The morning air was still quite cool when we arrived in Delhi airport at about 6am yesterday.
Unsure of what metro station was close to our hotel, we took a taxi at what was probably a highly inflated price, but airport customers are ripe for taking advantage of. The drive along the ubiquitous 3 lane airport motorway was uneventful except for seeing regiment of mounted soldiers taking morning exercise along the road, some wearing what appeared to be ceremonial turbans.
On arriving at our hotel entrance our car was checked for bombs by the security guard, and we were sent through scanners and metal detectors when entering the hotel. A grim reminder that India has been through a number of terror attacks in recent years.
My first impression of Delhi was that is was cleaner than I had expected and the parks, gardens and roadside verges were a riot of colourful flower beds and trees. I also noticed what I took for eagles flying around constantly over the city, they are everywhere you go. (They are actually black kites -Milvus migrans). We also had a resident pigeon on our window ledge, and some ring necked green parrots.
We headed off in search of a shop selling SIM cards and wound up taking our first tuktuk ride through the traffic. See short video.
Somehow we ended up in a travel agency (who knew tuktuk drivers might scam you? Lol ) where our question about what to see in Delhi became an elaborate exercise in ‘helping’ us to organise the rest of our trip. Oh well, in the end it seemed to work out though I suspect we may have been a bit gullible and paid too much. So we ended up with a car and driver at our disposal for the next two days.
Our first visit was to the Shri Lakshmi Narain temple, then on to India Gate, war memorial. This place amazed me not of itself but because of the many Indian visitors to the site, dressed in their best clothes, make up and accessories, taking selfies in front of the gate. India is the selfie capital of the world, I’m sure, after being here only one day, already I have seen more selfie taking then I thought possible. India does have the dubious honour of being the “killfie” capital, with the most deaths from taking selfies – why am I not surprised?
We also visited the Qutub Minar and mosque complex, which is an UNESCO world heritage site. It is a tall tower minaret built in around the 12th century – pretty impressive and of course, so many selfie opportunities here!
We were totally exhausted by around 4 and headed back to the hotel for a rest.
Today we headed out with our driver to see the Red Fort -so called because it is built from red sandstone. This was commissioned by the same emperor who built the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan. When you visit these places there is an entrance fee, one amount for locals, and about 10x more for foreigners. The big advantage is you don’t have to wait in the really long queues with the locals, you get a special foreigner entry gate. For the fort we also had a guide to take us around and explain everything, it’s a huge complex and it was helpful to have Raj explaining the history, and of course half of Delhi was there taking selfies on a pleasant Saturday afternoon.
Once we finished here we headed for lunch, then back to the the hotel for a swim. Later we decided to give the metro a try and headed to old Delhi’s most famous market, Chandni Chowk. It was amazing bedlam, alleyways filled with shops, people, noise and smells.
More pictures to follow, I’m just having a little trouble uploading them via limited wifi.