The beginning of this trip was fabulous, but we packed so much into seven days there is little chance I can now write about all of it. Instead I’ll attempt over the coming days a list of the things we did and the places we visited that one day I might add more detail into.
Day one of the trip was Delhi and began with a walking tour of old town, it was early so many of the stalls were not yet open making the streets quiet and relatively clear (by Delhi standards). My stand-out memory is the city wiring. It was insane, poles were stacked with cables, junction boxes appeared overloaded and wires hung down into the streets, I can only assume these rogue wires would later power stalls that as yet hadn’t arrived for the day’s trading.
Our first site seeing stop was the Jama Masjid – India’s largest mosque. Our tour leader (Sukhi, which apparently means happiness) gave us time to explore but suggested we didn’t go in and pay the 300 rupee camera charge as this was set by the mosque and the guys on the door were rude. Which they were, I attempted to go in with my travelling belt on but when I refused to give it to the guys on the door the responded with ‘get out,’ not the worst I’ve heard by they could have been more polite.
Lunch was at ParawtheWala in Chandi Chowk, a fabulous street food cafe in the middle of Old Delhi’s winding streets. The walls were adorned with pictures of Indian celebs eating at the tiny cafe. The food, a kind of deep fried bead with a filling, was served with hot sauces and was amazing. I opted for a cream cheese and a banana bread, both really different but equally tasty!
The Sikh temple Sheesh Gani was out next and final stop on the walking tour, by the time we reached here the number of people on the streets was mental. The pavements were packed, it was impossible to move without banging into someone, people in a hurry would barge you out the way while others would stop in their tracks right in front of you.
The Sikh temple is famous for being the place where the sixth guru of the Sikhs was beheaded. Inside scores of people sat in prayer as devotional music was played by a couple of men with harmoniums. The atmosphere was very stilling and peaceful, especially after the craziness outside.
The walking tour ended and the site seeing continued as an optional activity and with a new guide.
Next stop Delhi was Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi’s first Mughal mausoleum and the building that inspired the Taj Mahal. I was blown away by the tomb. It far surpassed my expectations and in many ways built my expectations of the Taj, if this was already spectacular what could the Taj offer?
Another amazing site followed in the form of the Qutb Minar complex, the sandstone tower of the Qutab Minar was impressive especially as the whole towering edifice was built with no mortar.
Lastly the Baha’í Temple of the Baha’í fath which is a world religion whose purpose is to unite all races and peoples in one universal Cause and one common faith. Bahá’is are the followers of Bahá’u’lláh, who they believe is the Promised One of all ages. The Lotus Temple joins six other Bahá’í houses of worship in western Samoa, Australia, Uganda, Panama, Germany and America. Each of these houses of worship has its own distinct cultural identity embodying the principles of unity in diversity.
The impressive temple is in the shape of a lotus flower and does look a lot like the Sydney Opera house!
The drive back to the hotel took us past India gate and the president’s house. Urban planning not dissimilar in layout to that of the Mall and Buckingham Palace – the British influence perhaps? Something else I shall have to look up.