Living 5 hours away from Delhi, I have the opportunity of coming to the heart of India a number of times. We generally visit the usual places: Paranthe Wali Gali in Chandni Chowk, Connaught Place, the architecturally perfect malls, the Red Fort, India Gate and so on and so forth. However, this time I tried to go off the usual path and randomly venture on the streets of Delhi. Here is what I recommend, if you have done the usual stuff:
HERITAGE WALKS BY DELHI PHOTOGRAPHY SOCIETY
A great thing about this society is that it spells out its aim as encouraging the art of photography and not competition. It organizes heritage walks to various destinations of Delhi every fortnight on Sundays (early mornings). Opt in if you have a passion or wish to develop a passion for photography or just roam around a new tourist destination. No requirement for a DSLR.
CITY WALKS BY SALAAM BALAK TRUST
The Salaam Balak Trust is a non-governmental organisation taking care of children who are homeless. This isn't a tour of the so called touristy places, it is a less than 2 hours walk where a member will take you around the streets of Old Delhi and accustom you to the lives previously lead by these children. It is an attempt by the trust to put them back into the mainstream society.
WATCH A PLAY AT NATIONAL SCHOOL OF DRAMA
The NSD is one of the pioneer drama schools in India. We saw a play titled Ghashiram Kotwal, a Marathi historical drama. It was a spectacular experience with the actors right in front of your eyes delivering every line with remarkable perfection. Plays are scheduled every day and you can check the local newspaper or the NSD website for the timings.
MAJNU Ka TILA
Little Tibet of Mini Tibet as you may perceive it to be, this place stands apart from the daily 'shor' of Delhi. It is a very small and serene Tibetan refugee colony where you can find some very artistically done cafes and plenty of shops selling Tibetan products. The crossover bridge which is adorned by Buddhist payer flags and the small lanes of this colony instantly transport you to an exotic hill station. The peach tea at any cafe will make you forget Coke for a while.
WATCH THE REPUBLIC DAY PARADE
January 26 - And I was in Delhi. What better thing to do than watch the Republic Day Parade. It is the most spectacular extravaganza of color and costume. With the Prime Minister and President sitting in front of you, and the soldiers marching smartly in front of you the feeling of patriotism floats within you. Even more fascinating is the Beating Retreat, 3 days after the event: less crowded and more grand.
WALK THROUGH THE LANES OF PAHARGANJ
Somehow I am a big fan of wandering in 'the sunsaan galliyan' of any new city. I wanted to visit the dingiest and the shadiest place in town: and Viola: Paharganj perfectly suits this category. From the funkiest of stuff to the coolest of vagabonds you'll find everything here. There is a remarkable level of honesty in this place: everything exists in open here: be its drugs, alcohol or porn.
BIG YELLOW DOOR AND TOUCHDOWN CAFE
The Big Yellow Door is the new 'IT' thing in Delhi. With outlets in North Campus and SatyaNiketan, the cheese nachos and the cold coffee are to die for. Every single thing on the menu is remarkable in taste and another bonus is that it isn't expensive. The decor of the cafe is done by the staff itself (DIY). You might have to wait for some minutes to grab a seat; but it is definitely worth the wait.
Touchdown Cafe is again located in the North Campus market area. A small niche based on the theme of aviation with free WiFi. The owner is really helpful. He let us sit for the entire day as we have to make a project.
The Nizamuddin Dargah is located near the Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station. Kawallis happen on every Thursday evening. The soulful song Kun Faya Kun from the Movie Rockstar (2011) was shot here.
JAMA MASJID, CHANDNI CHOWK
Visit Chandni Chowk and you cannot miss this picturesque piece of Mughal architecture; the Jama Masjid. I was lucky to visit this place during the month of Ramadan at the time of Iftar. It is a wonderful tradition where the entire community breaks the fast together and sits together. Despite being surronded by so many people, I found serenity here.
Or the Bahai House of Worship. The structure of this monument will strike you as soon as you enter it.The design for this House of Worship in Delhi is composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad petals arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. People irrespective of any discrimination on the basis of religion are allowed to enter. The spirit of Bahaism postulates that the house of Worship are a gathering place where all people of all religions may worship God without any denominational restrictions.