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May 22, 2019

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Travel advice for Delhi

Best time to visit:

The ideal months are September-October and February-April, to avoid the city’s extreme weather and annual monsoon season.

If you go in March, you will be able to witness Holi, the festival of colors. Its dates change according to the lunar calendar.

By April, the streets are abloom with Gulmohars and Amaltaas trees.

The most important Hindu festival, Diwali, usually falls in October or November. Though beautiful to observe this festival of lights, be aware that pollution levels skyrocket from the burning of firecrackers.

Tips on health safety:

• Do not drink any unfiltered water.

• To avoid Delhi belly, eat only cooked food in restaurants — no raw vegetables or salad, chutneys or yoghurt.

• If you are tempted to try the street food, visit a reputable outlet like Haldirams, a chain which offers safe snacks like chaat papdi (crisp pastry with yoghurt and spices), chola bhatura (spicy chickpeas with fried leavened, puffed up bread) and pao bhaaji (soft rolls with potato vegetable mash). The other recommendable outlet is Prince Paan in Greater Kailash M Block market. Always be aware that Indian food can be very, very spicy.

• Steer clear of touts offering alternate hotel accommodation, cheap modes of travel, bargains on antiques and artifacts. For curios, the best places to visit are the government emporiums on Janpath and Baba Kharak Singh Marg in Connaught place. Fabindia, Anokhi, Cottons and Kilol are good stores for buying Indian attire in natural fabrics. Go to Janpath or Sarojini Nagar for fun street markets and to Dilli Haat for interesting handicrafts from around the country. The Chandni Chowk bazaar in the old walled city is a cultural experience not to be missed!

How to get about:

Times have changed, and wary travelers no longer need to muster up the courage to haggle with rickshaw or taxi drivers out to make a quick buck off tourists. Now one can book an Uber or Ola at reasonable and pre-determinable prices. Download the apps, book a ride and pay with cash at the end of the journey. Or be brave and hop onto the very efficient Metro system, which can be very crowded.

The HOHO Bus (hop on, hop off) is a good option to cover the important sights of the city in a short time. Make your way over to the HOHO center at Connaught Place, which is the preferred starting point, or board at any of the pickup points closest to your location. One-day and two-day passes are available for between 100-130 yuan (US$14-19). The two-day pass is by far the more economical.

The advice is provided by Parul Rewal, who is an architect and urban professional from New Delhi.


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