New Delhi, India :
Top Places to Visit in New Delhi with Kids: The Ultimate Guide
We spend a lot of time due to family that lives there. Check out this video of our favorite things to do:
Getting to New Delhi:
Delhi is now on most major airline routes and the new Indira Gandhi International Terminal has been reopened in 2010 and matches all international standards and facilities. If you are within India you can fly to Delhi on a multitude of domestic airlines, which you will find provide better service and food than most American and European carriers. Try Jet Airways or Kingfisher Airlines. For a more authentically Indian experience you can approach Delhi by train as well. I would stay clear of driving as traffic is unpredictable and the roads are not completely paved throughout the country. You can research your options on getting to Delhi on the internet.
Top Places to Visit in Delhi with Kids:
New Delhi's climates are extreme in that both the winters and summers can be severe. However, if you make it to the capital city between November and March you will be treated to some gorgeous weather, perfect for spending in one of Delhi's many parks (it is hailed as one of the greenest cities in India). Here are some of our favorite activities for children in New Delhi, both indoors and out:
- Deer Park: Bang in the middle of bustling South Delhi is the Deer Park, a tranquil oasis in the chaos of the city. Here you will find shady trees, well-trimmed grass, a lake and child-pleasers like deer and peacocks. Great to spend a morning or afternoon in Delhi. Pop into Hauz Khas Village next door for a cup of coffee and some shopping.
- Akshardam Temple: The fact that this temple took only five years to build can be forgotten when you take in its magnificence. The temple itself is awe-inspiring in its sculptures and art, and the animated exhibits and boat ride are a great thrill for the kids. It is also one of the best regulated and managed Indian tourist sites, which means that security is tight (no food, mobile phones, cameras or large bags allowed) but getting in and out is relatively painless. It's also fairly easy to navigate with a pram, except for the main temple which doesn't have a ramp for entry.
- National Rail Museum: Any Thomas fan will revel in the National Rail Museum in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. Here you will find the history of India's railway system, from the oldest running steam locomotive in the world to a toy train that offers rides to young visitors on regular days.
- Lodi Gardens: Take in some heritage Indian architecture in Lodi Gardens as you experience its 90 acres grounds and learn about Delhi under the Pashtun rule. Dine at the Lodi Restaurant when you are done with your excursion.
- Mughal Garden, Rashtrapathi Bhavan: These gardens form part of the presidential estate and are probably the most famous botanical gardens in India. The gardens are unfortunately open for viewing only at specific times between February and March. Check the website for details if you are in the city during that time.
- Kiddyland: Delhi's largest outdoor play area, Kiddyland at the DLF Promenade has a number of climbing structures, slides for older kids, and a ball pool and trampoline for the younger ones. It's free to use but conveniently leads into a large toy store. There is a cafe just adjacent to the play space but for a coffee and snack you may prefer Cinnabon in the main lobby on the ground floor.
- Hangout Kids: If the weather is not agreeable, you may find yourself inside one of Delhi's malls, many of which have play spaces for kids (thankfully!). An especially popular spot is the Hangout in the Select Citywalk Mall, where kids can enjoy rides and arcade games appropriate for all ages.
Where to Eat with Kids in New Delhi
- Lodi - The Garden Restaurant: A charming courtyard with outdoor seating or a cozy dining room create a great atmosphere at this restaurant. Kids love the swing or the tables set up in old chariot parts and the menu is continental/Mediterranean.
- Select Citywalk Food Court : This food court has everything you want from North Indian kebabs to South Indian dosas (great for kids), to Indian chinese (see below) to sandwiches, pastas and ice-creams. It is clean and relatively small so everyone gets what they want but the choices are not overwhelming.
- Mainland China: "Indian Chinese" is a cuisine in itself; don't expect to find this variety in China or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Mainland China offer a great buffet at lunch time or the à la carte option at dinner will offer at least a fried rice that is kid-friendly.
- La Piazza, Hyatt Regency: For a change of scene, try the Sunday brunch at the Hyatt Regency's La Piazza, an all-you-can-eat extravaganza of pizza, pasta, salads and of course wine for those of age.
- Bukhara: For authentic Mughlai food that will leave you satiated for days, try Bukhara at the ITC Maurya. The food is rich in its flavors and spices and truly embodies the best of North Indian cuisine. For the kids, you can always rely on plain rice, naans and yogurt, available at any Indian eating establishment.
Shopping for Kids in Delhi:
- Le Village, Santushti: For a wonderful selection of exquisitely made Indian clothes for kids, seek out this elegant boutique tucked away in the Santushti shopping complex. Warning: you'll pay a pretty penny but you'll get quality.
- Lola's World, Hauz Khas Village: My new favorite store in Delhi houses Paris-designed, Indian-manufactured line Nana Ki. This gorgeous boutique offers top quality clothes for children, Indian and Western, in addition to toys, accessories and gear. Their women's line is sparse but includes some gorgeous designs as well.
- O Layla, Hauz Khaz Village: As you make your way down HKV's meandering lanes, find yourself at O Layla to treat yourself to trendy, funky clothing (check out the Masala Tee line) and accessories for adults and children. You'll pay 1300 rupees (approximately USD25 for a onesie but it'll be worth it!).
- Dilli Haat: Dilli Haat is a permanent market where artisans bring their wares, everything from clothing to fabrics to housewares to handicrafts to the denizens of Delhi. Particularly in winter, the atmosphere at Dilli Haat is enthralling with performers roaming the streets and a food court offering the best of Indian cuisine (eat with caution - it's technically street food). At Dilli Haat you can find unique toys and clothes for children, in addition to traditional toys and accessories. You must bargain, it is practically expected!
- Select CityWalk Mall, Saket: Not particularly Indian but the kids' corridor at the Select CityWalk Mall in Saket is the most convenient for parent shoppers. In addition to a number of clothing stores such as Benetton, Bossini, Tommy Hilfiger, Crocs and Reebok, you can also find fully stocked children's department stores such as Mothercare and Mom and Me, for all your essentials: prams, cribs, bottles, nursing equipment, etc. Citywalk is also the only mall in Delhi with a designated feeding room.
Where to Stay with Kids in Delhi:
There is a myriad of options for accommodation in Delhi, ranging from small inns to luxurious hotels. There is a large guesthouse culture, essentially the equivalent of the international B &B. When booking, you can't go wrong with the popular hotel brands (and they are all here). If you opt for a guesthouse which is often more economical and can offer a more authentic Delhi experience, you should do your research thoroughly, and if at all possible, get someone on the ground to validate its conditions. Here are are recommendations in each of those categories:
The Imperial Hotel: Heralded as one of the best hotels in Delhi, the Imperial Hotel represents the glory of the British Raj in Delhi. The hotel was built in 1911 when Delhi was declared the capital of India. The grounds are sprawling, the atmosphere grand, and the service top-notch. Janpath, the neighborhood in which the hotel is located is also one of the most colorful parts of Delhi, with some of the best street shopping in the city.
27 Jorbagh: A typical Delhi guest house with an intimate courtyard and spacious rooms, 27 Jorbagh is located in one of the nicest neighborhoods of Delhi, near Lodhi Gardens. I can vouch for the quality of Jorbagh myself, having stayed there during my wedding in 2005!
Things to Know about Traveling with Kids to Delhi:
- Delhi is the political, not the commercial capital of India, which is why it still upholds seemingly archaic traditions like closing down certain neighborhoods on specific days. It doesn't apply so much to the newer malls and developments but ask the locals if you want to make your way to a local market, just to be sure.
- Delhi is not particularly safe at night, particularly for women. It's best not to be walking around streets at night alone, and definitely not with the children. If you are traveling at night, rent a car and driver and do not rely on public transportation.
- Traffic in Delhi, like in many Indian cities can be formidable. Try to stay off the roads at rush hour, between 4 and 7 in the evening at least.
India - General Travel Tips
1) Contrary to popular belief, travel to a third world country doesn't have to put you on high alert. Almost all baby products are available in India. Diapers can be bought at any local druggist and many local and domestic brands are available. I personally like the Saudi Arabian Pampers (they have Arabic writing on them), as they are lighter and fit better. The Indian ones tended to cut Karam above the thigh.
2) Upscale stores like Just Moms on Bhulabhai Desai Road in Bombay and others in major cities stock all imported baby brands such as Mustela and Aveeno, in addition to Nuby and Avent feeding products. In addition, department stores stock brands such as Pigeon and Johnson and Johnson and local companies such as Himalayan Concepts do wonderful organic lotions and powders for baby that are well-suited for Indian weather. Unless your baby has sensitive skin, don't be afraid to try local!
3) Food-wise, it's always possible to get a butter naan, plain dosa, or rice if you need an emergency meal. As long as food is cooked, it's generally safe to eat. I would stay away from canned food because I have only seen Heinz available and they are usually not stored in a way that would preserve them well in the Indian heat. When all else fails, there's always chicken nuggets at McDonald's.
4) Always check the seal on your mineral water to ensure that you have a new bottle. In fact, whenever possible, I would boil Karam's water just to be safe.
5) Car seats are few and far between. Look around you: families of five are making their way around on scooters. Just hold on tight and avoid auto-rickshaws and trains if possible.
6) India is one of the cheapest places to buy books, from as low as 50cents. Toys are cheap too but if you're anal about plastic, be aware that this isn't the best quality material.
7) Always use a mosquito repellent when outside for extended periods of time. Malaria and other insect-borne diseases attack the unsuspecting in India.
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