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February 14th 2012
Published: July 12th 2012
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Agra to Delhi

Today we leave Agra which is certainly a relief as it is an awful city despite the fantastic sites in the region. The sky is thick with pollution which is all we would see that day as it permeates out from Delhi. By 2pm we were navigating the lovely wide tree lined boulevards of New Delhi, circling Connaught Place before arriving at our hotel, not far from the train station in the alleyways of Old Delhi.

Ruth has been feeling unwell all day and was relieved to finally leave the road travel behind unfortunately the first hotel was not very pleasant the smells coming from the bathroom had her stomach doing flips, so we moved to a much more pleasant locale further down the street. It was time to settle up with Jitu and send him on his way, before spending the rest of the day relaxing.

We are both reluctant to leave the hotel after a month dealing with dishonest and at times rude locals, walking out in to the noise and stench is surprisingly difficult still we made the effort as there are some must see sites in Delhi. After an average breakfast we ventured out in to Old Delhi’s teeming streets surprisingly I was able on the third attempt to find a rickshaw driver not intent on cheating me which improved my negative mood significantly. On arriving at the metro station we clambered out and were surprised when he gave us the correct change without attempting to cheat us, what a wonderful day this was becoming even the sky is blue.

The metro stations were renovated for the Commonwealth Games and are clean, efficient and safe, for $3 we got a day pass and lined up in separate lines, by sex to pass through security, my line was about fifteen times longer but the frisking was over quick and we were on our way. The subway was incredibly crowded as they are almost everywhere I have been, but these were something else, the passengers were jammed up against the glass and to Ruth’s horror all men, so she headed for the women’s carriage and I stood as close to that carriage as possible to keep her in sight. At Rajiv Chowk station we changed trains it was mayhem here and it took a little while to find our next train but we where soon on the way to Huda City Centre exiting the train at Qutb Minar station before getting a tuk tuk to the historical site.

Qutb Minar (Tower of Victory) is extremely impressive and it never ceases to astound me how the ancients where able to construct such wonders; Qutb-ud-din Sultan, built this 72 metre wonder in 1193 it has a fifteen metre base and five balconies and is constructed of red sandstone and marble and is intricately carved on the exterior. Surrounded by gardens the complex also includes the remains of India’s first mosque the Quwwat-ul-islam Masjid and an incredibly pure iron pillar that has stood here for two millennia without rusting. Other highlights include the Alai Minar a ruined tower which if finished would have dwarfed the Qutb Minar, a number of tombs and a ruined madrassa (religious school).

I arranged another tuk tuk which took us to Saket station where we again boarded the train this time to Central Secretariat station where we again changed lines. Ruth has been travelling in the women’s carriage on all legs, at this station some men got on the women’s carriage so I joined them. A short time later police came and ushered them all out except me I was allowed to stay because I was a foreigner. Disembarking at the JL Nehru Stadium station we walked about 15 minutes to the wonderful Humayun’s Tomb, a mostly pleasant walk until we passed a park that was chockers with homeless people and boy did that place reek of effluent. At the Tomb complex we wandered around for about an hour checking out the many tombs in the area but the Emperor Humayun’s was certainly the highlight.

Next we travelled to the National Museum a building filled with wonders, unfortunately the Indian’s have to scrape every Ruppee they can out of foreigners charging us thirty times the Indian rate which angers me as we don’t charge anything to enter our Museums. There were some great exhibits including the Ancient Harrappan Civilisation and the interesting Middle Ages, I particularly enjoyed the armour and weapons exhibit.

We left the Museum to get away from all the school groups and caught another tuk tuk to Connaught Place to find a restaurant for lunch, we chose a lovely place with wood lined walls and red coated waiters with white gloves and a great menu. Unfortunately the waiter spoiled what had been a pleasant day by demanding a tip, on top of the Vat and the Service charge, the scoundrel.

The next morning I struggled to get Ruth to leave the hotel the constant noise, filth and cheats is getting her down, finally though I did succeed and we headed for the Jama Masjid aka the Friday Mosque India’s largest which can cater to 25,000 worshipers at one time. Built by the great Shah Jahan during the 1640’s it sits at one end of Chandni Chowk a large market area containing many shops and hawkers, although we didn’t see anything worth buying.

We then headed to the Red Fort entering through the Lahore Gate we spent some time looking through the shops in the covered bazaar before visiting all the sites of interest including Mumtaz Mahal, the Khas Mahal, the white marble Diwan-i-khas, and the Moti Masjid built by Aurangzeb. Other highlights include Zafar Mahal , the red sandstone Diwan-i-Am and some interesting old British barracks.

Every wonderful building we have seen in India has been built by the Moghuls, did those who came before build nothing of merit. From the fort we travelled back to Connaught Place for some Mcdonalds, I try to make the most of these restaurants as they are rare in India. Ruth is still very ill and I am also feeling a little worse for wear, we tried to walk back to the hotel but people just won’t leave us alone so we took a tuk tuk to our hotel. On arrival I ordered a cab for the morning, we leave for the airport at 3.45am Ruth will go to Singapore and I head south to Chennai.

Additional photos below
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Carving of GaneshCarving of Ganesh
Carving of Ganesh

National Museum

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