New Delhi

Welcome to New Delhi

On the face of it, India's capital doesn't compare favourably to its city siblings. Mumbai is a thrusting metropolis-of-the-future; Kolkata has an atmospheric, faded beauty. And Delhi? Well, it's the centre of government, India’s equivalent of Washington DC but with an even more complex political system - and no 'West Wing' to explain it.

Whilst there's no denying that Delhi is a status-conscious and segregated place - those living in one of the city's diplomatic enclaves need never come into contact with the city's underbelly - there are more interesting and accessible sides to its character. Thanks to an influx of migrants and foreigners in the years since Partition, it's highly cosmopolitan. Not unrelated, it's also one of the world's fastest growing cities, the new metro attempting to keep pace with its expansion.

And, of course, there’s the history. In the words of travel writer Jan Morris, the city is ‘unimaginably ancient’, and Old Delhi is littered with the evidence: evocative, crumbling tombs, forts and bazaars at every turn. Meanwhile, in the leafy, Lutyens-designed New Delhi, smart restaurants, cafes and shops spring up daily and hip areas such as Hauz Khas throng with young Delhi-ites seeking the latest in art, food and fashion.

Recently, it's become common for fancy restaurants to offer street food, so that the middle classes can partake of these traditionally dirt-cheap, humble meals in air-conditioned comfort. It's a sign of the times, we think - and one of the many reasons Delhi encapsulates a rapidly changing, often frustrating, but ever fascinating country.

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Quick facts

  • Inhabitants in India:
    About 1.2 billion
  • Inhabitants in New Delhi:
    About 20 million
  • Official language
    Hindi, English
  • Currency
  • Time zone
    UTC+5:30 hours
  • Emergency number
    Police: 100, Fire: 101, Ambulance: 102
  • Constitution
    A democracy with a parliamentary system of governance
  • Country phone code
  • Country code
  • Local transportation
    Metro, Bus, Auto rickshaw, Taxi