Touchdown and our flying trip round New/Old Delhi

Trip Start May 22, 2010
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Trip End Jun 19, 2010


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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Saturday 21/05/10
     After two flights and a long, long day (up at 3am!) we finally made it to Delhi. As we were waiting for our last bag the luggage carousel stopped with about a dozen of us still hanging around - me being me, looked at my mum and automatically declared we'd been scammed before even getting out of the airport. But just as we were wandering off to find someone to ask one of the airport guys showed us the straggling luggage piled beside the back of the conveyer belt. Why? I don't know, but at least I got my sparkly scarf back. 
     With both bags accounted for we prepared ourselves to run the gauntlet of touts and taxi drivers we'd read so much about and barrelled throught the door with our trolley. No shouting, no hassle and we found our driver (Raj) straight away. Practically no-one even looked our way, never mind accosting us. We were beginning to wonder if we were in the same Delhi airport as the bloggers had arrived at. Beginners luck? Time will tell.
     When we got to our lovely wee B&B (rooms with bed bugs, cockroaches & no AC aren't really our thing, we're not that 'traveller') the owner Meera showed us to our room - well it's really a mini-appartment with a living room, kitchen, en suite and two balconys. The decor is amazing! Carved elephant mirrors, beautiful paintings and an old gramophone in the corner. Staright to bed when we arrived since it was nearly 2am, ready for our day in Delhi tomorrow. 

Sunday 22/05/10
     Had a lie-in this morning after slogging through yesterday. Got up around 8:30am, finally got to bring out our Salwar Kameez outfits and headed down for breakfast with the family - where we had the most amazing scrambled eggs (so many flavours my head almost exploded, I can't actually define them) with tasty homemade tomato chutney and chipattis. Raj came for us at 10am and we headed out. 
     Our first stop was the Shri Lakshmi Narain Temple (Birla Temple), a Hindu temple in downtown New Delhi that was inaugurated by Gandhi as a temple for all castes. When we pulled up to the side of the road Raj pointed to the entrance door where dozens of Indian people were lining up to go in and I had a mini-heart attack when I realised we were being sent out onto the street ourselves. As soon as we opened the car door a man was waiving postcards in our face, but we said 'No Thanks' a few times and he left. Easy as that! I have a feeling they won't all give up as the ones we met today...Anyway, we went to the entrance to find that there's actually a separate entrance for foreigners (AKA white faces) and once we were in we took off our shoes and had a wander. We weren't allowed cameras in but their were several alcoves with beautifully decorated deity statues (which the Indian families stood in front of to say a small prayer) and plaques on the wall with various quotes about Hinduism. Entrance is free and you're not supposed to tip the people there (because they see helping at the temple as a way of teaching humility and staying humble) but on our way out one of the guards asked for money - not cool bro.
     Next place was Raj ghat, the last resting place of Mahatma Gandhi. His memorial stone is a simple square platform made of black stone, with an eternal flame continuously burning in a copper urn, to mark the space where he was cremated after he was was assasinated in 1948. When we got out the car (didn't feel so nervous about getting out this time since I didn't immediately die as soon as I got out the car) we entered through the gates with loads of other Indian people. There's massive green lawns and trees surrounding the memorial, lots of people lying in their shade, but all the fountains and pools were bone dry because of the heat. We had a walk round but it was so hot we had to head back to the car.
     I can't really remember the order of the rest, but we drove past the Red Fort in Old Delhi (big sandstone Mughal building built in 1638). We didn't bother going there because we're doing the 'real thing' in Jaipur later on.
     Also saw India Gate, which looked pretty much like the Arc de Triomphe except there was an armed guard standing at the bottom to shoot people if they touched the chain surrounding the base. It was actually constructed as a memorial in honor of 90,000 soldiers who died during World War I. They keep the  'flame of the immortal warrior' burning underneath it and have done since 1971 (although I'm pretty sure it must've went out at some point, even during the monsoon season or something). Two Indian ladies blocked the entrance and tried to stick stickers on us here (one of many numerous scams they have to make you give them money) but we just pushed past them without any hassle. Getting braver! Mum says my dyed hair, body mods and our Indian outfits makes it look like I've been here for months and that's why we're getting away so lightly haha.
     After that we went literally went along the road and saw the President's house, the Parliament and a few other governmental buildings that were there. Not particularly exciting, but always a bit interesting to see an other country's parliamentary setup (just me then?).
     My favourite place we went to was Humayun's Tomb. Bit of a reverse story from the Taj Mahal, where this time the senior wife built it to show her love for the emperor after his death. There were several other interesting buildings dotted about the gardens surrounding the main tomb, including a few other tombs and a mosque. We met an old man in the garden who claimed to be a retired history teacher, so he told us the history of the buildings and the people who had lived there and we gave him 100RPS (about 1.50). Fair trade. Eventually we made it to the main section of the garden with Big H's tomb, took a few photos - looks like a mini-Taj. As we headed towards the tomb, through the heat haze we noticed the massive stone steps (think from ankle to knee height!) going up to the main platform. It really was a case of looking at each other with raised eyebrows and deciding we'd been there and done enough. Technically we could tick this off the list since we'd been in every other tomb on the site...
     Last place we visited was the Qutub Minar. This is a 5 storied tower, where each level has unique designs. Not ony has it been hit by lightening twice, but the guy who decided to build it actually fell down the stairs and died after the first level had been completed! Roffle. When we pulled up we were a bit horified at the thought of having to climb the stairs inside (a la Wallace Monument), but no worries since the door at the bottom was locked and gated because it's too unsafe to be inside. Also had quite a few Indian people (in)conspicuously taking photos of us as we walked about, because we're obviously that cool.
     We got home towards the end of the afternoon. After a bit of a chat with Meera (and she likes to chat...) and some chilling out (literally, god bless AC rooms) we went out for dinner at a restaurant called Saravana Bhavan downtown. Now this is the top rated one in the Lonely Planet book, but tbh, if this is the top rated one I either A) no longer trust LP, or B) am not looking forward to eating food here for the next month. We had something called a dosa, which is basically a pancake made from rice and black lentils, and had we curried potatoes and onions in ours. I want to try new things here, but I don't know what anything on the menu is, which doesn't help. But I think most things here involve carbohydrates and frying. We shall see.
     Anyway, we're back in the B&B now. Overall it's been alright so far, not as crazy or dirty as I expected (but then again we're not hoofing it out on the streets or slumming it in hostels as you would expect backpackers to). The family in the B&B are so friendly and the accomodation is absolutely lovely. I think we were spolied coming here first tbh.
     We leave Delhi tomorrow and catch a flight in the afternoon to a bat-shit crazy place called Varanasi. It's one of Hindus holiest places, as to die here means the cycle of life stops and you can finally be released from reincarnation and achieve moksha (enlightenment). It's been described as 'one of the most blindingly colourful, unrelentingly chaotic and unapologetically indiscreet places on earth'. Hmm, you either love it or hate it. We'll have to wait and see. If we don't drown in the Ganges or get abducted & robbed in some fashion then we'll update at some point in the near future.

Ciao for now,
Beth & Shaaron :)
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Comments

Diane on

I'm so jealous but glad you're having a great time so far. x

Tracey on

hey u two, wots this this the scottish paparattzi has followed u 2 India lol. Sounds amazin x. Nowt much happining here primark still cheap and the proclaimers still my karaoke choice. Take care love Tracebabe

Sunshine Pretoria on

Hi there. My family and I are off to India for a full month in December, so your blog is lovely to read as preparation. Please do let me know which bnb you stayed at in Delhi. Thanks

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