A city with a rich history, Delhi is a colourful and pulsating city with a humanity like no other. Living in Delhi is an intense experience as the city has something to offer for everyone who arrives here. Within the chaos of this city, we often find some of the most beautiful moments of serenity. As our students arrive from different parts of the world to the heart of the country, a life-changing and unforgettable experience awaits them.
The capital city of India, Delhi has served as a vital political, commercial and cultural hub throughout the history of India. As hub for all that is creative, it is the perfect setting for the Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication (SACAC) campus.
Travel in Delhi
Though it may look small on the country’s map, Delhi is a big city. It is one of the most well-connected cities in the country with an extensive and affordable public transport system. One thing is assured, getting around the city is never a difficult task.
While taxis or auto-rickshaws are easily available for shorter distances, the metro rail system is often the preferred mode of transport for our students. The SACAC campus is conveniently located near the Hauz Khas metro station which is on both the Yellow and Magenta lines (connecting South to North Delhi and West to East Delhi respectively). It is advisable to buy a smart card when you arrive for better fares and smoother travel. Delhi Metro has a mobile app which has all the relevant information for travellers to plan their trip and get all the necessary information.
Places to Visit
Delhi has many interesting and popular attractions that are worthy of a visit. Befriending locals is a great idea to find out about some of the hidden gems around the city – Delhi is full of them!
Here are some locations you must visit in Delhi:
1. Qutub Minar
One of the favourite attractions in Delhi for many, Qutub Minar, measuring 240 feet, was built by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the founding father of the Delhi Sultanate. Approximately ten minutes away from SACAC, it is a beautiful place to visit and photograph. Our Photography students may also have a class here!
2. Humayun’s Tomb
The final resting place of Humayun (the second Mughal emperor and the father of Akbar), this is a beautifully designed monument and highly recommended. Completed in 1572, the garden tomb is one of its kind.
3. Lodhi Gardens
Three kilometres from Humayun’s Tomb are the Lodhi Gardens. A 90-acre park, Lodhi Gardens also houses the tombs of Muhammad Shah (the third monarch of the Sayyid dynasty) and Sikandar Lodi (the sultan of Delhi from 1489 to 1517).
4. Lotus Temple
The lotus-shaped temple is one of the most recognised structures of Delhi. The colour and design may remind some of Australia’s Sydney Opera House! A Bahá’í House of Worship, the temple welcomes people of all races and religions.
5. India Gate
A war memorial dedicated to the British Indian army soldiers who died in battle, this archway is an iconic Delhi monument. An eternally burning flame placed underneath called the ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti’ was added in 1972 to honour the soldiers who died in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. The Gateway is surrounded by large gardens and have a festive feel every evening as people come here to spend their leisure time.
6. Jama Masjid
The largest mosque in Delhi is the Jama Masjid. Situated in the heart of Old Delhi, the mosque was built in the mid-17th century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Climbing to the minaret gives a bird’s eye view of the old city/ ‘Dilli 6’. This excursion can be followed by a foodie’s exploration of the lanes of Chandni Chowk.
7. Red Fort
Down the road from Jama Masjid, this sandstone fort was also built by Shah Jahan in the mid-17th century. Designed by the architect of the Taj Mahal, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, the Red Fort is where the Prime Minister hoists the national flag on every Independence Day.
No travel guide, book or blog can give the complete ‘Delhi experience’. For this, one must walk and travel around the city- explore, live and feel the pulse of the city. Each outing in the city will make for a unique experience.
Visual Art in Delhi
Here are some important galleries and events to look out for:
1. India Art Fair
The annual fair includes paintings, sculptures, photography, mixed media, prints, drawings and video art. The fair includes pavilions of exhibits by galleries and solo projects by artists. Speakers and international experts also come together to discuss and debate over topics related to art in the region and issues related to art production, reception of art and the market.
2. Surajkund Mela
A platform for artists across the world, the Surajkund Mela is a showcase of culture and talent. Hosted annually by the Haryana Tourism Department, the mela attracts a large footfall.
3. Nature Morte Gallery
Opened by the gallerist and artist Peter Nagy, the gallery is a multi-level space in South Delhi and an important part of the contemporary Indian art scene. The gallery showcases a variety of art forms with a special focus on conceptual art, installations and photography.
4. Vadehra Art Gallery
The gallery hosts a variety of exhibitions year-long. Founded in 1987, the gallery features notable modern and contemporary artists.
Founded in 2001, the gallery has played an important role in developing a wide interest in photography in India. The gallery has published several photobooks and curated exhibitions since 2004.
Theatre and Performances in Delhi
1. Bharat Rang Mahotsav
The Bharat Rang Mahotsav festival by the National School of Drama (NSD) is one of the largest theatre festivals in Asia. Originally envisioned as a festival to showcase the work of theatre persons in different languages and forms from across India, it has evolved into an international stage for theatre companies from across the world. This is held at the various theatres near Mandi house such as the Kamani Auditorium, Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts and the NSD campus itself.
2. Old World Theatre Festival
The Old World Theatre Festival is one of the most prestigious theatre festivals and also has a collegiate level iteration. It consists of a mix of theatre, musical performances and workshops that are curated to span from critically acclaimed to popular to experimental as well as premieres.
Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) was founded after the murder of Safdar Hashmi during a play by Jana Natya Manch (Janam) in 1989. SAHMAT and Janam have been key cornerstones of the street play culture in Delhi. They seek to respond to political moments by combining their art with activism. They often organise events such as lectures, performances and exhibitions to promote cultural diversity and harmony.
The Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth (SPICMACAY) has an active presence in Delhi. It is responsible for organising many cultural programmes- including classical Indian music performances- primarily aimed towards younger audiences.
There are also several gigs and concerts held at private venues featuring Indian bands and independent musicians across Delhi. The students of the SACAC Audio Engineering and Music Production department are especially engaged with the music scene in Delhi through their network of peers, seniors and teachers.
Film Culture in Delhi
1. Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) Open Frame Film Festival
The PSBT Open Frame Film Festival held annually screens the films being produced by documentary filmmakers under the aegis of the Public Service Broadcasting Trust. The festival includes premieres as well as discussions with the filmmakers and is usually held at the India International Centre.
2. Habitat International Film Festival
The Habitat International Film Festival organised by the India Habitat Centre curates contemporary films from across the world. A mix of forms and narratives, it provides great exposure to World and Regional Cinemas. The Habitat Centre also hosts the Habitat Film Club which has a discounted rate for students who wish to join.
3. Urban Lens Film Festival
The Urban Lens Film Festival, organised by the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) Bengaluru, is an annual festival with screenings at the Max Mueller Bhavan in Delhi. An international film festival, it seeks to bring together filmmakers, academics and urban practitioners in to dialogue with each other on cinema and the urban experience through screenings, discussions and workshops.
4. IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival
The Indian chapter of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television hosts a festival every year featuring works of Asian women directors in a range of genres- animation, documentary, experimental, short fiction and television reportage. Featuring masterclasses, conversations and workshops with a focus on encouraging women in the field, the festival is usually held at the India International Centre.
4. Kriti Film Club
The Kriti Film Club is an initiative of Kriti- a development praxis and communication team based in New Delhi. It aims to create a forum to enable and increase access to documentary films, in particular, to a larger audience beyond film festivals and special screenings. With monthly screenings of documentaries, they hope that students, activists, academics, professionals and friends can come together and interact through meaningful cinema.
There are several more such festivals and events that happen across the city throughout the year which students can keep a look out for.
For all our students, being in Delhi is an experience of a lifetime which is only heightened when they arrive at SACAC to pursue their dreams. At SACAC, the city inspires so much of what we create and how we express ourselves through our art and everyday practice. And so, Delhi promises to be a site of inspiration, stories and wonder for those who are willing to seek it.