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Top 5 Destinations in New Delhi: Travel Opinion and Analysis

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qutub minar iron pillar

Qutub Minar and Iron Pillar, Photo by Dmitry B

New Delhi, the capital of the largest democracy in the world has a lot to offer to a traveler who is first time visiting India. Architectural relics dating back to Mauryan Period (300 BC) and its earliest reference as Indraprastha from the Mahabharat times, Delhi has been captured, sacked and rebuilt many times as the capital of the various kingdoms. With the kingdoms coming and going, Delhi has a significant history which can be seen from the historic monuments spread all over the city.

Traveling around Delhi you will also understand the way India has transformed itself from poor known country to the world’s third largest economy in terms of GDP (PPP). You will see some of the strangest things happening here, but still you will wonder how this diverse, huge and largely populated country has survived peacefully, efficiently since independence with the highest growth outputs. Traveling around New Delhi is easy due to availability of variety of modes of public transport. Delhi is not an expensive city compared to other Indian and international cities of the same level. However, in this guide we will still be stressing on making your stay and traveling even more economical and comfortable with the help of certain tips, information on travel and hotel coupons and other services provided officially by the government of Delhi or other private and commercial organizations.

How to Reach Delhi?

Delhi being one of the largest business, financial, tourist, educational and political hub of South Asia has one of the busiest airports and railway stations in the world.

buddha delhi airport
Buddha at Delhi Airport

 

Indira Gandhi International Airport is only 16 KM away from the city centre. The cheapest and fastest way to reach the city centre from the Airport is through Airport Express Metro Rail. It connects the New Delhi railway Station (adjacent to the city centre Connaught Place) with the Airport. A single trip costs mere ₹150 and around 30-40 minutes. If you are a frequent traveler on this line you can also buy a 45 trip or 60 trip monthly coupon pass which costs ₹2000 and ₹2300 respectively for traveling between these two stations.

Radio taxis are also a comfortable and easy way to commute from the Airport which have good and fixed fair and you will not have to bargain or fight with the drivers. You may find the coupons for Radio taxi in the stalls established as soon as you come out of the arrival section. Other cheaper taxi option is Government prepaid taxi, they will provide you prepaid coupon for much cheaper rate from the stalls inside the arrival section, before coming out.

Where to Stay in Delhi?

From low budget to high budget, Delhi has large number of options available for the travelers. There are large number of lodges to five star hotels on par with international standards. Almost all the big names in the category of luxurious and corporate five star hotels have their presence in the capital of India. But, if you are looking for the cheaper ones head to Pahargunj or Karol Bagh. Pahargunj has some of the cheapest lodges in Delhi and is strategically situated adjacent to New Delhi Railway Station and the centre Connaught Place. Pahargunj is often termed as the back side of New Delhi (not so good part of the city) the area is extremely crowded and the streets are narrow, however you will find cheapest food and lodges close to the central Delhi. (Note: Be careful when eating outside, always drink packaged mineral water).

There are also large number of normal and high budget hotels which often come up with schemes, try to grab those deal and keep checking travel and hotel coupons websites.

Top 5 Destinations and Places to Visit in New Delhi

 

1. Connaught Place

central park connaught place
TWR team at Central Park in Connaught Place, Delhi

Located in the central Delhi, Connaught place is one of the major financial and business hub of Delhi which reflects a flavour of English rule. The place has some of the best night clubs, bars, pubs and multi-cuisine restaurants in Delhi. Rajiv Chowk metro station of the Delhi Metro opens right at the central park in the Connaught Place. Use metro coupon passes issued as smart card in all the metro station to get 10% discount on your every trip in Delhi Metro.

Connaught place is coupled with Janpath Marktet and Emporium street (Baba Khadak Singh Marg). Janpath market has everything that you would need to give your friends once you return your home. From high quality souvenirs, Indian Jewellery and Aromas and other traditional items to low cost daily wear clothes. Be ready to bargain here, one tip is to directly reduce the price you are willing to pay to the half of what the shopkeeper told you. It would be good if you have an Indian friend to help you. Baba Khadak Singh Marg has some of the quality emporiums from different states of India exhibiting their culture and traditions. You can buy home decorative things to traditional clothes and souvenirs. All prices are fixed and maintained by the Government, no need to bargain. On the way to emporiums you will find Khadi Gramodyog Bhawan or Khadi Emporium, buy India’s pure and original herbal products and cosmetics from here, again it is a government shop and closes by 6 PM.

Places near Connaught Place: India Gate, Jantar Mantar, Railway Museum, President House

2. India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhawan ( President House)

Take a taxi or Auto Rickshaw (tuk tuk) from Connaught Place to reach Rashtrapati Bhawan, or get down at Central Secretariat metro station (Yellow and Violet Line) from Rajiv Chowk metro station and walk a bit to North Block/South Block (cheaper and recommended). Rashtrapati Bhawan is the largest residence of any chief of the state in the world. It is accompanied by huge twin structures of North block and South block. The view of Rashtrapati Bhawan is magnificent as you climb up the Raisena hill from the Vijay Chowk, as you climb you will feel the magnificent structure rising in the sky. Getting down to the same road will lead you to India Gate.

india gate
India Gate

India gate is walk able from Rashtrapati Bhawan, the road connecting these two is known as Rajpath where every year military parade occurs on Republic Day (26th January). India Gate is an arch monument, a first world war memorial dedicated to the Indian soldiers who were killed in action during first world war. Surrounded by the lush green grasses and wide roads of Delhi. India gate is one of the most popular destination for the tourists in Delhi. Best time to go there is in the evening and stay here till the dark. You will have one of the best experience here if you visit this place and Rashtrapati Bhawan between January 26th to January 29th at night, as these places are well lit because of Republic Day celebrations.

3. Akshardham Temple

akshardham temple
Akshardham Temple

Akshardham Temple in New Delhi is the world’s largest comprehensive Hindu Temple. Officially opened in November  2005, the temple is relatively new and has modern features. With its big size, big area, and beautiful carvings and paintings all over, you need at least one whole day to spend here to see, learn and admire most of the things presented here.

Apart from the regular temple functionality, this religious place offers more entertaining and informative ways to involve in the spiritual environment. There is a video presentation on a large IMAX theater featuring the early life of Swaminarayan. There is a boat ride in the cave exhibiting Indian culture and ancient Indian science and mathematical achievements. And there is musical fountain presentation after aarti based on the messages of Upanishads.

Please beware that camera, mobile phone or any baggage except female hand bag is not allowed inside the temple complex. Leave them in your car or in the cloak room. The earlier you go the better it is, as the crowd increases by time. There would be a huge queue for security check up. The complex is closed on Monday.

4. Qutub Minar

qutub minar
TWR Team at Qutub Minar

72.5 metres (237.8 ft) high, Qutub Minar is the tallest free standing brick minaret in the world. The complex is easily reachable from Qutub Minar metro station of Delhi Metro (Yellow Line). The main gate is however slightly far, but walk able from the metro station. The complex consists of variety of architecture from ancient Indian to relatively newer Islamic architecture including Qutub Minar built in 1193 A.D. The entry fees for Indians is Rs 10 and for Foreigners is Rs 250.

The complex has lush green lawns and other ancient and medieval period temple ruins. Qutub Minar was itself built with the materials of these ruins. Just nearby there exists an Iron Pillar which belongs to medieval Hindu period of Delhi. Standing tall for past 1600 years, this 7 m tall iron pillar has attracted the attention of metallurgists and archaeologists, as it has not rusted yet. The pillar has been called as “a testament to the skill of ancient Indian blacksmiths.”

If you are planning to go here, make it little earlier as this complex will start closing from 5:30 PM. After this if you have some time you can head to Delhi haat, which is a beautiful traditional style themed market where you will find handicraft and other traditional things and authentic Indian food, sweets and snacks from all over India. The best time to go to haat is March-April and September to December, as at this time weather is good, tourists are more and there are more stalls and colorful nights. We have been there in winters and I heard complaints from the people who were in stalls about the extreme weather, less number of tourists and pale environment.

Delhi Haat
TWR team at Delhi Haat

5. Lotus Temple

lotus temple
Lotus Temple

Completed in 1986, the temple has its faith associated with the Bahai community. With its popular lotus shape design, the temple has won several architectural awards. Come to this  place if you want to sit in peace and meditate. There are periodically short prayers in the temple sung by the members. Temple is open to the people of all faiths or religions to meditate together under the same roof. In 2002, the temple became one of the most visited buildings in the world surpassing Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower. The temple is easily reachable from Kalka Ji Mandir Metro station (Violet Line).

The temple requires extreme discipline from the visitors, you can enter inside the main temple building in batches making queue. Mobile phones should be on silent mode and conversation or talking is not allowed inside the temple.

In the proximity of the temple, another internationally famous temple of ISKCON is present which is dedicated to Lord Krishna. It is worth visiting their during the time of Aarti. The temple is closed on Mondays.

Some Tips and Warnings

For experiencing Delhi properly you need at least two weeks dedicated to this city. Delhi has the ability to make you travel in time from ancient period to the modern era.

All the places which we have mentioned are connected with Delhi’s state of the art HOHO bus service (Hop On Hop Off) except the Akshardham Temple. You can buy HOHO bus travel coupon on their website HoHo Delhi. There are two dedicated bus routed (Red and Green), and covers a vast number of attractions.

Be careful before planning a week long trip for Delhi. Keep your Mondays free as on Monday almost all the major attractions in Delhi are closed including the HOHO bus service. On Monday you can plan to visit places like world class malls in Saket, Gurgaon and Noida where you can try ice skating, freeze lounge  amusement parks, an experience of being in the sea cruise and authentic Indian food or movie within these malls. Also visit Kingdom of dreams in Gurgaon which is a complete package of all entertainment.

Delhi at present is considered unsafe for women due to increasing number of crimes against women in recent days and it is recommended to be cautious on the street against eve teasers, it is better to be in group and avoid late nights outside.

There are a lot of places of interest in Delhi, please share your favourite destination or food joint in the comments section below.

Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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The 10 Best Design-led Hostels in Europe

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Hostels are no longer just for young people and travelers with low budgets. The once humble and cheap accommodation that connects people from different places has now evolved to poshtels, which allow you to spend less but still get access to the benefits of high-end hotels. A good location, careful decoration, a strong commitment to the environment and the common spaces is what offers this new concept that is getting huge in Europe. Here are some of the best hostels that you can find in the Old Continent.

Cats Hostel Madrid

Cats Hostels is the perfect option to stay right in the heart of the city when visiting Madrid, because the city centre is where all the cool stuff happens. Their fully equipped and comfortable rooms decorated according to the latests trends can accommodate from 2 up to 14 guests. 

The hostel stands out for its breathtakingly spectacular 17th-century Arab-Andalusian style patio, which is in fact a protected historical heritage site in the city. It has a stunning fountain right in the middle that is filled with sangria in their epic Sangria Party -they don’t claim to be the best party hostel in Madrid for no reason! Cats Hostel is perfect for group friends or solo travellers, since the common areas work as meeting points: a coworking space, a club, a bar or a multipurpose room where you can watch a movie on the big screen, chill on the couches, play board games, read, or sleep away your hangover.

For those who want to discover the city accompanied, there are activities in Cats Hostels every day of the week: from the city tour -where you can visit the most emblematic landmarks of the capital, to a pub crawl that costs 15 € and starts every day at 22:00 or a classic tapas tour (15 €), on Wednesdays and Fridays at 17:45.

Full Moon Design Hostel Budapest

Live music in one of the most vibrant cities, picturesque rooms, colourful common areas and a privileged location are just some of the things this designer hostel has to offer. But that’s not all this hostel offers: Morisons Music Pub 2 is in the same building. 

Generator Hostel Paris

Stroll through the city without leaving the building in this design-led hostel inspired by the photogenic character of Paris. Stay in the elegant lounge (with vintage armchairs and a large bar) or have fun in the game room when you’re not enjoying everything the French capital has to offer.

Cats Hostel Porto

Cats Hostel Porto is the first hostel of the brand to open in Portugal, and it brings to the city of the Duero river all the spirit that has made Madrid’s Cats Hostels famous: fun, activities and central accommodation to enjoy the city to the fullest.

ONE80º Berlin

This ’boutique hostel’ in the heart of Mitte stands out for having its own discotheque in the center of Berlin.  It offers music by its own resident DJs and other events. Guests can also use a special area to upload and share their photos. The interior is designed by Berlin artists.

Kex Hostel Reykjavik

Industrial aesthetics is the most characteristic feature of this Icelandic hostel that stands in an old biscuit factory (in fact, kex means Icelandic ‘biscuit’). Besides having all kinds of rooms, it stands out for its common spaces, such as a barber shop or a large library, where you can relax in the company of other travelers..

Casa Gracia Barcelona Hostel

The most modern hostel in Barcelona is just a step away from Paseo de Gracia and is all style and atmosphere. With its exclusive design and modern interiors, is the ideal refuge for any lover of modern and style. Enjoy the terrace, the lounges (it has spacious communal lounges to rest and chat) and its exquisite cuisine.

Youth Hostel Scuol Switzerland

This hostel is the most modern cabin in the Swiss country. This hostel, decorated to the last, has beautiful wooden interiors. Come out onto the terrace and breathe in the fresh air, while enjoying the splendour of the surrounding mountains. When the sun sets, make a ball in front of the fireplace and enjoy a hot chocolate before resting in your room.

Clink 78 London

Luxurious hostel frequented by young backpackers. It occupies what used to be a courthouse, where, by the way, the punk band The Clash was judged -according to their website. So if you book a room here, you can sleep in a cell or hang out in one of the courtrooms. And it’s worth attending one of the concerts at their nightclub, the ClashBAR. It’s ten minutes from King’s Cross train station.

Cocomama Amsterdam

It has a very exotic name, but a very European conception of design and decoration, with murals, paintings, ceramics and all kinds of elements that make up a beautiful environment. Everything is very clean and well cared for. There are cinema, communal kitchen and garden, as well as other spaces to share.


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ATELIER de Hoteles is proud to present José Mejía as its Executive Chef and Food Experience

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  • Renowned Chef Mejía heads the restaurants, bars and cafeterias of the hotels in the ATELIER de Hoteles chain
  • ATELIER de Hoteles sets itself apart by showcasing an exquisite culinary proposal

ATELIER de Hoteles, a Mexican hotel chain with an innovative and ground-breaking concept, has named José Mejía as its Executive Chef and Food Experience, and who, as of today, takes on responsibility for the cuisine offered, the quality and operation of all the culinary centers in this hospitality corporation.

Chef José Mejía hails from Mexico City and studied in the Culinary Institute of Los Angeles, California. He gained his wide experience in gastronomy in countries such as Singapore, Germany, the USA, Italy, Spain and Mexico, shaping his extraordinary leadership skills in each of his work teams. Chef Mejía also possesses a magnificent vision for creating unforgettable culinary experiences, a characteristic that has made him an ambassador of Mexican Haute Cuisine.

It is a privilege for ATELIER de Hoteles to have the proven creativity of Chef José Mejía since it allows us to offer our guests an innovative and exquisite gastronomy proposal. The culinary philosophy of our Executive Chef and Food Experience breaks paradigms and goes beyond than just offering avant-garde dishes, showcasing a complete concept in which flavors, textures and colors play a major role. As well as pleasing guests’ palates, it comforts and surprises them”, commented Oliver Reinhart, CEO of ATELIER de Hoteles.

For Chef Mejía motivating his team is of the utmost importance, just like the steam that rises from the pots of modern kitchens where works of art, not just dishes, are created to nourish diners’ bodies and minds. This inspires him to maintain a balance between harmony and the demands of operating food and beverage outlets in a luxury All Suites Resort such as the ATELIER Playa Mujeres, as well as the ÓLEO Cancún Playa All Inclusive Boutique Resort and, soon to come, the family concept of the ESTUDIO Playa Mujeres.

ATELIER-de-Hoteles

“I feel very enthusiastic about the challenge with which ATELIER de Hoteles has entrusted me, and this motivates me to make sure my team of arteliers maintain their commitment to the values of our hotel chain, such as quality, professionalism and service, as well as to its conceptual cornerstones, particularly offering an authentically Addictive Service®”, said José Mejía, Executive Chef and Food Experience at ATELIER de Hoteles.

Regarding the ATELIER Playa Mujeres hotel complex, Chef Mejía treasures an exceptional vegetable garden, since its harvest guarantees produce of the highest quality and freshness which is used in the different menus throughout the hotel chain in Cancun.

The Executive Chef and Food Experience has programmed a series of activities for the restaurants in the ATELIER Playa Mujeres in which guests can enjoy the experience of growing and selecting its vegetables, greens, fruits and spices, thus promoting an Eco-social Awareness® which is important to mention since it is another of the conceptual cornerstones at ATELIER de Hoteles.

The restaurants at ATELIER Playa Mujeres headed by Chef Mejía are: Mercado 19, offering Mexican flavors with a contemporary touch; Alba, with a healthy menu; El Suspiro, seafood with Peruvian touches; Takeshi, with an Asian influence; Cilento, inspired by authentic Italian cuisine; Los Abrazos, with firewood-cooked meat cuts; Cafecito, with fine bakery and coffee, and El Trompo, with tacos and gourmet Mexican snacks.

On the other hand, in the ÓLEO Cancún Playa All Inclusive Boutique Resort, the chef is in charge of the Azul restaurant, with an international and cosmopolitan feel; Almar, with dinners offering traditional Mediterranean cuisine and seafood; Hakka, with Japanese influenced cuisine, and El Botanero, with ceviches, tacos and hamburgers served outdoors.

Similarly, the bars coordinated by José Mejía in the ATELIER Playa Mujeres are: Don Fernando, lobby bar; El Deseo, theater bar; La Oficina, contemporary cantina style; El Cielo, rooftop lounge bar, with an infinity pool boasting a spectacular view of the Caribbean and the golf course; El Trompo Swim Up Bar and El Suspiro Swim Up Bar, both located at the main pool, and Bar de La Calle, offering an urban mixology concept. Chef Mejía is also responsible for the Pool Bar and the Lobby Bar, popular meeting points for guests in the ÓLEO Cancún Playa Boutique Resort.

The wide range of restaurants and bars at ATELIER de Hoteles are structurally designed with materials and decoration that evoke an elegant and contemporary ambiance. Similarly, each of the menus offers guests a selection that reinterprets the most important culinary traditions of each culture in a ground-breaking and innovative way.

About:                     

ATELIER de Hoteles is an innovative and ground-breaking Mexican hotel chain born in 2015, with contemporary Mexican art setting it apart and acting as the common denominator in its concepts, which include strategy, passion and commitment. ATELIER de Hoteles offers in its four brands, ATELIER, ESTUDIO, ÓLEO and MET, relaxed luxury with the highest in service standards in its properties, currently located in the Hotel Zone and Playa Mujeres, both in Cancun, Quintana Roo, and with openings planned in the near future for the most important beach and business destinations in Mexico.


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You need to visit Ecuador now

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This is no joke. You need to visit Ecuador now, right this minute, it’s a matter of life and…nah. The truth is, we live in a time where options are limitless and when it comes to travel, there are SO MANY incredible international destinations it gets overwhelming to make a choice. Sometimes you just need a convincing argument, or an easy-to-understand cost benefit analysis to conclude, “Yep, that’s definitely worth it.”

What’s the point in travelling to de-compress if simply choosing your destination causes you to stress? (That line is going in my next rap single, please don’t plagiarize.) Here are a couple legitimate reasons to book your next trip to Ecuador.

Quilotoa Lake Ecuador
A group of friends gaze upon Quilotoa Lake, while a rainbow appears above the Ecuadorian Andes.

Reasons why you should visit Ecuador

Fill in the blank with something that isn’t sexist: Ecuador is like a ____. Pretty, cheap and easy.

If you want three simple, yet highly convincing reasons to visit Ecuador, here they are. Let’s start with the first and, in many cases, the most convincing:

Ecuador is CHEAP. Please note that by “cheap”, we’re talking western hemisphere levels of affordability, not Nepal or Vietnam.

Compared to other bucket-list Latin America countries, like Costa Rica, Mexico or Chile, Ecuador offers a comparable quality of service for a lower dollar figure. Among some of the incredible things to do in Ecuador, you’ll visit places like the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon.

If you’re travelling here from the United States or Europe, you’ll be pleased to discover several cheap, and usually direct, flight options to Ecuador. From the U.S., you can find flights from Fort Lauderdale, FL with Jet Blue for as cheap as $380!

Once here, you’ll also find that bus travel is C-H-E-A-P. I’m talking $1.00 per hour of travel cheap. However, there are pros and cons to this, make sure to read the last section of this blog.

Cotopaxi Volcano ecuador
A traveler visits the Limpiopungo lake inside Cotopaxi National Park. Cotopaxi Volcano is visible in the background. Photo by: Viaja la Vida travel bloggers.

Ecuador is PRETTY. Spectacular, in fact. This is highly subjective statement that can be proven true by simply asking anyone that’s traveled here. Now, don’t ask them about the markets, because things can get pretty ugly there, especially in the animal section, but ask them about Ecuador’s beauty GENERALLY.

You’ll find that there’s a consensus: Ecuador isn’t just beautiful, but diverse, which only adds to its beauty. In a day’s drive, you can go from the Amazon rainforest, past 5,000+ meter volcanic peaks, and down through the coastal cloud forest to the glimmering beaches of Mompiche (or another coastal village).

Where else in Latin America can you do this? If you can think of a place that isn’t Ecuador, please mention it in the comment section below. Seriously, I challenge you.

Ecuador Pacific Sunset
The sun sets in the Pacific Coast. This is a common image all year long because of Ecuador’s location on the equator. Photo by: Juan Pablo Verdesoto.

Ecuador is EASY. The reason you can visit such diverse geographic regions in one day is because Ecuador is relatively small (no bigger than Colorado State, for example). Its neighbor, Peru, offers similar geographic diversity but across 5 times the geographic area! It’s gonna take more than one day to drive from the Amazon to the Pacific Coast, that’s for sure.

Over the years, a significant increase in tourism has incentivized many Ecuadorians to invest in English language acquisition. While speaking and/or learning Spanish in Ecuador is highly encouraged, you’ll find that many locals (especially the younger generations) know their way around English and will be able to help you.

A final reason why Ecuador is an easy travel destination is related to its currency, which happens to be the US dollar. That’s right: greenbacks rule. If you’re coming from the United States, you have one less headache to deal with because in Ecuador, currency exchange is not a thing.

Wanderbus Ecuador
A traveler enjoys the Ecuadorian road aboard the Wanderbus. Photo by: Juan Pablo Verdesoto.

What is the best way to travel around Ecuador?

If you’re like most travellers to Ecuador, you’re probably considering bus travel. Makes sense: buses are readily available between every city and, depending on distance, cost around $1.00 per transit hour. However, safety and convenience tend to be an issue as bus terminals are where travellers are at their most vulnerable from petty theft, and are often difficult and expensive to reach (particularly at odd hours of the night).

For those that prefer to avoid bus terminals (despite the attractive bus prices), another approach to bus travel in Ecuador is available: hop on-hop off bus companies like Wanderbus Ecuador. Wanderbus will pick you up from central locations in town and take you to Ecuador’s top (and often difficult-to-reach) destinations, ensuring safety, access to like-minded travelers as well as an English-speaking guide. The flexibility of hop on-hop off travel is especially attractive if you don’t have a set itinerary and like to keep your options open.

If you haven’t quite decided on your next international destination, make sure to take a closer look at Ecuador, where you’re sure to get more bang for your buck.



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