New Yorker loves his Delhis, old and new
Story and photos by Ed Salvato, seen here at Humayan Tomb
Only recently arrived in India via the fabulous Jet Airways (more below), I've been instantly confronted with the (in)famous sights, sounds, of smells of the nation's capital city. There are two parts to Delhi: New Delhi is a bustling metropolis with skyscrapers, traffic jams, construction sites everywhere (the Commonwealth Games will be here in 2010; there's an extension being created for the Delhi Metro) and an expanding airport. Old Delhi is a labyrinthine series of alleys, dilapidated-looking storefronts, and a upturned-bowl-of-spaghetti system of electrical wires with an extraordinary hustle and bustle of pedestrians, rickshaws (really pedicabs), stray dogs, goats, taxis and small trucks all competing for a few feet of turf at a time. At the very bottom of this post, I've included a brief video from an exhilarating pedi-cab tour of Old Delhi.
For those who may have some reluctance to jump into the Indian fray with all its cacophony and movement, my suggestion is to do it in style and comfort. There's nothing quite like a welcome dose of pampering at the end of a day exploring dusty monuments, haggling over purchases and interacting with a few persistent locals.
My method included a trip on Jet Airways, a relatively new (approximately 16 years old in India and operating two years internationally) private Indian airlines. With two classes of service, Jet offers a very modern fleet of aircraft, a young, attractive and attentive staff of flight attendants, a fairly extensive network of flights considering how new it is to the world scene and, in Premiere (business class), private sleeping modules. (That's me in my sleeping pod.)
Prices are incredibly reasonable right now. And with connections in Brussels it's also a good way to get to Europe inexpensively and in style even if India's not on your travel agenda this time. Premiere class travelers also are escorted from the arrival of the flight (from the exit door actually!) to and through customs and immigration. International arrivals just don''t get easier than that.Aman Resorts. Known for their exclusive, small, ultra luxurious resorts, many in remote destinations, Aman opened its first truly urban resort hotel in New Delhi, the Aman New Delhi. It's also the largest of the hotel collection's properties. Just a handful of the many luxe features include huge, airy, modern rooms with private plunge pools, a contemporary Western/Indian restaurant, a tapas restaurant, a 150 foot long lap pool, a state-of-the-art gym open 24 hours, and free wireless throughout the property. Staff is super attentive. The hotel's rates includes pick up and drop off at the airport and a small fleet of hotel cars that can drop you off and pick you up most anywhere in the city. But its key attribute is the calm oasis it affords visitors amidst the seemingly never-ending motion of Delhi.
Today I head out of town to Jaipur. Check back for my next update! First, here's the video of our roller-coaster rickshaw tour of Old Delhi. As a fellow traveler said to me, I experienced more in that 30 minute rickshaw tour as I did in the first 20 years of my life.