move, change and go away. Just check the LBB Delhi website or install their app for the hippest places in town. The most used restaurant searching app is Zomato.
Enjoy, explore, stay calm, and be surprised by this crazy city!
- The Masala Trail
- Bunta Bar
- The Junction
- Summer house
- Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters
- Cafe Turtle
- ST+ART India
- Little Black Book (LBB) Delhi NCR
*Chalo – means ‘let’s go’ in Hindi