48 Hours In: Delhi

In association with Emirates

Harriet O'Brien finds that a trip to India's capital is a tale of two cities - the planned elegance of New Delhi, and the teeming markets of the old city.

WHY GO NOW?

Because daytime temperatures are pleasant (around 22C), because the city is full of flowers and birdsong, and because if you don't go soon the intense heat of summer will render even stepping outside a painful activity.

TOUCH DOWN

British Airways (0870 850 9850; www.ba.com), Air India (020-8560 9996; www.airindia.com) and Virgin Atlantic (0870 380 2007; virgin-atlantic.com) fly non-stop from Heathrow. Emirates (0870 243 2222; www.emirates.com) flies via Dubai from several UK airports. UK passport holders need a visa. A standard tourist visa costs £30 from the India High Commission in London (0906 844 4544; www.hcilondon.net) or from the consulates in Birmingham (0121- 212 2782) and Edinburgh (0131-229 2144).

GET YOUR BEARINGS

Spread along the west bank of the Yamuna river, Delhi is essentially two cities. Old Delhi is a maze of narrow alleys and bustling markets. It developed as the 17th-century walled city of Shahjahanabad and today it spreads into the Civil Lines further north, which is where the British once lived until they built New Delhi. When the colonial rulers decided to move India's capital from Calcutta, a brand new city was created south of Old Delhi, much of it devised by Edwin Lutyens in the 1920s. New Delhi was built with wide, tree-lined streets and imposing parliamentary buildings. As the city straggles into suburbs, you'll also find the remains of other, older, capitals such as Dhillika and Purana Qila.

Indira Gandhi airport is 23km south-west of New Delhi. The quickest way into town is by taxi - book and pre-pay for the 30-minute journey (around 700 rupees/£8) at the taxi booth in the arrivals hall. Alternatively, coaches depart regularly from the airport, take around 40 minutes and cost about Rs100/£1.20. There is a tourist information stand at the airport, but the biggest tourist office is at Baba Kharak Singh Marg in New Delhi (00 91 11 2336 5358; delhitourism.nic.in; open daily 7am-9pm) (1).

CHECK IN

Most international flights arrive and depart in the early hours, so if you are in town only for a couple of days, spend a night near the airport on your way in or out of the city. The clean and comfortable Shanti Palace (2) at A-67 Mahipalpur Extension, National Highway 8 (00 91 11 2678 1271; www.shantipalace.com) is about 10 minutes' drive from the airport. Work should soon be completed on a new wing containing a Japanese restaurant and pool. Doubles cost around Rs3,300 (£39), with breakfast. At Connaught Circus in the centre of New Delhi you'll find a number of mid-priced hotels, most of which

offer clean-ish accommodation and a take-it-or-leave-it attitude. The marble-clad Marina (3) at G Block, Connaught Circus (00 91 11 2332 4658) also has an in-house travel agent and, somewhat eccentrically, a franchise dentist. Doubles cost around Rs3,500 (£42) with breakfast. Luxury options include The Imperial Hotel (4) at 1 Janpath (00 91 11 2334 1234; www.theimperialindia.com), a gracious colonial edifice with a touch of Art Deco. Doubles start at $281 (£156) with breakfast and airport transfers.

TAKE A VIEW

With no hills and few tall buildings to speak of, Delhi offers little in the way of views. But for the sheer fun of it, climb up the city's tallest structure, Jantar Mantar (5), on Sandad Marg near Connaught Place (open daily 6am-sunset, entrance Rs100/£1.20). This observatory was built in the 18th century, its huge instruments made out of bricks and mortar. You won't see much from the top of the giant sundial, but it provides a perspective over New Delhi.

TAKE A RIDE

Hire one of Delhi's ubiquitous Hindustan Ambassador taxis and make a trip to India Gate (6), a stately First World War memorial. From there, gaze up Rajpath (Kingsway) to Rashtrapati Bhawan, the president's residence, which is flanked by the Secretariat offices (7). These magnificent buildings were the work of Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker, who incorporated Moghul-style domes into their Classical designs.

LUNCH ON THE RUN

Connaught Circus is awash with places offering cheap food. Café Masala (8) at number 12 A Block offers great value. Here you pay for your meal by weight: murg adraki, ginger-flavoured chicken curry, costs Rs30 (36p) per 100g.

WINDOW SHOPPING

Most tourists head for Dilli Haat (9) on Sri Aurobindo Marg (open daily 10am-6pm; 00 91 11 2467 8817). Modelled on a traditional village market, itsstalls sell handicrafts from all over the country. For a real Delhi institution, though, make for the Central Cottage Industries Emporium (10) at Jawahar Vyapar Bhawan, Janpath (00 91 11 2332 6790; www.cottageemporiumindia.com), where you can buy anything from marble table-tops and pashminas to pens and handmade paper daily from 10am-7pm. Across the road is Janpath market where you can haggle with vendors over cotton shirts, beautiful chess sets and leather goods (you'll find the best deals for the latter in the Palika Bazar at the northern end of Janpath).

CULTURAL AFTERNOON

Delhi's greatest attraction is the Red Fort (11) on the eastern edge of Old Delhi. The fort was built between 1638 and 1648 by emperor Shah Jahan, who was simultaneously constructing the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife. It opens 6am-sunset daily except Mondays, admission Rs100 (£1.20). Its gates and red sandstone walls are wonderfully impressive. The interior is less so since the fort was used as a barracks by the British, but you can still wander through the gardens and visit halls and palaces that showcase Moghul power at its height.

AN APERITIF

For urban edge visit the bar at The Park Hotel (12) at 15 Parliament Street (00 91 11 2374 3000; www.theparkhotels.com), which was designed by Conran & Partners and features leather tub chairs and dramatic lighting.

DINING WITH THE LOCALS

Designed to look like a truckers' café, and indeed featuring the side of a truck as a wall decoration, the Dhaba restaurant at Hotel Claridges (13) at 12 Aurangzeb Road (00 91 11 2301 0211; www.claridges.com) is a perennial favourite among the chattering classes of Delhi. The menu features butter chicken (Rs350/£4.20) and paneer with spinach (Rs250/£3).

SUNDAY MORNING: GO TO CHURCH

The Anglican Cathedral Church of the Redemption (14) on North Avenue (00 91 11 2309 4229) is a splendid colonial building designed by Henry Medd in 1927. Sunday services take place at 8am in English, 9.30am in Tamil and 11am in Hindi.

OUT TO BRUNCH

The Yellow Brick Road Café at the Taj Ambassador Hotel (15) at Sujan Singh Park, Cornwallis Road (00 91 11 2463 2600; www.tajhotels.com) offers all-day dining, with a menu featuring New York pancake breakfasts (Rs250/£3) and "Chutney Mary" Railway Cutlets (Rs275/£3.30).

A WALK IN THE PARK

Lodi Gardens (16) on Lodi Colony (open daily 6am-8pm, admission free) is a peaceful green space landscaped around 15th-century tombs and filled with green parakeets, hoopoes and mynah birds.

THE ICING ON THE CAKE

Humayan's Tomb (17) on Mathura Road (open daily 6am-sunset, entrance Rs250/£3) is Delhi's most glorious monument. Humayan was the second Moghul emperor and his mausoleum was built by his senior widow, Haji Begum, in the 1560s. This stunning red sandstone edifice was the blueprint for the Taj Mahal.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick