Table of Contents
New Delhi Railway Station
Delhi Railway Station
By local train
Hop on Hop off
By auto rickshaws
By cycle rickshaws
Parks and gardens
Delhi (Hindi: दिल्ली, Urdu: دلّی, Punjabi: ਦਿੱਲੀ) is northern India’s largest city. One part of it, known as New Delhi (Hindi: नई दिल्ली Naï Dillî), is officially designated the capital of India, but the names are often used interchangeably.
East Delhi — across the river
Delhi is said to be one of the oldest existing cities in the world, along with Jerusalem and Varanasi. Legend estimates it to be over 5,000 years old. Over the millennia, Delhi is said to have been built and destroyed 11 times. The oldest alleged incarnation of the city shows up in the Indian mythological epic Mahabharata as Indraprastha.
Qila Rai Pithora – This dates back to the 10th century A.D. as per available historical records. Also known as Rai Pithora, this city was the capital during the reign of Prithviraj Chauhan, the local hero famous for his first defeating, before finally losing to, the marauding invaders from central Asia (Muhammad Ghori in particular). Chauhan’s ancestors are said to have captured the city from the Tomar Rajputs who were credited with founding Delhi. Anangpal, a Tomar ruler possibly created the first known regular fort here called ‘Lal Kot’, which was taken over by Prithviraj and the city extended. Some of the ruins of the fort ramparts are still visible around Qutab Minar and Mehrauli.
Mehrauli – Muhammad Ghori managed to defeat Prithviraj Chauhan in battle in 1192. Ghori left his slave Qutub-ud-din Aibak as his viceroy, who in turn captured Delhi the subsequent year. After Ghori’s death in 1206, Aibak proclaimed himself the ruler of Delhi and founded the slave dynasty. Qutb-ud-din contributed significantly in terms of architecture by getting Mehrauli built. His most prominent contribution is the starting of Qutab Minar. This 72.5 m tall tower was built across three generations and finally completed in 1220AD. A visitor to the Qutab Minar could also see the mausoleum of Kaki, Shamsi Talao and some other mosques. The Slave dynasty ruled until 1290, among them was Razia Sultan who ruled for just three years, but became a historic figure for being the first empress in India.
Siri – Qutuddin Aibaq’s ‘Slave Dynasty’ was followed by the line of Khilji (or Khalji) rulers. The most prominent among the six rulers was Allauddin who extended the kingdom to the south of Narmada and also established the city of ‘Siri’. Among some of the remaining ruins, is part of the Siri Fort in the greater Hauz Khas area. The madrasa at Hauz Khas was constructed during Allauddin’s reign and bears the stamp of West Asian architecture. Hauz Khas is more often visited today for the chic botiques and restaurants.
Tughlakabad – Exactly as it happens during the fall of a lineage of kings, after the Khilji’s there was administrative chaos for sometime as the last Khilji ruler was slain by Nasruddin Mohammed. Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq (a Turk governor) invaded Delhi in the 1320s, started the Tughlaq dynasty, and founded the city of Tughlakabad, the ruins of which still remain. His descendant Muhammad Bin Tughlaq raised the fort walls, created another city called Jahapanah (which enclosed the area between Siri and Qila Rai Pithora). Tughlakabad continued, however, to be the main capital city. Muhammad Bin Tughlaq is also known as the mad king for wanting to move the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad (now near Aurangabad in Maharashtra) and making the entire population travel, only to return in a few years because of water shortage in the new town.
Firozabad – Muhammad Bin Tughlaq’s son, Firoze created the next city which was called Firozabad or Firoze Shah Kotla. There still are some ruins which are visible around the cricket stadium by the same name. The city was a enclosed a large area, and contained many palaces, mosques, pillared halls, and multi-floored water tank. Firoze Shah also planted a 1500 year old Ashokan Pillar on top of the palace. This pillar was originally planted in Meerut by Samrat Ashok.Feroze Shah, also repaired many of the older construction in Delhi including Ghori’s tomb, Qutub Minar,Suraj Kund and Hauz Khas. He, himself, was buried inside a lofty tomb in Hauz Khas. Quite like earlier, after Feroze Shah’s death, the sultnate became unstable and weak, and was invaded by Taimur the Lame (from Samarkhand) who created havoc in the city by looting, killing, raping and plundering. The Sayyids and Lodhis who ruled Delhi after the Tughlaq’s paid more attention to re-establishing miltiary and political stability to the kingdom. The only relevant architecture visible from this period are the tombs at Lodhi Gardens. The last of the Lodhi’s was defeated by Babur in the first battle of Panipat. Babur then proceeded to establish the Mughal dynasty.
Shergarh – Babur’s son Humayun ruled the kingdom for a few years only to be defeated by Sher Shah Suri (1540), who established the new city Shergarh (on the ruins of Dinpanah, built by Humayun) towards the north and near the river. Shergarh is what you see at Purana Qila today, near the Delhi zoo. After Humayun came back to power, he completed the construction and proceeded to rule from Shergarh.
Shahjehabanad – the next of the Mughal emperors chose to move away from Delhi and established Agra as the capital of their kingdom. Shahjehan (Humayun’s great-grandson) returned to Delhi and established Shahjehanabad. This included the Jama Masjid, the Red Fort and all that in enclosed within the walls of Old Delhi. This wall is still around in many parts and three of the six gates (Delhi gate, Lahori Gate, Turkman Gate, Ajmeri Gate, Kashmiri Gate, Mori Gate)to Delhi still exist. Kashmiri Gate was reconstructed and widened by the British after the 1857 revolt.
Lutyen’s New Delhi – The final city as you see today expanded from what Sir Edwin Lutyens.
The population of Delhi is a heterogeneous mix of people originally belonging to different parts of North India and beyond. Among the prominent North Indian communities are the Punjabis. Delhi also has a prominent South Indian Community, primarily in areas like RK Puram, Mayur Vihar and Munirka. A Bengali Settlement, the Chittaranjan Park in south Delhi is the Mini Calcutta of Delhi. Quality education also draws students from different states, making up one of the most diverse student populations in the country. To be noted is the fact that the descendants of the builders of Delhi’s many Muslim monuments no longer stay in Delhi. Most of them migrated to Pakistan during the Partition, with only a small, ever-diminishing community in Old Delhi keeping old courtly traditions alive.
Like the rest of the Gangetic Plains, Delhi is as flat as a pancake. The only geographical features of any significance are the river Yamuna, which flows down the eastern side of the city, and the Aravalli Hills which form a wide but low arc across the west. On the west bank is the crowded and congested Old (Central) Delhi and, to the southwest, the broad, tree-lined avenues of New Delhi, built by the British to rule their empire. The rest is an endless low-rise sprawl of suburbia and slums, with southwestern Delhi (nearer to New Delhi) generally somewhat wealthier.
Indeed, on a broad scale Delhi is not difficult to navigate. The Outer Ring Road, and Ring Road, offer simple connections between districts. In South Delhi, most of the major districts lie on either the inner or outer ring roads. Travelling west on the Ring Road from Nizammudin, the following colonies lie in the following order, Friends Colony, Lajpat Nagar, Defence Colony, South Extention, INA, Safdarjung, Bikhaji Kama Place, RK Puram, Chankyapuri, Dhaula Kuan. And on the outer Ring Road, travelling west from Okhla, the following colonies lie in the following order,Nehru Place, Kalkaji, GK2, GK1, CR Park, PanchShil Park, Hauz Khas Enclave, Safdarjung Enclave, Munirka, Vasant Vihar. The only major areas that lie in between the Ring Roads as opposed to adjacent to them are are Anand Niketan, Hauz Khas Village, Green Park. However, these areas are easily accessible from Shanti Path, Aurobindo Marg, and Khel Gaon Marg respectively. Inside the colonies it is another issue, often akin to mazes, finding your way around the inside of any colony other than Vasant Vihar or Chanakyapuri is not for the faint hearted.
Delhi’s climate is, sad to say, infamously bad, combining the scorching aridity of Rajasthan’s deserts with the frigid cold of the Himalayas. From April to October, temperatures are scorchingly hot (over 40°C is common) and, with every air-conditioner running at full blast, the city’s creaking power and water infrastructure is strained to the breaking point and beyond. Monsoon rains deluge the city from July to September, flooding roads on a regular basis and bringing traffic to a standstill. In winter, especially December and January, temperatures can dip to near-zero and the city is blanketed in thick fog, causing numerous flight cancellations. The shoulder seasons (Feb-Mar and Oct-Nov) are comparatively pleasant, with temperatures in the 20-30°C range, but short.
The City of Djinns, William Dalrymple; another travelogue and well-written. (ISBN 0142001007)
“The Last Mughal”, William Dalrymple; well documented chronological events of the fall of Mughal Enpire. (ISBN 1400043107)
Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI, ) , located in the west of the city, is the arrival point for many visitors into Delhi. Once notoriously bad, since privatization the airport has been extensively revamped and, with the opening of Terminal 3 in 2010, has been transformed into a thoroughly modern facility equivalent to the best airports in the world. Delhi Airport has no less than six terminals, but only two are currently operational:
Terminal 1D, also known as “Palam” or “Domestic”, is used only by low-cost carriers IndiGo, GoAIR and SpiceJet. (Oddly, their flights arrive at neighboring Terminal 1C)
Terminal 3, the enormous main terminal, is used by all international flights and all full-service domestic carriers including Jet Airways, Air India, and Kingfisher.
A free shuttle bus operates between two every 20 min. While the terminals share the same runways, connecting between the two requires a massive detour via a nearby highway, so allow plenty of time to connect. The Delhi Airport Metro Express (DAME) is a Delhi Metro train line from New Delhi Metro Station to Dwarka Sector 21, passing through airport. As of April 10, 2011, its operating timings are from 5AM-11PM every 20 min. In the future, the trains may run 24 hr/day. The one-way fare between the airport and New Delhi Metro Station is Rs 80. The journey time is 20 min. From the railway station, you can transfer to the Metro (it’s a bit of hike though), continue by taxi, or simply walk to backpacker ghetto Paharganj. There are also public buses to and from the city throughout the day and night. Travel time is approximately 50 minutes. There are two bus companies: Delhi Transport Corporation (green-yellow buses) and EATS (white-blue buses). The EATS (Ex Serviceman’s Airlink Transport Service) Buses run to ISBT (Inter State Bus Terminal) near Kashmiri Gate, Connaught Place, Delhi Train Station and many hotels in the city centre, departing from both airport terminals every 60 mins from 00:10AM-11:10PM. The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) (schedule: ) offers 8 bus routes to both the city center and the more outlying areas of Delhi. Tickets can be bought and a fixed seat can be booked at a desk in the Arrivals Hall. 1 way fare for both companies: Rs 50 per adult, Rs 25 per child below 12 years, Rs 25 for heavy luggage. If you’d prefer to go directly to your destination and are willing to sit around in traffic, or are arriving on the many long-distance flights that land in the dead of night, take a taxi. The easiest and safest way is to arrange transport ahead of time through your hotel (some hotels provide this service for free). Alternatively, you can pay for a taxi at the prepaid taxi booths in the international terminal. The pre-paid booths are visible as soon as you exit customs. The one on the left is managed by the Delhi police. To the right of the exit door are private taxi operators. They are more expensive but the cars are air-conditioned. The number of the taxi assigned to you will be on the receipt. Then, go straight through the airport and turn right immediately outside the front doors and someone will help you find your taxi. There are several options, but the booth operated by the “Delhi Police” is considered the best, with non-A/C taxis to most points in the city Rs 200-300. Do not give the receipt to the driver until you get to the destination as this is what they are paid on. Also, ignore the explanation of the driver for additional payment. There is no practice of tipping taxi drivers anywhere in India. When you reach your destination, take your baggage first, then give the driver the receipt and walk away without further discussion. There is a minor problem with this system. As there is a checkpoint manned by the traffic police just as your taxi moves away from the airport, you will have to give the receipt to the driver who will hand it over to the police who will record the taxi number. Make sure that you get the receipt back from the driver which you would hand over to driver only after you have safely reached your destination. When leaving Delhi from international terminal, security at the airport is tight, so you should show up three hours before your flight is scheduled. For domestic flights two hours should be enough. While sometimes time-consuming, the process is smooth, and the new terminal’s shops and restaurants are sensibly located at the gate area, not before security. However, if you wish to change Rupees back into foreign currency, you must do this before clearing security. During the winter (Dec-Jan), Delhi often experiences dense fog and visibility is reduced considerably, making it difficult for flights to land and take off. Both international and domestic flights are often diverted or cancelled, so plan accordingly and allow for one or two days for possible delays.
Buses arrive from Kathmandu and Chitwan in Nepal (36 hr+) and virtually every city in India. Although not as comfortable as the trains, buses are the only choice for some destinations, mainly those in the mountains. Delhi has a confusing slew of inter-state bus termini (ISBT), which all have two names. The Delhi Transport Corporation is the major operator, but every state also runs its own buses and there are some private operators too.
Kashmere Gate ISBT (aka Maharana Pratap), Metro Kashmere Gate, Line 1/2. This is “the” ISBT and the largest of the lot. Buses to points north, including Nepal.
Sarai Kale Khan ISBT (aka Vir Hakikat Rai), next to Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station. Buses to points south.
Anand Vihar ISBT (aka Swami Vivekanand), on the east bank of Yamuna. Buses to points east.
Bikaner House bus stop. Buses, including air-conditioned Volvo buses from Jaipur arrive at this place. For travel between Jaipur and Delhi, this bus stop is very clean, less crowded than ISBT, and easy to reach.
Majnu ka Tilla Tibetan colony, a short cyclerickshaw ride from Metro Vidhan Sabha. Buses to Dharamsala.
Trains arrive at one of four main stations: Delhi Junction, also called Old Delhi or Purani Dilli; the second at New Delhi which lies in Central Delhi; Hazrat Nizamuddin a few kilometers to the south; and the upcoming Anand Vihar station to the east. (A very few trains use Delhi Sarai Rohilla or Delhi Cantt stations.) Delhi Junction and New Delhi Railway Station are now conveniently connected by Metro Line 2, just minutes apart, while Anand Vihar is served by Line 3. It will take about 40 min-1 hr to travel from the New Delhi Railway Station to the airport by car, depending on traffic. A ticket office open to all is on the road to Connaught Place with longer hours. It often has waiting times not much longer than at the tourist booking office. You will need to know the number or name of the train you want to take. Easiest of all, though, is to book on-line through the Indian Railways booking website . (Note, however, that you are required to have both an e-mail address AND a mobile phone number that is registered within India in order to access the booking area of the site.) Once you have purchased a ticket either at the ticket office or online prior to the trip, all you need to do is go to the rail car labeled with your class of service purchased. You can either just get on and sit in the first available seat or often times for higher classes of service, they will post a passenger list on the car when it stops. Look for your name and go to the assigned car, cabin and seat. There is never a need to get a boarding pass so if anyone comes out of the crowd to tell you that, don’t listen to them. It is a scam. If you’re brave, you can simply purchase a general 2nd class ticket and then get on any car where there is availability. The conductor will come by and check your tickets after the train starts moving. If you are in a higher fare class than you are ticketed for, all you have to do is simply pay the difference in fare to the conductor. The only risk here is that the train could be full and you could be stuck in the lowest fare class which can be very crowded with little room to sit.
New Delhi Railway Station
The main entrance to New Delhi Railway Station (code NDLS) is located just outside of Paharganj, also known as the backpacker ghetto. The Delhi Metro now connects directly here, but the metro exits are at the Ajmeri Gate (second entrance) side near platform 12. You can also take prepaid rickshaws and taxis from the plaza outside the main entrance. The station is large, crowded, confusing and packed with touts. Allow one hour to find your train the first time you visit. Don’t trust the electronic display boards, which often show incorrect information. Instead listen to the announcements and ask multiple people in uniform (policemen) until you find your train. However, anyone who approaches you spontaneously should be completely ignored. Use one of the porters (in orange uniform and a metallic badge on arm) to find your train and carry your luggage, in exchange for a tip. A tourist ticket office called the International Tourist Bureau is open during office hours upstairs of but still within the main New Delhi railway station. Note that it is only for foreign tourists, so you must have a tourist visa (i.e. student and working visas are not acceptable). Non-resident Indians can also book their tickets through this office. Bring your passport and cash or traveller’s cheques in U.S. dollars, British Pounds or Euros. If you wish to pay in Indian rupees you must show an official exchange certificate (from India, not valid if you changed in another country) or an ATM receipt. To get a ticket, first get a form from the centre of the room, and fill it out. Then go to the information desk near the entrance. There, have the clerk check the availability of the train(s) you desire, and fill out your form accordingly. Then line up at one of the two u-shaped lines of chairs for the reservation desks. Just do not trust strangers who appear out of the crowd to help you and completely ignore them. Always ask at the enquiry counter or the policemen (in khaki uniform).
Delhi Railway Station
Formally Delhi Junction (code DLI), but best referred to as “Old” Delhi Station for clarity. Like New Delhi RS, this station is huge and confusing. The platforms are not in linear order, with some hidden in the west and east wings of the stations. The railway station is served by Metro Line 2 Chandni Chowk station.
Hazrat Nizamuddin (code NZM) is the departure point of many trains heading south. Practically speaking, the only way to get here is by taxi or auto. The budget alternative is to take a bus to the Sarai Kale Khan Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) on the ring road and then walk over to the station (400 m). It’s the least chaotic of the Big Three, but still pretty big and poorly signposted; listen to the announcements to figure out your train. The station has a pretty good food court that sells inexpensive, hygienic takeaway snacks including sandwiches and samosas. If you have some time to kill, pay a visit to Humayun’s Tomb, which is so close to the station that you can hear the announcements from inside — although it’s a long, circuitous walk from the station to the entrance.
Anand Vihar (code ANVR) is Delhi’s newest station, located well to the east of the city near Noida. Repeatedly delayed, the station finally opened in December 2009 and will gradually take over all east-bound services. The station can be reached by Delhi Metro Line 3.
Getting around Delhi is always an adventure. Traffic is, by and large, horribly congested and many drivers will think nothing of quoting ten times the going price to a tourist. Use the prices below as broad guidelines, agree on prices before setting off.
The fast-growing Delhi Metro network provides a cheap, quick, hassle-free and air-conditioned way of zipping around the city. As of February 2011, the following lines are open:
Red Line: Dilshad Garden – Rithala
Yellow Line: Jahangirpuri – HUDA City Centre, Gurgaon
Blue Line: Dwarka Sector 9 – Vaishali/ – Noida City Centre
Green Line: Inderlok – Mundka
Violet Line: Central Secratariat – Badarpur Border
Airport Express: New Delhi Railway Station – Airport – Dwarka
Fares range from Rs 8-30, just buy a token, change lines as necessary, and deposit the token in the slot as you exit. Tokens can be used only from the station they are bought, so you can’t buy two and use the second to return home. If you’re planning on sticking around for a while, you can buy a “Smart Card” for Rs 100, which is worth Rs 50 and includes a Rs 50 deposit; using this saves 10% and, more importantly, lets you avoid the queues. There is also a “Tourist Card” allowing unlimited use for Rs 100 (1 day) or Rs 250 (3 days), but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll travel enough to make this pay off. Special fares apply for travel on the Airport Express. Line 2, in particular, is useful for getting to the Old Delhi (Chandni Chowk, Jama Masjid) and New Delhi railway stations, the ISBT bus terminal, the backpacker ghetto of Paharganj, Hauz Khas and Qutub Minar. Line 3 is also handy for visiting Akshardham and accessing the western parts of Paharganj through RK Ashram Marg station.
Beware: Metro stations all use the new, official, Indianized names, so Connaught Place is “Rajiv Chowk”, Old Delhi Railway Station is “Chandni Chowk” and ISBT is “Kashmere Gate”.
By local train
There are limited commuter services on Delhi’s railways, but the facilities are a far cry from the user-friendly Metro and stations. For the most part, train stations are inconveniently located. There is no passenger service on the Delhi Ring Railroad outside rush hour. Please note that railway sites do not accept foreign credit cards.
All parts of Delhi are well connected by buses and with tickets ranging from Rs 5-15 they are very cheap, but they are also quite crowded most of the time. The red coloured buses are air-conditioned and the green coloured are not. As bus stops do not have bus routes written properly, it can be difficult to find your way. Asking other people at the bus stop is often the best way to find out about bus routes to your destination. However, the buses are pretty frequent, running every 15-20 min or so on most routes. There are two kinds of buses in Delhi:
Government run DTC buses (red and green coloured with big windows)
Privately run Blue-Line buses (blue coloured)
If you have a choice, please go for a DTC bus. They will stop less frequently and will generally be less crowded too. Note that many buses, DTC ones too, will stop pretty much anywhere if there are enough people getting on or off. Board buses at the back and pay the ticket seller sitting right next to the door. Be sure to hang onto your tickets, as ticket checks are fairly frequent. Some seats on the left side of the bus may be reserved for women and the handicapped. When it’s time to disembark, move to the front of the bus. As you might expect, all these guidelines are regularly ignored when buses are very crowded.
Hop on Hop off
Delhi Tourism department has launched the “Hop On Hop Off (HOHO)” service, where airconditioned low floored buses go around pre-defined set of stops around the city and one can hop off the bus, see the place at one’s own convenience and hop in the next bus, which will come at the same stop in not more than 30 minutes time. This service covers important monuments, memorials, museums and shopping places in the city. Each bus is staffed with a knowledgable English speaking guide. The ticket costs Rs 300 and is valid for 2 days. The service does not operate on Mondays.
A taxi or hired car (usually with driver) is required to see many of the far-flung sites within and around Delhi. However, the metro is a far cheaper and equally comfortable option. Most Delhi taxis are old but reliable CNG-run Ambassadors or Omnis in distinctive black-and-yellow livery and a green stripe. The hired family car of choice is usually a Toyota Innova or Chevrolet Tavera. While all are equipped with meters and should cost Rs 15 for the first km Rs 8.50 per km, the meters are often rigged and it’s better to agree on the price in advance. Most trips around the city should be Rs 200-500, while a trip to the airport would be higher, depending on starting location. An eight-hour charter should cost around Rs 1,500, and a tip is expected if the driver is helpful. Note that black and yellow taxis are not air-conditioned. Even if they do have air conditioning, you will be charged extra (and the rates are up to the driver, so bargain hard). The death knell of the Ambassador was rung in December 2006, when modern radio taxi services were launched. At Rs 20/km, they’re more the list price of the competition, but they use modern vehicles with air-conditioning and GPS and can be dialed 24 hr/day. The flag fare is Rs 20, and the fare increases by Rs 5 for every 250 m after the first km. If you need an SUV, you need to inform the company in advance, but the fare remains the same. Night charges (25% extra) apply between 11pm to 5am. Book upto a few hours in advanc. Many corporates rely on these cabs for their daily commute and they may be booked during office hours. Tipping is not expected. After booking, you will receive an SMS with the car license plate number, and the driver’s name and mobile number. Usually the driver will call you and inform you that he’s arrived. Most drivers speak English, but at a very basic level, so use short phrases.
EasyCabs . ☎ 43434343
Mega Cabs . ☎ 41414141
Meru Cabs . ☎ 44224422
There are car rental portals like www.CabYatra.com which provide cabs for local usage in Delhi. These portals work with different car operators in Delhi and ensure good quality cab service. You shouldn’t take non-official taxis, sometimes they take you to a wrong hotel, or to a “tourist information centre”, and try to sell you overpriced things.
By auto rickshaws
Auto rickshaws (also called three-wheeled scooters, tuk-tuks or simply autos) are good for shorter trips. Always in a distinctive yellow-and-green livery, auto rickshaws are three-wheeled partially enclosed contraptions (no doors!) that run on CNG and can seat three people in the back. In general, they are much cheaper than taxis and can be hailed from the street. Although by law the rickshaw drivers should charge according to the meter in their vehicle (Rs 19 for the first two kms, Rs 6.50/km after), this rate is unrealistically low and they will almost always try to haggle for price. As rules of thumb, even the shortest journey costs Rs 30, but you should not need to pay over Rs 150 for any trip within the city. If you’re overquoted, don’t be afraid to walk away. It’s usually easy to find another one soon, usually with a driver who won’t rip you off. If you have any trouble with them, go to any of the numerous tourist police stations in the city center and they will give you a complaint slip which will result in a Rs 500 fine for the auto driver. There should also be a telephone number written on the vehicle to call in case of any complaint. There are a number of “Pre-paid” Auto stands run by the Police. Tell them where you want to go and pay them upfront. The charge will include Rs 5 for the service. You then take the coupon and stand outside where a policeman will direct you to the next available Auto. When your journey is completed you hand the coupon to the auto driver and that’s it. Nothing more to pay (despite what they may say).
By cycle rickshaws
Cycle rickshaws are three-wheeled, pedal-powered rickshaws with seats in the back to seat passengers and a driver in the front. They are good for short distances, or places which are too far to walk but too short for taking a bus/taxi/auto rickshaw. Cycle rickshaws don’t use meters, so establish a price before getting on. Rs 20 is reasonable for most journeys of 1-2 km. Cycle rickshaws are best to use in Old Delhi to visit the intricate galis (walkways) and to enjoy the smells and sounds of the city.
Much of Delhi is quite pedestrian-hostile. Distances are long, road signage is poor, and in the more tourist oriented areas, you’ll be constantly accosted by beggars and touts. Crossing roads often involves wading across multiple lanes of heavy traffic. Try your best to move in a predictable straight line, so vehicles can weave around you. (Better yet, latch onto a group of locals and cross in their shadow.) If you really want to walk around, these places would be good:
Walk from Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s house) to India Gate on the Rajpath (a walk of close to 3-4 km).
Walk from Jama Masjid to Red Fort in the Chandni Chowk area.
Far South Delhi go walk about in the forest. Try starting from south of Indian Institute of Technology through Sanjay Van to Qtub Minar. Note however that Sanjay Van is not always safe, and it is advisable to go there in a group, preferably during daylight hours.
South Delhi-Green Park-Hauz Khas Village, then to the Hauz Khas ruined madrasa, offers a newer shopping area, an up-market arts village, old ruins, and some quality gardens.
There are many walks that you can do in Old and central Delhi
The native language of the Delhi area is Hindi, which also happens to be the main official language of the Union Government. However, for official purposes, English is more widely used than Hindi. Almost everybody you meet will be able to speak Hindi, quite often with the Bihari and Punjabi accents. However, most educated people will also be fluent in English, and many shopkeepers and taxi drivers will have a functional command of English. Punjabi and Urdu are also official languages, but they are spoken much less widely. The Hindi spoken in Delhi is quite Persianized, similar to the Hindi spoken in Western UP and much less Sanskritized than the Hindi spoken in MP. Signage is usually bilingual in Hindi and English, but some road signs (especially in South and Central Delhi) are in Hindi, English, Punjabi and Urdu. Announcements on the metro are in Hindi (male voice) and English (female voice).
The staff at the Delhi tourist office is very helpful, and the office has a lot of free information: The Government of India Tourist Office 88 Janpath, Connaught Place. ☎ +91 11 2332 0005, +91 11 2332 0008, +91 11 2332 0109, +91 11 2332 0266. The Government of India Tourist Office offers daily tours, covering all of the major Delhi sites. If you should choose to go with the government-sanctioned day tour, be aware that due to the heavy agenda, you will need to have a quick foot, only 20-40 min are given for each sight, which is next to no time. Consider this day tour as a sampler. If there is a sight of particular interest, bookmark it and return at a later date.