My friend Phil introduced me to the Indian cultural enclave in Jackson Heights one Sunday afternoon when he drove me there for lunch. I can't tell you how to get to Jackson Heights by car, but from Manhattan you can take the 7-train to 82nd Street stop. This is one of those above-ground train station with a descending staircase covered with awning that you see in movies. I guess this keeps the stairs from icing over in the winter.
The Indian restaurants and stores begin right next to the subway station and spread generally within the radius of 71st to 76th Streets between 37th and Roosevelt Streets. There are a lot to choose from, but you really can't miss in picking a restaurant there. Manhattan has a lot of Indian restaurants, especially in the East Village, but the restaurants in Jackson Heights have a much more space and are able to offer a larger assortment of food at their buffets. Phil and I ate at Indian Taj several times, but another time on the way to a Mets game, I ate with friends at Samudra, which bills itself as a "humble locale for vegetarian Indian fare."
Most of Jackson Heights is listed as a National Register Historic District as well a New York Register Historic District, so the buildings are old-school New York architecture. In this section of Jackson Heights, thought, you don't notice the buildings because they are taken over by the colorful expression of Hindu culture. After your meal, there's a feast for the eyes as you wander through the Indian stores selling beautiful sari fabrics, gold jewelry, incense and Hindu statues. There are women on the street in elegant and colorful saris, too. The best time for wandering around is in warmer weather when the smaller stores open onto the sidewalk and your eye gets drawn to the sparkly cushion covers in peacock colors and the lanterns blowing in the breeze above them.
After all that wandering and sight-seeing, if you haven't had enough feasting, you can explore the rest of Jackson Heights and see the historic architecture that has been preserved. Or you can come back another time.