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Delhi Travel Tips

3.0 stars

Insider advice for your Delhi vacation


jempickle
Dances of India, Parsi Anjuman Hall 3 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
We were a little late for this one hour show, as we arrived it was in full swing. Traditional dance forms, including kathak, with faced-paced footwork and spinning, Bharatanatyam, which has more gestural work and floor posing and Kathakali, the mime drama. It did feel a bit stale at times as the dancers churned out each routine. Nevertheless, they gave a lot with their expressive eyes and the footwork beaten out with jingling ankle bells was impressive, as were the swirling costumes and masterful muscians.

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jempickle
Roof top aloo gobi and street market views 4 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
It had been a truly exhausting day, arriving in Delhi on two hours sleep, nearly being tricked into spending our whole time in India with a phoney taxi company and then heavy-duty sight seeing. That evening we were glad to escape to the roof of our hotel and eat a tasty aloo gobi and rice that didn’t make us ill! It was still unbelievably hot, near to forty degrees, feeling like a continuous sauna. As we sat in near pitch blackness we could gaze down at the everlasting street market, people still buzzing around, with its twinkling lights and feel glad to be there, if somewhat shaken and ready for bed.

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jempickle
India Gate and crazy Indian driving 3 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Next we visited India Gate, a memorial arch for Indian army soldiers. Again, many families surrounded this site to the point of it having almost a carnival atmosphere. An impressive structure in the same red sandstone, our proud taxi driver was determined to take a photo of us in front of it. This required us to stand in the road and have a few near-death experiences as cars swerved around us. This leads me to discuss the exhilarating nature of Indian driving: to an English girl it seems NUTS! it's incredible how chilled Indian people are when there's cars and people everywhere and all are veering around each other beeping their horns as their only form of indication!

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jempickle
The Red Fort, Delhi 3 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The first tourist site we visited was the Red Fort in Old Delhi. Once we’d paid and got inside the gate we walked through a dark tunnel of fairy-lit stalls that were full of over-priced jewellery, pashminas and general touristy knick-knacks. Stall owners bantered with us to buy their wares and walking through towards the day lit opening seemed magical. Through to the main gardens we could see the expansive sandstone and marble buildings and lots of families sat on the pampered garden grounds taking in the revered view. There was a relaxing atmosphere despite the tough looking guards prowling around with large guns strapped to their backs.

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jempickle
Delhi's chaotic beauty 4 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Once I'd learned the hard way that I needed to be a lot more assertive and discerning about who I trusted, I stood back and took in what was around me. Delhi was definitely a baptism of fire as a first travel destination but amazing. It certainly prepared me for the rest of my travels. A ferocious blast of colour, traffic, people, smells, actually all the senses were just overwhelmed! The moment we stepped out of our hotel we were completely surrounded by beggars waving their hands in our faces and following us. Beautiful sari-clad women in vibrant colours and decked in gold sashayed through the rubbled streets past snuffling pigs and others sprawled on the street.

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Aditi
Best Time to Visit 4 stars
So if Indian food tempts you, and calories are not a problem, a visit to the gulli is a must. But you have to be ready for the crowds, the narrow, dingy lanes, the open drains, the steel thalis(plates), the gracious owners, and the almost lost Indian concept of feeding a guest well…because this is what the gulli is about.

Think about it, crisp brown paranthas, the air heady with the long forgotten smell of food cooked with love, reminds you of your grandmothers’ kitchen???
The same magic is here, at gulli paranthe walli at Chandni Chowk, Delhi.

The best time to visit would be in the late evening when the whole area comes to life or during lunch on Tuesdays if you can bear the heat.


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Aditi
Features and Costs 3 stars
A very interesting feature is that the paranthas are deep fried in desi ghee (clarified butter) in a heavy kadai (wok). When asked how heavy the kadai was, I was told that I could try and lift it up. Well. I tried, but managed to move it just about an inch, that too laterally and not vertically.

The meal had to end when we couldn’t possibly eat any more, even though the gracious owner and his cook tried to tempt us with, "ek aur parat ka chalega?" (want to try another layered parantha?) The owners and bawarchis are the very epitome of hospitality and will share interesting tales with you of you show an interest and have some time on hand. Making the meal more personal, one feels very much at home in these old, dingy shops. How many new restaurants with their smartly attired stewards and sparkling crockery and cutlery can give you that?

A plate of paranthas comes for a meagre Rs 12, so eat out all you want, the wallet won’t have a hole in it.


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Aditi
Variety Matters 3 stars
Another parantha that you must try is papad ka parantha. It is stuffed with roasted, crumbled papad (crispy snack) and one gets the distinct kurkura (crispy) taste of papad in each bite.

Also on the menu are mixed parantha (with a little of everything), paneer ka
parantha (stufed with paneer), aloo ka parantha (stuffed with mashed
potatoes)…each one of a kind, mouth watering, hot and yummmmy.

Served with more than 8 kinds of pickles and curries, the parantha tastes best sans any of the accompaniments, except perhaps the freshest dahi (curd) you could imagine…got in from a shop across the lane, on special request.


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Aditi
The Food 3 stars
After all that we decide to try out the paranthas. After all, what were we there for???

Picture this — crisp hot paranthas, straight out of the tawa(flat frying pan)…who wants Viennese strudel or some fancy French dish???

We decide to try out all kinds of paranthas…

To start with, parat ka parantha (a parantha made of 16 distinct layers!!!). This is how it is made…first the bawarchi(cook), (let’s not insult him by calling him a cook) rolls out a normal round roti. This he proceeds to cut into 4 thin strips horizontally. So now you have what used to be a round roti (Indian bread), cut into 4 strips.
Okay?
Good.
These strips are then cut into 4 more, but vertically this time…and voila…you have 16 pieces of what used to be a round roti.

The bawarchi piles each tiny piece on the other, brushing each with oil and sprinkling a bit of secret masala (spices) on it. (He shared the secret and told us the masala is a bit of chilli powder, salt, and jeera dhania (coriander and cumin) powder, but the exact proportion is what matters).

Once the pieces are on top of each other, he expertly rolls it out again to whatever shape it takes, (something between a ragged square and an
equally ragged circle), puts it into the steaming tawa, and deep fries it.

Parat ka parantha hazir hai… (Parat ka paranthais ready)


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Aditi
The Locale 3 stars
Shop No 34, Pandit Kanhayialal Durga Prasad Dixit, established 1875, says the signboard. THAT ANCIENT???

The next shop is also a pandits. History has it that Pandit Gaya Prasad Shiv Charan’s shop, set up in 1882 is the shop that gave the gulli (lane) its name.

Manish Sharma the man currently in the hot seat tells us that once upon a time the whole lane used to be lined with shops selling paranthas. But today only 3 remain.

Reason??

Economics.

Yes, money matters.

The new Indian wants everything foreign, including grub. Added to this is the fact that Indian food takes time to prepare, paranthas more so, and the hungry milieu seems to live on the lines of "all I want is everything, and I want it NOW!!!"

So business has suffered since no one can make a parantha in a minute or less (unless it’s the microwavable kind). But paranthas is all he knows, so he can’t think of closing down his business.


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Aditi
Finally reached 3 stars
Nothing to tell the shops apart from each other, open fronts, dirty blue tiles, fans that seem to be hanging on for their dear life, walls lined with old photographs of leaders long forgotten, absolutely basic sunmica-topped tables with benches, and a chulha (Indian charcoal and clay oven) outside.

This is it? I wondered…

The place that anybody who has seen or at least heard of raves about?

Well, yes, sad but true. But follow the adage that a book should not be judged by its cover…and keep an open mind.

It is bound to turn out to be an experience you’ll remember, any which way.


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Aditi
Where are the Paranthas? 3 stars
Where are the paranthas??

Well, bang opposite the bank is a narrow street, a yellow sign mounted on an electricity sub station points out that you are where you are supposed to be. Now you need to walk in.

A narrow lane lined with shops selling clothes… and by narrow, I mean narrow, so narrow that one has to walk single file. Walk on, past the turn, follow the road…and suddenly you will hit the three shops selling paranthas.


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Aditi
Finding the Stuff 3 stars
Get to Red Fort the day you want to explore the place. Take a rickshaw from the fort. Trying to make it in your own car or cab is a big hassle, even if you know where the place is…

We asked the rickshaw wallah to take us to paranthe walli gulli.

The ride through a jam packed street, past janta (crowds) jostling and shoving, rickshaws squeezing along, carts packed with saman (stuff), two wheelers with many more than two perched on them, and the few sad cars, stuck in a jam is full of energy, keep your eyes open and you are sure to learn a few lessons in living.

Past the intimidating-intended-to -intimidate Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib, the rick stops opposite a monstrous Central bank of India building.


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Aditi
About the Paranthe 4 stars
Over the years I have learnt that Delhi has a lot to offer, to everyone, if one knows where to look.

There is a lot of dust, dirt, grime, crime, population, pollution, corruption…but, it used to be a nice place once upon a time and some bits and pieces of that old world charm continue to survive, despite everything.

Gulli paranthe walli (literally translated it would mean the lane where one finds paranthe or Indian bread)…one such forgotten area, fighting to survive in an age of fast food, Chinese joints, Pizza huts and McDonald’s.

Not too easy to find if you do not know where it is.


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