De­light­ful DELHI

A riot of colour, crazy traf­fic with freeroam­ing cows, de­lec­ta­ble street food, fes­tive shopping and warm lo­cal people com­bine to make Delhi un­for­get­table

Destiny - - Money - BY Gil­lian McLaren

“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

In­dia Gate

Im­pe­rial Ho­tel

Gu­rud­wara Bangla Sahib

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