From the moment you step off the plane to the moment you lay down to sleep, Delhi is right in your face; it’s like a four-dimensional Jackson Pollock that’ll make you rue the day you were born with just a single set of eyes. Prayer calls drift above the yodelling cries of market hawkers and the staccato buzz of traffic horns, while the rich scent of subtle spices drift in invisible clouds on the evening breeze.
Delhi is in the detail; it’s in suicidal rickshaw pedallers that dust off in the middle of an impossibly busy road; it’s in the curious aristocrats photographing travellers amid the apparently inconsequential magnificence of the Red Fort; it’s in the impossible familiarity of individual merchants in a sprawling spice market that stretches beyond the edge of vision. You may arrive with an itinerary, but Delhi soon takes over, and your most treasured possessions when you leave won’t be your holiday snaps but the countless anecdotal encounters that would be impossible in any other city.
Where to stay
The Taj Mahal Hotel can make you feel like an imperial prince; the Wood Castle is a more personal and understated option that nonetheless has spacious, modern rooms just five minutes from the metro.
Where to eat
The food at Bukhara is so good that Bill Clinton once chose to stay at the adjoining Maurya Sheraton because of the restaurant. Masala Art is another dazzling venue that hosts many of Delhi’s elite on a regular basis.
What to see
The Old Red Fort, New India Gate and Old Jama Masjid mosque are all stunning attractions; for a real taste of Delhi, however, head to the Old Spice Market by rickshaw. The view from the rooftops in particular is one of the most memorable you’ll ever see.