My memory of getting off of flights as many of you know is always a bit fuzzy. I do however have the vague impression that one of the first things that happened when I arrived in Delhi’s airport was that some woman slabbed a red dot on my forhead. And I have the vague memory of responding with something like, “Now I feel welcome.” I could be making this all up, but one thing was for sure, I had arrived in India! My first time in Asia!
First impressions of Delhi? It’s hot! Don’t travel here in August unless you are Spanish and are already used to such scorching midday temps; Spaniards were by far the largest tourist group I saw here from the West.
Kristen, her colleague, and I saw a good bit of Delhi on Saturday. We started out by visiting Humayan’s Tomb. Humayan was a 16th century Mughal emperor. The stucture looked like the Taj Mahal, but much smaller.
Next, we visited Juma Masjid, the largest mosque in Delhi. We cliimbed the tower and got a good view of New Dehli to one side (built by the British) and Old Delhi to the other, which we were told was mostly Muslim; every day on the roof of the hotel where I lounged by the pool, I could here the Muslim prayer to call.
Then it was on to Laxmi Narayan Temple, opened in 1938 on a condition set by Ghandi that members of all castes could enter. I liked the red and and yellow design. The temple was notably clad with the Hindu symbol meant for good fortune, later convoluted to represent the Nazi party.
Next we drove past India Gate, which includes the names of the 90,000 Indian soldiers who died fighting in WWI. Then we drove to the prime minister’s palace and the presidential palace where we were lucky enought to stumble upon the playing and performing by the presidential guard.
Then it was to the Red Fort, the largest monument in Delhi, which was basically a walled city where 3,000 people made their home in the 17th century, and another example of Mughal construction.
Next it was on to the site of Ghandi’s cremation. Nothing much to it, just a square marble platform with a torch lit above it in the middle of a large quad-like courtyard.
Finally, against our driver’s wishes, we got out of the car and look a bicycle rickshaw into the market. Our rickshaw driver was keen and he led us to a good place for cheap eats. Kristen bought a bracelet for her brother since today was a big sibling holiday in India. The bracelet means that the sister will always protect her brother.
The temperature had reached at least a 100 during the day, but our car had AC and everytime we returned to the car, a new cold bottle of water was waiting for each of us.
We had to take our shoes off in a number of places, and even with the carpeted runways, it was still crispy toasty on the bottoms of our feet.
That night, we went out to a nice dinner where we had to eat with our hands. Trust me though, good food. It’ s amazing though to think that the day before I had eaten almost as well at a market near the hotel for about 2% of the price. No matter one’s budget, I learned quickly that one of the main draws of India is its food.
With a bit of trepidation in leaving the comfort of good company, I set out on my own on Sunday headed for Agra and the Taj Mahal.
The presidential guard. The highlight of the day.
The Red Fort (below)