Delhi is one of the largest and fastest-growing cities in the world. Bursting at the seams, it teems with sights, sounds and smells; its vibrancy and cultural diversity radiate from every street scene. There are architectural marvels, colorful shops, delicious food, wonderful people and the ever-present throng intermingled with sacred cows and stray dogs. It is a place rich in history and steeped in contrasts: old and new, aromatic and smelly, pristine and grimy.
New Delhi, India’s capital, lies at the center of the metropolis of Delhi. The best way to get around New Delhi is by rickshaw or tuk-tuk (motorized rickshaw). The passenger experience can be a little hair-raising initially, but it’s richer than being sealed up in a car. Even if you’re not an architecture or history nut, a tour of the city’s buildings is a must.
The Lotus Temple, Humayun’s Tomb, the temples of Akshardham and Laxminarayan, and the India Gate are not to be missed, but Delhi’s architectural jewel is the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Sanskrit for Presidential House), the largest chief-of-state residence in the world. Flanked by Parliament House and the Secretariat, the complex is enormous. Just up the street is the Bungalow Zone: street after street of British Raj–era mini palaces with magniﬁcent gardens.
For high-end shopping and dining, visit Connaught Place, where aficionados of art and history will ﬁnd several world-class museums and galleries among the international shops and restaurants. Just north of New Delhi is the walled city of Old Delhi. Although much of the wall has been lost, the magniﬁcent entry gates still stand. At the centre of Old Delhi is the Red Fort, a 17th-century palace fortress. Don’t miss the nearby Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. Wander the street bazaars of Old Delhi on foot for a rich shopping experience.
Not only are there plenty of things to see and do in Delhi, there are many interesting cities in close proximity that are definately worth exploring. The best way to plan your trip is through a tour operator such as InjaPink, and Pink Flights, ready to showcase Delhi and the rest of India to LGBT travelers.
The gay scene
You won’t ﬁnd a gay district or village in Delhi, but there are regular gay nights at various locations across the city. Listings for gay spaces and events can sometimes be found online, but one of the best ways to be in the know is to ask the locals as the events that rotate between friendly venues are more likely to be publicized by way of emails and SMS messages.
Tuesday nights at Pepper in South Delhi’s Chanakyapuri neighborhood had been a long-standing favorite place to start, but it has closed according to local sources, along with Zoo in the Garden of Five Senses. Most of the big dance clubs restrict entry to couples only - no stags. Consult the GayDelhi.org website for the current four or five per month event dates that move among various venues - see some listed below.
Guys can be found cruising in meeting places such as Nehru Park in Chankyapuri or the New Delhi Station. Less risky perhaps are Aarogya Spa, Dev-Spa, G-Spa, Kalph Kaya Spa and Spartacus Spa, men's saunas with dark rooms, cabins and massage services. Call ahead for precise directions since their maps (hence also ours) tend to be somewhat vague. You can also connect with gay Delhiwallas at squirt.org and the desiboys.in local hook-up app.
The warm sunny days, cool nights and foggy mornings between November and April represent the best weather window for your visit. May and June are hot and sticky, with the monsoon season beginning to recede in early October. Foreign nationals entering India need travel visas. Getting them can take awhile, so plan ahead. Check with your Indian consulate for forms and procedures. See your doctor at least a month before you go to ensure your vaccinations are up to date.
Shorts and T-shirts are not culturally appropriate in India. Walking around in public in a tank top is like walking around in your underpants. You won’t get ticketed, but you may be turned away from some attractions and businesses, and you will get strange looks. Wear long pants and light shirts. And take a light jacket for the cool mornings and evenings if you’re travelling in winter.
A 10 percent gratuity is customary for waiters, guides and service providers. Fifty rupees is standard for bellboys, luggage handlers and general service staff . Avoiding Delhi Belly is not difficult if you avoid ice cubes and use bottled water for drinking and tooth brushing. Stay away from milk and uncooked dairy products, and choose raw fruits and vegetables you peel yourself. Consider forgoing meat; vegetarian dishes are common and very tasty.
Virtually every major air carrier offers regular service to Delhi, but the trip is a long haul from North America, so choose your airline carefully. Indira Gandhi International Airport is modern and reasonably easy to navigate. It’s 20 kilometres from the city center, but ground travel can be very slow because of traffic, so plan accordingly. Delhi’s efficient transit system includes both rail and bus service to the city center.
The Delhi Metro Rail Airport Express trains run every 10-15 minutes between the hours of 4:45am and 11:15pm to the New Delhi Railway Station, a journey of just 19 minutes, costing between Rs 20 and Rs 100 (July 2014).
Public transit systems run by Delhi Metro rail with six lines, a total length of 189.63 km (117.83 mi) and 142 stations, plus the buses of Delhi Transport, are an efficient and inexpensive way to get where you need to go.
Taxi fares can be paid in advance and depend on how much baggage you have and how far you’re going. Avoid unlicensed taxis using Delhi Traffic Police regulated booths for pre-paid taxi fare tickets and eliminate the need for haggling. Booth locations include IGI Airport Terminal-II, the New Delhi Railway Station, plus many major marketplaces and street intersections. See more at DelhiOnline: "pre-paid cabs."
Renting a car for the day is a comfortable, hassle-free way to get around, and drivers can be great sources of information. Ask the concierge at your hotel for arrangements, and plan to spend $40 to $50 for the day. Remember, Indians drive on the left-hand side of the road.
Tuk-tuks and rickshaws are available on most every street corner and at most monuments and public spaces. Just be sure to set a price before you get in. Short tuk-tuk trips will cost around 20 rupees; 100 rupees (about $2) should get you across the city. Rickshaws are more plentiful in Old Delhi; expect to pay 20 rupees for an average ride or 100 rupees for a nice tour of Old Delhi.
Media & resources
For map locations and website links to some area businesses, see our gay New Delhi listings pages.
Pink Pages is the national gay magazine of India, now celebrating 5 years in print. Read them in pdf downloads from their website. The Gay Desi (gaysi) is another national LGBT website and magazine. The Nigah blogspot provides online space for discussions about issues of gender and sexuality in Indian society.
GayDelhi.org is the gay community social group behind the Saturday night Club Concord parties going back to 2005. Their weekly Saturday night pop-up events continue each week at clubs and community centers all over the city. See their events page for current and upcoming dates and venues.
Delhi Pride normally takes place each November in New Delhi - see the link for photos from 2013 and for word on plans for 2014.
With itinerant Saturday gay parties, along with periodic exhibitions and other events. See the BoyZone facebook page along with partners, the Gay Delhi community social group, behind a nine-year series of dance parties at clubs and hotels around the city.
Radiowalla hosts QRadio, India's first radio channel especially for the Gay and Lesbian Community in India, along with over 30 radio stations with a wide range of music, plus non-music and talk shows featuring well-known local personalities.
Sahaay Helpline (1800-2000-113 within India) is the county's first 24-hour Helpline for gay/bisexual men & transgenders, providing crucial sex information and counselling. Callers will not be charged, and can talk freely for as long as they need to.
IndjaPink is a gay men's travel website, with information and tours for all of India. Outjourneys staff are pioneers for gay tourism in India, showcasing the beauty and romance of this vast country. Pinkvibgyor offers gay & lesbian holiday experiences to exotic places across India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Indian Ocean islands.
Nomad Traveller, travel consultants based in Jaipur, Rajasthan, can also help with Indian travel arrangements, offering tours and handling all accommodations and transportation details.
Robindro Saikhom's Serene Journeys in Delhi offers complete itineraries and arrangements for specific destinations, providing custom travel experiences based on individual lifestyles, interests, and budgets.
Delhi Tourism and the Indian Ministry of Tourism each lists hotels, restaurants, events and attractions in Delhi. Indian Gay Tours is a travel agency with package deals and arrangements for LGBT individuals or groups.
Founded in 1838, the Times of India, the world's largest English-language newspaper by circulation, has local, national and world news, entertainment listings (Hollywood and Bollywood), and reviews.
Some GayDelhi Saturdays event venues are listed below. International, gay-friendly and safe for women without male escorts, they still expect social mores of India to be observed, so dress appropriately, and "no hanky-panky." Come and go quietly, and take a taxi. For specifically LGBT nights, usually 18+ events, see the GayDelhi events listings page.
Barrels (Basant Lok Community Centre, Marwaha Complex bldg 5, 1st fl), pub and restaurant in Vasant Vihar, "epicenter for artists, musicians, authors, comedians, and free-willed homosapiens" with international vibe, colorful walls of grafitti throw-ups and protuding figurines, foods of the world, movies and sitcom videos.
Castle 9 & Knight ( B-45/47, 1st Fl, Connaught Pl), castle theme decor, international restaurant and nightclub, Bollywood and House music DJs; Indian, Chinese and European-Continental foods, imported and draught beers, wines and spirits from around the world.
En Restaurant & The Japanese Bar (H-5/1, Ambawatta One Complex, Kalka Das Marg, Mehrauli), sushi, gyoza, yakatori and Japanese fusion cuisine, wine pairings, open terrace, bar with club nights.
The Groghead (A5, Aurobindo Marg, Green Park), spacious gastropub, cocktails and mocktails, international food menu, TV sports terrace, hookah pipes, DJ sets, dancing.
The Nest (Lado Sarai Road, Qutab Golf Course, Sri Aurobindo Marg), global fine dining, cocktail bar and lounge, terrace seating, poolside cabanas, club nights.
Stellar/ Pangea at The Ashok (50 B, Chanakayapuri, Diplomatic Enclave), nightclub dancing at grand 5-star luxury hotel surrounded by gardens; six restaurants featuring Indian and international fine dining, plus 24-hour coffeeshop.
Sura Vie (1, Scindia House, Janpath Rd, Connaught Pl), international fusion-cuisine restaurant and cocktail lounge; high energy dance club nights and Sunday brunch.
Qla, The Kila (A4, Kalka Dass Marg, Mehrauli), contemporary pan-European/Mediterranean restaurant, tapas, wines and cocktails; terrace seating, club nights.