Delhi

Delhi (Round Two)

I remember the first time we walked down Main Bazaar...exhausted, a little jet lagged, and seriously groggy, hot, damp, and lost.  

This time, we came from the opposite direction (both literally and metaphorically). This time, we weren't followed, cornered or jumped by 'friends' as we left the train station. I was smiling this time, and I didn't have to feign confidence, because I had it. And I have to admit, I was a little proud of ourselves for our growth in confidence and travel savvy.  

 

We really got out and about in Delhi round two, and filled our three days with goodness. We walked around the narrow, rabbit warren bazaars around Old Delhi, getting almost lost. We enjoyed the impressive collection at the National Museum. We bought and devoured coconut, mango and annona fruit. And we had some flippin delicious food, at the institution that is Karim's with its rich and spicy, carnivorous Mughali fare, and the more light and zesty South Indian dosas at Saravana Bhavan (followed by a perfect Kerala coffee). 

After round two, we feel like we can now give recommendations for Delhi!

 

All photos were taken and edited on our phones

Departing for Delhi - Haridwar train station at dawn

Departing for Delhi - Haridwar train station at dawn

Main Bazaar

Main Bazaar

Chandi Chowk, Old Delhi 

Chandi Chowk, Old Delhi 

A crowded bazaar 

A crowded bazaar 

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School kiddies in a cycle rickshaw

School kiddies in a cycle rickshaw

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Karim's - established in 1913,  the owner's ancestors were chefs for the courts of the Mughal emperors, even once working at Red Fort (which we visited on our first day in Delhi and made our first blog post about!)

Karim's - established in 1913,  the owner's ancestors were chefs for the courts of the Mughal emperors, even once working at Red Fort (which we visited on our first day in Delhi and made our first blog post about!)

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The kebab department at Karim's

The kebab department at Karim's

Our delicious Lamb tikka (second time we've eaten meat in 2 months)

Our delicious Lamb tikka (second time we've eaten meat in 2 months)

Karim's special lamb kebab

Karim's special lamb kebab

May sound weird, but raw red onion doused in lemon juice is delicious, especially as an accompaniment (and palette cleanser) to the rich tikka and curry dishes

May sound weird, but raw red onion doused in lemon juice is delicious, especially as an accompaniment (and palette cleanser) to the rich tikka and curry dishes

Thali at a delightfully air-conditioned restaurant off Main Bazaar

Thali at a delightfully air-conditioned restaurant off Main Bazaar

Coconut Rava Masala Dosa - divine!

Coconut Rava Masala Dosa - divine!

Mikayla really enjoying her dosa!

Mikayla really enjoying her dosa!

Ben really enjoying his dosa!

Ben really enjoying his dosa!

Keralan coffee

Keralan coffee

The cute tea kit on the train to Jaipur, with personal hot water jug

The cute tea kit on the train to Jaipur, with personal hot water jug

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Qutub Minar and Lodi Gardens

The Qutub Minar ruins date back to the very beginnings of Islamic rule in India. The complex houses Delhi's first mosque which, artistically, combines Hindu and Islamic decorative features. The scale and detail of the ancient structures was incredibly impressive. 

Qutub Minar itself is a victory tower, and is the tallest stone tower in India. Established in 1199, it stands at 72.5m high and has 379 steps. It is now no longer climbable after a tragic accident in 1981, when a power cut left the staircase in blackout and in the resulting chaos/stampede, 45 people were killed. 

The complex was a beautiful place to wander, despite being packed with tourists. And we found it had a similar ambiance to the Roman Forum. 

 

Photos by Ben Journee

View of Qutub Minar

View of Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar

Iltutmish Tomb - Qutub Minar complex

Iltutmish Tomb - Qutub Minar complex

Mikayla walking through the complex

Mikayla walking through the complex

Mikayla sitting on the stairs leading to Quwwat-ul Islam mosque

Mikayla sitting on the stairs leading to Quwwat-ul Islam mosque

Ceiling detail inside Quwwat-ul Islam mosque

Ceiling detail inside Quwwat-ul Islam mosque

Looking at the blend of Hindu and Islamic designs (Hindu - flowing, organic pattern & Islamic - scripture)

Looking at the blend of Hindu and Islamic designs (Hindu - flowing, organic pattern & Islamic - scripture)

The cloister inside Quwwat-ul Islam mosque and intricate carvings on the columns

The cloister inside Quwwat-ul Islam mosque and intricate carvings on the columns

Lodi Gardens, unlike Qutub Minar, was quiet and essentially free from tourists.  

Walking through the, surprisingly large (we later found the gardens spread over 90 acres) and tranquil gardens, local joggers would cross our paths sporadically. We wandered past a group of teens filming a dance routine (probably for YouTube) and a little 'lover's lane' amongst the trees.

Hidden amongst the bushes and pathways are 15th century tombs and mosques built by Sayyid and Lodi rulers, from whose rule little architecture is left. 

The buildings were stunningly beautiful, monumental and awing. Even more so perhaps because of the real tranquility of the gardens, which lie in the centre of New Delhi. 

A woman in Bara Gumbad mosque

A woman in Bara Gumbad mosque

View of Bara Humbad tomb and mosque

View of Bara Humbad tomb and mosque

Mohammed Shah's tomb

Mohammed Shah's tomb

Ceiling detail inside Bara Gumbad mosque

Ceiling detail inside Bara Gumbad mosque

Bara Gumbad tomb and mosque

Bara Gumbad tomb and mosque

Bara Gumbad mosque

Bara Gumbad mosque

Bara Gumbad detail and view through to gardens

Bara Gumbad detail and view through to gardens

View of Sheesh Gumbad

View of Sheesh Gumbad

Inside guest house section of Bara Gumbad 

Inside guest house section of Bara Gumbad 

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Main Bazaar, New Delhi

I don't think anything could really have prepared us for New Delhi. You know what it looks like, and you've heard what it smells like. People tell you it's an 'assault on the senses'. It was what I was expecting, and yet, hard to comprehend. Extremely hard to find the right words for the experience...

It was hot, and the sky was permanently thick with smog. During the day, all of Main Bazaar's eyes were on us. Fresh off the plane, we were easy targets for the many, and persistent, hawkers and touts. You know you have to be confident, but we felt far from it. By night, Main Bazaar's somewhat aggressive self became atmospheric and enchanting. The chaos was more controlled and we felt more comfortable jostling our way through the crowds with everyone else. Everyone's pace worked together.

 

It wasn't an easy place to begin our journey - and we weren't short of hiccups finding our feet. We did a lot of learning in two days and are cherishing those people who helped us amidst the tumult. It will be interesting to see what the city is like once we are confident travellers.

 

Photos by Ben Journee

View of Main Bazaar, Paharganj, New Delhi

View of Main Bazaar, Paharganj, New Delhi

In the thick of the crowd

In the thick of the crowd

Woman on the back of a rickshaw

Woman on the back of a rickshaw

Mikayla walking down Main Bazaar

Mikayla walking down Main Bazaar

The quieter Main Bazaar in the morning

The quieter Main Bazaar in the morning

Our street, off Main Bazaar

Our street, off Main Bazaar

Walking towards Hotel Namaskar 

Walking towards Hotel Namaskar 

View from our room

View from our room

Men transporting a sheet of corrugated iron on a rickshaw

Men transporting a sheet of corrugated iron on a rickshaw

A taxi

A taxi

Family on a scooter

Family on a scooter

Paranthas (stuffed flat bread) with curd and pickle - our Indian breakfast

Paranthas (stuffed flat bread) with curd and pickle - our Indian breakfast

View of Main Bazaar from breakfast at the Rooftop Kitchen

View of Main Bazaar from breakfast at the Rooftop Kitchen

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The Red Fort - Delhi

Lal Quila, Red Fort, described by Lonely Planet as “a sandstone shadow of its former self,” but a place to imagine the Mughal Empire’s splendour. 

Mikayla with Diwan-i-Am in background

Mikayla with Diwan-i-Am in background

It took ten years, between 1638 and 1648, for Emperor Shah Jahan (known best for the Taj Mahal) to have the fort constructed. At their highest, the walls of the fort stand 33m above Old Delhi. That which at one time kept out invaders, now curb some of the noise, fluster and confusion of the heaving metropolis. 

Maintenance being done on the exterior of the Red Fort walls

Maintenance being done on the exterior of the Red Fort walls

After entering at Lahore Gate, you walk down the Chatta Chowk (covered bazaar), which once sold jewellery and silks to the nobility. Now, merchants sell trinkets and other ‘kitsch’ knick-knacks common to tourist routes. 

Chatta Chowk (covered bazaar)

Chatta Chowk (covered bazaar)

And as you walk through the Elephant Gate, or Hathi Pol, where visitors once dismounted their impressive steeds, one imagines the unencumbered pomp of the Mughal age - a time when nobility travelled in palanquins, and mounted lavishly embellished elephants for ceremonial processions. 

View of Elephant Gate (Hathi Pol) from The Hall of Public Audiences (Diwan-i-Am) 

View of Elephant Gate (Hathi Pol) from The Hall of Public Audiences (Diwan-i-Am) 

Following the path, one proceeds from Elephant Gate to The Hall of Public Audiences, called the Diwan-i-Am. This is an open reception hall, lined with red sandstone columns and dominated by an enormous white marble throne. The mosaic panels behind the throne were created by Austin de Bordeaux, a Florentine jeweller, and are an element of finery perfectly suited as a backdrop for the Emperor. 

The Hall of Public Audiences (Diwan-i-Am)

The Hall of Public Audiences (Diwan-i-Am)

The Marble Throne (in Diwan-i-Am)

The Marble Throne (in Diwan-i-Am)

Behind the Hall of Public Audiences are the complex’s most opulent structures. The private palaces, apartments and the Pearl Mosque (Moti Masjid) feature white marble, decorative inlay of carnelian and other stones and intricate lattice work. The copper that once covered the domes of the Mosque were, of course, later removed and sold by the British.

Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audiences) is the most expensive building in the Red Fort

Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audiences) is the most expensive building in the Red Fort

The back door to Moti Masjid (Pearl mosque) 

The back door to Moti Masjid (Pearl mosque) 

 The remaining gardens are dotted with worn and aged fountains, baths and pavilions, all of which are a reminder that Red Fort is definitely a shell of its former, gloried self. But it is precisely that agedness that allows you to imagine Shah Jahan’s 17th century royal court and all its Mughal splendour.

A woman walking beside an empty fountain

A woman walking beside an empty fountain

View of Zafar Mahal in the middle of the gardens

View of Zafar Mahal in the middle of the gardens

View of Baidon Pavilion

View of Baidon Pavilion

Photos by Ben Journee 

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