The imagery of Delhi for a traveller is full of beautiful mosques, forts and monuments. But I have been deeply influenced by certain subtle observations and experiences that have positioned Delhi to me as something more than the usual perception, and because we are committed to make every travel experience different and unique, I list down 5 things you must do in order to live Delhi to the fullest.
1- Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah
The resting place of one of the world’s most famous Sufi saints, Nizamuddin Auliya, attracts Sufi devotees from across the world. On Thursday evenings, its courtyard erupts with the soulful sound of live qawwalis (Sufi devotional songs) accompanied by traditional Indian instruments, which serenade the audience into a trance. One of the families that perform the qawwalis has been singing there for hundreds of years.
Nizamuddin Dargah is located in the Nizamuddin West neighborhood of New Delhi, surrounded by a bustling market, near Humayun’s Tomb. Get there just before sunset. Prepare to walk through alleyways and face large crowds, and touts and beggars if you’re a foreigner. Do dress conservatively and you may wish bring something to cover your head with (although it’s not compulsory if you only enter the courtyard). You’ll need to take off your shoes just before you go inside. Ignore the shopkeepers who will insist on minding them for a fee.
2 – The Changing of Guard ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan
IT is one of many similar ceremonies that take place around the world (the most famous one is at London’s Buckingham Palace). Yet, it remains a relatively unknown attraction in Delhi. Introduced in 2007, the ceremony was revamped and relocated in late 2012. It now happens on the forecourt of the Presidential residence every Saturday morning, where there’s space for 200 guests. An equestrian display by the President’s Body Guard, on horseback in their ceremonial regalia, has also been added. Since access to Rashtrapati Bhavan is generally restricted, the ceremony provides a fantastic opportunity to see the architecture of this immense building, once the centerpiece of New Dehli.
The starting time varies depending on the season. It gets underway at 8 a.m. from March 15 to August 14, 9 a.m. from August 15 to November 14, and 10 a.m. from November 15 to March 14.
3- Cycle Ride in Delhi
For a different experience of Delhi, take to the streets on a bicycle and immerse yourself in the various colors, smells, sounds, tastes! Delhi By Cycle, a company started by a journalist from the Netherlands (the Dutch are known for their love of riding bicycles), offers a range of bicycle tours in the city. These include tours through different parts of Old Delhi and New Delhi, so you can explore different corners of the city. You’ll need to be up early though! The tours start at 6.30 a.m. to avoid the traffic.
4- Delhi War Cemetry
One absolutely unknown place that most people miss out on because of where it’s located within the city is Delhi War Cemetry. More than 25,000 servicemen of the forces of undivided India died during the Second World War in non-operational zones, for example while serving with regimental depots or with other static units. Their remains were accorded the last rites and disposal required by their various religions and their names are commemorated at memorials in the capital cities of India and Pakistan.
Delhi War Cemetery was created in 1951 when graves from many cemeteries in northern India were moved into the site to ensure their permanent maintenance. Among them are graves from cantonment cemeteries in Allahabad, Cawnpore, Dehra Dun and Lucknow. There are now 1,022 Commonwealth casualties of the Second World War buried, or commemorated by special memorial, in this cemetery together with a number of war graves of other nationalities, mostly Dutch.