Gay New Delhi
Emergency measures in the wake of Covid-19:
India has barred all foreign tourists for one month starting on March 13, 2020, including foreign nationals of Indian origin, banned international and domestic flights and suspended passenger service on its rail system - until April 14th at the earliest.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on March 24th that India will begin the world’s largest lockdown. Essential service providers such as hospitals, police and media are exempted from the three week stay-in-place orders, and many grocery stores and pharmacies remain open.
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, 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. Many of the big dance clubs restrict entry to couples only - no stags.
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, Awesome Spa; Dev-Spa, G-SPA; Kalph Kaya Spa, Men’s Spa; Menz Health Spa, Mykonos Spa, and We Care 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.
Find taxi and car rental information on the airport’s website. For rail information, go to the Delhi Metro website.
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.
The Gay Desi (gaysi) is a national LGBT website and magazine. The monthly e-zine Gaylaxy Magazine is another resource for queer news and events, and a discussion platform for LGBT issues, in India and beyond. Pink Pages, the national gay magazine of India, closed after 5 years in print.
Other LGTB and friendly websites in india include: Bombay Dost, GayDelhi, Humsafar, LGBTQ India News, Orinam, Queer Ink, and Sappho. In Plainspeak is a digital magazine on sexuality in the Global South.
The Nigah blogspot provided online space for discussions about issues of gender and sexuality in Indian society until 2013 - see their archived articles.
Delhi Queer Pride normally takes place each November in New Delhi - see the link for photos from 2015-2018 events and for updates on 2019 plans.
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.
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.
Nomad Traveller, travel consultants based in Jaipur, Rajasthan, providing help with Indian travel arrangements, tours, accommodations and transportation details appears inactive in early 2019.
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.
See Into the Labyrinth, a 2017 documentary film about the life of Alain Danielou and his life partner, Swiss photographer Raymond Burnier, who made their home for 20 years in Banaras (Varanasi). In his mid-20th centry travels the gay Danielou rejected his French Catholic upbringing and came to better understand sexuality through Hindu philosophy and Shivaism. He wrote Gods of Love & Ecstasy; the tradition of Shiva and Dionysus, The Hindu Temple; The Deification of Eroticism, The Phallus: Sacred Symbol of Male Creative Power, and the first unabridged translation of the Kama Sutra - among some 30 other books.
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.
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.
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.
Q-Cafe (344/3 Lado Sarai), LGBT rooftop cafe above Mykonos Spa, overlooking Qutub Minar; quality food, pizzas, mocktails, coffees, live music, social events, art installations, friendly multi-lingual staff, movies, karaoke, drag shows; breakfast/lunch/dinner.
Qla, The Kila (A4, Kalka Dass Marg, Mehrauli), contemporary pan-European/Mediterranean restaurant, tapas, wines and cocktails; terrace seating, club nights.
CLOSED: Pepper/ Pegs and Pints (Forte Grand Complex, Chanakya Lane), Tuesday night gay parties.
Should you be going to Kathmandu, Nepal (500 miles east of Delhi), check out the country's first gay-owned/managed cafe/restaurant: PINK Tiffany (Thamel, Sathghumti), with meat or vegetarian meals, bar drinks, shakes, smoothies, mocktails and free WiFi - a good place to meet locals and other fellow travellers in the Bagmati Zone.
Articles of Interest
Gay Prince From Gujarat Throws Open Palace Doors To Vulnerable LGBT People, Jan 10th, 2018 ©Thomson Reuters.
Campaigners celebrate as India decriminalises homosexuality, Sep 6th, 2018, Michael Safi, ©The Guardian.