Two Days in Delhi

October 22-24, 2015

My very first impression of this Capitol city is – it’s so clean! And green! And there are road signs! Yes, there are still a ton of people and the traffic is still insane by US standards, but it’s notably less chaotic than Mumbai… and thank god for that.

Quick peek at the Lotus Temple from afar.
Quick peek at the Lotus Temple from afar.
Proud mothers and beautiful babies are universal.
Proud mothers and beautiful babies are universal.

I arrived in the afternoon but drove straight away to stay overnight in  Agra for my visit to the Taj Mahal first thing in the morning. Getting back up to Delhi took much longer than normal due to the traffic-stopping, street celebrations of the festival Dussehra so my evening consisted of strolling around the beautiful neighborhood where I stayed, Niazamuddin East, and stumbling across some crumbling ruins.

Dussehra festivities in front of The Agra Fort.
Dussehra festivities in front of The Agra Fort.
Crumbling Khan-I-Khanan's Tomb. I don't think anyone comes here.
Crumbling Khan-I-Khanan’s Tomb. I don’t think anyone comes here.

I hired a driver for my entire time in Delhi, which was a wise investment and considerably decreased a lot of difficult logistics… but getting around on foot is still a tricky and fairly inhibiting affair. Alas, that is, as I’m learning, just India.

My time in Delhi consisted mostly of sight seeing with just a bit of local culture. First stop, Qutub Minar.

image

Closer up of the astounding detail on this tower.
Closer up. Astounding detail on this tower.

image

Built in the late 1100’s (these timelines never cease to amaze me) and decorated with verses from the Qur’an, the detail here is unbelievably beautiful.

image

image

image

Strangely (and I had read about this before arriving) everyone, particularly at tourist places like this, wants to take a photo of themselves with you. I declined the countless requests from groups of boys and men, but obliged a couple of families. A husband asked me to pose with his wife, so I figured when in Rome (or Delhi, as it were…) and handed him my phone for a photo of my own. 🙂

Me, and a complete stranger.
Me, and a complete stranger.

image

Bored. One day he'll appreciate it.
Bored. One day he’ll appreciate it.
Exquisite detail underneath one of the domes.
Exquisite detail underneath one of the domes.

Next stop, Hauz Khas village… a quaint and trendy sort of neighborhood built around the Hauz Khas ruins. The ruins are engaging enough, but the interesting thing here is that they are more of a hang out spot for young people and not much of a tourist attraction.

image

Inside one of the domes.
Inside one of the domes.

The village itself encroaches right up to the borders of the old complex and walking through the neighborhood was not only cute, but very easy to navigate (that is the first time I’ve uttered those words here in India!).

The streets are narrow so virtually no cars come through, only scooters, adding to the easy appeal.

image

I sought out a relaxing lunch spot overlooking the ruins and Deer Lake… as finding these pockets of calm have become an imperative necessity for me on this trip.

Afternoon food and relaxation at Mia Bella, overlooking the lake and adjoining ruins.
Afternoon food and relaxation at Mia Bella, overlooking the lake and adjoining ruins.

I also got to enjoy some company for a couple of hours, when Raman, my friend Lochan’s cousin, took some time to meet up with me.

We hung out at the Baoli step-well, which is a very cool, antiquated structure (in case you haven’t picked up on this yet, you don’t have travel very far before stumbling upon some building or ruin that is several centuries old) that originally served as a water storage well.

image

image

I had wanted to come to this place anyway, so it was ironic that it was here I also got to see some of Raman’s artwork along the surrounding street walls… he is a commissioned graffiti artist who has worked all over the world.

image

The day ended with evening drinks at a bar in central Connaught Place, overlooking the city.

A little view of the city from above.
A little view of the city from above.

Day 2
Really, this was only a half day, but I crammed in a fair amount, starting with breakfast and some chai from a local street vendor. Brave, I know.

Making chai.
Making chai.
The food cart. I opted for the potato (I think) filled flakey-crust thing.
The food cart. I opted for the potato (I think) filled flakey-crust thing.

Then off to Jantar Mantar, a group of vast astronomy structures built in the 1700’s by scientist Jai Singh.

The grounds at Jantar Mantar.
The grounds at Jantar Mantar. This big structure is the observatory.
These two pillars... casting no shadow whatsoever at summer solstice, and perfect alignment of long shadows at winter solstice. Cool.
These two pillars… casting no shadow whatsoever at summer solstice, and perfect alignment of long shadows at winter solstice. Cool.

The structures are apparently very precise and although I didn’t understand a lot of what I saw, for a few rupees a self-appointed ‘guide’ gave me some helpful tidbits of information.

When the shadow falls across one of these lines it depicts the hour of the day.
When the shadow falls across one of these lines it depicts the hour of the day… up to the minute.
28 windows on one side across the top row and something to do with the cycle of the moon.
28 windows on one side across the top row and something to do with the cycle of the moon.

From here I went to Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the stunning Sikh Temple, where I spent quite a bit of time.

image
Outside the front of the temple.
Washing the feet before entering.
Washing the feet before entering.
Inside this majestic place of worship.
Inside this majestic place of worship.
image
The main ‘alter’ is open on all four sides where people sit and listen to the music/chanting/prayers.
The large pool area, behind the temple.
The large pool area, behind the temple.

Coincidently and luckily for me, my driver is Sikh and wanted to join me, so I was able gain a little more insight from him than if I had just wandered in here on my own.

Karma, my faithful driver.
Karma, my faithful driver.

image

Listening to the beautiful music/chanting/prayers.
Listening to the beautiful music/chanting/prayers.

After this I went to a gorgeous Hindu temple where understandably but much to my chagrin, I had to check my camera… my least favorite sign hanging above the entrance: No Photography Allowed.

From the outside.
From the outside.

Inside, the ornate, brightly adorned statues of Hindu gods were everywhere, each with its own alter where offerings have been placed… piles of marigolds and other brightly colored flower petals, intermingled with rice and money.

The walls are adorned in carved out drawings and accompanying scripture… written in both Hindi and English, much of it from the Gita texts which I am familiar with from my yoga studies. I wandered from room to room for some time just trying to take it all in, loving the ornamentation and inherent festive feeling that is the aesthetic of the Hindu worship.

Just to give you an idea, these are the kinds of statues that are prevelent in the Hindu religion. This photo was taken elsewhere, outside of the temple.
Just to give you an idea, these are the kinds of statues that are prevelent in the Hindu religion. This photo was taken elsewhere, outside of the temple.

Waiting for my driver to come pick me up, I decided to courageously try one more street snack before heading to the airport, and it was particularly good! It is several hours later as I’m writing this on my way to my next destination, and so far my tummy seems just fine… so a big thank you, to the powers that be (and also, to the Chinese herbs I brought with me, specifically to help prevent any unwanted belly bugs.)

The ingredients...
The ingredients…
Mixin it up...
Mixin it up…
Voila! Deliciousness!
Voila! Deliciousness!

 

Delhi, India
Delhi, India

 

 

One thought on “Two Days in Delhi

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s