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Encore Presentation: A Visit to the Capital of India: New Delhi

Aired July 14, 2001 - 13:30:00   ET


MANPREET BRAR, HOTSPOTS: Hello, I'm Manpreet Brar. Welcome to HOTSPOTS. This week we take you to the capital of India, New Delhi, a city with a population of 12 million, which makes it the third largest city in the country. And this is where you get the real experience of India.

(voice-over): On this week's HOTSPOTS, we combine history with culture and discover the crazy world of Old Delhi. In the south of the city, we explore some of India's sacred and religious monuments.

This week's personal "City Guide" report come from the Swedish capital, Stockholm.

(on camera): I'm in Old Delhi, the city which is called Shah Jahanabad, built by Emperor Shah Jahan. This is the place you've got to come if you like the hustle, bustle and the excitement, the crowds and the fun part of the city. That's where you've got to be - Old Delhi.


(voice-over): India is the home to one of the world's oldest civilizations and Delhi is no exception. However, this part of town is not the oldest, but it certainly has some stunning moments, projecting the history of the 16th and 17th centuries.

This Mosque, called Jami Masjid, is the oldest of its kind in India and was built and designed like much of the city, by Emperor Shah Jahan.

This region is predominantly home to the city's Muslim population, but you don't have to be a Muslim to enter. Every Friday is holy day, which tends to be the busiest. It's advisable to visit early morning to avoid the rush.

Delhi is the fastest growing city in the country and most people are keen to the undisputed king or queen of the road.

(on camera): Getting around Old Delhi can be quite a challenge. You've got a whole range of vehicles to choose from - the cycle, taxi or the rickshaws. And if you are a little more adventurous, well, you can even take a horse-driven tung, but I wouldn't suggest that. I would also suggest that you go for the auto rickshaw and it just might get you to your destination a lot quicker than the taxis.

Better hold on tight.

(voice-over): With the roads and streets heavily congested at most times of the day, my rickshaw driver couldn't quite reach the speed of Michael Shumarker, although he would love to.

(on camera): Chandni Chowk is my destination, a huge marketplace, where a large chunk of the population choose to shop. But walking around can sometimes prove to be a little difficult.

This colorful fun place is a market that has just about everything to do with tinsel. In fact people come here to buy stuff that is used for weddings, garlands like this and garlands like these that are used for religious festivals and used in temples. But what I really like is this (UNINTELLIGIBLE), which is used by the bridegroom when he is getting married. But I don't think I can take it because it's only for the bridegroom.

Nice, huh? Shame I can't take it.

(voice-over): There isn't anything you can't buy here. Most people seem to have a high school degree in selling, with an emphasis on showing you everything they've got to offer.

(on camera): If you're looking to buy silver in Delhi, then you're going to get the best bargains and deals right here, from lovely silverware to exquisitely handcrafted jewelry. Whatever you pick up from here will be at least double the price anywhere in Delhi.

This vase right here is just $50. Not bad.

(voice-over): Our friends selling carpets are still looking for potential buyers. They seem to have finally generated some interest. But remember, the best way to get the price you want to pay, is to haggle.

(on camera): There are some great places to eat around here. I particularly like the Indian naan bread, which is freshly baked right here, and it smells absolutely divine. And this is for about U.S. 1 cent - nothing at all.

Once you have your naan bread, there are a lot of places in the market where you can get an assortment of curries, like seasoned peas, potatoes and spinach and a whole lot of them. I'm going to try out the cottage cheese and peas.

But if you don't have a strong digestive system, I suggest you stick to the restaurants and hotels in the city.

(voice-over): There are a host of monuments dotted around the city. In the case if here, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), looks can be deceiving. At first glance, it looks like a children's playground. But in fact, it's a 17th century astronomy park, where the many shapes and sizes have been precisely measured to stalk the stars at night.

This is without doubt the most famous and visited attraction in Old Delhi, the Red Fort. Built in the 16th century, the towering fort was the home to the powerful Moghul emperors, who ruled the city from behind these walls.

The Moghul era may now be over, but the remains of grandeur, power and magnificence, will live on forever.

After spending time dodging motorists and taking in the sights, we all at some stage need a little rest and relaxation. There are a variety of hotels offering luxury accommodation. None, more so, than here at the Imperial Hotel.

It has a certain colonial feel about it, as it was designed by Bromfield, a close friend and associate of Sir Edwin Lutyens.

The decor of the reception area is dubbed the face of the hotel and has been recently renovated to its original grandeur of the 1930s. It's been popular with a host of celebrities and politicians, but it will always be remembered as a place for the likes of Gandhi and royalty head of state.

The kidney-shaped swimming pool adds a touch of Hollywood glamour, but it's hard to escape completely from the traffic noise that surrounds you.

The 1911 restaurant has recently opened to celebrate 90 years of Delhi becoming the country's capital. Food is freshly prepared on a daily basis and for of those of you who might have slightly delicate tummies, eating here is definitely a pleasure rather than a worry.

Rooms cost from U.S. $280 a night.


(on camera): And now it's time for me to take my well-earned break from the buzzing sounds of life in Delhi.

Here is a personal tour of a European city, which will give you a different kind of buzz. Let's check out this week's "City Guide."


PATRICK SAXE, CITY GUIDE: Hi, I'm Patrick Saxe and welcome to my home, Stockholm. This beautiful and historic city is spread out across 14 different islands, which means lots of space, lots of water and lots of scenes. So let's go check it out.

Definitely my favorite part of the city is old town, Gamla Stan. You can spend a whole afternoon exploring the maze of tiny little streets and unusual shops.

This is also an area rich in culture. Here you will find the Swedish Parliament, the Royal Palace and the old stock exchange, which has just become home to an exhibition dedicated to one of Stockholm's most famous sons, Alfred Nobel.

2001 marks the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prizes. This new museum seeks to celebrate the creative genius of a century of prize winners.

Stockholm is renown for its buzzing night life, and if you want to be in the center of the action when you're in this city, then this is the place, Berns Hotel. Let's take a look.

Originally designed by architect Ala Recht (ph), the hotel has recently been restyled by the legendary Terence Conran. The mixture of the old style opulence and marriage to the new style, makes this the number one meeting place for a Stockholm style crowd.

Just a short ferry ride across the Baltic Sea is the island of Djurgarden, where you find a very different kind of museum and a breath of fresh air.

Skansen was the world's first open air museum, opening in 1891. It's a celebration of the history and wildlife of the Swedish nation.

Skansen is great for a view of the past. But if you want the ultimate view of modern Stockholm, the only way is up.

Gondolen gives you a fusion menu, a funky bar and the best backdrop for a night out anywhere in the city.

Oh, you want a distinctive (UNINTELLIGIBLE) right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he can watch.



BRAR: So if you would like to tell us about your favorite city, e- mail us at

After the break, I will be moving to the south of Delhi, to uncover the history and the culture that makes it so famous. See you in a minute.

(voice-over): After the break, we will catch up with the latest "Travel News" and the world's most visited building.


BRAR (on camera): Welcome back to HOTSPOTS in Delhi, India. In a few moments we will be exploring the south side of the city, which houses the most visited temple in the country.

But first, the latest "Travel News."


(voice-over): Visitors to the Island of Phuket in Thailand will be able to live out their five fantasies this summer and take a boat trip to James Bond Island on the June Boxer (ph) cruise. Taking in the dramatic limestone coastline along the Phang Nga (ph) Bay. The highlight of the trip is a stopover at the island where Roger Moore's Bond battles Garamanga (ph), in the "Man with the Golden Gun." The boat encourages its passengers to forget in the evening beneath some of the most beautiful sunsets in the area - shaken but not stirred.

Orlando, the USA's theme park capital, sees new attractions opening every year. But one of the latest on the scene doesn't have a single roller coaster or cartoon character in sight.

The Holy Land Experience attempts to bring alive the greatest story ever told, with every detail of Biblical times recreated, from the Dead Sea Scrolls, to the Garden Tomb. Let's enter a walled city based on first century Jerusalem to experience the sites, smells and sounds of the time.

Even the food has been given a Old Testament flavor, with the park's restaurant, The Oasis Caf,, serving Goliath burgers and milk and honey ice cream.

The Holy Land Experience offers no rides. Instead, its attractions are based around reenactments of Bible stories, played out by costumed actors who mingle with visitors. Despite being built a relatively small budget of only U.S. $13 million, attendance at the industry's surprise hit, is expected to be well over five times its original projections.

Stressed out business travelers with much to do and too little time, now have the chance to make their life slightly easier next time they visit London. The newly launched Y Club offer its high-flying subscribers their own online assistants to deal with all of the little problems that life in the fast lane can throw up. They will do your washing, walk the dog, get the groceries and even baby sit the gold fish.

JAMES FRY, Y CLUB: At the Y Club, we offer what we like to call a total service solutions, whereby we can take off our members' hands, the more mundane chores and tasks that they have to deal with, whether it be the short-term business traveler who wants to make the most of their time in London and in Europe, or the relocated short-term contract traveler who comes into London for six months to a year and doesn't have the market knowledge of the service supplies as well as the knowledge of the best places to go in London.

BRAR: And then when the working day is over, the company also offers to organize your social life. Travels lacking the lowdown in London's ever-changing bar and restaurant scene are promised access to some of the city's finest establishments. Or if you don't fancy dressing up, try one of the take-away pizzas.


(on camera): Delhi's history is so ancient that the story of its origin lies more in archeology than in written history. Many rulers and their followers have left a mark over the last 3,000 years. Some monuments still live to tell their tale, while others have been built to take the past into the present.


(voice-over): New Delhi couldn't seem more diverse than the city center. It's part of a lasting memorial to the British colonial past, who ruled here until 1947. We can see how it got its name, as most of the buildings here have been built in the last 80 years. A conscience effort has been made to maintain the imperial grandeur of the Moghul era.

New Delhi was confirmed as the capital on December 12, 1911, and it's here where the seat of government has been held since 1931. Other impressive buildings include the splendid archway, known as India Gate. It serves as a memorial to the soldiers who died in the first World War.

This is a meeting point for families and friends after a hectic day in the city. It's a great place to relax, soak up the ambience and mix with the day's friendly and welcoming locals. Boat trips will cost you less than a dollar.

The suburb of Nizamuddin is where the diversity of South Delhi begins. This village is home to a small Muslim population and is a great way to really a local way of life.

All of the people here are very welcoming and are keen to show you their skills. This is one of the locals' favorite snacks, although most of the people are more interested in the cooking process rather than of the tasting one.

People are keen to offer flowers as an offering before entering the main attraction of the village shrine. You have to remove your shoes and should wear covered clothes to respect the worshipper's sentiment.

The narrow maze of alley ways en route to the shrine provide shelter and comfort for many of the older generation. Most spend the whole day here relaxing, keeping out of the heat of the midday sun.

This beautiful structure and tomb dates back to 1562. The shrine itself is called Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, for whom the village is named after. He was one of the saints of a religion known as Sufi, a Muslim religion. This is where many people from far and wide come to pray and worship at least once a week.

There are many religious that co-exist in Delhi. Religion is considered harmonious these days and it certainly is an experience to savor. However, I'm not sure I fancy swimming in the shrine pool, which is used as a children's play area. But they also take advantage of washing themselves.

A short journey further south brings you to the Chattapur Temple Complex. These amazing temples have been built in the last 15 years, with each one representing a different god or goddess. Hinduism is far and away the largest religion in the country. For the majority of Indians, it permeates every aspect of their life, from common daily chores to education and politics.

This complex is part of an ongoing project to build a purpose-built city where the locals can visit freely to pray or worship. In a country of over 800 million people, where there is thought to be at least 33 million different gods and goddesses, there is still a long way to go.

For those who thought the Taj Mahal was the most visited building in the world, think again. It's here in New Delhi, and it's called the Bahai house of worship, or more commonly known as the Lotus Temple.

Since its opening for public worship in 1986, more than 70 million people have been here. Thousands of people descend here every day of the year, the record being 150,000 people in one day.

The Bahai faith is practiced by six million people worldwide. But this house of worship is open to any religion, race, man, woman, the rich or poor.

Its structure is often compared with the opera house in Sydney. But the reason so many people have visited this temple, apart from its visual beauty, is the freedom to pray or meditate whatever your religion. The Bahai belief is to unite the hearts of all people and bring them closer to their creator.

Delhi, as a whole, has staggering contrasts and if you are willing to explore a little, then you can find a whole world of different city.

Delhi is located in the northern part of India and is a major gateway for domestic and international flights. There are many nonstop flights from London. The newest is United Airlines starting U.S. $649. From Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific, start from around U.S.$900. From Melbourne, Qantas will fly you with one stop en route for U.S.$1053.

The local currency is the Indian rupee. Approximate exchange rates are 43 to the U.S. dollar and 55 to the pound.


(on-camera): If you want to find out more information about this program, you can access our Web site at

So that's it for me, Manpreet, from the wonderful world of Delhi.





4:30pm ET, 4/16

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