Delhi is a huge city. With a greater urban population of around 16 million, it’s India’s second largest city. We know this because Sanjeev, Lisa’s guide in India, told her on the hour-long transfer trip to her hotel, the Oberoi Imperial.
Centrally located with the world heritage site, Humayun’s Tomb on one side and a sweeping golf course on the other, the landmark Imperial is recognised as Delhi’s first true luxury hotel and in 2015 was rated in the Travel + Leisure’s Top Ten hotels in Asia.
From the twenty-four king palms that lead up to the dazzling white entrance – to the marvellous mélange of Victorian, Colonial and Art Deco styles in its interiors – this hotel stands as a reminder of the birth of the capital city of New Delhi. Built in 1931, it was one of the monuments of Edwin Lutyens’ grand vision of the new capital’s master plan. In addition it was witness to the creation of an independent India when in the 1930s, Pandit Nehru, Mahatama Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten met here to discuss the partition of India and creation of Pakistan.
Today, its spacious high ceiling rooms, crystal chandeliers, marble floors and mahogany furniture, along with an impressive collection of 18th and 19th century British art on India, afford its guests a taste of colonial India’s history and elegance.
After a restful sleep in her sumptuous suite, Lisa took a short walk and rickshaw ride through Old Delhi and paid a fleeting visit to Jama Masjid, the Great Mosque of Delhi (and the largest in India) with a courtyard capable of holding 25,000 devotees. After a leisurely lunch at a local restaurant she went on to visit several more historic sites of South Delhi before doing what Lisa does best – hit the shops at Khan market.
Khan market has a great mix of bookshops, contemporary Indian boutiques and more traditional clothing and homewares shops. Fab India is a favourite with westerners – it has Indian inspired clothes that you will actually wear back home; Good Earth and The Neemrana Shop have gorgeous high quality homewares; Full Circle books above Cafe Turtle has an excellent range of books particularly on India and by Indian authors.