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February 2011

The Temptress That Is Delhi

Unlike places like The Alps and Paris, India doesn’t exactly come to mind as a honeymoon destination. However, the life, splendour and the hotbed of colour that thrives in the country would ignite wanderlust in even the most blasé of travellers. Hand-in-hand with your loved one, ignite your senses in the bustling city of New Delhi.

What To See

The Red Fort

The largest of old Delhi’s monuments is the Lal Quila, or the Red Fort, thick red sandstone walls bursting with turrets and bastions that withstood the tribulations and vagaries of time and nature. The Lal Quila rises above a wide dry moat, in the northeast corner of the original city of Shahjahanabad and has stood there since 1648. The fort housed the vital centre of Mughal government. Until today, the Lal Quila is an eloquent reminder of the glory of the Mughal era, and its magnificence simply leaves one awestruck. It is still a calm haven of peace, which helps one to break away from the frantic pace of life outside the walls of the Fort, and transports the visitor to another realm of existence.

Jama Mosque

One of the largest mosques in India, Jama Mosque is the final architectural extravagance of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who also built the Taj Mahal in Agra. Built by a workforce of 5,000 people, the construction of the mosque began in 1638 and continued for six years, ending in 1644. The structure was placed on a high platform so that its magnificent facade would be visible from all the adjoining areas. Like the Taj Mahal, white marble has also been used extensively, particularly in the three domes which has been inlaid with stripes of black pulpit, one of the mosque’s best features, which was carved out of a single block of marble.

Janta Mantar

At first sight, the Jantar Mantar appears to look like a gallery of modern art. It is, however, an observatory. Sawai Jia Singh II of Jaipur, a keen astronomer and a noble in the Mughal court, was dissatisfied by the errors of brass and metal astronomical instruments. Under patronage from the emperor, he set on himself the task of correcting the existing astronomical tables and updating the almanac with more reliable instruments.

Delhi’s Jantar Mantar is the first of the five observatories that he built with large masonary instruments. The observatory has the Samrat Yantra, a simple equal hour sun dial, the Ram yantra for reading altitudinal angles; Jai Prakash for ascertaining the position of the sun and other celestial bodies, and the Misra Yantra which is a combination of four scientific gadgets.

Where to Shop

In a country where there’s no such thing as excess, when hunting for sarees, the more blinged up you are, the better. Try Malhotra Sarees in Lajpat Nagar where you’ll find a plethora of colours and designs of every imaginable traditional Indian outfit you can think of. It’s like being in the wardrobe trailer of a Bollywood movie, except better – you can actually buy these clothes and bring them home!

From Malhotra Sarees, walk down away from the main road where you’ll find yourself in a labyrinth of street bazaar with food, shoes, clothing, homeware, accessories and everything else you need to complete your Indian makeover.

If you’re starving after all that shopping, the brave can try street food. Look out for Aloo Chaat – potatoes that have been cut into small pieces and then fried till crisp and served with chutney. Spicy, aromatic and the perfect pick-me-up after a whole afternoon of shopping in Delhi.

In the midst of the market, you’ll find men sitting on stools by the streets or walkways. They’re actually very skilled Mehndi artists who can design the most intricate henna decorative tattoos on the palm of your hands in the matter of mere minutes.

If you’re looking to buy fabrics and other Indian outfits, try Sarojini Nagar. Situated in the posher part of South Delhi, the crux of the market is formed by street side shops, selling garments of all designs and colours. This market is one for those with an eye for fashion and a nose for bargains.

Where to Dine

1 Hauz Khas Village New Delhi Phone: 91-011-2696-0426

Serving traditional Udupi cuisine, a style of vegetarian cooking from South India, all diners at this humble eatery begin their meal with a pepper-spiced soup called rasam. Popular entrees include the dosas, which are large pancakes made from semolina and come stuffed with spicy potatoes or vegetables. Or try a rice “stir-fry” served with coconut chutney and tomato-y lentil stew. Casual to smart-casual attire. Reservations accepted.

16 Jama Masjid, Gali Kababiyan (opposite Hotel Bombay Orient) New Delhi Phone: 91-011-2326-9880

This little restaurant is tucked away on a side street, but Delhi-ites and visitors in the know come here for the mutton. The meat is available in a variety of sweet or savory gravies. Other delicious meals include the lamb stuffed with chicken, rice, eggs and fruit, and the fresh, hot curries. No matter what you order, be sure to get some homemade bread on the side. No credit cards. Casual attire.

Trips Out of Town

When in India, it’s hard to say you’re going for a quick trip because everything operates on Indian Standard Time – which basically is a glacial pace compared to Singapore. If you’re staying at a hotel, arrange to have a car take you on a day trip to Agra. The trip to Agra may take anywhere between two to four hours depending on India’s traffic, which is highly undependable.

And if you make it through the four hours of traffic and non-stop honking, you’d set your sight upon the greatest marble structures in the world:

The Taj Mahal, for the oblivious, is one of the most recognizable structures in the world built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The marble monument, whose construction began in 1632, is widely considered as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and stands as a symbol of eternal love.

Where to Stay

Aman New Delhi – Golf Links, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi, Delhi (state) – 011 43633333

If you’d like the modernity that comes with a top notch hotel, Aman New Delhi may be your best bet. Only minutes from the grandeur of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the peaceful Lodhi gardens and many other iconic sites of New Delhi, Aman New Delhi provides a tranquil new retreat in one of the world’s most colourful and cosmopolitan capital cities with. The city-based resort boasts to be an elegant haven exuding an air of sophisticated calm, and provides guests with the ultimate in comfort, as well as the ideal base from which to experience the city’s wealth of historical, cultural and contemporary attractions. The in-house spa has won many awards including Best City Spa in 2011 in Condé Nast Traveller India and the hotel has won Best City Resort 2011 in Town & Country.

Bajaj Indian Home Stay
8A / 34 W.E.A , Karol Bagh, Near Channa Market | Near Channa Market, New Delhi 110 005, India T: +91 +11-25736509

Bajaj Indian Home Stay is an amalgamation of a traditional hotel and a guest house which offers you a stay in the ambience of an Indian home, situated close to the commercial hub-centre of Delhi. Thoughtfully designed with modern amenities, Bajaj Indian Home Stay offers the opportunity to unwind and relax and appreciate the finer things that only come in the comfort of an Indian home. The various rooms at Bajaj Indian Home Stay are named after popular Indian mythological and historical characters as well as some of the avatars revered by the Hindus. Each room is a different experience; each has a different story to tell.

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The Temptress That Is Delhi