Shopping, spirituality and more in this list of essential Delhi experiences
Visit the Akshardham Temple
I frequent temples way too often and it's only apt that one of India's best is on top of my must-dos list. Built on the banks of the Yamuna, the Akshardham temple epitomises Hindu culture in all its grandeur and beauty. There's a brilliant light-and-sound presentation, a fascinating boat ride, a musical fountain that plays Vedic prayers, and sprawling lush-green gardens. Even if you aren't half as religious as I am, I'd strongly recommend a visit.
Shop at Dilli Haat
If you're in the mood to try different Indian cuisines and experience the cultures of the different states of the country, Dilli Haat is the place to go. Close to one of the city's busiest locations (near AIIMS hospital), it provides a sampling of food, crafts and more, from all over India. You can park nearby, buy a ticket (Rs 20 when I last went) and go in. Put your bargaining skills to good use and shop for clothes or artefacts before heading towards the food.
Go to Chandni Chowk
This is one place you might be reluctant to visit, but trust me, it's a must. If you really want to know a city, you must see it unadulterated - and that's what you get at Chandni Chowk. One of the country's most prominent markets, Chandni Chowk is more than 300 years old. The place boasts seven major Hindu temples, two churches, two gurudwaras and three mosques. The market is a shopper's delight with hundreds of shops selling quality goods at wholesale prices. You will have to brave crowded streets and traffic jams and the ideal way to get there is to take the Metro and then either walk or use a cycle-rickshaw. Don't miss Paranthe Wali Gali (paratha street), Ghantewala Halwai, Natraj's Dahi Bhalle, and Chaatwala for local delicacies.
Have tea the Cha Bar at Oxford Bookstore
When I'm not playing or watching cricket, I'm reading. I often head to my favourite bookshop in the city, Oxford, at Connaught Place, a stone's throw away from the Kotla. The best thing about this place is that you can grab a book, order your favourite tea from their wide selection and sit down for as long as you wish. The staff is courteous and friendly, and won't charge for the book unless you spill something on it. So you can sit down and read a few pages before making your choice. The food, provided by the Oberoi chain of hotels, is not too expensive either.
Shop at Khan Market
If I'm in the mood to shop and eat before heading home, this is my preferred destination. It's an old market that has kept up with the times. You can find almost every cuisine here at affordable prices. If you're not averse to meat, I recommend a visit to Khan Chacha for kebabs. For Italian, Big Chill is the best (though you may have to wait for a table on weekends). In between, you could browse at the many shops for clothes and accessories.
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More in Delhi
Le Meridien (from Rs 9400) is the hotel closest to the cricket ground. Located in the city centre, it has all the trappings of its category.
If you want to go on a shopping spree, Delhi is the place, with plenty of malls. Some of the best are 1) DLF Emporio in Vasant Kunj, 2) Select Citywalk in Saket 3) Ambience Mall in Gurgaon
Tips for Travellers
My sincere advice to all my friends who are coming to Delhi is to use the Metro as much as they can. It will help you save huge amounts on taxis and auto-rickshaws. With the saved money they can enjoy the traditional and delicious food of the city. You will be pleased to know that the Metro covers most parts of Delhi.