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Trip Start Mar 19, 2006
25Trip End May 11, 2006
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I met up with Alexis and I found out that on Mondays many of the monuments and stores were closed... we were supposed to see the one site that was supposed to be open, that of the Akshar Dham temple but alas, it was closed as well. Apparently, its not even a old temple as they are in the midst of building it so I lost interest fairly quickly. Note to all, do not expect to be a tourist on Mondays in Delhi.
We did go to the Jama Masjid, apparently the second largest mosque in the world. We were doing a brisk tour on it barefoot before a few locals took exception to Alexis' dress and we were unceremoniously dumped out the side entrance. Since no one made a fuss about the dress on the way in through the main gate, it may have been a failed ploy to get Alexis to buy some more clothing which they conveniently had to sell. Advice to those that visit the many religious sites--dress conservatively and be prepared to go barefoot (as you can't wear footwear in the Muslim, Jain or Sikh places of worship) on some seriously sunbaked stones! We were spilled out somewhere in Old Delhi near the Spice Market which we could not identify, so we hailed our pedicab and hustled back to the car.
Having had our fill of adventure for the day, we ate dinner at the Spice Route restaurant that was attached to the hotel. Apparently Conte Nast had seemed its Thai/Indian fare one of the ten best in the world, but despite a solid meal, I reserve judgement on such bold a claim.
The next day we spent the morning touring the Red Fort complex--the seat of Mughal throne until the fall of the last emperor. Thereafter we crossed the road to the Chandi Chowk, the Moonlight road, were there was a Jain festival in procession
Some initial impressions: the India of Delhi was somewhat surprising to me, as it was fairly undeveloped--somewhere more than Cambodia but on par to less than Vietnam and perhaps even Peru. Unlike Vietnam, however, there are many cars that share the roads with the tuk-tuks and the bicycles so its not quite as busy. Also, unlike many countries that make a concerted effort to upkeep and renew their national treasures, many of the monuments in Delhi seemed rundown. I guess after all I had read about the India tiger economy, I was expecting more from their capital city but then again, its only the second day.