I told Tim it would be better to catch a train to Deli instead of a bus. We had managed to get emergency tickets in 3AC which is a compartment with 8 beds. Three tier bunks and then two on the other side of the isle. Soon after buying these tickets we found out that it is actually quicker to catch a bus as the road had recently been upgraded. Whoops!
Unfortunately the train was delayed by an hour and when we got on we were sharing with a group of boys who had been on the train for hours and had completely taken over the cabin. We managed to clear a space so we could sit and were soon on our way. The trip was pretty uneventful other than the boys pretty much force feeding us really gross Indian sweet treats. They were apparently a delicacy from Agra and tasted like flavorless Turkish delights.
We got out of the train station and as expected descended into organized chaos. Our rickshaw driver had obviously annoyed the other drivers for charging us a reasonable rate as he had a running argument with them while escorting us to the rickshaw. We had decided to stay in the Connaught Place area which was just south of the craziness of Old Deli and its Bazaars and is the colonial centre of New Dehli. It’s a series of 2 concentric ring roads around a central roundabout and the blocks along the ring roads are all labeled from A to P. We were staying in the prime inner ring road as we had flashed the cash for a bit of luxury.
Like we have said with the other big cities we have visited it was a different India to the one we had been in the last few weeks. There were coffee shops and Western clothes stores lining the streets and the women’s fashions were definitely more Western. We even saw girls in shorts! Shock horror. The other massive difference was seeing guys and girls all hanging out together. I am itching to talk to a local to ask whether arranged marriages are as prevalent here.
For the rest of the day we just wandered around the streets enjoying the street food and watching all goings on around. We headed out for a beer in a few of the bars but we didn’t really stumble on one we really thought was anything worth writing home about. I wish I could say we had a restful nights sleep in our luxury room but we had a few soundproofing issues when the restaurant next door decided to do some renovations after they shut.
This was made up for by the fact they we had a buffet breakfast. This fueled us for our trip into Old Dehli. It certainly was a different world to our upper class Connaught Place. Our first stop was the Red Fort. We were a little apprehensive seeing another fort but it’s one of the major sites so in we went.
Built by the Shah Jahan (Taj Mahal man) the outer wall was very similar looking to the fort in Agra. Unfortunately the rest of the site really wasn’t that inspiring. The British destroyed the majority of the inside and converted the place into barracks. The buildings that are left are not really in fabulous shape with a lot of the beautiful detail destroyed. The main gate of the fort holds quite a lot of significance for Indians as it was the first place that raised the Indian Flag when the country gained independence.
We then walked a few kilometers through some pretty uninspiring streets until we hit the Fatehpuri Mosque. The streets surrounding the mosque were filled with markets and the mosque itself was huge. The place was quite busy with people just hanging out in the shady spots around the walls. We got to climb up one of the towers which overlooked Deli to give us some pretty impressive views.
From the Mosque we walked the streets of Old Delhi through the Bazaars. The place was thumping with people and the Bazaars stretched for miles. The streets were clogged full of oxen pulling carts, men pulling carts, Mini trucks and rickshaws all simultaneously trying to navigate their way through the narrow streets. Although walking the Bazaars is an intense experience and one that I can’t do for hours on end, it is one of my favorite experiences of India. It’s dirty and busy but at the same time exotic and beautiful and alive. We were pretty exhausted after the sensory overload so headed back to the relative peacefulness of Connaught Place. The difference in the areas was like chalk and cheese.
We have been looking for an Indian fusion restaurant since being in India and found quite a few in Delhi. We picked one just down the road and from the get go were thoroughly impressed. The waiters service was impeccable and the menu was a smorgasbord of interesting dishes with some we didn’t even know what they were. We were given a table that overlooked the inner ring road so while sipping our drinks and waiting for our food we were able to peek down at the goings on in the street. We chose Palak Paneer quesadillas, chili duck samosas, lamb shank curry and a biryani that was a work of art. The mixing of Indian flavors with a modern twist was everything we hoped it was. We rolled out of there full and content! Thanks Delhi. S
Lahore Gate at The Red Fort.
One of the buildings where the beautiful marble carvings are intact.
The outer walls of the Red Fort.
The Fatehpuri Mosque.
The view of the surrounding markets from the outer wall of the mosque.
Views of Delhi from the tower.
The streets of Old Delhi.
Tim snapping me enjoying a lassi in the midst of all the choas.
Every Spice you could imagine and them some more.
The streets in and around the spice market were definitely the most diverse when it came to mode of transport.
Those sacks were full of dried chillies.
Chai man set up on the street.