A riot of colour, crazy traffic with freeroaming cows, delectable street food, festive shopping and warm local people combine to make Delhi unforgettable
“Ilove my India,” says the courteous driver at the airport as he turns to smile at me, then weaves through spaces between the slow-moving, noisy buses, iconic Ambassador cars, modern vehicles, heavily laden motorcycles and bicycles. This marvellous mêlée unfolds down the tree-lined avenues of New Delhi, which have large circles filled with a profusion of flowering plants, an impressive layout designed by Sir Edward Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker in 1911.
The Imperial Hotel – a gorgeous heritage building close to some of the major historical sights of the city – is my home for this trip. A turbaned guard welcomes guests into the elegant foyer with its immaculate marble floors, high ceiling and stylish floral arrangements. Each spacious room is individually furnished with tasteful decor including period furniture pieces, original artworks and a king-sized bed.
The Imperial Spa – in the hotel grounds – offers a range of Ayurvedic massages, as well as the usual bouquet of salon treatments, in a warm, exotic space, which includes a central hot spa tub. Soft light streams onto this water, making it a relaxing, tranquil spot in which to recover from the journey. Opting for the traditional Indian head massage, I lose myself in the bliss of my therapist’s skilful kneading.
Finally, I’m ready to explore the vibrant city. A registered guide – organised by my tour company, Beyond the Taj, which curated the trip according to my interests – joins the driver and me and offers snippets of information about Delhi and the iconic sites we visit.
We start at iconic India Gate – the triumphal arch and war memorial of the 1920s, built to honour fallen Indian soldiers. Then the Red Fort, a residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for 200 years until 1856. It’s also
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib