‘Oh no…. it’s another post where Andrew bags out the Indian capital!’ – I know that’s what you’re thinking. And… you’re absolutely right! Sorry, I wasn’t going to go against every opinion about the place I’ve ever expressed and surprise you with an ironic post about how much I secretly love Delhi. That would be, amongst many things, dishonest!
Returning to Delhi this year, only because I had to catch a fight from there, was a choice I was disappointed that I felt I had to make. With direct flights from Delhi to Colombo, or leaving from Jaipur via KL again in a large detour, costing more money and time, I decided I would brave the city that is my travel nemesis again.
Why do I have such a disfavourable view of the Indian capital? Well, let’s see, in short – being ripped off, not being able to get transport to my hotel, traffic jams, a traffic accident involving the auto I was in, a sizable earthquake, and spending a full week in hospital because of a serious case of ‘Delhi Belly’ – which possibly was actually a deliberate attempt by the hotel to make me sick.
Oh, and it’s hot, way overcrowded (2018 Delhi is unbelievable!) and I find just an unpleasant place to visit. But hey – I know a total of one person who disagrees with me, don’t I, Tim????
I would label the city ‘avoid at all costs’, yet in my four trips to India, I have visited a total of four times (my first trip it was twice). The fact is, as the probably the busiest transport hub of India, Delhi can be very hard to avoid. So, how do you make it manageable?
In March I had to stop there for just the one night. I was greeted by, at 1030 at night, bumper to bumper traffic that sat in one spot for ages. And of course, bartering for the auto-rickshaw price brought no joy. My hotel was dirty and there was loud music outside the window well into the night, it was hot, busy, and quite overwhelming. And then at the airport they nearly didn’t let me on the plane as I no longer had the credit card I bought the flight with, and then because I had a whole bunch of alkaline batteries, which are fine in flights from Australia but apparently not India.
The Paraganj is the tourist hub, but you can’t walk two metres down it without being asked if you need a tuk tuk, to buy this or that, or being run over by an overzealous driver of a bike, auto-rickshaw or car. This is all in 24 hours. So. HOW DO YOU SURVIVE IT? And how do you make it genuinely bearable?
Well, learning from your mistakes is probably a good idea. As I clearly didn’t. so here is my list of recommendations.
- Don’t arrive at Sorhilla Sahai Station. It’s not that badly located, however getting around Delhi is easier by Metro. And it’s a fair walk to a Metro station from there. The main Delhi station has a connect Metro.
- Don’t arrive late, and don’t arrive at peak times. This can be hard as you won’t obviously have control over the times that train and planes etc arrive. But getting on the Metro can be tricky, and at peak hour, with a couple of large bags, well, forget about it! Late at night can be very tricky and the Metro stops at 11pm or so. I’ve had trouble getting a decent price on an autorickshaw at that time and in fact in 1999 at around 1030pm I couldn’t get one to take me where I wanted to go (after hotel commissions)
- Use the Metro. It goes to the airport, Delhi Station, Connaught Place, and gets you close to a number of Delhi’s attractions. It’s dirt cheap, efficient and you don’t need to haggle. It’s also pretty clean.
- DON’T stay in the Paraganj. Yes, it’s the place for tourists, but it’s more hassle and trouble than it’s worth.
- Remember – you get what you pay for. Delhi is a place worth paying a little extra so you have a comfort place to escape to from the craziness of the outside. You need a little sanctuary.
- Check out some of the sites not so close to the centre. Qutab Minar is rather nice!
Anyways thanks for reading. Have you any tips on surviving Delhi or another city that you keep finding yourself in but can’t stand? Please comment! May the Journey Never End!