Our first full day of adventuring in India
This morning after a traditional breakfast we met with our new guide, I wish I was better with names because she was great. We haven’t had tour guides very often but in a country with so much history a lot of the detail would get missed.
Our day ended up being pretty action packed, our guide provided us with some of the history as we were exploring and we had a mix of guided walking and then free roaming. It was well tailored to our first day in the country and gave us a base level of information which would prove useful in the days to come, it was particularly interesting to hear about the differences between the two main religions and what that meant for the monuments which remain standing today.
We began with a visit to Jama Masid, one of the oldest Mosques in India and built during the reign of the Mughal Empire by Shah Jahan (who also commissioned the Taj Mahal) Its a huge site and was our first real introduction into the style that we would come to see a lot of over our trip. We learnt about the significance of the layout of the Mosque, the different gates and got an idea of how many people can fit into the courtyard at prayer time.
Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Ghandi was our next stop. A serene place and one of great significance to the area. There isn’t a huge amount to see but it’s still worth a visit.
We moved on and made a brief stop at the India Gate, a 42m high War Memorial Arch which wouldn’t look out of place in London or Paris on our way to Parliament House, Secretariat buildings and the Vice Regal Palace, now the official residence of the President of India. There are some hints here to India’s colonial past and columns represent other nations that formed part of the British Empire. The buildings are spectacular but very European in design.
Before leaving the old part of Delhi we boarded a rickshaw for a tour of the Chandni Chowk market area, the streets were small and narrow, packed with stalls and separated into different sections. I was surprised by how much speed we picked up and how close we ended up to other rickshaw riders, cars, pedestrians and of course animals. It’s probably the best idea we got of the market culture and the day to day life of Delhi. It was busy and very crowded but I clung on, secured my GoPro and filmed it all!
One of the key visits of our day was a visit to Humayun’s Tomb, the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent and a monument in the Indo-‐Persian style and a precursor of the Taj Mahal. It’s clear to see how this building had such an influence and visiting was a great way for us to brush up on some history before we headed to some of the more well known sights. There is a lot to see here, the grounds are extensive with a mix of structures from different periods.
we have taken so many photos that it will take quite some time to sort through them all, there is so much detail to take in that it can be hard to absorb it all in one go. I found myself walking around in circles quite often just to get a good feel for a place.
Passing the Red Fort (in favour of a later visit to the original at Agra) we were then guided around our final UNESCO World Heritage site of the day (! How often do you see one let alone multiples in a day! ) ‐ Qutub Minar, the second tallest minar (tower/turret) in India. From a distance it just looks like it has a natural variation in colour as you look up but in reality it is made of red stone and marble covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Qur’an. There is a lot of detail that is only visible from up close and its height is deceptive, also present are the remains of Alai-Minar, which began construction with the intent of being double the height of the Qutub but it didnt get very far before being abandoned.
There is a mix of incredibly well preserved structures and ruins, its very photogenic to say the least. Of particular interest were the remains of the Hindi temple that had once stood on the site but was demolished under Muslim rule. It is possible to see parts of carvings bearing images of religious icons that have been broken up to form new pillars and walls. whilst its an impressive sight to behold, its hard not to wonder what it may have looked like before it was destroyed.
We walked a lot, took an incredible amount of photos and asked a lot of questions. As our first full day in a city goes, we managed to fit in a lot within a relatively short space of time.
Heading back to the Maidens Hotel we prepared for our first proper night out. I had booked a table in advance at Sana-di-ge which was recommended for its South Indian food, as we would not be venturing that far on this trip I was keen that we at got to try some of this food given how different it is from the Rajastan region – and it doesnt take much to convince us to eat some seafood.
Dinner finished and we took to our final location of the evening, we had of course discovered a Gin Bar! Based at the Hyatt Hotel in the Aerocity complex Juniper is the first bar in Delhi to specialise in gin. Their concept is an interesting one, they take Tanqeray and then infuse it in over 40 different ways. The varieties on offer range from fairly simple additions of herbs to more elaborate concoctions with ingredients such as beetroot, jasmine and curry leaf
Not content with making our way through the bottles on offer I also had a go at making a cocktail. With an ‘open-bar’ there is no separation between staff and customer so Prakesh, the bar manager showed me how to put together my own drink. The bar is a fun place to be and we had a good time chatting and discussing our favourite drinks and bars that we have visited.
Grabbing one final snack for the evening at the onsite deli (courtesy of our friend at the bar) we conceeded defeat and headed home for the night. Juniper is a great bar and the hotel it’s in has lots of cool places to visit too. If you have to stay by the airport this is definately where you want to be.