New Delhi is not just the capital of India but also a great place to soak up on the rich Indian culture. Either through the beautiful historic monuments or by treating your taste buds to culinary delights from across the country.
Being the capital city, the efforts on making public places accessible in a wheelchair are apparent. If you use a motorized chair, then you will have a brilliant time going around these monuments and markets by yourself. Make sure the battery is charged to its optimum at the beginning of the day. Otherwise, your co-travellers will end up with having to push around your heavy wheelchair. This happened with me at the National Gallery of Modern Art.
If you use a manual/ active wheelchair then you are in for a smooth journey, except for some parts of Qutub Minar and Dilli Haat which have a pathway made of stone tiles.
Continue reading to find out about the places I loved visiting in our capital city on my wheelchair.
1] Qutub Minar
Qutub Minar is a tall towering structure made up of red sandstone and marble. It has 5 distinct floors, which were built by different Muslim rulers during their regime in Delhi. It is said that the construction of Qutub Minar started way back in 1192. This means that when you visit here, you will get to witness a part of history which is over 825 years old. The inscriptions and carvings on the minaret look beautiful and are a photographer’s delight. The campus has a lot of historical structures such as madrasas, graves, tombs and mosques and an Iron Pillar.
Qutub Minar has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a prerequisite for this acknowledgment, the monument had to be made accessible for people with disabilities. Thanks to the specially made ramps and pathways, a wheelchair user can go around the entire campus. While most of the ground is smooth, there is a section where the floor is lined with stone tiles. This makes for quite a bumpy ride and an off-roading experience for your wheelchair.
The authorities managing the Qutub Minar have designated a restroom for the disabled. It is situated near the parking area. Unfortunately, it cannot be accessed in a wheelchair. If you can manage with crutches or have a disability which is not related to mobility, then you can reach the restroom.
2] Dilli Haat
When we visit any new city, sightseeing and visiting local monuments is the first thing that comes to mind. But if you are like me, then you would also like to indulge in some shopping, buy local memorabilia that you can take back home and last but not the least experiment with local food. Dilli Haat in New Delhi is your one-stop shop for all the above. Do not miss it. I repeat, do not miss it at any cost.
Think Indian culture, think Dilli Haat. They occasional have traditional performances by artisans from across the country. There are multiple shops to buy Indian handicrafts ranging from jewellery, paintings, earthenware, clothes, bed sheets, lamps, paper mesh products, handbags, papads, spices and so on. I don’t think I can ever do justice to the variety of items available there.
My all time favorite food items at Dilli Haat are the steamed Momos at Arunachal Pradesh Stall and the juicy Kebabs at Darbar-E-Awadh, a stall by UP Government. My friend Shishir Bhatnagar recommends Fish Cutlets & Radha Ballavi from the Bengal food stall and Puran Poli & Vada Pavs from Maharashtra. Try to go in a bigger group, then you can get a taste of many dishes.
Each and every place in Dilli Haat is easily accessible in a wheelchair, just look out for the ramps. They even have a restroom for people with disabilities and you will have no problem reaching there. As I mentioned earlier, the only rough terrain at Dilli Haat is the flooring as soon as you enter the gate. It is a small patch of stone tiles (maybe they put those to give the place an ethnic feel) make it bumpy. Some new Dilli Haats have come up such as the ones in Janakpuri and Pitampura. These are also likely to be accessible. The one I went to, is opposite INA market on Sri Aurobindo Marg.
3] Indian Air Force Museum
Whether you are an aviation enthusiast or not, the Indian Air Force Museum will bring out the child in you. There is a section on photographs and memorabilia that will take you through the history of the Indian Air Force. The section that I loved the most was a huge hanger which displayed different types of military aircraft that have been used by the Air Force. It was a fun to see that some of the models were brightly colored and their shapes reminded me of the planes we see in cartoons. Read about the models on display on the official website.
From the entrance to the different sections, the entire Museum area is 100% accessible in a wheelchair.
4] National Gallery of Modern Art
According to their website, the collection at National Gallery of Modern Art is undeniably the most significant collection of modern and contemporary art in the country today. I’m not sure about that statement because I haven’t been to many museums in India. But what I do know is that once you come here, you will definitely leave the place enthralled and wowed by the beautiful pieces of art on display. I found the infrastructure at par with museums that I have seen in Europe.
The National Gallery of Modern Art comprises of 2 buildings. The old one is partially accessible in a wheelchair, but the new one with a modern architecture is 100% accessible. Check out this 360 view of the museum made by the Google Ars & Culture team. The outside garden area is also like a mini museum with beautiful installations, you can easily go on a stroll here.
5] India Gate
Speaking of places to visit in New Delhi, how can I forget the iconic India Gate. It was built as a memorial to honour the Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the Afghan war of 1919 and World War I. The names of thousands of soldiers are itched on the walls of this stone structure. After India got its independence, another memorial, the Amar Jawan Jyoti, was built right next to India Gate. This is in the memory of all the soldiers who lost their lives in the Indo-Pak war of December 1971. The flame at Amar Jawan Jyoti is eternal, you will see it burning 24 by 7 on every single day.
India Gate is situated on one end of Rajpath, the same path where Independence Day parade is hosted. You can view the enormous Rashtrapati Bhavan on the other end of Rajpath when you stand at India Gate. Since the entire monument is on a road, it is easily accessible in a wheelchair. You can get down in the parking area or at a distance and wheel towards India Gate. This place is always crowded with tourists. You can snack on paani puri, sukhi bhel or ice cream from the street vendors.
The National Museum has a special gallery for people with visual impairment. It is called ‘Anubhav: A Tactile Experience’. It displays 22 replicas of popular museum objects. They range from archaeological finds, sculptures, tactile impressions of paintings, utilitarian objects, ethnographic objects and decorative arts. All these exhibits, representing 5000 years of Indian art, are touchable and accompanied with an audio-guide and Braille labels.