Sunday Territorian 4 Apr 2010
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44 Sunday Territorian, Sunday, April 4, 2010 www.sundayterritorian.com.au P U B : N T N E W S D A T E : 4 -A P R -2 0 1 0 P A G E : 4 4 C O L O R : C M Y K ITS FREE: Relax on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin Nations capital offers free load of fine attractions By JOHN CROOK WHEN they really want to be, public servants and government bodies can be benevolent. They have decreed that you dont always have to pay when you visit our national capital. In fact, many of Canberras major attractions come without a price tag or admission fee. So visiting the city for a short stay, even with the family in tow, can leave you with money in the bank. Canberra is a rarity its one of the worlds planned cities. To really appreciate its unusual design, head to the top of Mt Ainslie or Red Hill and enjoy the views. You can drive or walk to the top of both. Youll see how the main roads have been symmetrically laid out, and why the old and new parliament houses have been built where they are. Interpretative signs tell the story. Most major attractions are located within a few kilometres of the CBD. And many are free, including Parliament House and the National Museum, with exhibitions representing Australias history. Along the way theres the National Library of Australia, the National Archives and the National Film and Sound Archive. At the National Portrait Gallery take a look at quirky, thought-provoking portraits of the countrys most famous citizens, from Catherine Freeman to Dame Edna Everage. The Mint, located out at Deakin, is another freebie, including parking. The multi-award winning Australian War Memorial is billed as one of the worlds great museums. It can make a full days outing, such is the grandeur of the building and the repositories within its walls. The spectacular High Court of Australia deserves a visit, perhaps en route to the National Gallery of Australia where a cultural experience awaits. Most of the attractions have cafes. Take a trip to the National Botanic Gardens and wander among rare native species. Youll see more birds than tourists and the kids will love the duck pond and the huge lizards. The Botanics are nestled at the base of Black Mountain you can walk from the back of the gardens straight up to the Telstra Tower. Entry to the gardens is free but youll have to pay to park. Coming to grips with the enigmatic allure of India ASSAULT ON SENSES: The buildings that house Indias main government offices are illuminated during Januarys Republic Day in New Delhi HEAD TURNERS: Elephants and camels are often seen among traffic as they travel along roads to participate in religious ceremonies and marriages in New Delhi By CHRISTINE D'MELLO T HE first thing that hits a visitor to India is the heat. Micro-seconds later its the noise, then the smells and the sheer volume of people. That is enough to send your senses into a tailspin. If you go armed with this knowledge, you will half know what to expect and the culture shock wont stun you. Come October, the political nerve centre of India New Delhi will come alive to a different beat. Sport will take centre stage and we are not talking about cricket, Indias consuming passion. While athletes from the 71 Commonwealth nations will strive to go higher, faster, stronger, the countrys capital will showcase Indias diversity, history and versatile cuisine. The ubiquitous touts can stick to you like adhesive, so it would be best to get your hotel (if it offers the service) to pick you up at the airport. The local government has compiled a guide to help its residents refine their manners before the Games. Called Delhi Celebrates, the etiquette guide is aimed at getting locals to portray the city as friendly, clean and safe. We want to change Delhis public culture; their behaviour towards each other and to guests ... so that they are courteous, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit told a recent Delhi Tourism meeting. We want tourists to go back with the impression that Delhi is a sophisticated city. Jason Staines, an Australian journalist who has lived in Delhi for almost a year, says: It manages to be a top-class city, with restaurants, bars, hotels, sights and shopping on par with anything in any major metropolis. However, youre never far from the fact that it is still a big city in a developing country, which can be frustrating, challenging and inspiring all in the one moment. The city centre Connaught Place is a good place to start. Like much of New Delhi, you will be walking around in a circle, literally, but there is never a dull moment as you pass designer shops, handicraft stalls and eating places. Be ready to walk through metal detectors on entry to shops and restaurants, for security will be at a premium. Seven roads peel off Connaught Place, and one leads to the wonders of the Jantar Mantar, an 18th century observatory with a gigantic sun dial. Other places of historical, cultural and religious significance include the Qutub Minar and Safdarjung tomb (both in south Delhi), the Bahai Lotus Temple (which has more than a passing nod to Sydneys Opera House), Red Fort, Old Fort, Jama Masjid, Rajghat and Humayuns Tomb. A walk around Rashtrapati Bhavan, Rajpath and India Gate delivers the experience of Lutyens Delhi, named after the famed British Empire architect. The Red Fort and Old Delhi would be on my list, as would a drive around Parliament and the Presidential Palace where the buildings are up there with anything in Washington DC or London. And the Lotus Temple is beautiful, Staines says. The city boasts a world-class metro rapid transit system which now has a high degree of security. The rapid transit system is expected to run a dedicated line from the airport to the city centre. The aim is to smoothly connect the Games Village as well as the main competition venues. You can placate your palate with both Indian and international specialities. Experience authentic cuisine like butter chicken, tandoori chicken and tandoori roti at local eateries. Shopaholics flock to Connaught Place, Karol Bagh and Chandni Chowk looking for bargains. At Dilli Haat, an open-air, traffic-free complex in south Delhi, you can buy traditional artefacts from craftsmen and sample food from different parts of India. The elegant Moghul Gardens and Lodhi Gardens give you a welcome break from the clamour of the city, which records temperatures ranging from 21C to 30C in October. New Delhi is the gateway to some fabulous Indian holiday spots Jaipur and Udaipur in the neighbouring state of Rajasthan or Shimla and Manali nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. And theres Varanasi, the holiest Hindu city, where a simple sunrise boat ride on the Ganges brings calm and peace within. All these destinations are a short flight from Delhi. But even nearer is that monument to love in marble, the Taj Mahal. Once you get past the touts, the chaos and the dust, the Taj stands mesmerisingly before you. If you keep aside a day to visit Agra, you can start with the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, and go on to the abandoned heritage city of Fatehpur Sikri. And between all these activities, perhaps you could head off to a stadium or two to catch some sporting action. IF YOU GO: More information: www.dfat.gov.au/geo/india/ index.html www.delhitourism.nic.in/ index.aspx www.incredibleindia.org/ index.html www.cwgdelhi2010.org/dcwg/ index.php?qnode/1226