Delhi Stories and Tips

Faded elegance - Connaught Place

The view from Hotel Palace Heights Photo, Delhi, India

If you are travelling in India, it is almost a sure-fire guarantee that at one point you will end up in Connaught Place. This is where the banks, airline offices, hotels and tour offices are based - even if is just to change up some money or confirm your ticket home.

It was built by the British in the last century and is a little way south of New Delhi station. It is a white-colonnade shopping district surrounding a green park. The Place forms a full circle and is divided into blocks by seven radial roads and ringed by a busy ringroad called Connaught Circus.

It was once designed for elegant boutiques and the ladies and gentlement of the Raj would saunter along under their parasols. Now it is faintly decaying and thoroughly Indianised with shoeshiners on every corner and even elephants walking along the road. Everything you will need will be here including the American express office on the western side and a couple of good bookshops and banks. Very useful is a pre-paid autorickshaw office on the south side of Connaught Place.

However it is very much a tourist colony and those who depend on the tourist trade are in as much evidence here as in Paharganj. Beggars will harass you for money, auto-rickshaw drivers will follow you along the road and touts will call for your custom. You may feel yourself very conspicuous in Connaught Place and may follow the backstreets rather then the main thoroughfares as I ended up doing.

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