‘Delightful Delhi’ is India’s capital and consists of two parts.
Old Delhi is where you’ll find many mosques, monuments and forts relating to India’s Muslim history.
New Delhi, the country’s third largest city, is spacious, open and home to many embassies and government buildings.
With an estimated 15 million people living here, you’ll probably find it a little chaotic to start with, but New Delhi has a unique inner peace, rich with culture, architecture and human diversity.
The city is expansive but easy to get around, although you’ll need to get used to the various forms of transport on the roads!
New Delhi’s high-octane growth is achieving lift-off; the modern face of the city is virtually taking leave of its ancient heritage. Like other Indian cities, New Delhi’s fast growing IT, telecommunications and banking sectors are attracting professionals from the world over. These in turn are propelling New Delhi’s economy, setting the city to a fast, edgy pace.
Flanking the Yamuna River in northern India, New Delhi is India’s largest and most expensive city to live. The capital is also the seat of India’s government.
The name "New Delhi" belies the fact that the city is built upon the "seven ancient cities;" its history ostensibly dates back 5000 years, making it one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Here Connaught Place, one of India’s largest financial centres, and the upscale Khan market, thrive alongside the breathtakingly beautiful 15th-century Lodi Gardens and the 10th-century Qila Rai Pithora.
New Delhi’s recent growth spurt has set housing progress on an upward trajectory. These days the more expensive areas are found in Malcha Marg, Golflinks, Jorbagh, Shantiniketan, and Westend. Those keen on a more authentic - and green - India experience, should head out of town for the farmhouses of Westend Greens or Chattapur.
New Delhi boasts a fantastic quality of life in terms of food, culture, social networks, housing, education and health. Combined, these factors provide an easy landing into India’s northernmost city.
What is special or unique about your city?
Delhi is part of the National Council Territory (NCT), comprising Delhi, Delhi Cantonment and New Delhi. While Delhi had been a historic capital of many kingdoms, the last of these being that of the great Moghuls, New Delhi was constructed by the British to house government buildings when the British decided to shift their capital from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911. New Delhi lies six kilometres south of the older city, now known as Old Delhi.
Delhi is truly a city of opportunities and is buzzing with life and vigour. Expats generally enjoy Delhi's colourful lifestyle and live in the better residential areas. As India has emerged as a major destination for IT-enabled services, thousands of jobs have been created and scores of multinational corporations (MNCs) have set up their business operations in Noida and Gurgaon.
As mentioned earlier, the city consists of two parts: Old Delhi and New Delhi. Old Delhi was the capital of the Muslim rulers during the 17th and 19th centuries. In Old Delhi, you will find many mosques, monuments and forts relating to India’s Muslim history. The other Delhi is New Delhi, known as the Imperial City. New Delhi was created as the capital of India by the British and is the third-largest city. It is a spacious, open city and consists of many embassies and government buildings. New Delhi has something for everyone with a cosmopolitan culture that nurtures many festivals of all faiths and religions. Theatre, drama and entertainment of all sorts can be found here. The city is expansive, but it is very easy to get around. Have fun exploring this wonderful and exciting city!
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
A first-timer in the city would find it a melting pot of sorts with a bewildering variety and diversity of culture, religion, people and, of course, food! This is partly because Delhi has been home to many kingdoms for thousands of years. The excavations at the present Old Fort suggest the existence of the city of Indraprastha founded by Pandavas in 1450 B.C. Since then, the city has been a continuous settlement. The other factor contributing to the variety of Delhi is its strategic location between the Aravali hills on two sides and river Yamuna on the third, with lots of fertile land, which attracted the attention of every conqueror worth his mettle. The city is said to have been demolished and rebuilt over seven times by different rulers. The remains of these cities exist even today. Delhi has always been an important cultural and intellectual and trade centre.
Not surprisingly, the most striking characteristic of the city is its people. New Delhi's population is as diverse as they can be, from ladies in saris and gentlemen in turbans to people in the most fashionable, westernised dress.
Another unique aspect of this city is the transportation system. On the streets of Delhi, you will find camels, rickshaws, scooters, elephants, pedestrians, trucks, cars, horses, carts, the most modern Metro and more; any form of transport you can think of, all sharing the same road! This diversity is something you won't see in other parts of the world.
Are these impressions likely to change?
Not likely. New Delhi is a very special and magical place and we think you are going to love it! No matter how long you live in Delhi, you will most likely continue to be awe-struck by the sheer number of people and chaos within the city. But, once you've been here awhile, it will certainly seem less overwhelming. Most expatriates that have been lucky to experience New Delhi report fond memories that last a lifetime.
What is the local language?
The main languages spoken are Hindi, English, Punjabi and Urdu. English is the business language and widely spoken and understood.
Here are some Hindi words and phrases that may be fun to learn as well as help you while you are here:
Yes Haan ji
How much? Kitna?
What time is it? Kitna baja hai?
Thank you Shukriya / dhanyavaad
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
As mentioned above, English is very well understood and one can easily get on with life without knowing any of the local languages but a basic knowledge of the local language will enrich your stay considerably.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
Generally speaking, Delhites are not easily offended. Use your common sense and respect holy sites and rituals, and you will do just fine.
The predominant religion is Hinduism. As such, respecting the customs and culture followed by Hindus and not offending their sentiments will be appreciated. For example, you should remember to wash hands after touching footwear. No footwear is allowed at places of worship. Most locals would like you to keep your shoes out of the house entirely, especially in the kitchen.
The following are some other tips to avoid offending the residents of New Delhi:
- Status is often determined by a person's age, university education and profession. Government employment is considered to be more prestigious than private business.
- It is acceptable for men and woman to wear trousers. However, on more formal occasions the trousers should be dressy.
- Shorts are acceptable for men only when jogging. It is preferable that women who jog wear tracksuit trousers but that is not mandatory.
- If you host a meal, keep in mind that Indians have various dietary restrictions. Hindus do not eat beef, Muslims do not eat pork and many Indians are strict vegetarians.
- Always eat with your right hand, as the left hand is considered unclean. You can use your left hand to hold a plate or utensil. In some vegetarian restaurants, utensils are not used and guests are expected to eat with their right hands.
- Alcohol should be avoided until you are certain that your host approves it. Even if it is okay, do not get drunk.
- If you're invited to dine at somebody's house, a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates is the common gift to bring. It is typical for guests to arrive late regardless of the time specified on the invitation.
- It is impolite to help yourself to second servings. Wait to be asked and for someone else to serve you.
- Be respectful when visiting holy sites, no matter what condition they are in. Smoking and drinking are prohibited in Holy Sites. Always speak in soft tones. Some sites do not allow non-believers to enter.
- Remember when entering religious places to remove your shoes. Some temples also require that you remove your hat. Even in homes, visitors usually leave their footwear at the door.
- Indians of all ethnic groups disapprove of public displays of affection between men and women, and most Hindus avoid public contact between men and women.
- Standing tall with your hands on your hips is perceived as aggressive.
- Pointing with your finger is considered rude.
- Whistling in public is unacceptable.
- Never point your feet at another person as feet are considered unclean.
- To tip a taxi driver, simply round off the fare.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
The weather in Delhi can be quite extreme. During the summer months (May, June and July), temperatures can rise up to 48°C. The days are hot and often accompanied by dust storms, thus making Delhi very dusty. Although the humidity is generally low, there is still a dry heat, which means that most activities take place indoors. During monsoon season (July, August and September), showers occur quite frequently, which causes temperatures to lower, but the humidity increases.
October through March are universally acknowledged as the best months in Delhi, as the temperatures are much more mild. December and January are typically cooler (6°-12°C). Most buildings do not have central heat, so a sweater is essential for the winter months.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
With an estimated population of more than 16 million people, New Delhi has a unique inner peace, rich with culture, architecture and human diversity. You may grow to love it so much you will want to stay.