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Delhi dynamics

Destination Indraprastha, Dilli or Delhi, call the Indian capital by any name, its essence and spirit remains unchanged. Jyoti Koul and Reema Sisodia explore its metamorphosis from a political hub into a business hotspot

From the arches and domes of historical monuments to modern commercial centres, New Delhi has evolved into a city-of-the-future while still preserving its unique flavour and style. Breaking away from the shackles of being just a bureaucratic base, the city is in the process of a steady makeover, inching its way to becoming a business hotspot.

With development policies and plan implementation programmes well in place, this transformation, which is rather distinct and noticeable, is not expected to take long. Augmentation of commercial centres, infrastructure development, surface transport, connectivity and communication facilities has led to Delhi becoming more and more an ideal destination for business and investment.

As a promising business destination of the future, Delhi has some inherent natural advantages attached to it. Today, Delhi along with the national capital region is a fast growing industrial town. As the seat of government, it attracts a large number of multinationals, manpower and brainpower. An increasing number of technology-savvy industries are setting up shop here. Opportunities in every field are on the rise too. To the residents, Delhi is all embracing. A place which has witnessed every hue and colour that history has had to offer.

Inder Sharma, chairman emeritus, Sita World Travel (India) Ltd, has been an inhabitant of Lutyen’s Delhi since 1938. He says, “Describing Delhi can be rather simple; the city is a mother. A mother who embraces all the good, bad and ugly with equal affection. Delhi has been a city of hope and promise. It retains the same nature even today. Physically, over the years, Delhi has transformed itself beyond recognition. Till 1947, the residents were self-divided into two classes - Delhites and Dilliwallas - according to the region they lived in. Delhites lived in Lutyen’s garden city and Dilliwallas within the boundary wall of the Mughals - Shahjahanabad. Dilliwallas have been basically small traders, wholesalers and distributors for the rest of north India. Delhites were mostly Babus. After 1947, with the influx of refugees and transmigration of population, the very character of Delhi has undergone a change. With the refugee influx, Delhi transformed itself into a free-for-all entrepreneurial city. It has led to new shops, new businesses, new initiatives, new incentives, new strategies, even new confusions and an almost all pervasive society, which is today becoming not only a mini India, but a hotspot on the Indian business map.”

Capital Edge
Delhi, as a tourist destination, has come a full circle. It has an edge over other metro cities. Apart from being a political centre, housing each and every ministry, Delhi is also the residence of diplomatic missions of the rest of the world. As compared to other metropolitan cities, Delhi also enjoys super-infrastructure. With approximately 50 new flyovers to be made operational shortly and the City Metro Rail project underway, the city will have a new face in the coming years. With most of the international airlines based in the city, Delhi is well connected within and outside the country. The city gets the credit for having the largest media base. All the top newspapers and TV channels are operating from this majestic city.

Ready To Take-Off
With 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) allowed in sectors like information technology, power, automobiles, hospitality and energy, more and more international and multinational companies are considering Delhi as a centre for investment. The government’s disinvestment process is already in full swing. Private investors are being encouraged and new opportunities are being created. Be it the government’s flagship companies like India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) hotels or Hotel Corporation of India (HCI), Indian Airlines or Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL), most have been opened up for privatisation. Thus, emerging as a business hub, the city offers unending business opportunities coupled with growth and success. Information technology, hospitality, real estate, pharmaceuticals, entertainment, shopping complexes, surface and air transport... the list is endless and it is entirely up to the entrepreneur to choose the field of opportunity. Further evidence of the city becoming a sought-after business centre is the presence of India’s second largest stock exchange and the largest density of vehicles.

Delhi offers much more than expected, not just to its inhabitants but also to tourists, both leisure and business travellers. To the business traveller, the city provides the facility for hosting major conventions and conferences, both national and international. Delhi has more than 20 five-star hotels offering the best banqueting services and well equipped to conduct large business sessions, conferences and other parties. Hotel Ashok has the largest convention centre with a seating capacity of more than 2,000 people. Other hotels such as the Taj Palace, The Oberoi, Le Meridien, Radisson, The Imperial, Hyatt Regency, Maurya Sheraton and Grand Hyatt also offer excellent banqueting facilities along with pre and post-conferencing events. With the Electricity Act to be passed soon, the city will definitely receive an electrifying boost.

Lalit Suri, chairman and managing director, Bharat Hotels Limited, feels, “This city is on a take-off stage and there is a new streak of confidence that is doing the rounds. Being a part of the city and its culture since 1972, I find that the city has undergone a positive change, especially over the last four years, the signs of which can only spell progress and prosperity in the region. There has been a steady improvement with respect to professionalism in the city and its work culture. Give this place some time, as the city has all that it takes to be a success story.”

Whilst drafting this success story, the city has also retained its identity as the country’s cultural capital. It is the epicentre for architecture, fine arts, performing arts, theatre and fashion. Being recognised as India’s fashion capital, top of the line fashion names and labels have their base in Delhi. Exclusive artefacts and speciality products - a treat to the business traveller - are all easily available in the region. Finally, when it comes to communication, Delhi understands the language of love, however, the official language among its people is Hinglish.

Shopping
From Delhi Haat to duty-free shops, from ethnic dress material to designer wear, from handicrafts to imported goods, the city has it all. Delhi Haat is the city’s pride housing authentic arts and crafts. Central Cottage Industries Emporium stationed at Janpath has a spectacular display of Indian handicrafts and handlooms. Don’t miss an experience at Janpath - a destination in itself! Hauz Khas Village has a special shopping flavour attached to it. The mammoth Ansal Plaza is the latest addition to Delhi’s shopping circuit. The city boasts a number of designer labels too. Last but not the least, Connaught Place is a not-to-be-missed mega shopping spot. If you have the time, check out the shopping areas of Old Delhi for a dash of the local flavour.

Nightlife
You can let down your hair at various discotheques and stand-alone pubs. Apart from these discotheques, there are a few more exciting options one can try. A long drive (towards any direction) can prove to be that ‘nothing like it’ experience if you are looking for some ‘quiet’ option. Or if you just do not feel for that private kind of an affair, simply pack your dinner and make India Gate your destination, it’s simply enchanting. However if you want fun, food and frolic, all rolled up in one, just check out these exciting options. Djinns at the Hyatt Regency offers an eclectic mix of exotic cuisine and the latest in entertainment. CJ’S Discotheque at Le Meridien, is known for its theme evenings. Other favourite nightspots are Floats at the Inter-Continental-Park Royal, Some Place Else at The Park, Mirage at the Crown Plaza Surya, Annabelle’s at the Grand Inter-Continental, and My Kind of Place at the Taj Palace. The Whisky Bar at Grand Hyatt is also a perfect place to unwind after a hard day’s work.

Sights
Eating Out
Food in Delhi is as diverse as its culture, leading to the appellation ‘food capital of India’. Check out Pandara Road market, CP and Karol Bagh for Punjabi-Mughlai food. With a series of fast food joints, including the popular local brand Nirula’s in every area, the business of quick takeaways is highly popular in the city. From the oldest mithai shop Ghantewala in Chandni Chowk, to the array of sweet-temples such Annapoorna, Keleva, Nattu’s, Haldirams and Bengali market, the city is also a haven for the sweet-toothed. Other must-visits are Parathawali Gali, Colonel’s Kababz and Roshan Di Kulfi in Karol Bagh. Some popular restaurants are as follows:

Bukhara, Hotel Maurya Sheraton, Tel: (011) 6112233
Former American president Bill Clinton will vouch for Bukhara ‘taste’. This is Delhi’s best known restaurant for Northwest Frontier cuisine.
Coconut Groove, Ashok Yatri Niwas, Tel: (011) 3344511
This restaurant was one of the pioneers in introducing non-vegetarian South Indian cuisine to Delhites.
Chore Bizarre, Broadway Hotel
The decor of this restaurant is as wacky as its name and serves a large variety of Kashmiri and tandoori food.
Baan Thai, The Oberoi, Tel: (011) 4363030
Baan Thai offers quality Thai cuisine with a wide array of meat and seafood recipes and also vegetarian delights. A number of ingredients are specially flown in every week.
La Piazza, Hyatt Regency, Tel: (011) 6791234
La Piazza is a casual and trendy restaurant serving authentic Italian cuisine in rustic surroundings taking you back to the meeting squares of Italy.
Le Belvedere, Le Meridien, Tel: (011) 3710101
Dining at this nouveau rooftop nightclub is an experience totally different and memorable with its uncompromising standards of class and elegance. The restaurant offers both Continental and Indian specialties with a live band and a dance floor.
Pan Asian Restaurant, Marriott WelcomHotel, Tel: (011) 6526888
This unique speciality restaurant offers cuisine from across Asia, be it Chinese, Mongolian, Thai, Japanese, Indonesian or Malaysian.

BASICS

Getting There
Air: Indian Airlines and Alliance operate out of Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport’s Terminal IA. Private carriers, Jet Airways and Sahara, service Terminal IB. Terminal II services several international carriers. A free coach service connects the two domestic terminals every 20 minutes and also runs between the international and domestic terminals every hour. Rail: Delhi is serviced by three principal stations, Delhi Main (Old Delhi), New Delhi Railway Station and Hazrat Nizamuddin. Licensed porters (with red shirts) charge Rs 20 as portage per bag (up to 40 kg per trip within 20 minutes).
City Transport: Prepaid taxi and auto rickshaws are available at all three stations. Delhi has numerous private car rental firms, such as Avis, Budget and Europcar. Local taxi costs: full day Rs 550 for 80 km or 8 hours; half day Rs 350 for 40 km or 4 hours, A/C taxi Rs 700 for the full day. For luxury radio cabs, Dial-a-Cab Tel: 1920; Metro Radio Cab, Tel: 1923, though more expensive, are a good option if you are in a hurry.
Tel Code: 011

ACCOMODATION
The Oberoi
Tel: (011) 4363030
Parkroyal New Delhi
Tel: (011) 6223344
Ashok Hotel
Tel: (011) 6110101
Radisson Hotel
Tel: (011) 6779191

Crowne Plaza Surya
Tel: (011) 6835070

Taj Palace Hotel
Tel: (011) 6110202
Grand Hyatt Delhi
Tel: (011) 6121234
The Park
Tel: (011) 3743000
Hotel Vasant Continental
Tel: (011) 6148800
Hotel Imperial
Tel: (011) 3341234
Inter-Continental New Delhi
Tel: (011) 3411001

Taj Mahal Hotel
Tel: (011) 3026162

Hyatt Regency Delhi
Tel: (011) 6791234

The Claridges
Tel: (011) 3010211
ITC Hotel Maurya Sheraton & Towers
Tel: (011) 6112233
The Metropolitan Hotel Nikko New Delhi
Tel: (011) 3342000
Le Meridien New Delhi
Tel: (011) 3710101