Day 1 in Delhi was far better than I anticipated… Not that I thought my world would come crashing down in one day but I definitely didn’t think it would run as smoothly as it did. Staying at the same guest house as me was another recent arrival to Delhi called JP, he had been in India for 5 months already but hadn’t been to Delhi before. So after what was a delicious breakfast (the name of which I can’t remember) we set off to Old Delhi to see if we could hack the madness.
We first went to Jama Masijd, the biggest Mosque in India, it can have up to 25,000 people praying there at one time. While the ground of the Mosque was incredibly hot and we had to wear hotel slippers to get around it was amazing. Hard to believe that a building of that size could have been built without modern technology!
We were shooed out of the Mosque after about 20 minutes as it was time for prayer and therefore as non-Muslims we could not stay. We then wound our way through the busy streets of Old Delhi to the Red Fort. The Red Fort again was impressive in size and style. However spending two hours there in the heat of the day probably detracted from some of our enjoyment. Thankfully there were large gardens with shady trees where I sought refuge under for a while. While in the Fort we also went to a museum that detailed India’s fight for freedom from all their previous invaders and rulers such as the Mughals and the British.
After the stinking heat of the Red Fort we were in desperate need of water, air conditioning and food (in that order). We went to a restaurant called Karims, well known by both locals and travellers (thanks to the Lonely Planet. While the food looked nicer I was still feeling quite apprehensive about a lot of it and therefore opted for naan and a “veg roll”. JP loved his food and I loved my butter naan, however the vege roll I ordered was average as can be. After refuelling we headed to the spice market where we spent a lot of time sneezing (combination of a sand storm and the spice market – really got into our nostrils).
From the Spice Market we started to head south down to the Lodi Gardens which were very tranquil. It was unusual to see people going about their daily business e.g. Running, walking, doing yoga, lying in the sun – it’s very easy to forget when you are busy sightseeing that everyone else is just going about their daily lives!
From the Lodi Gardens we went to Dili Haat – a Government sponsored market where artisans are invited to show their goods for a few weeks. It was amazing, everyone there was so talented and there were so many beautiful things – I can see India is an easy place to spend a lot of money!! JP told one of the artists that I loved elephants so he painted an elephant onto my thumbnail for me which I was very impressed with.
Day 2 in Delhi was another day filled with sightseeing. We bussed to India Gate which I thought was severely underwhelming – wouldn’t recommend! We then moved on to Connaught Place which is the centre of Delhi – it turns out this is just a shopping area with lots of Western brands – again nothing special! Our friendly tuk tuk driver then promised to take us to the Delhi Tourism Office – this however was a delightful scam that just resulted in us going to a fake Delhi Tourism Office and being given sweets while we waited. We left without paying for anything – so really we were the winners on the day! Giving up on finding the Tourism Office we caught the metro to Humayun’s Tomb also known as the Red Taj. It was spectacular – and relatively deserted (one of the few perks to coming this time of year!) – it baffles me that the Mughals were able to build such large structures without modern technology, especially when they worked with such heavy materials!
We then walked a fair way to Hazrat Nizam-us-din Dargah, a famous Hindi temple. We were let in without any issues however I quickly realised that I was very out of place. Most of the women inside were covered from head to toe and gave me very scathing looks for my bare shoulders (thankfully I at least had a hat on my head). Feeling very out of place and like I was insulting most people we moved left.
JP and I then parted ways as he headed out of Delhi. So for the first time properly battling with Delhi on my own I headed to Qutb Minar. It was actually really easy to do and being by myself and female I quickly learned that I could get very cheap tuk tuks compared to when I travelled with a male – this was a big win in my books (don’t worry Mum they didn’t try anything). Arriving at Qutb Minar as the sun was setting turned out to be perfect timing for it to be beautifully lit! I asked a security guard to take one photo of me but instead he took me all over the complex to get the ‘perfect shot’ – being the fool I am I followed him round and then at the end he asked me for money (I should have seen that coming)!
From there I headed back to Maya’s with a couple of detours here and there to spy on locals going about their business! Delhi is an amazing place if you can get passed the noise, smells and litter everywhere. The people are so friendly and generally cannot do enough to help you out – which is a massive relief for someone like me who has absolutely no sense of direction!!