The city center is approximately 45 minutes from the airport, and you can reserve a taxi or private vehicle after exiting baggage claim. The metro—which offers air conditioning and female-only compartments—is an affordable, reliable, and environmentally friendly option, but is also congested with heavy crowds. Taxis are required by law to register as commercial vehicles, and they do have meters, although many drivers prefer to set a pre-paid flat rate. Surcharges will be applied for extra baggage, night rides, and tolls. Buses, usually run by the government, provide a cheap and convenient mode of public transportation. New features like air conditioning and low-floor lifts are being installed on city buses to improve the system and to draw private car owners away from busy roads. An auto-rickshaw, or tuk-tuk, is a three-wheeled motor vehicle for hire. Generally green, yellow, or black in color, auto-rickshaws have regulated, metered fares, and are common throughout the city. Private vehicles also povide a cheap, flexible, and comfortable option, but be sure to check that the car is licensed for tourists.
Delhi is such a multicultural society that each religious and ethnic demographic celebrates its own festivals. Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated in October/November with a profusion of lamps, fireworks, and anything that sparkles. Holi, the Festival of Colors, is a Hindu celebration at the end of the winter season. Bonfires are lit to signify a devotion to Lord Vishnu, the God of Preservation, and people gather to throw colored powder and water at each other. Many children make a game out of throwing powder on foreigners—even hiding in trees to sprinkle handfuls of red, green, blue, and gold powder on the heads of unsuspecting tourists.
Delhi is also home to an excellent collection of museums and cultural relics. The National Handicrafts and Handloom Museum displays tribal and rural art and artifacts. With over 35,000 pieces ranging from textiles to clay, the space is a welcoming community of artisans and art lovers. Each month, approximately 50 craftspeople from across the country are invited to reside on the property and demonstrate their talents. Don't miss the Village Complex, an exhibition that displays village life from varying regions in India. Akshardham, located across the Yamuna River in Noida, is an elaborate Swaminarayan temple complex that features an IMAX theater, musical fountains, sunken gardens, and the Mandir: a temple with over 20,000 statues of India's religious personalities. Be sure to experience the 12-minute boat ride that highlights over 10,000 years of India's heritage, including inventions, discoveries, and the world's first university, Takshashila.
Since her youth, Allison has had an affinity for India. She nurtured this curiosity by receiving her degree in Religious Studies, with an emphasis on the religions of India, from the University of Colorado. Post-graduation, Allison continued her independent research of India’s socioeconomic development and wrote features for Little India and Chicken Soup for the Soul. After a decade of researching and traveling extensively in India, she became a Certified India Destination Specialist and launched her specialized travel company, Sodha Travel. Currently residing in Portland, Oregon, Allison considers India her second home and continues to write for various travel and India-specific publications.