My last blog post was a recap of 2016 and it is already halfway February. Whoops! Oh well. I have a really good reason for this: I traveled through India and Sri Lanka! Two countries I simply cannot compare to each other. Desert vs. mountains, crowds versus peace and old cities versus green jungle. It was an unforgettable experience with tons of beautiful memories. And of course, the topic of my very first blog post about this trip must be about crazy Delhi. The place we arrived straight out of the Netherlands and where we gained our first impressions of India. In this blog post I will tell you about the busiest and quietest area in Delhi and I’ll show you lots of street art!
Meet the crowds: Chandni Chowk
If you really want to dive into the craziness of India, then you must head out to Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi and make your way to the Lal Qila (Red Fort) of Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque). This place is overly crowded. Markets, honking rickshaws, endless traffic and literally no personal space. Yes, also we went to Chandni Chowk on our first day and also did this at the worst time of the day: 5 pm. Even more busier. I am not going to lie. It was pretty intense. I had trouble looking through the crowds and seeing the lovely details of Old Delhi. After a short stop at the Red Fort (it was closed) and a quick bite at McDonalds (a lot of vegetarian options!) we soon headed back to our peaceful apartment. It was enough chaos for one day. We decided to save exploring historical Delhi for another time.
Lodhi Colony, the first open air public art district in India
Luckily, Delhi has more to offer than just chaos, markets and honking traffic. I was extremely impressed with Lodhi Colony and there is actually one big reason for this: it had loads of street art! Thanks to the ST+ART Festival, that first took place in 2016, Lodhi has developed itself into the first open air street art district in India. The facades in this area show murals from more than 25 international artists. To see the best art works I decided to join a street art tour with Seek Sherpa. Together with a young student we walked from metro station Jorbagh to Khanna Market and we literally saw murals on every street corner. You can also easily walk around Lodhi yourself, because the lay-out of the streets is pretty straight forward, but still with a guide you also get to know a bit of the background.
Away from the crowd: quiet Lodhi
Did you also know than Lodhi Colony is one of the most quiet neighbourhoods of Delhi? Yes, really it is! It is absurdly quiet for Indian standards. Apart from some autorickhaws you almost see no cars and definitely hear no honking. What a contrast with the old part of town! Originally this area was built to house government employees. Delhi has more of this government colonies spread out through the city. But Lodhi has one special feature that you won’t see in any other area in Delhi. These are the open bow doors and windows that connect two apartment blocks together and gives a nice peak inside. I have never seen this special architecture style! It reminded me a bit of a church window without glass. It also gives a nice touch to the use of street art.
The tour was also small introduction into where India stands today. You see murals about the progress of women rights, the selfie generation and climate change & global warming. I especially liked the mural of NEVERCREW with the colorful meteorite and the small astronaut. The astronaut is a metaphor for a person who can see things from a different perspective. I also liked the mural of the Kathakali dancers. The two heads represent the old and the new generation. See the photo in the header, do you notice the radio on one of the heads?
Other interesting neighbourhoods in New Delhi:
- Hauz Khas Enclave: busier than Lodhi Colony. This is a popular area with a lot of restaurants, boutique shops and coffee bars. You also have a pedestrian zone here which is nice, because India doesn’t have a lot of pedestrian areas.
- Safdarjung Enclave: also a colony area, but founded by the real estate developers in the sixties. Today it is residential area. Our apartment was here and that was nice, because it was a quiet area. The only downfall is that Safdarjung is pretty far from a metro station.
Have you been to Delhi? And are you a fan of street art?