Apart from the nigh clubs and pubs, there is another place in Delhi that comes alive at night. It is right at the heart of the city, India Gate. However, unlike pubs and clubs, most people are there to spend time with their families. The whole area is vibrant with Children, Newlyweds, joint families and amongst them all, hawkers to sell some of the Delhi's famed streetside food. You can also see dotted here and there some policemen to ensure nothing shady happens in the bushes.
India Gate is majestic and is surrounded by some of the most interesting buildings of Delhi. The whole area is under 24 hour security cover as it should be considering the President's house is just a few metres away. You don't expect such an area to be the party hub for middle-class Delhi Families. But it is!
The monument itself stands in memory of the brave soldiers who died fighting in World War I and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. If you look closely at the walls of the monument, you will see the names of all of the soldiers who lost their lives. And beneath the canopy an eternal flame known as the "Amar Jawan Jyoti" burns as a respect to the martyrs.
The area is also very busy in terms of the traffic on the road. All offices of Central Government are located around the complex and you can sense that you are dangerously near bureaucracy. :-)
A female hawker selling some chips. They do find some buyers and it is good that these people get to earn their livings as well. The only problem is cleanliness. People find it too tough to walk to one of the abundant dustbins in the area to dispose of their plastic wastes and instead prefer to leave it lying in the green grass or on the roads.
Some golgappes (pani puri or puchke, if you belong to Mumbai or Kolkatta) on sale. Most of the golgappes available in this area are atta (wheat) golgappes. I prefer Suji (Semolina) golgappes instead. If you really want to taste Delhi ke Golgappe, this is not the place to start.
The area is dotted with specimens of Lutyen's Architecture. The Gate itself was also designed by Sir Edwin Lutyen as were most of the buildings around this area. This part of Delhi has been referred to as Lutyens' Delhi in William Dalrymple's The City of Djinns.
A child holding the father's hand. There is no better way to discover your city.
The joint families that I mentioned earlier. Its like a late night picnic and for some it extends to 2 AM in the morning. In my opinion, this is a much better way of having fun than drinking with friends and then driving under influence.
Another hawker selling potato chips and popcorns. There are so many of them that sometimes I feel that there are as many hawkers as there are people in this area. Hope everyone is able to earn their living because this one does look tired and kind of sad too.
Some hawkers decorate their stalls with red chillies and candles. This particular stall is selling Bhel-Puri. If you are not used to spices, remember to tell the stall owner to not put any chilli at all because chances are that he would still sneak some in but if you do not ask him not to, you will definitely spend the next ten minutes searching for drinking water.
There are about 50 stalls selling the same stuff and in most cases it tastes the same too. So if you wish to have some, you can practically choose any one of them. try to find the cleanest looking stall if you have a lot of time on your hands.
A lot of recycling goes on in India at homes and everywhere actually. You can see that this hawker is using used mineral water bottle to store some of his sauces. As long as everything has been washed thoroughly before reuse, I think this is a really good practice to follow.
If you want to taste a nice papad or rice crisps as people outside India are more likely to call them, then these are the best bets. These are mostly made up of rice and are roasted instead of fried. Crisp and yet melt in the mouth, these are my favorite papads since childhood.
And at the end, which picnic spot is complete without a Kwality Walls cart and which picnic is complete without an icecream at the end. Be it the sweltering summers or freezing winters, it is icecream season always. And also a perfect conclusion to a post!