Old Delhi was the capital of Muslim India between the 17th and 19th centuries and is a city filled with mosques, monuments and forts. New Delhi was created by the British as the capital of India. In 1911, Sir Edwin Lutyens, the most renowned English architect of the day, was chosen to design this new city, which he did with differing architectural conceptions from the Mogul and Hindu sensibilities. The city center has wide, straight avenues, plenty of parks and low colonial buildings with spacious gardens.

Cheat Sheet

  • Sleep…at Leela Palace and begin the day with a swim overlooking the city’s skyline
  • Experience…winding through the Old Bazaar by bicycle rickshaw
  • Splurge…on hand-embroidered couture at Sanskar by Sonam Dubal
  • Eat…a traditional Indian meal complete with table-sized naan bread at Bukhara
  • Drink…lime sodas in the light-filled atrium of the Imperial Hotel
  • Savor…lying on the double chaise by your own plunge pool at the ultra-sleek Lodhi
  • Visit…the Gandhi Museum, which is located in the leader’s former home
  • Shop…for bright, woodblock-printed children’s clothes at Lola’s World
  • SeeLutyen’s New Delhi, the city’s eighth (or 18th, depending on who you ask) iteration
  • Know…that for long lay-overs or quick overnights in Delhi, the best place to stay is the Oberoi Gurgaon, which sits 20 minutes from the airport.

Lay of the Land

“Indians are the Italians of Asia and vice versa. Every man in both countries is a singer when he is happy, and every woman is a dancer when she walks to the shop at the corner. For them, food is the music inside the body and music is the food inside the heart. Amore or Pyar makes every man a poet, a princess of peasant girl if only for second eyes of man and woman meets.”
~Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

One of the world’s oldest cities, Delhi has been growing since it was founded in the 6th century BC. As a result, the metropolis feels more like a grouping of multiple cities rather than a single cohesive capital. The British planned New Delhi, which lies in the south, in the 1920s when they made it the capital of the region. After India reclaimed its freedom in 1947, Delhi remained the capital. Today’s population hovers around 22 million—roughly the same as the entire country of Australia.

The millennial city of Gurgaon sits just south of the Delhi International Airport and its Oberoi Gurgaon is an excellent hotel convenient for those with long lay-overs or late night/early morning flights.

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Beyond… Delhi

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