Today, Mamta had curry for breakfast (Parathas) and thoroughly enjoyed it; I tried more traditional fare as I’m not sure I can do 3 curries a day! The Haze is better than Day 1, but I can still taste the burning tires. Visibility is much better too, we can see perhaps 1000m! Nice temperature of 20C in the morning and 25C in the afternoon, it’s hard to believe it’s nearly Christmas. Nevertheless, the locals are wearing sweaters and jackets and are muttering about winter being very cold. I guess that when it gets up to 45-48C in summer, 15C in the night is cold-ish 🙂
Off to see the sights with our Delhi guide from TransIndus.
Motorbikes are literally everywhere. Helmets are mandatory, but only for men – there was outcry when it became mandatory for women too a few years ago, so now it’s optional for women who prefer neat hair over life. Which seems to be all of them! Or perhaps it’s the men who prefer their wives looking beautiful?
Parliament is a big round building, and the presidential palace was the viceroy’s until independence in 1947 – and he stayed there for 5 years after independence. There is no right of access to this area for the general public, which is a bit weird, but explains the absence of the usual crowds. Old Ambassador cars are still used by VIPs, and the design has been unchanged forever (just motor upgrades every now and then), and it shows. I think they look rubbish.
Went to the oldest part of New Delhi, which is 2-3,000 years old and saw the Qutub Minar – a huge brick minaret built over a long period of time, started by Hindus and completed by Muslims. Muslims hacked off the faces of all the ornaments when they took over the rule, sadly, marring the beauty of the surrounding structures.
At Humayun’s Tomb, 160 family members from the same generation are interred, very impressive. It’s a big symmetrical structure with gates, fountains, a big lawn cut into 16 “gardens”. Here we saw at least a million school kids in colourful uniforms. Very cute and happy 🙂 Interestingly, our guide did not want to enter the monument as Hindus apparently do not want to enter a burial site.
Lunch in nice restaurant near India Gate, and the food was ok. Apparently, the Delhi Golf Club is the most expensive in the world. Sounds unbelievable, but then there is a lot of money as well as a lot of poverty here so perhaps it’s true.
Saw the India Gate war memorial, commemorating the 80,000 soldiers India sent to help during WW1 – they all died, not a single one returned. The monument itself did not look terribly interesting and we only stayed for 2 minutes – we were not allowed to linger.
Frankly, our guide is weird; he is annoyingly patronizing and clearly wanted to get rid of us. He seemed unsure of where to take us, and suggested we have two half-days of sightseeing when our programme clearly calls for two whole days. In the end, we got half a day: from 10am to 2:30pm, including lunch. When Mamta asked if we could spare 2 minutes for Iain to see a snake charmer, he said “no, they are everywhere”. We haven’t seen another one since, but hopefully will…
Returned to the hotel for a nap, then went to Connaught Place for shopping and dinner. It’s a huge, mad place, with designer shops next to… not-designer-holes-in-the-wall. It seems odd that there is no effort to patch the pavement, wash the walls, and generally clear out the sewage and garbage, even right outside high-prestige shops. It definitely makes for a high-contrast experience.
Had dinner and cocktail at a restaurant until we remembered not to eat ice! It is normally made from unfiltered, potentially dangerous tap water – hopefully there will be no Delhi Belly tomorrow! I had the most awesome Mutton Dosa though, and we then took an autorickshaw back to the hotel. Iain thought that ride was the best part of the day 🙂