72 hours in Delhi. Part 1: Streets of Delhi – Eat, Walk, Metro

There were 4 days to go before Dhruv’s school reopened after Diwali vacations. We decided to gift him a trip to Delhi, which was going to be his first. Making it touristy would be a complete injustice. So we planned an experience with lots of history, stories about the city and walks to local markets as the best way to introduce the heart and soul of India’s capital; the city of Djinns.

Delhi was not new to me. In the past, I visited often for work and seen most of what I was now going to introduce to Dhruv. But this opened up a different experience for me as well. This visit made me rediscover the city, its monuments and museums and the much-celebrated food.


Streets of Delhi

Getting used to streets of Delhi is like fitting a puzzle together. On one hand is Lutyens’ New Delhi, the one with wide streets alongside well-kept footpaths and manicured gardens. And on the other, an old city with bustling bazaars, a labyrinth of narrow streets, virtually no footpaths left and a vast unruly matrix of overhanging wires. It is puzzling to think how they co-exist.

 

दिल्ली के न थे कूचे औराक़-ए-मुसव्वर थे

जो शक्ल नज़र आई तस्वीर नज़र आई

-मीर तक़ी मीर

 

Translation: The streets of Delhi were not alleys but a painters canvas,

Every face that appeared seemed like a masterpiece

delhi, street, Janpath, India gate, lutyens
It was charming to walk around India Gate and drive by all the embassies, courts and state houses to experience that pride of being India’s capital city
delhi, street, old delhi, purani dilli, chandni chowk, Gurudwara sis ganj sahib
On the other side of the city, as we walked out of the metro station we saw Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib. We were at Chandni Chowk, the heart of the old city.
delhi, india, street, purani dilli, old delhi, chandni chowk, bazaar, market
To walk through streets of old Delhi (Purani Dilli) was overwhelming. We were crossing crowded bazaars with shops laden with jewelry, stones and dazzling lehengas in silks and brocade. The agenda was to find our shortlisted places to eat – the famous parathas, the dahi bhalla and chaat.
delhi, india, street, purani dilli, old delhi, chandni chowk, bazaar, market
Think of Purani Dilli as a video game – In a maze of streets, the next turn is only visible when you reach the end and have fraction of a second to decide where to turn next.
delhi, india, street, purani dilli, old delhi, chandni chowk, bazaar, market, kinnari, shopping
Looking for Parathewali Gali, we got lost in Kinnari Bazaar instead, where even the omnipresent google maps did not help. The local paanwala guided us.

Street Food in Delhi

Delhi’s food is legendary. It is a not to be missed experience and there are places and dishes that have become iconic. Like elsewhere in India, Delhi street food is loved and cherished by the locals. You ask around and soon you will be told the rightful place to eat the best sheekh kabab, mutton korma or the softest roomali roti along with the most fascinating stories of the recipe’s legacy! These stories drew us to local joints in bustling markets and older parts of the city rather than the swanky upmarket places.

delhi, india, street, food, roomali roti, chicken, sheekh, kabab

delhi, india, street, food, roomali roti, chicken, sheekh, kabab

delhi, india, street, food, halwa, paratha, nizamuddin, dargah, delicacy, stories
We courageously ventured into the street leading towards the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin where we found this delicacy called Halwa Paratha.
delhi, india, street, food, ghalib, kabab, nizamuddin, dargah, delicacy, stroies
In the crowded inner lanes around the Nizammuddin dargah, the locals guided us to a hidden gem: A place next to Ghalib’s tomb called (what else?) Ghalib!

delhi, india, street, food, ghalib, kabab, nizamuddin, dargah, delicacy, stroies delhi, india, street, food, ghalib, kabab, nizamuddin, dargah, delicacy, stories

delhi, india, street, food, ghalib, kabab, nizamuddin, dargah, delicacy, stories, thums up
Dhruvs important conclusion from the trip: Thums Up is the best drink to pair up with kababs.
delhi, india, street, old delhi, purani dilli, food, daulat ki chaat, delicacy, stories
‘Daulat ki Chaat’ is a dessert you will find in the streets of old Delhi that has earned a cult status, just like the parathas, over the years.

Traveling by Delhi Metro

As a woman, I had listened to first-hand horror accounts of traveling in Delhi and witnessed how unsafe they were. So in the past I told myself – inspired by artistic renderings of Gotham city – these are mean streets where you do not venture out alone and totally avoid public transport. But because there were two of us- I found the courage to follow a different plan this time. We decided to walk, use the metro and on couple of occasions, book an Ola or Uber taxi.

This was the first time I used the Delhi metro and it was liberating for me. It is really a game-changer for me. It was a huge sense of relief to see it functioning efficiently and I am happy to report back, the distress I felt about traveling in Delhi finally went away!

delhi, india, metro, station, travel

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