Delhi reflects the schizophrenia of modern India perfectly. Split into New Delhi and Old Delhi, the capital manages to sum up everything that was futile about colonialism and everything that is chaotic about the developing world.
New Delhi was the last architectural monster of the British Raj. Conceived and executed in much the same way as Canberra (and at about the same time) it has the same concrete ghost-town image of Australia's capital and, incredibly enough for India, about the same amount of character. Huge boulevards are lined with grassy parks (with lush green meadows and virtually no cows) while toweringly pompous buildings stand at either end of the main Rajpath Road, dominating the skyline and making New Delhi look for all the world like a European city. I couldn't believe it; New Delhi is easily the least Indian sight I've seen, and although it's fascinating and grandiose, it's totally alien to the concepts of comfort, habitation and the joy of life.
Old Delhi, however, is typically Indian, and after six months of seeing pandemonium personified it held no surprises for me. Luckily it does hold some good examples of Mughal architecture; after basing their capital first at Fatehpur Sikri and then Agra, the Mughals decided, in one last attempt at creating the perfect city, to try Delhi, and Shah Jahan started building the Red Fort and Jama Masjid soon after completing the Taj Mahal. Unfortunately his son, Aurangzeb, stole the throne and screwed the empire into the ground, so these huge monuments to the most powerful pre-British empire stand as rather lonely reminders of the proud grandeur that comes before a fall; it's ironic that both Old Delhi and New Delhi should be full of architectural homage to arrogant failure.
The Red Fort is still impressive, but with its swarms of visitors and despicably run-down buildings, it's not a patch on Fatehpur Sikri or (surprisingly) Agra Fort. The Jama Masjid (the Friday Mosque) is another story and still manages to impress; it's the biggest mosque in India and feels like it, but I found the atmosphere somewhat shattered by western tour groups. Bare legs in mosques are not on, so visitors who arrive in shorts are forced to wear lungis to cover themselves, but with their money pouches and cameras belts it gives the impression of sexually excited men wandering around in bath towels; and in a display of bacterial paranoia that even the Americans couldn't beat, one French team entered the foray wearing blue elasticated plastic hospital shoe covers, eliciting stares and belly laughs from all round. The mosque is pleasant, but the tourists are simply beyond belief.
As with Dharamsala, I did almost nothing in Delhi. I saw the sights, I got Delhi belly for a couple of days, and I prepared to fly out. I was surprised at how much I wanted to leave; after a year of knowing the date of my flight, I was geared up for it and couldn't wait. It was by no means a reflection on India, it was more a reflection on me; I wanted to go home, rather than wanting to leave India.
So I did.