We continued the northern part of our incredible Funky India trip with the amazing state capital city of Delhi, one of the country’s most important business, political and touristic destinations. We spent three nights at the Ajanta Hotel at the heart of the very busy Pahar Ganj district next to the New Delhi Railway station. The following is an overview of those three days spent discovering this fabulous metropolis including exploring some of its most important areas such as Old Delhi, Connaught Place and the Rajpath, as well as visiting the most sought after attractions including the Red Fort, Jama Masjid Mosque, the India Gate, Lodi Garden, Qutab Minar and Purana Quila.
- Delhi day 1: IGI airport, metro, New Delhi Station, Pahar Ganj
- Delhi day 2: Old Delhi, Chawri Bazar, Jama Masjid Mosque, Lal Qali, Chandni Chowk, Rajpath, India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan and Lodi Garden
- Delhi day 3: Connaught Place, Qutab Minar, Humayun’s tomb, Purana Quila
- About Ajanta Hotel
Delhi day 1
We arrived to the Delhi domestic airport from the southern city of Trivandrum (passing by Mumbai) travelling with Indigo known as the best low cost carrier in India. From the Terminal 1 we took the shuttle bus to the magnificent terminal 3 where the latest addition to the city transport network is located. Indeed the airport express Reliance line was only released in 2011, and is by far the fastest way to get to the centre of New Delhi in a comfortable, air conditioned and stress free way while having a glimpse over the heavy traffic. It takes exactly 18 minutes at 105 km/hour to get from the IGI airport (Dwarka sector 21) to the New Delhi Railway station, located east of the vibrant Pahar Ganj where our hotel is located.
A bit disoriented by all the crowd and the chaos at the station (with plenty of security checks), we took the southern route through Indira Chowk (the ring road around Connaught place) before heading back north to Chelmsford road, instead of passing through the station or the Gupta road over the rails. We finally reached the very busy Pahar Ganj with its numerous hotels, huge neon lights and plenty of street action especially in the evening. We were a bit overwhelmed at first, but we soon found the Ajanta hotel (learn more about the Ajanta hotel below) once we reached the Arakashan road, one of the most important commercial street in the area. We checked in, had a nice long chat with one of the reception lady about our Funky India trip and went to refresh ourselves in our room, located on the last floor of the hotel, right next to the lounge and its huge terrace.
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Delhi day 2
As we slept in total darkness for the first time of our trip (our room didn’t have any windows) we woke up later than usual, and only around 9 we were back on the very busy Arakashan road. We skip breakfast and walked east over the rails through the Gupta road bridge into Old Delhi. We first passed the western Ajmeri Gate, one of the few remaining of the original 14 gates of the once fortified city, and then entered the chaotic and very crowded Chawri Bazar, where locals were selling everything from fruits to construction equipment. At the end of the road, helped by an improvised local guide we reached the beautiful Jama Masjid Mosque, one of the largest construction of its kind. We sat down on the stairs of the southern gate (gate 1) while enjoying the sunshine of this chilly morning. We then turned into the pedestrian market to reach the eastern gate, escaping the annoying bicycle touts. From the Mosque we could see the wall of Lal Qali best known as the Red Fort, where we soon reached it by foot passing by another clothing market. The fort is as impressive as in the various photographs we saw and the story we heard. We stayed there for a while blending in with the waves of local kids coming in on a day visit and other local and international tourists.
From the Red Fort, we crossed the street to enter Chandni Chowk, one of the most important roads in Old Delhi, which goes up to the famous Khari Baoli spice market and Town Hall in the West. It is said that this important artery once had a river flowing at its heart, known as the “Stream of Paradise”. As we haven’t eaten all day, we soon got away from the crowds, and entered the very clean and hygienic vegetarian Vineets restaurant, where we had their delicious speciality, the tandori Platter. After our nice meal, we decided to jump into a rickshaw to go south into the Rajpath area, the city classiest district, with is prestigious Political and administrative monuments, wide streets and huge roundabouts.
We started our Rajpath discovery through the east, with the magnificent India Gate, filled with numerous local tourist and plenty of school kids, who came to admire one of the county’s most important landmark. After a couple of photographs with young Indian boys and girls, we headed West on the magnificent Rajpath Road, where after numerous times being asked, we hopped into a rickshaw, where our first stop was the very impressive Rashtrapati Bhavan at the end of the road. We then passed through the Parliament of India, the country’s supreme legislative body, and continued south to the splendid Lodi Garden offering a variety of historic remains such as old mosques and small fortress, as well as an abundance of birds and beautiful flowers. After some peace and quiet in the charming park, we moved back north through the prestigious Janpath road, first passing by the National Museum and later through some of the city’s most prestigious hotels such as Le Merdien and the 5 Stars Shangri-La New Delhi. We finally reached Connaught Place at the end of Janpath road and walk around the various shops of Indira Chowk, before getting back to the hotel.
Later that night, after some rest at the Ajanta Hotel we went for a small walk around the area of Pahar Ganj, passing by the preparation of an Indian wedding with horses and the band decorated in colourful traditional costumes. We went looking for a nice restaurant but we ended up coming back to the Ajanta Hotel Vagabond, where we enjoyed the vegetarian thali which included various veggies curries, lentils, rice, naan bread and even rice based sweet dish.
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Delhi day 3
Our third and final day in Delhi started much earlier than the day before, with some catch up work from the rooftop terrace while enjoying the sunrise. For breakfast we headed to Connaught Place where we opted for the Cafe Coffee day Indian chain (a mix between Starbuck and Subway), where we enjoyed some freshly made sandwiches and real cappuccinos. The area, even the coffee place, is packed with various touristic touts that all seem to want to be your best friend but all ask you the same questions in the same order, so the best thing is just to ignore them as it can become really annoying repeating the same things over and over.
From Connaught Place we decided to move to the southern part of the city and got the One Day Tourist metro Pass for 100 INR (plus the 50 INR deposit). Our first destination was the Qutab Minar complex, a fabulous piece of Islamic architecture. With its 379 stairs and 72.5 meters (237.8 ft) height, it is considered the tallest minaret in India and is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We came back to the Qutab Minar station by rickshaw and took the metro up to JLN Stadium station, where we passed through the magnificent sport complex and then stopped at the Humayun’s tomb, a UNESCO world heritage and model for the Taj Mahal. From the tomb we continued north by foot, up to the lesser known but splendid Old fort known as Purana Quila. Exhausted by a complete day of sightseeing we decide to call it a day and entered the Pragati Maiden metro station and got back to the Ajanta Hotel for a good night rest before our early departure to Rishikesh the following morning.
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About Ajanta Hotel
The Ajanta Hotel is conveniently located only a short walk from the New Delhi railway and metro station, in the heart of the busy and very lively Anya Magar area. It is by far one of the best value hotels within the accommodations packed Arakashan road. It is a 5 floor building offering a large terrace on the top floor with great views of the city. The room we got offered didn’t have a window, but was fully equipped with a queen size bed, a comfortable desk ideal for writing, a white marble floor and a huge LCD plasma with plenty of international channels. The reception staff was very friendly and helpful, giving us some special advice about the neighbourhood. Another plus side of the hotel is free computer available with internet both on the ground floor and the top floor. Ajanta also houses the lovely Vagabond restaurant offering tasteful food but with an expensive price tag for the area. The only downside was the booking confusion at checkout. Overall I would definitely recommend the Ajanta hotel while staying in New Delhi.
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