miércoles, 29 de mayo de 2013

DELHI (english)

DELHI (english version)

Delhi is a huge and poluted city (only in Moonzon times, from June to September, sky is clean and city shows clean streets with green gardens instead dry-brown dusty for the rest of the year).
It is not friendly traveller welcoming, there is not a Gov. network to help tourist or travellers, just a couple of tourist office lost between the hundreds of private scam tourist office (blue "i" is not official in India and is used by all private tourist offices, some involved in scams selling overpriced hotels and overpriced tours to Cachemira or Rajasthan by paying a comision to the taxi-Riskshaw drivers in the airport (when arriving first day, specially at night, the drivers use to asure you the hotel you ask or the area you ask are not available or mistaken and offers to help you going to one "official" Tourist offfice with a huge blu "i" in the entrance, it is just a tipical Delhi scam, force him to take you to a well known metro station or place and from there take another rickshaw to the hotel or area you need to go: Connaught-Rajiv Chowk or New Delhi railway station are convenient places to go if you need).

As Delhi is a main central airport, train, bus network, let me explain a litle when you first time visit the city:

Indira Gandhi airport is quite far from the center (around 20km). A taxi can charge you 200-300 rupee to Connaught-Rajiv Chowk center (price 2010). A rickshaw around 100 rupee. As you understand first overpiced offers must always be discused (as far as you walk from the main entrance of airport into the parking area, as down the offers will drop). Now there is a new shiny Metro in the airport to the center: Cheapest, Spanish aircon wagons, fastest and cleanest opption (I didnt take, but I read it may takes as litle as 20min to the center instead 1 hour by taxi!!: http://goindia.about.com/od/rail/ss/Delhi-Metro-Airport-Express-Train-Guide.htm)
The webpage says (in case they change the link):

"The Delhi Metro Airport Express train line opened in February 2011. A much anticipated part of Delhi's expanding Metro train network, it cuts travel time to Delhi airport from at least one hour to just 18 minutes. What a huge difference! Trains, imported from Spain, travel the 22 kilometer distance at over 100 kilometers per hour. It's the fastest metropolitan train ride in India. 

The Airport Metro Express line starts at the New Delhi Metro Station, located opposite New Delhi Railway Station. (If you want to get to the Paharganj backpacker area from there, cross over the bridge at New Delhi Railway station and you'll find it on the other side).
It terminates at the new Terminal 3 at Delhi Airport. If you're traveling on a domestic stand-alone budget airline (IndiGo, Spice Jet, GoAir), you'll have to take a transfer bus to Terminal 1 to catch your flight, or get off the train at Delhi AeroCity station.
A discounted inaugural fare of 80 rupees is being offered. The fare will later increase to around 150 rupees.
Trains run every 13 minutes. The first train departs at 5.34. a.m. from New Delhi Station and at 5.15 a.m. from Dwarka Sec 21. The last train departs at 11.33 p.m. from New Delhi Station.
As of June 10, 2011, if you're traveling on a full service domestic flight in India (Air India, Kingfisher and Jet Airways), it's possible to check in your baggage and get your boarding pass at New Delhi Metro station and Shivaji Stadium station. These three airlines have opened check-in counters at these stations on the Airport Metro Express line. The check-in facility means that passengers will be able to travel baggage free on the Metro, enabling two layers of security checks to be avoided."
Official metro express airport: http://www.delhiairportexpress.com/home/index.html

Info Delhi airport:

If you don´t arrive for first time to Delhi by air:

By train the most convenient station is New Delhi Rw Station. walking distance from Main Bazar Backpakers area, or by metro near to Connaugh-Rajiv Chowk Center (one metro stop, 1km long walk be sure you exit train station in the right side oposite from the metro exit side). 
Also many trains stops only in Old Delhi Rw Station. From there you can take also metro (links underground to  ChandiChowk stop), and in 3 stops you will be at Connaugh-RajivChowk center or 2 stops in New Delhi Rw (15 min metro ride).
Eventually your train can leave or arrive to Nizzamudin (South Delhi), but it is very rare.
(In this Delhi Center metro Map, Delhi=OldDelhi)

If you arrive by Gov. Bus to Delhi (or wants to live Delhi by bus): Probably you will arrive to Cachemire Gate Main Bus terminal (same metro station, 1 stop from Old delhi Rw and 3 stops from NewDelhi Rw). There is more bus terminals, but Cachemire Garte is the main and biggest one, and links all buses to North country (to Rishikesh, Manali, Daramsala, Shimla... by HRTC y UTC) http://www.indiatransit.com/public_transport/Himachal_state_road.aspx
Gov. RSRTC Buses to Rajasthan use to stop at Jaipur house in India gate (2km south of RajivChowk)
By Bus private companies (a pain in the ass, they use to drive around all bus stops in Delhi for 1 hour before leaving Delhi, if not full they do more loops around (you will see 2 times the same stops) until is almost full. I once spend 3 hours looping Delhi bus stops before leaving to Manali 14hours drive, it can be a nightmare 17hours that Gov. buses use not to do). 
If you are arriving to Delhi ask if posible to drop you down at RK Ashram Marg metro station (dirty area but walking distance from Main Bazar backpakers hotels if you will sleep there). 

To check India public buses: http://www.indiatransit.com/
I don´t recomend you to stop first days in Delhi to visit places, instead go out as quickly as you can, and let Delhi for the last days of your tour.

All important monuments in Delhi belongs to the muslim Sultanate, the muslim Mogol period and the British empire period and are very spread and separate between each other. Forget to walk them, take metro and Rickshaw for smaller distances. A good Gov web to explore the monuments before going: http://www.delhitourism.gov.in/delhitourism/tourist_place/index.jsp

British period:
ConnaughPlace-RajivChowk huge circle contained administrative British-Indian buildings (still runs major administrative offices area today). White buidings with columns in 3 high floors gives you a glimpse of the capital of India for the last 2 centuries. Major shops and Restaurants.
Actually Rajiv Chowk is 3 circles around each other (500m of diametre in total), in around 20 Hectareas (20 football fields). Inner circle offers you the best shopping and meals but also famous are Regal Cinema and next door Gandhi Ashram shop cooperative (best cotton quality handmade and traditional dress), also visit (when fresh climate) Palika electronic and leather shops big popular underground Bazar.
And don´t forget the south avenues:
Baba Kharak ave. offers State official Handicrafts shops ending in a beautiful Sij Gwurduara with a lake,
Parliament ave. with Jantar Mahar Mogolsperiod Astronomy observatory (same as in Jaipur),
Janpath ave with Tibetan market India hadicrafts and 5star hotels,
Kasturba ave. gov offices.
Barakambha ave. with best bookshop in town.
You oviously can spend the whole day here.

Secretariat-RajPathAvenue-IndiaGate: The huge 2km avenue of RajPath marks the power on British and Indian now times. Amazing buildings, from the enormous beautiful Secretariats blocks, to all avenue goverment buildings: Ministries, Lok Shaba, Parliament, Court, National Archives, National Museum (entrance fee includes audiotour earphones), and a long so on, used to be visited by Rickshaw or bus, not by walk. India Goverment heart is here. National events demostrations are held here, as National day. Every evening avenue gardens became a multi cricket field for local people.

Janpath avenue: Linking the 2 mentioned places above, this 2 km avenue offers many curious places. Starting from the 5star best hotels in Delhi, Imperial hotel is the top colonial luxury British style must once in a life, try to visit at least the one room, take a caffe or eat in the Restaurant (if permision is given, dress properly) you will feel into a colonial movie, only Rajasthan Hotel Palaces can rival this place in glamour and history.

Moguls and Sultanate muslim periods:
See also: http://indiawee.blogspot.com.es/2013/05/quien-eran-los-mogoles-de-india-de.html

Humayun Tomb: The pre-TajMahal tomb. Spectacular orang-brick building surounded by Gardens. My favorite place in Delhi (entrance fee: 250 rupee) http://asi.nic.in/asi_monu_whs_humayuntomb.asp

Near by are Lodi Gardens and Safdarjanj Tomb. Another must.

Far south Qutub Minar can be visited (also metro now): Maybe one of the oldest places in Delhi (900 years old), Minaretes and with nice gardens and mosques build with the defeated hindu temples stones. Only for people who spend more than 3 days in Delhi.

Old Delhi: North Delhi spreads the Old capital of Mogols, swiched with Agra for some periods. What was once a jewell muslim city becames today a dirty narrow streets area. Gov seems to do nothing about and invest nomoney at all to recover the old muslim of Delhi. So walking the streets, avenues and Bazars of Old Delhi becames a adventure experience not everyone likes. Still some places are a must even for Tourist.
Jamma Masjeed: The old big mosquee built by mogols 500 years ago. Free entrance (other charges are a cheat by touts or fake priest) but covered legs, shoulders and womenhair are a must for everybody. A couple of rupees use to tip the shoes keeper. There is an entrance fee only for the tower, views worthes the 10 rupee ticket, but not the often hands touching women in the narrow stairs (not recomended for single woman). You are in a muslim main mosquee, be sure you will pay respect and follow the rules before you go inside. Photos should not be taken (be very care if you take few, far from people praying, never disturb them or you will inmediatly ask to leave the place).
Red Fort: The high walled home of the Mogol emperors and their court. British removed 90% of the buildings inside. Not as beautifull inside as Agra Red Fort, still relaxing quite and worths the visit, and the outside red walls are ashtoning. A litel cafe inside.
Chandni Chowk: The most famous avenue in the old Mogols capital, used to be full of glamorous shops for the Mogols court shoppers (Chandi itself means "silver", while Chowk meas "circle" now extends to the whole street the name even the whole area around). The luxury is vanished in the British times, remaining a popular muslim shoping area. Today is a dirty place, still interesting. We find Births curious Jain Hospital (visit free a donation to run the place is asked) and litle far the Sij small Gurdwara, always with beautiful chantings, mantained very clean inside as shoes mut be kept in lockers and feet must be washed. A piece of peace in the noise crowds. Sideways like Kinari bazar (bazar of the clothes and Sarees) are for intrepidous.

Hindu Monuments:
When muslims arrive a thounsand years back, they started the Sultanates in Delhi, destrying all Hindu temples (as in all conquered places in the world). Also they destroyed mostly of the Hindu temples all north India (world famous Kajuraho erotic temples is a rare exception ramained lost in forest shows us today how they could be). Huge Hindu old temples can be visited in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu.
There is not a Hindu huge old temples in the capital at all. Only at Qutub Minar buildings can be observe some Hindu carved columns and stones. Today the Hindu Goverment try to help Hindu new iniciatives. The best example is the new beautiful Hindu temple in old stone style named:

Swaminarayan Akhsardham (Akhsardam metro, crossing the Yamuna from Humayun´s Tomb )

Other special Delhi visits:

Gandhi memorial
Sadly a boring place to keep the place where Gandhi was buried, of one of the biggest men in the history of India and the peace dignity and world rights. There is nothing to see or do here (no museum, no big monument...just a black marble stone indicate the place he was buried and a flame).
Instead the life of Gandhi in the awarded film of Sir Attenbourugh, 3 hours of a wonderfull life all of us should watch once in a while to fullfil our hearts:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HT4BM7cgJw   (English)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM1_Md9O6D0  (Español)

India offers many zoo´s (like Jaipur, Mysore, and many more) used by families to enjoy the afternooms with their families in the weekends, a good place to see happy people enjoying in the grounds (superb photos from people) and watching the exotic fauna at the same time.

Lotus temple
India holds almost all religions, and Baháï new religión has a big temple here (the main one is in Haifa, Israel)
http://www.bahaihouseofworship.in/ finished in the eighties, remembers the opera in Sidney.

Markets in Delhi are organized in Bazars (Silver bazar, electronics bazar, paintings bazar, and so on), spread all over the city. Old Delhi has many of them ( I like the envelopes bazar south from the big Mosquee).
Electronics Bazar can be found now at
A web for shoping and visit bazars:

Flying Kites: A cheap and fun tradition is very spread in Delhi and other cities. Children and teens flies with their relatives colorfull Kites from the rooftops of their houses. Just fliying or even fights can be seen every afternoom, specially in poor neighbourhoods. It is a science itself you can enjoy visiting a Kite shop or watching the skies every afternoom.

Where to Sleep in Delhi:
Apart from the 4-5 star hotels spread all over south Delhi, there is 3 main areas.

High-Middle: Connaught-Rajiv Chowk area is the most centered. Metro knot here goes quickly everywhere in Delhi, while major shops and restaurants have a branch here. Should be the best place, but hotels are really overpriced. near Janpath avenue holds the most expensive and luxurious hotels in Delhi I don´t think anyone can afford (Imperial hotel is mentioned avobe).

Midle: Karol Bagh neighbourhood (metro Karol Bagh)
Thousands of hotels and shops runs from the metro station in a 2km avenue and the side streets. Not well known by travellers yet, offers a huge amount of rooms. Barganing is a must, prices runs from 600 to 2000 rupees.

Low-Midle: Main Bazar street (Ramakrishna = RK Ashram Marg metro). The headquarters of Backpakers. Uncomprensilbe dirty and unhealthy (Hindu gov doesn´t want to improve this hinud-muslim mix area giving a horrible first impresion of the capital of India to the world travellers). Still is the most convenient cheappy best located area. Near by New Delhi Rw Station, and 2 km from main Rajiv Chowk center. 
It is not for tourist-backpakerlooking as rooms use to be small and simple, be ware of the food as diseases are easy to get in this street (hepatitis E, amebiasis, polio, and so on). Just for real travellers who understand flowers and candles on the table never means safer food in India at all. Prices start from 150 rupee simple to as high as 1200 for the midle ones.


Main Bazar - New Delhi Rw (Backpakers Headquarters), Pajarganj Neighborhood: Dirty street becaming famous to hold all backpakers who want to stay near New Delhi Train Station. Conveniently located, surprises the dirt (Gov wants not to spend a single Rupee in the muslim area, so it wrongly gives all foreigner the idea Delhi is crap).

Este mapa que he hecho, corresponde a la calle de los mochileros (cybercafes, alojamientos muchos, restaurantitos mejores y peores. Según sales de New Delhi train station al lado de "Main Bazar - Pajarganj" (el otro lado te lleva hacia el metro y en dirección Old Delhi, esto no es). Nada más salir cruza el Parking y enfrente tienes una callecita llena de tiendas de ropa, candados, etc, es esta calle aunque no lo parezca, porque tienes que andar unos 300m hasta la bifurcación (a la izquierda mercadillo de frutas y tienditas de espedcias, de frente la calle sigue empezando los hoteles-GuestHouse de mochileros).
Para moverte por Delhi puede ser más útil  usar la estación de metro RK Ashram Marg, que está más cerca de los hotelillos, que tener que volver a NewDelhi Rw station y cruzar esta enorme estación al otro lado para meterte en el metro...

Other areas to Sleep (Hotels and Hostels) appart from backpakers area of MainBazar-Pajarganj there is:
- Second Pajargaj area north from Backpakers area: almost a hundred of overpriced and overating 1 to 3 stars hotels for Indian visitors.
- Similar area in Karol Bagh, East of metro with the same name. Big area with also almost a hundred of 1 to 3 stars hotels, mainly for Indian visitors. The area is cleaner with a main street with pleanty of modern  clothing shops. Even a McDonalls has been open in the center of the area. Older travellers started to move to here avoiding the dirtiness and diseases of Pajargaj-MainBazar more hippy area. Prices here start over 800 rupies per room, and barganing becames a major mandatory duty to get a nice price room. Quality never runs with the price here (you can get a much better room in a much better hotel for a less price when barganing with patiente). A conveninet not far Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (Rajinder Nagar next neighborhood) (www.sgrh.com) I always personally recomend (private and good but not overpriced as Apollo).
- Luxury hotels of Janpath avenue, south of ConnaughPlace-RajivChowk Ring. Very well located. Some are pure luxury (Imperial is the British collony style but new and best), Le Meridian (worthless and awfully new iron and glass). Few others are medium range but overpriced (3000 rupies for a hotel other places can be get for half this price). Janpath avenue has the tibetan market to buy, also Emporiums are located at the other side of the Rajiv Chowk ring. This Pluri Ring Rounds area of Rajiv Chowk, with administration buildings, and comerces can be considered one of the central hearts of Delhi, if not the main one. It has many fancy international shops (nike, adidas...), national shops (as Emporiums in blabla street or Gandhi ashram Kaddi shop in the outer ring, the electronic and leather Palika Bazar underground....) and so many restaurants (Indian and International). Also few modern Pubs opened here. Some libraries and Cinemas too clomplete the area.
The Old Observatory and the ring views restaurant worths a visit.
South of the Janpath hotels is the impresive avenue with the victorian goverment buildings (British colony style) and some museums. A touristic Must area. South from here start the colonial houses with gardens, belonging to the upper classes.
- Tibetan neighbourhood very north of the city, in the road, is a choice for the people coming from Daramsala and doesn´t want to stay in Delhi poluted noisy and crazy area. As all Tibetan Budism is completely over priced for Indian standars. It is completely the wrong location to stay if you pretend to visit Delhi (every monument takes hours to arrive from here).

Old Delhi (North Delhi): Historical Mogols capital site: Red Fort, Jamma Masjeed (Big Mosque), Old and dirty Bazars, Chandi Chowk avenue with Sij temple and Birds Jain Hospital.
It is the Muslim historical area, what means Gov doesn´t care about the cleanless of the area, remaining sadly deeply dirty and poluted, and giving a wrong idea of the capital of India.

Old Delhi (North Delhi): Historical Mogols capital site: Red Fort, Jamma Masjeed (Big Mosque), Old and dirty Bazars, Chandi Chowk avenue with Sij temple and Birds Jain Hospital.

New Delhi (British quarters and Now Richest Hindu clean gardened area):
British and Muslim Value Old Heritage can be found: Humayun Tombs, Qutur Minar, Purana, Lodi Gardens, Secretariat, Rajpath avenue, Gate of India, National Museum, Astronomical observatory, Connaugh place - Rajiv Chowk.

Detailed Rajiv Chowk, called before Connaugh Place: A formidable British Roud Plaza, with many high class shops, cinemas, Restaurants, and few hotels. Walking down Jampat Avenue the Tibetan market shops and 5 star hotels can be found mixed with administrative buildings, and busy food sthals, book shops, and so on.

Contestaciones a cartas (spanish):
"En Delhi puedes dormir en Main Bazar (algo sucio pero donde van todos los mochileros, o en los alrededores de Rajiv Chowk (nombre metro) mas caro. Tambien en el metro Karol Bagh hay miles de hoteles de clase media.
A mi gusto en Delhi deberías ver:
El British Empire area: Secretariat y avenida hasta el India Gate, todos los chalets del Sur de Delhi, La gran plaza de Connaugh-Rajiv Chowk y alrededores hacia el sur.
El legado de los sultanes y emperadores Mogoles (musulmanes): Tumba de HUmayun (parecido al Taj Mahal), Jardines de Lodhi y Qutub Minar hacía el Sur, hacia el norte: Jamma Masjeed (gran Mezquita) y Red Fort (el de Agra es más interesante). Los barrios y bazares de Delhi norte (old delhi) son bastante caóticos y sucios, si eres aventurero te pareceran interesates.
El legado Sij: Las Gwurduaras de la ciudad
El legado Hindú: Practicamente insignificante (los musulmanes destruyeron todos los templos y no queda nada) Al norte muy lejos hay un nuevo templo en piedra muy bonito, pero está lejos. El resto de templos HIndues de la ciudad son muy insipidos y nuevos.
A partir de las 23h todo muere en la ciudad, y no hay zonas de copas. Los hijos de las clases altas a veces montan fiestas en los hoteles de 5 estrellas (AShok Hotel por ejemplo, cobran la entrada entre 10 y 20 dolares of course).

Si te gusta la pobreza y las callejuelas atestadas de gente, de tienditas, bazares polvorientos, etc, Old Delhi es tu lugar para explorar (no vayas de noche).
Si quieres verlo todo bonito, cuidado, con jardines, avenidas vacias de gente y todo muy bonito, buenas tiendas, Macdonals, oficinas, restaurantes medios o lujosos: Rajiv Chowk y para el sur."

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