Nirvana Bhatia

Correspondent

  • India

Nirvana Bhatia is a correspondent who lives in India and covers New Delhi and Jaipur, as well as Helsinki, Finland for Forbes Travel Guide. Bhatia boarded her first international flight as an infant and has been country hopping ever since. Raised in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, Bhatia earned degrees from Middlebury College, the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Her work has been featured in Human Rights & Human Welfare, NationalGeographic.com, The Green Magazine and various newspapers in Chicago, Beijing and the Baltic States. Most recently, she was seen nibbling on the season’s first strawberries in Riga, Latvia.

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    What are the best things to do with kids in New Delhi?

    The sights and sounds of New Delhi fascinate at any age, but for some extra special memories with your kids, our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend checking out the following:
     
    1. Lodi Gardens. This lush park is an oasis in the midst of frenzied Delhi. Littered with Mughal ruins, the real delight comes from chasing after the peacocks and coaxing them to display their flamboyant feathers.
     
    2. Sulabh International Museum of Toilets. Courtesy of the entrepreneurs attempting to improve sanitation standards in India, this quirky collection showcases dozens of porcelain thrones dating as far back as 2500 B.C. The elephant-shaped model is particularly amusing.
     
    3. Gandhi Smriti. For an educational moment, take your children to the bungalow where Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of India, spent his last days. In addition to learning about his theories on non-violence, you’ll also see the spot where the revered leader was assassinated on January 30, 1948.
     
    4. Sound & Light Show. Narrated by the country’s biggest Bollywood star, this dramatic performance at Red Fort illustrates the rise and fall of Delhi with just over an hour of dazzling special effects.
     
    5. The Big Chill Café. Indian sweets are delicious, but for a taste of home, treat the whole family to thick milkshakes at this legendary spot in Khan Market. The maple walnut and After Eight shakes are especially revitalizing on a sweltering Delhi day.
  • On March 1, 2013
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    What is the best daytrip from Delhi?

    Hire an air-conditioned car and driver for a daytrip to Agra to gawk at the Taj Mahal. The iconic white marble mausoleum is the ultimate symbol of eternal love, given that Emperor Shah Jahan constructed this Mughal masterpiece as a tribute to his beloved third wife (you’ll see how differently he commemorated his other wives). Beyond the postcard view of the reflecting pool leading to the main tomb, keep your camera poised for shots of the ornate tile work, the swishes of Quranic scripture running along the ceilings and the expanding archways in the mosque. The route to Agra takes about four hours each way, but you ought to have plenty of time to visit the Taj Mahal, as well as Fatehpur Sikri, the ancient capital of the Mughal Empire. As a reminder, foreign tourists pay nearly ten times as much in entrance fees and you must remove your shoes while in the complex.
  • On March 1, 2013
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    What is the best thing to bring home from Delhi?

    With the influx of Indian gift shops abroad, finding that exclusive thing to bring home from New Delhi proves somewhat of a challenge. Consider, then, investing in some local art. Whether it’s an antique wall hanging, a bronze sculpture of a Hindu deity, or a contemporary painting from one of India’s up-and-coming artists, you will easily find a statement piece to suit your tastes. Roam the galleries in Hauz Khas Village, where young artists experiment with ancient traditions to create innovative works and where boutique owners sell fragments of hundred-year-old shawls and saris. The people there will help ship purchases to your final destination, and can also best advise you on any export regulations.
  • On March 1, 2013
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    What are the best Delhi food experiences?

    From vats of milky chai to griddles of spicy chaat, the city’s street food beckons at every corner and provides for some of the best food experiences in New Delhi. If you’re afraid of “Delhi belly,” many of these treats can also be found at Haldiram’s in Chandni Chowk, where everything is packaged hygienically. Here are a few snacks you absolutely must try:

    1. Gol Gappa. Use your thumb to punch a hole in one of these hollow balls of flour, then fill it with spiced potatoes and dip it in a pot of masala-flavored water before stuffing the dripping concoction into your mouth for a tasty burst.

    2. Chole-Bhature. Two deep-fried, puffed pieces of bread and a bowl of chickpeas sprinkled with onions and green chilies forms this quintessential working-man’s lunch.

    3. Parantha. The hole-in-the-wall joints in Chandni Chowk’s Parantha-Wali Gali all brag that their families have been making paranthas, warm bread stuffed with potatoes, peas, cauliflower or cashews, the longest in this lane (we noted seven generations of cooks as the record). Regardless of the lineage, the paranthas here actually do melt in your mouth and you’ll be hard-pressed to stop after just one.

    4. Mithai. Indians always celebrate good news with boxes of these milk-based sweets, which come in a variety of shapes and colors. It’s easiest just to point to whatever looks appetizing, but kaju barfi, cashew diamonds covered in a layer of silver foil, and laddoos, balls of flour cooked in sugar, are popular favorites.

    5. Masala chai. Forget about that frothy Starbucks version, and start quenching your thirst with thimble-full glasses of milky tea brewed with cloves, cardamom and cinnamon.
  • On March 1, 2013
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    Where is the best nightlife in Delhi?

    For the most part, nightlife in New Delhi consists of wandering down to your hotel bar. However, the scene is slowly evolving, especially in the artists’ colony at Hauz Khas Village, where trendy rooftop bars bounce to the beat of international DJs. Whether you’re sipping on a Bloody Indian — a signature cocktail made with Old Monk Rum — at Living Room, a glass of red wine at Grey Garden or a cold beer at La Bohème, this funky neighborhood is an ideal place to lose yourself in metaphysical conversation and stunning sunsets. If the night still feels young, the popular Mumbai nightclub blueFROG has recently opened a branch near the Qutub Minar monument. This live music venue features local and global jazz, techno and fusion acts, while adhering to a strict “no-Bollywood” playlist.
  • On March 1, 2013
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    What is the best way to see Delhi in one day?

    The best way to see New Delhi in one day is by traversing the congested streets of the old city in an auto-rickshaw, stopping to take in the Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb before picking up snacks and a trinket or two in Chandni Chowk, a legendary bazaar crammed to every nook and cranny. After lunch in nearby Connaught Place or Khan Market, an expat enclave, admire the bungalows of the rich-and-famous in Lutyens' Delhi from the window of a taxi on the way to the presidential palace. From there, stroll down to India Gate where you’ll see families flying kites and nibbling on melting ice-cream cones to catch a glimpse of the monument lit up against the night sky. Once you’ve taken it all in, reflect on Delhi’s delights over a relaxing dinner in any one of the restaurants recommended by our Forbes Travel Guide editors.
  • On March 1, 2013
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    What are the best things to see and do in Delhi?

    From ancient Mughal tombs to the whitewashed legacies of the British Raj, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in Indian history than by exploring Delhi’s diverse architecture. Here, Forbes Travel Guide lists the best things to see and do in New Delhi:

    1. Jama Masjid. This dramatic mosque, commissioned by Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, emerges as a haunting refuge of solace from the chaotic marketplace below. It’s most picturesque in the evenings, when the courtyard is silhouetted by flocks of birds streaking across the puffed onion domes. Built to accommodate 25,000 people, the mosque is jam-packed during the Friday prayers, so plan your visit accordingly—and remember to dress very modestly.

    2. Red Fort (Lal Qila). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this massive complex was once home to the Mughal emperors; today, its looming sandstone entrance serves as the backdrop for national speeches and military parades. A decent sound and light show depicts key moments in Indian history on most evenings. Keep in mind that foreigners pay drastically higher entrance fees at tourist sites in India and that there is usually an additional fee to take photographs.

    3. Humayun’s Tomb. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this red sandstone monument framed by an arched gateway embodies the Mughal design aesthetic and was a precursor to the Taj Mahal in Agra.

    4. India Gate. Now a soaring symbol of national pride, India Gate was actually constructed by the British architect Edwin Lutyens as a war memorial that once housed a statue of King George V. The gate heralds the beginning of Rajpath (the “King’s Way”), which you can follow down to Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the president of India. This area is particularly striking when illuminated at night, or when engulfed by a swarm of kites on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

    5. Lotus Temple. For a glance at something more contemporary, the Baha’i House of Worship is a crisscross of white marble petals that has won a slew of global architecture awards and was previously cited as the most visited building in the world. Members of all faiths are invited to pray there, and we find it meditative to stroll around the gardens.
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