“Don’t bother with Delhi, its dirty and so busy, the polution is awful!!”
Think again! I tend to like my own mind up about a place, in fact the more people who tell me not to do something, the more I want to prove them wrong.
Due to the busy trip I am doing, I had 4 nights in Delhi, however I decided to hibernate for some of the time in my hotel room to recharge, so I made sure to jam pack the 2 days I did dare to go out aswell as places I had my heart set on visiting.
DAY 1 – 24 HOURS
8am – The METRO!
For me easy peasy!… It is very similar ot the Underground in London and has Indian and English directions. It even has coloured foot prints on the floor to make sure you go the right way for the right coloured line. You can buy a day pass for 200 rupees (2 pound) or go by pay as you go where you get a small token for 40 rupees each journey (don’t loose the token!). I used the metro all day, due to the heat and long stretches I was travelling. I actually walked to the JhandeWalan Station which has a huge Monkey temple for the God, Hanuman which in itself is a must see attraction. Towering above the roads, and metro railway.
9am – The Lotus temple
As a designer and lover of architecture, the lotus temple found in south Delhi is a must visit. It has an interesting history and story to it. In a country whos main religion in Hindu, this modern temple is for the worship house of Baha . It was built in 1986 and is as the name suggests based around the Lotus flower, the national flower and symbol of India. The symmetrical curved concrete petals which surround the circular main building. Inside is beautifully simplistic, in design and in the fact any religion is welcome here to come worship. It really shows just how India has strived and lived with so many religions harmoniously for so long, and also embracing the new with the traditions they have lived by for centuries. The nearest station to the Lotus temple and surrounding park is the Okhla NSIC. I walked around the gardens and also visited the information centre which was full of facts, figures and images about the religion of Baha temple itself.
11am – India Gate
Commemorating the fallen soldiers in the Afghan War, the monument is a must see. With tones of locals, Indian tourists and a lot of tuk tuks it’s a busy place, but with so much to see. The memorial , the archway with every single soldiers name carved Into the stone. It has become a ….. of India and Delhi. I ended up renting a tuk tuk for 1 hour for 200 rupees, a driver took me to Parliament, India Gate and the Well all within the same area, but I didn’t realise how BIG Delhi is, and in the 35 degree heat in October I opted for the easy one.
There was a local festival going on when I arrived so a lot of Local tourists , but also a lot of singing, dancing, laughter and food
12 noon – Agrasen ki Baoli Well
A place I have wanted to visit since I started researching Delhi, these wells can be found all over India as old points of communal washing, drinking and collecting water. Now it is derelict and not used but you can walk down the 94 steps to the bottom, as well as take in the scale of the entire Well.
1pm – Parliament
A huge area of Delhi, with beautiful buildings, the Indian flags proudly flying in the wind, security everywhere, but also flowers, fountains, the parliament palace. You ofcourse cant see in or get to close, but enjoy the scale and beauty Of the whole area, with fountains, plants, grand buildings and normally isn’t very busy either for a little bit of calm amongst the chaos.
3 pm – Gandhis House (Darshan Samiti)
Located a 20 minute walk away from the Lok Kalyan Marj Station. It was lovely to walk through the clean roads and paths and huge houses which the Gandhis house is located. The house and gardens, is like any other house, with drive ways, back gardens, a huge house, but the moment you walk into the area you get a sense of calmness and respect!
Before I arrived here, I didn’t realise the moment in history I was about to walk into. This is the location where Gandhi was assassinated, and has been commemorated with the last footsteps he took up to his meditation garden. It is a very quiet, informative place which really opens you up to the importance Gandhi had to India.
4pm Lodhi Gardens
Close to the Gandhi House I walked through the Lodhi Gardens which should or maybe does mean Lovers Grdens. There was sooo many couples having photoshoots, hugging, holding hands for an afternoon walk, picnics with family. The colours from the flowers , the clear water from the ponds, and the huge historical cenotaphs which are found within the Gardens grouds are perfect for a day out, or a walk through which I took about an hour. A much calmer side to Delhi than I had seen so far.
5pm – Safdarjang Tomb
I came across the entrance gateway, and the buildings inside on the way to a metro station from the Lodhi gardens… it cost 300 rupees to enter, but due to it being located off a main road the moment you step in there is a sense quiet and peace, with hardly any crowds, some lovely green grass to sit on to read a book, have a snack, or just have a walk round the Mausoleum. Very similar ot the architecture and shape of the Taj Mahal but on a much smaller scale, with the famous white marble and red brick. The Kings Tomb is from the 18th century.
6pm – The PEAK TIME METRO
Trust me to get onto the METRO at the exact time everyone is leaving work, however it was a great experience. They have ladies only carriages so you feel more comfortable, everyone doesn’t push, shout, or huff and puff…….
8am – Breakfast
I opted to go to a local restaurant this morning, instead of my hotel breaky which lets just say didn’t look appetising. Theres loads of small, shabby, ‘doesn’t look very hygienic’ cafes along the roads in Delhi. The one I ended up in was famous for its authentic delicious Dosi’s over 40 different ones infact. Dosi’s are a southern Indian dish normally served at breakfast like a pancake with fillings like Paneer, Potato, Daal, Cheese etc… I had the paneer Dosi and it was amazing!!
9am – METRO to OLD Delhi
Easy, cost effective, basically all in English, and if anyone has ever been to London its basically the underground. Today it was time for the extreme Delhi I had been warned, told and gasped at when people told me about it.
I walked out the Metro and it was shuffling time, with so many locals going down the stairs and small narrow alley ways to get out and into the open road. It was Chaos. The next thing I realised was the smells, the spices, the street food, the unusual weird smells which may have been something that had died! But overall the smell of incense from the morning offerings along the main shopping street of Old Delhi.
9am and 9.30am – Temple Mosque and the Red Fort
This is one of the building developments from the good old King Shah Jahan (Maha Raja ) who also built the Taj Mahal… You can see the same influences, patterns and materials used here as at the Agra Fort and Taj Mahal. This has Mogul architecture all over it from the patterns balustrades and windows to the shape of the arches. This one mosque can fit over40, 000 people at one mass prayer event! You must take off shoes, and where long skirts, cover shoulders, sometimes even covering your head for a woman is more respectful. You can be given clothes at the entrance and costs 300 for a photo pass in.
We also headed to the Red Fort which is an amazing walk with great views of Delhi, over looking the river and old Delhi. The history and intricate designs of the architecture is delicate to really see the attention to detail the Moguls went to for perfection.
10.30am – Silver Market and Street food
Close to the Mosque, are loads of small little alleys which are actually the start of the old Delhi City, tiny door ways which go back like a tardis, with different shops selling different items. One of the main alleys is the Jain people who still live in the area, with rustic old courtyards, all with the Hindu swostica on the doors and windows as decoration.
I also managed to try some of the street foods, a stall in Delhi which has been round for over 100 years and is still within the same family called Jalebi……. Which sell simple Samosas were amazing! The mutter (peas) or the Aloo (potato) ones were delicious. Followed by the sweet Jelabis (which gives it its name), which are tubed into the crazy shaped orange fried clusters you can see.
11.30am – Spice Market, Spice mansion
The most authentic experience I have had in Delhi was when we stepped foot out of the tuk tuk at the bottom of the 20km street where the moment you look out you can hear the chaos of the market. From people bartering down the price, ordering nuts, asking about the spices, or even just having loud conversations as people walk past someone they know, it’s a flurry of community and business. The shop owners weighing out spices, nuts and chilis all along this street, along with everything else I witnessed from a hair cut on the side of the road, a tuk tuk trying to get through a ridiculously small gap with two vans. THIS WAS DELHI!, this was India.
I quickly walked through the men carrying huge bags of chilis and spice fro the back to the front shops, I followed them into an almost courtyard of spice, or what I liked to call it Spice mansion, a 3 level building used now as the beating heart of the spice merchants. So many different colours, flavours and over powering smells coming from one corridor and room to the next! It brought all your attention to look in every direction to take it all in. I climbed the stairs to the very top roof and over looked the daily chaos for over half hour just enjoying the scenes playing out in front of me. Through all the havoc was a little peace when I spotted a painter finishing off a beautiful watercolour of the views I was seeing.
Once we descended again my nose started twitching, sneezing uncontrollably the spices had finally got me, and I loved it! For us westerners/ foreigners, always buy the sealed packets of spices for customs to countries. Also do some research before buying them to see what prices the spices you would like are going for elsewhere. Also as always be careful with you bag its super busy!
12noon – Lunch – Local style
So I popped into what looked like a very busy shop for food, but ended up going upstairs to find an almost fast food place called ……… it had local fast Indian food, rotis, daal, these yoghurt goodness dough balls called…. I was in among te locals, almost like being at Mcdonalds in london!
1pm – Sikh Temple
Another highlight of my time in Delhi’s old town, the Sikh Temple of… Beautifully decorated in side, with over … worshippers visiting every day. It is a hub of community, selflessness and worship. Attached to the temple is a community kitchen where anyone can volunteer before or after prayer to help make the food which is offered around to anyone who needs food from the homeless, less fortunate, travelling priests or even people who have come to visit the temple for the morning. There you will see the biggest cooking pans and bowl ever. The temple feeds around…. People a day!
I was moved by the prayers, they have screens where you can read exactly what they are saying in English, with the live singer and music, people offer flowers, sweets, money to the poor and to the temple itself. After this I met a young girl around 24 who was helping roll the Chapatis in the community kitchen, I decided to get stuck in and help! She was trying to teach me the quick way to do it (think I need more practice).
As with many temples we took our shoes off, cleaned our feet, washed out hands, and covered my shoulders and head to respect the Sikh community, but like other religions they are open to people coming to see what they all believe in with one woman even taking me to the front of the temple to show me her offering, so sweet.
3pm – Red Fort
I didn’t get time to do this due to how tired I was after the chaos of Old Delhi, but I highly recommend the Red Fort, part of the Mogul dynasty and design trends its beautiful… Its one of the main attractions in Delhi, very similar to the Agra fort near to the Taj Mahal. With some unique aspects to it from the Palace designs, to just the views from the red fort. See who the Royals lives over 400 years ago.
4pm – Gandhis Ghat
The place where over 5 Million people gathered to see Gandhi be put to rest and cremated next to the River… there is still a memorial platform to honour his last body experience, I loved to visit here especially after visited his House further south. Its very moving, seeing so many people still honour him so widely around India. Still so grateful for what he did for them, he was almost a living God to the people. There is a memorial to represent where his body was burnt.
5pm – Humayan’s Tomb
The largest of the Cenotaphs and Mausoleums in Delhi , to house the last resting place of the King is an UNESCO world Heritage site and one of the finest examples of Indo-Persian Architecture. Whenever you go there is that feeling of finding a new hiding space in a city which has non, there is something that soothes you and create a feeling of Goodness. With over 300+ tombs (approx) it is one of the largest tomb complex in India. Made by his wife Hamida or his son Akbar.
6pm – Aroma Restaurant
For some much needed carbs and food, I headed into the shopping district (Guru Nanak Market Road) where I had been recommended this restaurant. It has fresh juices, alcoholic beverages, and so much good food. The butter chicken, the the Koftas, and not forgetting the Naan breads they cook so well. Finishes off with a Kulfi which is an Indian ice lolly icecream, I had a mango one and tried a chocolate one after but theres a lot of choices at the right stands along the streets.
The shopping is on another level, with bright colours, fabric shops, over the top front window displays full of jewels, sparkles and such friendly shop assistants. You must have the greatest will power to not buy anything, when all I wanted to do was buy everything!