Mary Tilson is yoga instructor with a passion for travel. You an follow her adventures on Instagram at @mctilson.
I’ll preface this blogpost by saying that in the last two years that I’ve spent traveling Southeast Asia and India, I tend to focus my travel plans around the natural beauty each country has to offer. Needless to say, a city like Delhi did not quite meet those standards. Yet I knew my trip to India wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the crazy chaotic city life I had been warned so much about, even if just for a day or two. So here it goes!
I departed from Rajasthan to Delhi on an overnight train. I had a seat in 3AC, and was very pleasantly surprised! I read advice on the blog on how to pick my tickets – super useful! I had a whole lower level of seating with a table to lay out my computer and work from, and a comfortable bed space for the night. I also had the pleasure of being seated across from the sweetest Indian lady who was traveling alone for the first time to visit her daughter at school. She called me over to sit with her and share cookies, and even woke me up bright and early for one last chat before we got off the train. I hope all of you get so lucky!
My accommodation in Delhi was Stops Hostel. This is an excellent homebase, particularly for solo travelers. I quickly found a nice spot in the cinema/lounge area to roll out my yoga mat and recoup after the train ride. There’s also a communal kitchen which serves free breakfast, and a cozy bar/café style lounge. In the lobby area, you’ll find bulletins with daily activities ranging from group sightseeing tours to Indian cooking class to evening bar crawls. I decided to spend the afternoon exploring by foot with a new German friend I met in the lounge. The man at the front desk handed us a map, and drew a loop of some of the top things to do in Delhi, all within walking distance of the hostel. We made our way from the Red Fort to the Spice Market, and back around past Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India.
While this is all very accessible and convenient, as a solo-female traveler I was grateful to have company with me from the hostel. There were entire city blocks where I was the only woman in sight, the streets are crowded and you’ll certainly be hassled by eager vendors and bicyclists ready to pull you down the street. If you remain open-minded and breathe through the chaos, the streets of India are a pretty amazing experience. Colorful buildings draped with hundreds of hanging wires, bags of goods being carried and tossed in every direction, the aroma of fresh tea being shoved up your nose by enthusiastic street vendors! At one point, I remember spotting a monkey walking across the electrical lines and imagined us sharing the same thought of how the hell we got ourselves into this mess!
The second time I passed through the same hostel, my friend and I decided to hop on one of the tours which included the India Gate, Rajpath, the President’s House, Cathedral Church of Redemption, the Ancient Haunted Stepwell, and a couple others! If you have the time, it’s definitely worthwhile – we had a good time getting to know our local guide, who also puts on a lot of the evening activities around the city. Delhi is filled with different things to do and if you’re going to be spending a while in India, using the city as a crossing point as I did multiple times, it’s worth giving yourself time to check out all there is to offer!