Wednesday, March 20, 2013

India Travelogue: New Delhi

It took me almost 3 months to prepare for our India trip, the tickets were expensive and there were a lot of warnings from friends regarding the food ("Delhi belly") and the unsafe water. But, we were determined to visit the Taj Mahal by March, and so we booked our tickets via Philippine Airlines and planned a tour to the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur). We also brought several bottles of mineral water with us, just to be sure :D

So this first post is all about the sights and sounds of Delhi, our first stop. We were fortunate that the PAL crew was insanely nice to us and made the 9-hour trip from Manila-Bangkok-Delhi more than bearable. I still don't like flying for more than 5 hours, so 9 hours was already a stretch for me. We arrived at 3am Delhi time (Delhi is behind Philippine time by approximately 2 1/2 hours), we were so surprised that the weather was chilly. A quick Google showed that in the early morning, India temperatures can reach as low as 13 degrees! Wow, good thing I brought my scarf to keep me warm.

The flight was so tiring, and we had a full day ahead of us. At this moment, I still didn't have an idea of what kind of adventure India would give us.

The next morning, we were up and about by 7am and had breakfast. Our call time was 8:30 am and (as first days go) we were excited to go on the city tour in Old and New Delhi. Presenting, the Venga Bus (haha): 

Tish, Mom, Al, Chia, Dad, Me

We decided to go as a group because it's cheaper and we can have the tour bus all to ourselves. So that's our guide above, our first stop for the day was Jama Masjid:

The Masjid-i Jahān-Numā, commonly known as the Jama Masjid of Delhi, is the principal mosque of Old Delhi in India.
Jama Masjid can hold about 25,000 people at one time and it was constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan, the man who also built the Red Fort in New Delhi, Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikhri in Agra (more on these in my next posts). We were asked to remove our shoes as a sign of respect. I winced, but I can't be maarte at trips like this, otherwise what's the point? So I removed my shoes and dove right in.

Jama Masjid means Friday mosque, as such Friday is the most important day for Muslims. Jama Masjid was built using red sandstone and considering the fact that everything was built by hand with minimal machinery (it was started in 1650 AD after all), we were thoroughly  impressed with the structure and the intricacies of the artwork/design.

I have hundreds of photos but I'll try to pick the best ones for each post. Next up, a rickshaw ride along the narrow, crowded side streets of Delhi, we paid 300 (plus 100 tip) rupees for this 30 minute ride. By this time it was nearing lunch and the weather was turning into our usual Manila weather. It was still bearable, summer months are usually May-July where the temperature can go as high as 50 degrees!

Next is a visit to Raj Ghat, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi.

Raj Ghat loosely translates to King's Bank (where King alludes to the importance of the place and Bank as in -on the bank of river Yamuna). Several other samādhis or cremation spots of other famous leaders can be found in the vicinity of Raj Ghat on the banks of the Yamuna. The landscaping and planting of these memorials was performed by Alick Percy-Lancaster, the last Englishman to hold the post of Superintendent of Horticultural Operations, Government of India.

The place was very clean and serene, a far cry from what really happens along the streets and highways of New Delhi. We sat down on the grass and then spotted squirrels just freely running around! You know us, any sort of furry creature and we go completely bonkers! We crinkled our Nagaraya wrappers and 4 squirrels immediately took notice and started coming towards us:

They were such a friendly bunch! We couldn't stop gushing over them :)

After that, we headed to Kashmir Cashmere for a crash course on cashmere and pashmina from Professor Butt (yes that's his real name, it's even on his business card). He used to be a professor in a university and now manages one of the exporters of carpets in Delhi.

He made us feel the differences between 100% silk carpets from pure cashmere ones. We used our feet because I've been told, feet are more sensitive than our hands. 

having some tea on the house
having a go at it, trying to create patterns on carpet

The carpets are quite expensive, we thanked Prof. Butt for his time and left empty-handed. I am not a carpet person and wasn't really planning on purchasing one that day.

Last stop for the day was Qutub Minar but since it was late and the place was closed already (traffic is terrible in India), we had to go to a nearby temple to view it from afar.

Qutub Minar, also known as Qutb Minar and Qutab Minar, is the tallest minaret in India, originally an ancient Islamic Monument, inscribed with arabic inscriptions, though the iron pillar has some bhramini inscriptions and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in Delhi, the Qutub Minar is made of red sandstone and marble. The tower has 379 stairs, is 72.5 metres (237.8 ft) high, and has a base diameter of 14.3 metres, which narrows to 2.7 metres at the last storey.

The image above depicts a lion and a cow drinking from the same tub. The calf is sucking milk from the lion, while the lion cub is sucking milk from the cow. I was told that this is a symbol of peace and non-violence. 

The sunset gave us the most awesome lighting ever. This was our most serene moment in Delhi, the cool winds were blowing and the tiring day was winding down.

That night, we walked around Delhi and explored the nearby night market and also ate at McDonald's. We spotted a McPunjabi but didn't take photos because we were scared that someone might just snatch our equipment.

So that's for our first day, I have 3 more days to go! Hope you liked my India diary so far, stay tuned as I talk about the Red Fort and Taj Mahal next.

Related posts:

India Travelogue: The Red Fort of Agra
India Travelogue: The Taj Mahal
India Travelgue: Jaipur (Day 1)
India Travelogue: Jaipur (Day 2)


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  2. Nice nice nice!!!

    I didn't know squirrels were friendly.
    Prof. Butt... nice name!

    1. Yes, there were squirrels everywhere! And flying peacocks in Jaipur. Animals are sacred so they really don't mind them, as a result, the animals are so comfy around humans :)

  3. Nice! Can't wait for the next entries... thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read through it! Still collecting my thoughts re our 2nd day at Delhi. I *hope* to write about it this weekend :)

  4. The temples (or mosques?) look so grand. It's like even someone like me can't go wrong snapping postcard-worthy pictures (p.s. I'm a creative dir by profession but I've got 0 photography skills...)

    were you wearing batik robes in one of the pics?

  5. I cam across your blog, and can't stop reading your posts

    It seems like you had such an amazing experience
    Thankyou for sharing it with us
    Loved it


  6. jakieandthebeadstalkAugust 28, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    delayed reaction- flying peacocks!!!!

  7. Super late reply! Yes, I was wearing a batik robe, it's required when entering mosques :)

  8. Thanks, Amelia! So glad you loved my India entries <3