The best way to spend 48-hours here is ….
Day 1: Check in to your hotel, put your sturdy shoes on and spend an hour or two checking out the local area – a self-guided orientation tour. For transport it’s best to have a vehicle/driver arranged in advance and on call for your time in the city – it’s not the cheapest way to get around but it is hassle free. A guide in Delhi is also useful, even if you normally prefer to be totally independent, because Delhi’s history is long and complex, and its sights and monuments beset by hawkers and distractions, that a guide will, well, guide you through it all. Spend the afternoon doing the major sights of south Delhi: Quatb Minar, the towering, ancient observatory; the Ba’hai temple, a Sydney Opera House-type place of worship; and Humayan’s Tomb, a pre-cursor to the Taj Mahal. Towards dusk head to India Gate – chat with the locals and enjoy the carnival atmosphere.
Evening Day 1: Duck back to your hotel for a freshen up and change of clothes. Swing QBA in Connaught Place for a taste, followed by Blanco in Khan Market in time for happy hour and dinner. If you are looking for grander first night, dinner at the acclaimed Bukhara at ITC Maurya or Masala Art at Taj Palace (both in Chanakyapuri) – reservations a must. Either way you should end up at Agni or F Bar and let the adrenalin of the big city carry you into the night
Day 2: This morning is all about Old Delhi. Get your driver to drop you at Khari Baoli, India’s largest wholesale spice market, and then give him the morning off – cars are useless in this part of town. Slowly head east, camera in hand, ducking down the side lanes to catch some of the behind the scenes market action. Soon enough are on the famed Chandni Chowk, where the fun really begins. Keep on this road, grabbing a kulfi (buttermilk ice cream) for sustenance as you go – this is a traditional Indian street market at its liveliest best. After about half an hour of dodging and weaving your way along the street, you’ll stand opposite the giant Lal Qila – the Red Fort. Much of the complex is under Army use and cant be visited, but it’s still worth the Rs 250 entry fee. After a stroll through the fort, beat back the hawkers at the exit and find your way back across the main road to Jama Masjid – India’s largest mosque. Once inside, brave the narrow stair case of the minaret for great views over the city, or just enjoy the quiet piety of the forecourt.
By now it’s time for lunch – exit the mosque from the south gate, cross the street and you are at the Karim’s, famous for its Mughal cuisine. If you are up for a post-lunch adventure, turn down any of the narrow lanes that lead off the main street here – you’re bound to get lost but that’s half the fun. Eventually you’ll reach a larger thoroughfare, from where you can flag a taxi and make your way back to your hotel – luckily you remembered to pick up a hotel card before leaving this morning.
Shopping is the order of the afternoon. Firstly take care of your gift and souvenir buying at Central Cottage Industries Emporium near Connaught Place. Then head on to Santushti, Khan Market and Hauz Khas Village for your clothes and jewellery wants.
Evening Day 2: After a big day you’ll need a little lie down, before a change of clothes and gears for the evening. Plan your night around some live music or event by checking the listings in the Delhi Time Out or www.delhievents.com. Otherwise some bar hoping will keep things interesting – Cafe Morrison in South Extension, Living Room Cafe and Kitchen in Hauz Khas Village and Zest in Vasant Kunj. If you still aren’t done, head to Elevate in Noida – a satellite city just across the Yamuna River – for some serious partying.
Day 3: Stumble on to the plane or your next destination