Day 04 - Monday, October 31, 2016 - Explore Old Delhi; Raj Ghat; Jama Masjid Mosque; Rickshaw Ride Through Chandni Chowk Bazaar
The morning was foggy with a temperature of 73 degrees and the humidity was 66%. Everyone we have spoken to has reminded us that the temperatures have improved in the last few weeks and the pleasant fall weather has finally arrived.
We began our day with breakfast at the hotel and then at 9:30 we met the group in the lobby to begin the discovery of Old Delhi. Raj joined us again and explained the sites on our drive around the Presidential Palace and government buildings.
Although it was very foggy, we had a glimpse of the highly guarded and secure areas. In 2001 there was an unsuccessful bombing attempt by Pakistani militants. Now over 10,000-armed guards patrol the government grounds.
At the other end of this wide boulevard sits the Indian Gate, the All India War Memorial that is another iconic landmark of New Delhi. Our first stop of the day was a visit to Raj Ghat, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated.
This beautifully groomed memorial park is in a very peaceful setting. As we gazed at the impressive shrine near the rolling riverbanks, one felt the presence of this famous Indian spiritual and political leader.
We got back on our cool bus at 11:00 and had our first experience with “Sujay's Bus Bazaar”. Instead of spending time individually bargaining with the vendors, Sujay held up one of their items at a time, told us the best price, and saved us the negotiation hassles and lots of time.
Some people bought a few things, others just watched the process. The vendors were very happy, we were pleased with our purchases, and all of us avoided the aggressive in-your-face confrontations.
Back on the road, Raj congratulated us on our interactions with the local people at the monument and with other individuals we have met. We have discovered that this OAT group is very friendly and supportive. This is because of Sujay's leadership and encouragement to take advantage of the welcoming nature of the Indian people.
Driving past the local vendors in the Old City, our driver, Sadish slowed down so we could take a few photos from the bus windows. Always difficult trying to shoot through glass on a moving bus, we were still able to capture a glimpse of the flavor of the vendors.
Sadish maneuvered the bus as close to the mosque as possible for our next visit, the Jama Masjid. This structure is the largest mosque in India. Many Muslims were praying and as we were there at noon, the Call to Prayer brought back pleasant memories of other experiences with the Islamic religion.
In order to gain admittance to the mosque, we had to take off our shoes, put on our mosque socks, and all of the ladies and the guys with short pants were asked to wear a long cotton flowered gown. Both of us had purchased a Camera Permit in order to take photos inside the mosque.
At 12:05 Raj asked us to meet back at the entrance gate where we put on our shoes. The next adventure was to take a 30-minute ride on a rickshaw through the narrow paths of the Chandni Chowk Bazaar. Even with the narrow lanes, there must have been 5 or 6 rickshaws, several cars, and gazillions of motorbikes all trying to navigate the same space.
Sujay and Raj introduced us to a food vendor who was doing the work of God by helping to feed the homeless and street people. We gave him 20 rupees, about 30 cents, that bought a meal for a man.
Those 30 cents bought a generous bowl of rice and a curry. The man’s hands were shaking with hunger, but as Gennie gave him the meal, he held on to the bowl tightly and did not spill a single drop.
We walked through the labyrinth of shops and alleyways until we came to Karim’s, a Muslim restaurant for our lunch. We will have our traditional welcome meal tonight so we just had a piece of naan bread instead of a large meal.
It was about an hour’s wait for the bus to come and pick us up from the Bazaar. Traffic was crazy, but the extra time certainly gave us a chance to see “real India” up close and personal.
During our visit to the Old City of Delhi we saw a Muslim funeral procession, a Hindu wedding parade, and met colorful characters in the bazaar. There was a special marathon run in the city this afternoon so the traffic was at a standstill on the way home. Sadish made his way back to the hotel by avoiding most of the congestion.
At 4:15 we had free time and we began to sort photographs and begin the journal. Because we fly to Jaipur in the morning, we have to have our big bags out at 6:30 pm. Sadish will drive the bus with our bags to the hotel while we fly. Thirty minutes of flying saves us about 10 hours driving time. Such a deal!
We sorted our belongings to pack almost everything in the big bags but our computers to carry on the flight. After showering, we were ready for our welcome dinner. We met at 7:00 for a short bus ride and then a walk to the Saffron rooftop restaurant.
A large variety of gravies and sauces were served over rice and vegetables. We tried many of them; the ones with the lower levels of “heat” were our favorites.
At 9:30 we came back to the hotel to finish our journal for the day and then get to bed early. Our wake up call will be at 6:00 and we leave the hotel at 7:30 for our flight to Jaipur.
After visiting the memorial for Gandhi this morning his words can bring us comfort:
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi
Accommodations: The Claridges New Delhi Hotel - - - Meal: B & D
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I feel like I am there with you ! Enjoy !
Great pictures and very colorful. I love Indian food and it sounds like you get to try it all. Safe journey.
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Another wonderful shared day and lovely pictures. You both look great. Thanks!