Delhi Delights

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February 15th 2018
Published: February 20th 2018
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15 02 18 Delhi Delights

Another day of exploration in Delhi, this time in the old part of town. Old Delhi. This is the original city and very dissimilar to the wide, tree-lined and rather British boulevards of New Delhi.

Old Delhi is the India we have become accustomed to. Noise; hustle and bustle; dusty always; mucky often; things in the road all squashed together: 2 wheeled, 4 wheeled, 2 legged, 4 legged and frequently same on the pavements too.

We used the same tuk-tuk driver as previous day as he had been pretty reliable and also spoke good English. He was waiting outside the hotel for us and we had specified we needed to return by 3pm just so we didn’t accidentally find ourselves making any unwanted detours to carpet shops and the like.

First stop Mahatma Gandhi’s tomb. Quite an incredible space, laid out on a square with entrances on each side and the usual security we have come to expect: bag scan, frisk with metal detector (which always beeps on my bra). Just a pleasant lot of greenery and in the centre the tomb but protected within a courtyard. Surrounding the courtyard on all 4 sides is a high, wide wall so visitors walk round the wall to view the tomb in the courtyard below. Very imaginatively planted all round with bright mixed colours dahlias.

Quite a number of people walking the square with us including a group of giggling school girls who all wanted to say hello as they passed.

Next stop, Jami Masjid, the biggest mosque in Delhi. No need to leave our camera and mobile here but had to pay a 300 rupee licence in order to use the camera. This is a massive outdoor space, with room for 20,000 for special prayers. We had to remove shoes of course and left them with the shoe-keeper (I gave him a few rupees when we collected them afterwards. Someone tried to sell us pairs of white slippers for 100 rupees but I declined as preferred to go barefoot rather than tripping over my feet.

I was prepared to cover up with a shirt and sarong in my bag (though I was respectably dressed anyway in a skirt and short sleeved top) but was presented with a big orange curtain with a drawstring round the top which I wore for my visit. Not sure if a photo of that will be included here.

Had a wander. Allowed along the outer edge of the mosque but no further inside as that was reserved for worshippers.

There were high steps up to the mosque from where we could see down to the streets below. Bedlam. Goodness knows who thought it was sensible to drive coaches up the approach road because it just wasn’t It did though give us an opportunity to sneak off on our own, unbeknown to our tuk-tuk driver who was waiting out of sight further up the road. We took a walk through the narrow lanes in front of the mosque and were not sure if any European had ever walked that way before. There were certainly none there apart from ourselves. Fascinating glimpses into tiny workshops and temples and shops and some surprisingly excellent decorations on lots of doorways. Did spot a couple of rats but not really surprised. Took lots of photos of course and a couple of people happily agreed to their photos being taken (and none asked me for money, which was a first).

Tuk-tuk driver popped us into a Spice shop and said it was the Spice Bazaar. Nope, it was a spice shop and we didn’t want spices anyway so popped out again. Knew it wasn’t cheap when I spotted the Visa Card sign on the door !

I said I wanted to see the Indian Bazaar, remembering that I have to date failed to find any tourist market though I know they are there somewhere. We went to the equivalent of a car boot, the local’s market selling well, nothing I could possibly want to buy including piles of second hand clothes, budgerigars, towels, men’s thick plaid shirts. There are proper bazaars in this area selling all sorts of more desirable things but we gave up on getting to them. Failed to shop again and we were back at the tuk-tuk in half an hour.

Next stop Feroze Shah Kotla. This is the site of an old and now ruined Palace complex. Dating to before the 1300s so not surprisingly only parts of building and ramparts remain. Interesting to wander round and more so because at the end of the site I found every bird-watcher’s dream. A tree full of raptors. We’d already seen then overhead dipping and diving, a dozen or more at a time but to see 20 or more perched in a tree and on walls was astonishing.

After that back to the hotel. Coffee and biscuits while we were entertained by a private party taking place by the pool area. A 25th wedding anniversary attended by the happy couple and about 40 females but no other men. Odd. Couldn’t quite get our heads round that but very interesting watching the exceedingly well and flashily dressed ladies making an entrance in their best saris.

The stragglers at the party were still there at 4.30 when I decided I’d waiting long enough for a swim, so after checking I was allowed, I took the lift down to the pool and swam, watched by lots of sari clad ladies, so had to get into the icy water fast so they didn’t think I was a wimp.

We took a detour on our walk to Connaught Place for dinner as I was determined to find a market. Google maps misdirected us and we ended up at yet another emporium from which I hastily retreated and we grabbed a tuk-tuk. Half way back I spotted the market we had been looking for, Janpath, exactly where I should have been 2 days before if all the inhabitants of Delhi had not been so intent on sending me to government emporiums.

For future reference if anyone wants a good tourist market where they can buy all the sorts of things that you might want to take home with you rather than expensive jewels and stone carved elephants and fake or even real designer clothing and handbags…..head down Janpath Road directly from Connaught Place, it’s on the right as you leave the outer circle, about 5 minutes along the way. A super set of little shops full of all sorts of delights at lovely prices which you even reduce with a bit of bargaining.

Don’t bother asking a tuk-tuk or taxi driver to take you there as they will take you anywhere else but there. Walk, it’s the only way to go !

After our successful little retail foray we headed back to the inner circle and the Farzi café for dinner. Excellent but no beer for Bob again as they had sold out of all the cheaper varieties and minumum price on offer was 450 rupees for a little bottle.

Have learned since that proper way to travel Delhi is by metro. So wish we had known that before we did it wrong. tuktuk is not the way to go.

Packed our cases when we got back. Off to Goa by plane tomorrow.

Additional photos below
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23rd February 2018
Old Delhi

City Scene
I love city street scenes.

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