Ancient and modern India collide in Delhi: Cars jostle for space with elephants and camels on the city's streets. Visitors will find that parts of Delhi have manicured gardens, natural forests and ridges, and other areas are crisscrossed by dark, congested alleys that dead-end into centuries-old mosques and palace ruins. A popular travel destination, the city is also a melange of different cultures, as people from all over the country go there in pursuit of jobs and dreams.
Travelers to Delhi will find that its long history and mix of cultures have spawned an array of architectural styles, religious sites, eclectic museums, vibrant shopping arcades, a host of art and culture centers, and sumptuous cuisines.
Officially two separate cities, the old city of Delhi, which the Mughuls built and lived in, and New Delhi, built by the British and expanded since Independence in 1947, are really two parts of one sprawling metropolis known simply as Delhi.
Old Delhi is noted for spectacular Mughal architecture, enclosed within walls built in 1638 by Shah Jahan, who constructed the Taj Mahal. The eastern part of Delhi across the river Yamuna, which, until the 1980s, had nothing but shanties and farmland, is now dotted with hundreds of high-rise, middle-class residential complexes.
New Delhi also appeals to visitors, as it is relatively clean and modern with many broad, tree-lined boulevards. New Delhi has expanded south and west, and residential areas in South Delhi, for example, are now the most posh addresses in the city.
Delhi has experienced so much growth and expansion as a travel destination—and more development and construction are under way—that it now touches the borders of its neighboring states, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
In fact, Delhi and its surrounding regions are generally referred to as the NCR (National Capital Region), which includes the very up-and-coming regions of Gurgaon in Haryana and Noida in Uttar Pradesh.
Some of the best shopping malls and restaurants are to be found in Gurgaon, where a lot of international companies have their offices; hence, the crowd is varied and cosmopolitan.
Many old monuments are in the process of being revitalized, and conservation work is being undertaken by the Aga Khan Foundation to bring them back to their past glory.