“Out of water, I am nothing” – Duke Kahanamoku
Yesterday, Wednesday, was our second full day in Delhi. What a crazy city! We’ve hit the streets hard, seeing the sights and buying a few bits and bobs! Delhi is our first main city in India and the hottest place we have visited so far, with a daily temperature of 31C. We’re writing this post from a rooftop coffee house (not many of those here) in the New Delhi area, where the waiters wear all white aprons and jackets with fan-hats, serving coffee in tea pots. The city rattles on below us whilst our view stretches quite far as there are no significant tall buildings to look at!
We arrived in Delhi at 4:30AM on Tuesday (24th) morning. We dumped out bags at the hotel and after a saunter around the sleepy streets we stumbled into a cafe for banana pancakes and coffee. I (Joe) had managed to locate the only espresso coffee machine in the entire backpacker district (So I was told) and that 60p Cappuccino was SO worth the early morning! We headed out mid-morning and visited the Jamid Masjid (main mosque here in Delhi, not bad) and the Red Fort, Delhi’s main attraction, a complex of buildings built by both the Mughals and the British. We then headed to Khari Baoli in the Chandi Chowk area, the biggest spice market in Asia. It was fantastic. Sacks of spices, fruit, tea and coffee lined the bazaars along the edge of the road which was not open to cars but was still packed with horses pulling carts of produce to their outlets. It was a cornucopia of roots, barks, lentils, chutneys, pickles and fruit. Locals bartered with traders with much enthusiasm, the air thick with the smell of the goods.
Yesterday we used the metro to visit an ancient tomb and Baihai temple, a modern structure with similarities to the Sydney Opera House. The Bahà’i faith welcomes people of all religions and has a central focus on unity and peace. With a total of 7 striking houses of worship around the world, it is a small, but global following. We then visited Humayan’a Tomb, a real gem for us and it’s supposed to be a preamble to the Taj Mahal!
Our walk back to our hostel took us via India gate, which was apparently ‘closed’. We couldn’t figure out how a huge monument could be closed, so a bit of naive tourist playing combined with the ineptitude of Delhi police and we had crossed deserted roads to have India gate to ourselves (& some heavily guarded VIP guest).
Our onward journey keeps changing as the train network becomes so congested with the Indian tourist season entering its peak time (October-December). We were told we’d have to stay in Delhi until Tuesday to wait for one train – No thanks! It’s really hard to get a seat. At the time of writing we’re next off 60km north of Delhi to Rikishesh on Saturday (28th), but before that it’s two more days of Delhi.