I Heart My City: Deepti’s Delhi
Deepti Singh Gupta may be a botanist by education and a teacher by trade, but she’s a traveler “in spirit and soul.” Though she hails from the suburbs of Delhi, Deepti seeks out the capital city’s throbbing heart every chance she gets to explore its ever-changing landscapes. Here are a few of Deepti’s favorite things about the place she calls home.
Delhi is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is Qutb Minar, a minaret counted among the world’s tallest monuments and surrounded by other ancient structures, including royal tombs and an iron pillar. This UNESCO World Heritage site has atmosphere, Old World charm, and plenty of history to keep visitors absorbed.
February is the best time to visit my city because the weather is balmy and the city is abuzz culturally speaking.
You can see my city best from top of the minarets of Jama Masjid in the walled city. Qutub Minar once provided the perfect bird’s eye view, but the monument has been closed to visitors since a 1981, when a stampede inside the tower claimed dozens of lives.
Locals know to skip designer boutique stores and check out Chandni Chowk market instead. Chandni Chowk is an endless souk offering almost everything under the sky that’s worth purchasing; you just have to find it somewhere in the intricate maze of shops and kiosks that adorn its narrow alleys.
My city’s best museum is the National Gallery of Modern Art because it showcases the unique blending of modernity and heritage that defines the India of today. It’s inspiring, fascinating, and oozing with character and atmosphere.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that auto rickshaws, not taxis, are the cheapest and fastest means of getting around Delhi.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is Hauz Khas. Chic boutiques, quaint antique shops, and majestic relics of history provide the perfect backdrop for this charming little shopping village.
My city really knows how to celebrate togetherness because of its multicultural profile.
You can tell if someone is from my city if they never fail to bargain.
Just outside my city, you can visit the imaginative theme park Kingdom of Dreams, a potpourri of art, culture, cuisine, and performing arts in a simply dreamy setting.
My city is known for being chaotic, but it’s really eclectic.
The best outdoor market in my city is Khan Market.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Time Out Delhi.
My city’s biggest sports event is cricket. Watch it at Feroz Shah Kotla Ground.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I head for the art galleries and museums in the city for nice ambience and good company.
To escape the crowds, I visit the Lodhi Gardens; its royal tombs, countless verandas, riotous hues of blooming flowers, and expansive vistas of green never fail to calm the nerves.
If my city were a celebrity it’d be Angelina Jolie because it adopts people of all castes, creeds, and religions like a loving mother and makes them its own.
The dish that represents my city best is butter chicken and for the vegetarians it is rajma chawal (curried kidney beans and rice), and lassi is my city’s signature drink. Sample them at Kake Da Hotel and Bille Di Hatti.
Lotus Temple is my favorite building in town because it is beautiful, serene, and uncluttered. The architecture is awe-inspiring and the place reverberates with positive energy.
The most random thing about my city is that it is possible to witness a wedding procession–where a Mercedes or BMW is meekly following an extensively decorated horse carriage of the groom, which in turn is trailing a crew of boisterous relatives dancing crazily to loud Bollywood numbers–on any road at any time of day.
The infamous “Delhi belly” could only happen in my city for Delhi always has more to offer than you can possibly consume.
In the spring you should come for the Surajkund Craft Fair and the Mughal gardens at Rashtrapati Bhawan, which opens its gates to the general public. If you don’t mind getting drenched, then Holi, the festival of colors, is something you won’t want to miss.
In the summer you should come to taste the ripe mangoes and experience the monsoons.
In the fall you should go see the enthralling light-and-sound show at Purana Qila (Old Fort) and enjoy the salubrious weather and the intriguing on-site ruins.
In the winter you should visit the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, which in the colder months provides a safe haven for exotic birds and waterfowl.
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the National Zoological Park. Boating at the adjacent Old Fort lake is also a fun experience for children and adults alike.
The best book about my city is The City of Djinns, by William Dalrymple, because presents a sparkling cocktail of history and myth, culture and intrigue, social evolution and transformation of landscape—everything that makes Delhi what it is today.
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is ”People in the City,” by Air.
In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because Delhi is a melting pot—a city of cities steeped in traditions, heritage, faith, and history, yet modern and contemporary.