From making chapatti at a Sikh temple to playing golf at a five-star resort, there’s more to Delhi than sightseeing and drinking chai, says Hanna Marton
Everything you’ve ever heard or read about India is true. Yes, it’s dirty, colourful, crowded and frenetic; some of the men walk around naked (they’re holy men, so it’s OK); abject poverty is everywhere you look and the curries are hotter than Ryan Gosling… naked… in a spa. But there’s a lot more to the mighty subcontinent than the clichés, which I discovered on a recent whirlwind stop in Delhi (population 16 million). Here’s a list of things to do in the capital when you’re not gawking at the Taj Mahal.
Stress-free shopping Yes, in India. Once you’ve survived the organised chaos that is famous Chandi Chowk – a maze of shops selling everything from fireworks to bridal saris – head to one of Delhi’s many state-run shopping emporiums. The prices are fixed so there’s no haggling and you can be assured of quality. For something in-between head to Dilli Haat, just south of Central Delhi: a crowd-free outdoor market established in 1994 by the government to showcase artisans’ work from across India. I scored a pure cashmere scarf for $40.
Walk in Gandhi’s footsteps As in, his last ones. India’s most celebrated freedom fighter had been staying with a prominent businessman for 144 days on January 30, 1948, when he was sadly assassinated on his daily trip to the prayer room. The stately home is now a museum, Gandhi Smriti, dedicated to the Mahatma’s life; it features concrete footsteps that mark his last moments. It also sports an uncanny wax model of Gandhi and his long-suffering wife, Kasturba, who, according to a new biography, Gandhi left for a male, German bodybuilder. Righto.
Visit a Sikh temple Popping into a Hindu temple is sooo on the beaten track. For a well-rounded spiritual tour of Delhi, Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib is a must – and I would have missed if it weren’t for my legendary Intrepid Travel guide, Badam. According to Badam, the Sikh religion is practised by only two to three per cent of the Indian population, but it’s, like, totally awesome. Sikhs renounce the caste system, men and women are considered equal, and every Sikh temple (gurdwara) features a kitchen that feeds the destitute. Everybody’s welcome to help roll chapatti – even tourists like me, which I did… very badly. (Watch the ladies from Show Me the Curry making chapatti here.)