India is, without a doubt, a destination that amazes and at the same time scares many. Many of those of us who choose to face our travel fears will choose discovering New Delhi as our choice to start our India adventure.
After the initial shock of Indiahas passed, discovering New Delhi is nothing short of an incredible experience. The chaos and noise of the city will make all of your senses come alive. Once comfortable with Delhi, the city of Agra offers further experiences to see one of the most visited sights in the world, the Taj Mahal.
Overwhelming New Delhi
New Delhi is over-populated, polluted, dirty and noisy, the latter thanks to the millions of cars and Tuk-Tuks roaming throughout the city. Crossing the street is an extreme sport.
But New Delhi also has the power to humble by both its simplicity and its complexity. Even for experienced travellers like me, New Delhi will manage to surprise you at every turn.
The city has what it takes to make you feel small in a sea of millions of people, and yet to make you grow as a traveler by helping you gain the skills to get through all the chaos the city can provide. It will also surprise you by sporadic times where all you see is nonsense.
All of this is not to say that there aren’t any sights in New Delhi, and that the city doesn’t deserve some of your time. New Delhi does have very good restaurants and street markets to visit, as well as some forts and colorful streets well deserving of your visit.
New Delhi’s commercial center, Connaught Place is literally the center of the city. There are many shops, restaurants and hotels in the area, as well as many many (many) touts.
On Sundays, a market opens on one of the sides of the park. Even though it is mainly for locals looking to purchase clothes at a low price, it is still worth passing by if you are in the area.
Streets of Old Delhi
If wandering around streets and markets is your thing, a stroll through the streets of Old Delhi will provide you an endless opportunity to discover a beautiful sight of New Delhi.
A chaotic scene at first, wandering around the streets of Old Delhi is a must-have experience for every traveller in Delhi.
A sea of never ending markets and vendors adorn this area, but you can find solace in a few colorful and deserted streets throughout Old Delhi.
On the east side of Old Delhi is the Red Fort, a historical fort which was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughai dynasty for 200 years until 1857, and now houses a few museums.
Agra & the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is one of the world’s most visited destinations, and with good reason. The simple sight of the Taj is sure to leave you speechless while admiring its beauty and perfection. This site alone is worth the visit to India, however there are a few things to know before you embark on your journey to Agra and the Taj Mahal.
1. Getting to Agra
Agra is quite far from New Delhi, and the journey could easily take between 3 to 4 hours by local transport. Therefore it is best to stay the night in Agra, which also allows for an early visit to the Taj Mahal and avoiding the early afternoon crowds.
The easiest way is to go by train; from the New Delhi train station (near Connaught Place), book a ticket to Agra Cantonment (train station). From there, you can take a taxi or rickshaw to both the Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal.
2. The Agra Fort
The Agra Fort was one of my favorite sites, and one that is worth the visit to Agra in itself. The Agra Fort served as the residence of the Mughai Dynasty until 1638, when the capital moved from Agra to Delhi.
Today, the Agra Fort is an UNESCO world heritage site, and although it is overshadowed by the Taj Mahal’s popularity, it hosts an array of views well worth the visit.
3. The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is a sight to behold. It is a place which will easily manage to give you shivers by its sole presence.
The views of the Taj Mahal are impressive from every angle, and it is a sight which even though only offers the palace as its main attraction, it is one where you could easily spend an entire day.
However, the Taj Mahal’s immense popularity is also its downside, as huge crowds and never ending line-ups serve as a complete turn-off to the site. As mentioned earlier, staying in Agra for a night may very well be worth the trip for a clear and peaceful view of the Taj Mahal and avoid the crowds.
WHERE I STAYED
Sarthak Palace Hotel: AVOID!!! Somehow this place has managed to improve their website from the time I went, however their rooms still do not look anything like their pictures at all. Our room was freezing cold and had a hole in the wall to the street. Hot water is not available between 3AM and 11AM. There is also little to no atmosphere for foreign travelers.
The area around this hotel is quite touristic, with many hotels, restaurants, and street markets to keep your evenings busy. The Karol Bagh metro station is also within walking distance. I do recommend staying in the area, but avoid this place at all costs.
Have you been to New Delhi? What are some of the most random things you saw or experienced in this overwhelming city?