Western influences exist, but don't overwhelm this world steeped in cultural traditions.
  • Western influences exist, but don't overwhelm this world steeped in cultural traditions.
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Delhi, India, is all about culture, heritage and food.

If you only have limited time here, the Old Delhi Bazaar walking tours are a must-see. Knowledgeable local guides lead you down the neighborhood’s winding streets to get a glimpse of authentic Delhi culture and food. Day and evening tours are available.

street market spices

street market spices

Here, in Chandni Chowk, the noisy, chaotic streets are home to silversmiths, repair shops, clothiers, spicy street food vendors and traditional candy shops.

You’ll sample carefully selected street food stalls and meet local shop merchants. The tour ends at one of Delhi’s lovely old mansions, where you will feast on an authentic Indian meal prepared by your guide’s wife.

If you prefer a more independent style of visiting the bazaar, consider hiring a rickshaw driver who will drop you off at desired locations, wait for you and transport you to the next location. (Be sure to negotiate the rate before beginning the journey to avoid additional costs.)

The ideal starting point to experience this part of Delhi is at the end of the bazaar at a T-junction opposite the massive Red Fort – not to be confused with Agra, India's Red Fort.

Jain Bird Hospital

If you’re interested in making a unique stop while you’re here, across from the Red Fort next to Digambar Jain Temple is Jain Bird Hospital.

True to its name, this is a hospital where the only patients admitted are birds. The three-story hospital treats nearly 30,000 birds every year and is the only one of its kind in the world. There are wards in the form of cages for species like sparrows, parrots, domestic fowls and pigeons. Vegetarian patients are separated from their non-vegetarian counterparts.

Every Saturday, a section of the roof is opened and the recovered birds fly away.

The hospital adheres to a central tenet of Jainism – a commitment to the freedom of all living beings, no matter how small or insignificant they are. One of India's smallest religious communities comprising approximately one per cent of the country’s one billion people, Jains are first and foremost vegetarians.

When you enter the Chandni Chowk area, you can't miss the charity bird hospital within the precincts of the temple. It is open 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. (And since it’s a charitable hospital, visitors are expected to make a donation.)

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