Delhi at a Glance
As part of India Week, Aleksandra Gracjasz, a student at the University of York, describes her experiences of the second biggest city in India- Delhi.
"One of the best places to get lost in India is without a doubt its former capital. Delhi covers more than a thousand km2 and is the second largest metropolis by population in India, right after Mumbai. With its great historical monuments, web of narrow, winding, noisy alleys and modern, outstanding buildings, Delhi provides an unforgettable experience.
Delhi was my first and last stop each time I visited India. It took me on an emotional journey beginning with fascination, through fear and disgust, ending with hate and absolute relief to leave. Once I found myself back home though, an unfathomable feeling of sorrow and nostalgia started developing within me. Then I realised how much I missed it, with all its drawbacks that I had not been able to accept initially.
I missed the overcrowded, abuzz streets with saint cows wandering around, remaining cool and calm and indifferent to the hustle and bustle around. I missed hagglers stopping me every five minutes and wanting to sell a metal chain, a white shirt for my brother, dad or boyfriend or just willing to chat with someone. I missed fresh mango and bananas piled up on a piece of cloth somewhere on the pavement. I missed this specific mixed smell of incenses, spices, people and animals that stayed on cloths for ages and kept remaining me about this incredible city.
The Many Faces of Delhi
Since Delhi is a huge city I could not see it all, but managed to find places for every kind of emotional state I found myself in. In order to meet other travellers it is worth idly strolling through crowded Paharganj bazaar and drink chai in one of many cafes there. When in need of peace and contemplation, go to Akshardham Temple, through one of the largest metro networks in the world. To expand your historical and cultural knowledge visit one of many outstanding historical monuments. There is the prominent Red Fort (above right) - a designated UNESCO World Heritage in 2007 and over 300 hundred years old, Jama Masjid (above left)- the biggest mosque in India, or located in a quiet, green park Qutub Minar - the tallest monument in India.
However, if you really want to get to know the city - get lost. Take the metro and get off on a very random stop to find yourself in a tourist-free area where people greet you with smiling faces each time you are passing by. Or venture to journey through alleys full of tiny shops, goats sleeping on motorbikes and children running and screaming at each other.
That is Delhi at a quick glance. Modern metropolis which has managed to keep its essence and wonderful, unforgettable atmosphere."