Today is hard to put into words. It amazes me how much energy it takes to be in heat and to be around people, Delhi is not lacking in either of those areas. We all woke up around 7 (easy to do with 9pm bedtime haha) and had a nice breakfast. Then we decided to drop by the India Gate and then make our way to Old Delhi to check out Jama Masjid and the Red Fort.
What can I say, it’s a gate. It is cool, very big, and beautifully located…but still a gate. Not quite as commanding as the view of the Arc de Triomph along the Champs Elysees, but not a bad second! It is a monument to the 85,000 soldiers of the Indian army between 1914-1921 in the First World War.
Navigating the Delhi Metro has been an experience, but I’m so glad we invested the time because it has saved us a lot of money! Once you get used to checking the signs to make sure you’re heading the right direction and throwing elbows at people who are in your way…you’re good to go. We all got metro cards and they activated with 100 rupees (equal to about £1). It has lasted us a full 2 days riding the metro several times a day and for long trips! I think our most expensive trip so far was 24 rupees (about 24 pence). Gotta love cheap travel! So we hopped on the violet line, shoved our way to the yellow line, and joined the masses off the Chandni Chowk stop.
Old Delhi is exactly what you’d expect of a city with almost 10 million people. I have never seen roads and sidewalks as crowded as these. We started the trip by getting a bicycle rickshaw to give us a tour around the spice market and the silk bazaar. The spice market was pretty cool. I love chai and all the spices that are in Indian food. We stopped in to one of the more popular shops and were given an overview of the different spices. We chewed pieces of cinnamon bark, tasted different salts, and smelled the jasmine and saffron. I definitely want to get some spices as gift, but that will have to wait for later in the trip. It was so hot and crowded that it didn’t take long for us to get rather irritated with the experience so we ended the tour and made our way toward Jama Masjid in the heart of Old Delhi. Our rickshaw drivers pointed us in the right direction, but failed to mention it was quite a long walk. Long walks are quickly becoming a theme of our time here.
This mosque was built between 1644-1656 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan- who also built the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort. The courtyard is huge and can accommodate 25,000 people. We made it to one of the entrances and were quickly pegged as tourists with no guide. A rather forceful gentleman tried to make us walk around with him on a tour, but we weren’t interested, particularly because his English wasn’t very understandable and of course our Hindi is non-existent. He finally left us alone (with a lot of huffing and puffing) and we took a quick look around. This was the first time I’d ever been in a mosque and I have to say, the experience was a bit uncomfortable for me. We were clearly some of the only Westerners there, the rude man had made us put on these long shawls (even though we were dressed modestly), and everyone was staring even more than usual. The building is beautiful and I am glad we took the time to stop by, but it definitely won’t top the list as one of my favorite places.
From Jama Masjid we took another long walk through the crowded streets down to Lahori Gate where we entered the Red Fort. Also built (in 1648) by Shah Jahan, this was the residence of the Mughal emperor of India for 200 years until 1857. It is named because of the red sandstone used to build the fort. The fort complex is an enclosed space of about 256 acres (aka- HUGE).You can wander through most of the spaces, taking in the amazing architecture and envisioning what these structures would have looked like before time aged them. It really is a spectacular area to explore. We also become celebrities during our time here. One of my friends is blonde, and she was constantly being asked for photographs. The rest of us as well, but especially her. We started to joke that we were famous and the paparazzi had found us because that is what it felt like! After killing several hours here, we were really hungry and decided to head a few stops down on the metro to Connaught Place for dinner and drinks.
By the time we got off the metro here, it was close to 4pm and we were HUNGRY. We stopped in to United Colors of Benneton and asked for a restaurant option. It is still absolutely insane tome that in 2 stops on the metro you can go from the heart of poverty to the height of luxury, but more on that later. We landed at a restaurant called Lord of the Drink and enjoyed a wonderful dinner complete with a rooftop and monkeys 🙂
Cheers to a successful day two!