Day 2 - New Delhi, India
Shot of the Day - Humayun Temple
We awoke, sat up and wondered – did we dream all that chaos on the streets yesterday? Well were soon going to find out that no, it was reality and we were going to experience a whole lot more. This morning our breakfast team did not disappoint with our special coffees, wonderfully creamy Greek yogurt and Indian Puri bhaji which is a potato curry dish that you eat with fluffy flaky wheat bread. Totally full again, we are ready to hit the streets of Delhi. Today takes us on a tour of primarily key sites in New Delhi.
While we did not take any rickshaws, the standard ride on the streets on highways of Delhi, continue to provide us with significant hair-raising moments of near misses and playing smash up derby. I am quite amazed that the Indian drivers seem totally oblivious to how close they actually all are to an accident, I’m talking mere inches. Yet they don’t have any concern as they talk on their cell phones and everyone seems to be quite content as they turn your average 3 lane road into 6. Lines? What lines, they’re only for decoration.
Our travels had us drive by the Red Fort which a huge sandstone fort similar in design to the one in Agra and the largest mosque in India, the Jama Masjid – it is huge. Our first stop was the Qutab Minar, a 73 meter high minaret, surrounded by numerous buildings dating back to 1192. The towering minaret is sight to behold as the red sandstone blocks and carvings make this truly unique. Unfortunately the stairs are now closed to the public. Next stop was the Laxminarayan Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to the multiple reincarnations of the Hindu following. Having to remove your shoes to tour the grounds, my feet began to get very cold on the marble floor which had me searching for sunny locations. Cameras were not allowed in side the temple so I can’t show you the many sights including the history of the Swastika icon, the symbol of the Aryan race, believed to be the sacred symbol of spiritual principles of good luck, prosperity and the sun. The Nazi’s adopted the symbol and turned this into the complete opposite. You’ll see this symbol in many of my shots.
Once again blonde hair in exotic countries always attracts locals to want to take pictures with us. Paula had a group of young girls want to take numerous shots of them with her by the minaret, and I had two guys come running out of nowhere and wanting to get into selfies with me. All very fascinating, and good for the ego. Our driver made a wrong turn and was pulled over by the police. After significant pleading, he negotiated a “personal” settlement with the policeman. Hilarious – with all the crazy driving we witness by the minute, he gets pulled over for an improper turn.
We then visited the memorial to Mahat Ma Gandhi, the Birla House. To see the simplicity of his life story is truly amazing. From his very humble beginnings through to his last days when he was assassinated at this location as he was going to prayer in the garden, he was truly an inspiration to the world. We could have spent the entire day there, reading about his life. We will need to watch Ben Kingsley in Gandhi when we get home.
The road leading the main parliament buildings was very wide and swarmed by visitors. Canada was recognized on one four pillars dedicated to 4 commonwealth countries. The road leading to the largest presidential residence in the world with 340 rooms, was closed off and so I wished we could have gotten closer. From there we drove to the India gate which is a memorial to the soldiers who fought in the wars. The surrounding area was like a carnival, with merchants, candy floss, balloons, bubble blowers, food hawkers and the visitors were all having so much fun. A really nice celebration.
Our guide took us to a very popular restaurant called Pindi, located in the Pandara market area. The parking lot was complete with sellers of post cards and snake charmers. From there we drove to an impressive tomb called Humayun which predated the Taj Mahal and was used as the design for the Taj. It was constructed of sandstone in 1565 AD, complete with running water features and pools. The sun is now setting and the light on the building is warm, we made it out just before they closed the gates.
On our way back to the hotel, we made two quick stops. First to take a picture of the Lotus Temple, which in some ways is fashioned after the Sydney Opera House. The design is beautiful. Then our last stop was to a Silk & Cashmere rug store, where once again the salesmen were working overtime to get us to by one of their beautiful rugs. They had no luck with us as we actually weren’t interested. The special tea they gave us however, was very tasty. On our way back the hotel, we saw some of their elevated metro system. They have built quite the infrastructure for their metro with over 9 lines. I can’t help but think of how challenged Toronto is with building our metro.
With every stop we make, our car is approached with a mother with child knocking on the window for help. While it’s tough to see this, it is part of the fabric of Delhi that everyone accepts.
Back in the hotel we are now getting ready to leave for Varanasi tomorrow, the holiest city in India and the city where the Ganges river is most polluted as reported on the BBC tonight.