Martin Fuchs | Managing Director | German Centre for Industry and Trade Delhi Pvt. Ltd
First published in M+V’s India Insight in June 2011
Delhi is India’s largest metropolis by area and second-largest by population. There are nearly 22.2 million residents in the greater National Capital Region (“Delhi NCR” also includes satellite towns like Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Gurugram), and some say there are nearly as many vehicles on its crowded roads. But it is not only traffic jams, pollution, a never ending stream of people and the mind-boggling backdrop of noises and smells which characterize the city – on having a closer look, you will discover that the city is sprinkled with huge parks, captivating ancient monuments, fascinating museums and art galleries, architectural wonders, a vivacious performing-arts scene, fabulous eating places and bustling markets.
The Imperial: This fascinating, though at times overwhelming, blend of elegance and opulence from three centuries is a regular guest on the “most luxurious” lists of hotels. Built in 1931, its nostalgic colonial grandeur is sure to make your stay an experience. Give in to it, and they’ll make you feel like Queen Victoria herself. If 400 US$ a night blow your budget, go for a very British “High Tea” one afternoon to freshen up after your Old Delhi spice shopping spree.
The Hyatt Regency: This conveniently located place (30 minutes from both the airport and Connaught Place) lives up to its brand name and provides the exhausted business traveller with what he/she needs most after a day in Delhi: the comforting absence of surprises. Well, not quite: The teppanyaki restaurant in the basement has a few choices on its menu which will amaze at least your taste buds.
Eating out and nightlife
Olive Qutab: The beautiful set-up in an ancient Mughal mansion beneath a banyan tree makes you forget about the roaring traffic and hectic street life of Delhi instantly. The Mediterranean cuisine is superb and the cocktails and wine list (in an Indian context) extensive. Also, try to come for the Sunday’s brunch once, it’s one of the best in town.
Smokehouse Grill: Stylish Bar-Restaurant in South Delhi, where you get all the stuff your western soul is longing for after ‘too much India’. Wasabi-infused Beef Tenderloin, Salmon & Beef Carpaccio, Scallops with Serrano Ham, Vanilla Panna Cotta… You want it – they have it. Best is to go on weekends, when from 10.30 pm onwards they’ll turn up the music in the bar and the Delhi party crowd occupies the place to start into the night with some drinks and dancing.
AI: Quite a new and modern Japanese restaurant in one of the malls in Saket mall complex. The Sushi, Sashimi and other Japanese dishes are definitely delicious, if not the cheapest. Once in a while there are Jazz bands or other artists performing live, and in times where it is not too hot and not too cold outside, the rooftop terrace is opened to the party crowds, hosting international DJ’s in a beautiful setting.
Culture and recreation
PVR Cinema, “Gold Class”: Cinema at its comfiest: Sink into the thick leather armchairs, move your seat back into the 180 degrees position, and enjoy the show. Hungry? Just ring for the waiter, who’ll serve anything from pop corn to Spaghetti Bolognese in a few minutes. Latest after the first movie trailer, your local Cineplex will feel like the waiting hall of a district court.
Lodi Garden: Established in the 15th-16th century by the last sultans of Delhi, the Sayyids and Lodis, the carefully kept gardens and medieval monuments of Lodi Garden are famous among joggers and walkers. Delhiites of all social strata meet here to take a break from the city’s hustle and bustle. The garden also hosts Lodi Restaurant, which serves fine Mediterranean food in a fine Mediterranean atmosphere.
Old Delhi – New Delhi: Once the capital of Islamic India, Old Delhi is a labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with crumbling havelis and formidable mosques. In contrast, the imperial city of New Delhi created by the British Raj is composed of spacious, tree-lined avenues and imposing government buildings. Delhi has been the seat of power for several rulers and many empires for about a millennium. Many times the city was built, destroyed and then rebuilt here. Sure, not all of them had a sense for architectural aesthetics. But the way old and new, traditional and modern, West and East merge provides for a never ending Kodak moment.