General Information about Delhi
Demography of Delhi
Delhi, locally pronounced as ‘Dilli’, is the capital city of India. It is also the capital state of Delhi, as well as of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), more commonly referred to as NCR (National Capital Region) is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest metropolis by population in India. There are nearly 22.2 million residents in the greater National Capital Region urban areas which include Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad.
Delhi as Capital
New Delhi, the capital is the planned city designed by the British to be the capital. In 1911, King George-V announced the shift of the capital of British India from Calcutta to Delhi. The area called Central Delhi or Lutyens Delhi after the architect who designed it, has the Houses of Parliament, India Gate and the Rashtrapati Bhavan, (the Presidential Estate) at its centre. It is recognisable by its wide tree lined avenues, and radials. The area largely houses the Government buildings and official residences of Government officials.
'Old' Delhi was the capital of Muslim India between the mid-17th and late 19th centuries. When it was Emperor Shah Jahan's 17th century capital, it was known as Shahjahanabad. The Old City is the site where the Mughal rulers constructed several monuments like the Jama Masjid and Red Fort. Today Old Delhi continues to be hub of wholesale markets, and retains the character with its narrow winding streets, crumbling heritage buildings, and the Old Delhi Railway Station.
Monuments and Sights
A remarkable feature of Delhi are ancient monuments that exist along with more modern architecture. Mughal monuments and tombs, Asokan inscriptions, all form part of Delhi's landscape.
The architecture of Delhi reflects its long historic association as the capital of India, ranging from monuments of the Muslim dynasties, the Mughal Empire and the British Empire. The Archaeological Survey of India recognizes 1200 heritage buildings and 175 monuments in Delhi as national heritage sites. Three World Heritage Sites—the Red Fort, Qutab Minar and Humayun's Tomb are also located in Delhi.
The colonial architecture includes India Gate, the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Houses of Parliament, Teen Murti House, among others.
As the national capital, Delhi is home to many national cultural institutions, galleries and performance spaces.
It has three major Universities – the Delhi University, the Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Jamia Milia Islamia.
The India International Centre and the India Habitat Centre have a regular program of concerts, films and lectures, and are important cultural centres. Major museums include the National Museum, the Crafts Museum, Gandhi Memorial Museum, the Sanskriti Museum, and the National Gallery of Modern Art.
The area called Mandi House (accessible by metro) is another cultural hub with the Kamani Auditorium, The Meghdoot auditorium of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the FICCI Auditorium, the Sriram Centre, Triveni Kala Sangam – all of which house art galleries and are venues for concerts.
Delhi Diary, a long time magazine guide to events is now available online http://delhidiary.in.
Getting about in Delhi
see also 'Getting there'
Taxis: There are the black and yellow cabs which can found at Taxi Stands at many points. They do not cruise and have to be taken from the taxi stands. They are metered but you may find it difficult to pay by the meter.
Hiring a taxi by day or half day. If you are planning to go around for 3-4 hours this is often the best option and works out better than the regular taxis. They can be hired for 4 hours and 40 kms or 8 hours and 80 kms. An 8 hour cab would cost around Rs. 1200-1500.
Radio Cabs. There are many privately run air conditioned radio cab services such as Meru (011-44 22 44 22, (www.merucabs.com), and Megacabs 011-40406060. They are generally best for long distances, such as the airport. Meru Cabs online service also works well.
Sakha: This is a NGO run service “for women by women”, who also hire taxis for the day and half day at slighter lower rates. Phone. 927 870 8888. http://sakhaconsultingwings.com/hire-a-cab.php.
Autorickshaws: These three wheelers, also called “scooters” and “scooties” in Dilli slang, NOT “tuktuks”, are a common means of transportation, and one of the more reasonable options. They are meant to run by meter, but seldom do, find out from your Indian friends and colleagues how much you should expect to pay and bargain if needed! They can also offer some pretty hair raising experiences!!
The city is well-connected through regular bus services provided by the Delhi Transport Corporation. Tickets are cheap and affordable, but you may find many of them rather crowded. The red DTC buses are air-conditioned at higher rates but worth the money. The nearest bus-stop from IIC is the Lodhi Road Crossing.
With the exception of the newly introduced Delhi Metro, Delhi is not known for its public transport. The metro now has a network that runs efficiently all over the city and most metro stations have three wheelers or cycle rickshaws for short distances. The Jorbagh station is the one nearer to the IIC and is a 15-20 min walk, which can be pleasant and through the Lodi Gardens.
Delhi Metro Map: www.delhimetrorail.com/big-route-map.aspx
To download the Delhi Metro Map: www.delhimetrorail.com/OtherDocuments/Route_Map.pdf
A new initiative for tourists is the HOHO (Hop On Hop Off) bus that you can take to visit the tourist sites of Delhi. www.hohodelhi.com
Hotels, Guest Houses, Homestays
Please see the separate page on hotels. Accommodation is expensive in Delhi compared to many capital cities in Asia, and to other cities in India, with the possible exception of Mumbai. If you do not find hotels you want or can afford on the conference site, do use online booking, but do not ask the taxi driver or auto rickshaw to take you to a reasonable hotel, or succumb to touts on the station and airport.
Eating Out in Delhi
Delhities love eating out and right from street food, to high end restaurants – they can be full any day of the week! Delhi is now no longer a city which is famous only for North Indian cuisine and kebabs, but has a great variety of restaurants, ranging from Tandoori and Mughlai, to South Indian and specific regional cuisines, Indian and international.
Old Delhi around Jama Masjid is famous for its kebabs and Mughlai food but may not be easy on the stomach, until you have developed some anti-bodies.
Delhi restaurants serve international cuisine, of which Chinese and Italian are the most popular, though the variety is increasing and range from small places that may serve unrecognisable Chinese and Italian food to a fairly high number of Italian and Chinese restaurants of an international standard. Pan Asian and Mediterranean restaurants are also a fast growing segment of Delhi restaurants. There are options then, when you tire of Indian food.
Khan Market has a large number of restaurants and cafes, most of them serving international cuisine.
Defence Colony (Lajpatnagar station on the Violet line) in South Delhi, a 10 -15 taxi ride from IIC, or a short metro ride from Khan Market has a wide variety of affordable restaurants, and is a lively place in the evenings.
Drinking in Delhi
Local taxes and levies make drinking alcohol expensive in restaurants and pubs in Delhi compared to the prices in shops. Alcohol is sold in government regulated shops in Delhi, but can be a challenge to find. Indian beers and wines are available easily. All imported liquor is very expensive. Restaurants do not allow you to bring your own liquor.
Unlike some countries in South Asia, only INR Indian Rupees are accepted in India. http://www.xe.com/ucc/ provides a currency converter, but please check your local rates.
The Indian Rupee is divided into 100 paisa, but prices under a rupee or a fraction of a rupee are now practically non existent. Currency notes are available in denominations of Re.1 Rs.5, Rs.20, Rs.50, Rs.100, Rs.500, and Rs.1000. There are coins for Rs. 1, 2, 5, and 10.
Credit Cards are widely accepted in Delhi and other major cities, especially Visa and Master. American Express is not accepted in some shops. Do not trade dollars on the street, especially on Janpath where you may be accosted.
Locating Banks and ATMs
There are ATMs at most shopping centres and markets. Many major banks have ATMs near the IIC. You will get the ATMs of ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Punjab National Bank (PNB) at the Jor Bagh Market which is the nearest, and Axis Bank, Citi Bank, Bank of India, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Syndicate Bank ATM in Khan Market.
You can change at many Indian banks or at the airport. Local banks offer decent rates of exchange, and there are money changers in all the major shopping areas.
Tips are expected in restaurants, but not common for taxis, however many expect a tip from a foreigner as they have tended to get them. As a general guide, rounding off to the next 10 Rupee is enough if you wish to tip a taxi. Porters or those who help you with bags at hotels, generally appreciate a small tip.
Tipping is usually 10-15% in restaurants, unless there is a service charge. If the service charge is over 15% you need not tip, but leave a token amount. The VAT and Service Tax and even Luxury Tax in 5 star establishments are Government taxes, and are not levied by the restaurant or hotel. The Service Tax is a new one, and so may not be printed on menus and tariff cards at this time.
Delhi has some excellent shopping places and markets all over the city. Though today Delhi has international chains like any other metropolitan city, it offers one of the best selections of handloom fabrics and handicrafts from all over India. Details about markets and other shopping areas will be provided in your conference kit.
Delhi has a sub-tropical climate with extreme variations between summer and winter. The sultry summer, unpredictable monsoon, and chilling winter make Delhi climate unpredictable.
Early October is after the monsoon, and should be very pleasant but warm, between 21-32 C. For those taking post conference around Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, expect weather similar to Delhi if not warmer. Only those travelling to the hills need carry warm clothing.
Dressing is fairly formal in India, though you would not be expected to wear a tie or jacket for the conference. There are no regulations about women’s clothes, but dressing is fairly conservative, so choose where you wear shorts or spaghetti straps, to avoid undue attention. You may have to cover your head whether male or female in certain religious places.
Delhi offers probably one of the finest health care facilities in India. It is best to have medical insurance which covers hospitalization which can otherwise be expensive.
It’s essential to buy travel insurance if your regular health insurance policy doesn’t cover you when you are abroad. Check in advance whether your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures.
Bring regular medication that you may need in their original container. A signed, dated letter from your physician that describes all medical conditions and medications, including generic name, is also a good idea. Pharmacies, referred to as Chemists exist in all markets, and general medicines are cheap compared to Europe and the US.
Safety and Security Precautions
Your safety and the security of your personal property are of the utmost concern to us. For the traveller petty theft is the biggest concern, not violent crime. When possible, withdraw money from ATMs during the day or night in well-lit, busy areas.
Delhi is not considered safe for women after dark, and it is best to be in groups if you are planning to walk around or take public transport.
Cellphones are the most convenient way of communication for visitors in India. You can use your handset in India and replace it with any Indian GSN SIM Card to make local calls and can also get the discounted rates for calling abroad. You need a photograph and a copy of your passport page for buying a SIM.