India: Delhi Sightseeing

Community Highlights Asia India: Delhi Sightseeing

Sunday, October 15, 2023

I woke up early this morning, at 06:30, so I could head down to the lobby and bid farewell the everyone else in the group. By good coincidence, everyone’s flight was around the same time, so they were able to share taxis to the airport. Only Fred and I were remaining in Delhi for a couple more days. Once the goodbyes had been said and the taxis had left, Fred and I made plans to meet back in the lobby in a little bit so we could head out into the city together.


I planned a full day of things for us to do and we were going to take the metro all over town. I thoroughly enjoy taking the metro in different cities because it gives a different perspective on daily life than just taking taxis or tuk tuks everywhere.

There was a metro stop a short walk away from the hotel, though the street was packed with people and it was a bit chaotic. Once we were at the station, we waiting in line to buy a tourist day pass, but were told to wait in a different line for the pass. We finally managed to get our passes, but it was all a bit confusing. The station and trains themselves were all very nice and modern. Owning to the overcrowded nature of Delhi, the metro was packed with people as well, though we didn’t see many tourists taking the train.

Our first stop of the day was at Connaught Place, an old British colonial building that now serves as a shopping center. It’s a massive circular complex with stores and restaurants. We had driven by the area during the tour, but never had time to get out and walk around. The place was mostly closed because it was a Sunday morning, but we stopped in at Starbucks to get some coffee. The Starbucks itself was very nice and we had a good time with our late breakfast.


Hopping back on the metro, we headed over to the Red Fort and exited a station along a busy shopping road. As we walked down the road, so many people and kids approached us to beg for money or to try and sell us things. I was thoroughly over the constant hassling by people at every turn in India. At one end of the street was a pretty red temple with some unique architecture.


When we reached the Red Fort, the entrance we arrived at was closed. A local man tried to offer us help getting inside, but he was only doing it so we’d give him so money, so we quickly walked away. The open entrance was quite a long walk from where we were, but we persevered and eventually reached the ticket counter. There was a separate queue for foreigners that was empty, so it took us no time at all to buy our entrance tickets.

The Red Fort is an imposing fortress from the Mughal-era of the 17th century, built of red sandstone. The exterior walls were very tall and clearly offered a good defense against any would be attackers. We walked along the main wall for a little bit until we reached the entrance to the compound. The main gate had several niches and beautiful architectural decorations adorning it.


Inside, the area was quite spacious with trees and large lawns everywhere, with a scattering of buildings to be visited. Much of the complex now houses several museums, though nothing was nearly as impressive as the fort we visited in Agra. Anu had warned us that the fort in Delhi wasn’t as grand and he was absolutely correct. However, we did still enjoy having a stroll around the interior.


Some of the pavilions and archways inside were very beautiful. They were all so different from one another, which made our visit more enjoyable – every near area we entered had something interesting to see. The place was full of visitors and school groups as well. We spent about an hour exploring the Red Fort before deciding it was time to leave. Both Fred and I were glad we visited, but felt that it was underwhelming as a whole.


We were able to leave the fort through the original entrance we had arrived at earlier, which was now open. We walked back to the shopping street to have a quick bite to eat for lunch before continuing our tour around Delhi.

We took the metro further out of the city in the afternoon to head over to the Akshardham temple. We had driven by the temple on our way back to Delhi the day before and it looked absolutely stunning: a massive temple that was built less than 20 years ago. The metro dropped us off at a small shopping center and we walked over to the temple itself.

The entrance was packed with locals and tourists alike, all queueing up to go inside. To our disappointment, we were not allowed to take anything inside with us: no bags, cameras, or phones. There was a baggage check desk where people were leaving their belongings, but we did not feel very comfortable leaving our valuables there – especially our phones. Unfortunately, we turned around and did not end up visiting the temple.

Fred needed to find a pharmacy to buy some painkillers and we found one relatively close to the metro station. We had to cross a pedestrian bridge over a major road and then walk through some local neighborhood to find it, but it was a fun adventure! It was fun to explore some more local areas away from the touristy places. The pharmacy had exactly what Fred needed and we soon made our way back to the metro.


We returned to the hotel to have a break for the rest of the afternoon. I spent the time relaxing in the hotel room and going out to play Pokemon Go. While I was playing Pokemon, I stumbled upon a Starbucks just a short walk from the hotel, so I stopped in for a cool drink.

Our dinner plans were to meet up with Anu, who was taking his new tour group our for their welcome dinner. His new tour was more luxurious than ours and they were staying at a hotel in the southern part of the city. Fred and I met in the lobby at 18:00 and planned to take an Uber or tuk tuk over to the hotel. We were both shocked by the horrendous traffic in the area and found it impossible to get an Uber. We hailed a tuk tuk, but they refused to drive us so far.

With no other options available, we went back to the metro. The train was absolutely packed with commuters, and I felt slightly claustrophobic during the journey. We had to change metro lines once and had to push our way onto the train when it arrived. It was total chaos and not as pleasant as our rides earlier in the day. When we got off the metro near Anu’s new hotel, we took an Uber over to the restaurant where he was having dinner.

Anu and his new group had arrived only a few minutes before us, so we weren’t too late. It was nice to see him again – it was well worth the long metro journey! The new group was slightly larger than our group had been, though with a wider range of ages. Fred and I sat at a table with some Americans and a young woman from Australia. It was interesting to get to talk with them and sing Anu’s praises – they were truly lucky to have him as their guide!


For dinner, I ordered the malai kofta with rice and garlic nan. The older woman from Arizona who was sat next to me had many issues ordering her food and it was quickly apparent that she would be high maintenance for the duration of the tour. Anu explained the various dishes to her, but she kept complaining that there was nothing she could eat (she had no dietary restrictions other than nothing spicy). I told her of some non-spicy foods that I had eaten, but she just got more confused and was clearly overwhelmed by the experience. Anu eventually ordered her the malai kofta as well. By this point, she was annoying me and I could tell that Anu was not enjoying having to help her. I could not imagine doing his job and having to tolerate customers like her. When the food arrived, she tried to help herself to some of my rice and nan – I had to tell her that it wasn’t a ‘family style’ dinner, but she appeared to not comprehend what I was saying. I didn’t share my food with her, which I think she found rude, but I was paying for it and wanted to eat it myself.

I spent most of dinner talking with the young woman from Australia, who was enthusiastic about traveling. We discussed places that we had visited and where we wanted to visit in the future. However, it turned out that she was far more naïve and uneducated that I originally thought. For example: when we discussed Cuba, she thought it was part of the United States and not an island. So yeah, that was surprising.

When dinner ended, we took a taxi with Anu back to his hotel where we hung out in the lobby for a little while. I was glad to have this final chance to chat with him. Anu had truly made the entire trip extra special and he was incredibly friendly. When it came time to head back to our hotel, Fred and I took an Uber, which was much easier to order now that traffic had died down. We were back to the hotel by 22:00 and I spent the remainder of the evening relaxing before bed.

Monday, October 16, 2023

The final day in India dawned early – I was up at 06:30 again for some inexplicable reason. I had no plans for the morning and thus no reason to be aware so early, but I couldn’t get back to sleep. After showering and getting ready for the day, I went down to the lobby to extend my stay by one more night. I was supposed to check out this morning and leave my bags in Fred’s room until my flight later in the evening, but I thought keeping the room would be a better idea. I could relax and chill in the room later in the day before heading to the airport.

Fred and I went over to the nearby Starbucks to have some coffee and a light snack before heading out for the day. We had more plans to tour around the city for a bit, as well as running a few errands that he had previously planned. Before the tour began, Fred had met a tuk tuk driver who had taken him around town and helped him to buy a few suits. Today, he was meeting the driver again so he could pick the suits up. We planned to have the tuk tuk driver take us around the city some as well.

The driver met us at 11:00 and we set off to pick up the first of Fred’s suits. The tailer had done a very good job making it and he was pleased with it. The shopkeepers had some carpets for sale in the basement and Fred had put one on hold during his earlier visit, so we went down to have a look. We were shown several beautiful carpets and Fred ended up buying a couple more (they would all be shipped back to his home in the UK). We then drove to another store where Fred picked up his second suit.


With the errands done, we had the driver take us over to India Gate. He parked near to the gate so Fred and I could walk over to get a proper view of the monument. It is a large arch that commemorates the Indian soldiers who died during the First World War. We had to walk up a long pathway in a park that was full of tourists. There were many men around with cameras who tried to take pictures of tourists and then charge them fees for the photos. I ignored all of them and walked to the end of the path where the gate was located. I was glad we had a clear day with no smog so we could properly see the gate – I’ve seen so many photos online of hazy conditions in Delhi due to pollution.


The next stop was the Safdarjung Tomb, which was only a short ride away from the India Gate. We paid the small entrance fee and went inside. The tomb is at the end of a palm-lined walkway with a small pool down the center. We walked down to the main building and walked around inside. It was simple inside with the tomb itself at the very center, but the walls were intricately decorated. It was a short visit, but well worth it!


The final tourist stop of the day was at the massive complex that contained Humayun’s Tomb. Fred had visited the place on his first day in Delhi, so he waited outside while I went in to have a look around on my own. The path to get to the tomb itself was through a beautiful park with trees and various old stone walls and gates everywhere.


When I reached the tomb itself, I was in awe: it was a large building atop a small hill and was very opulent. The main path to the entrance had a long pool in front of it as well. I climbed the stairs to reach the main plaza where the tomb itself was located and was rewarded with some great views of the surrounding area. I could see various other tombs and temples popping up among the trees. I didn’t go inside the tomb, but spent some time walking around to admire the beauty of the building.


Before leaving, I walked over to Isa Khan's Tomb, which was located in the same complex. This is an octagonal tomb with blue domes on the top, surrounded by a sunken garden. I stopped to take some photos of the tomb before heading for the exit. I was glad that we had the time to make this stop – this was definitely a highlight of Delhi for me (if not the best sight we’d seen in the city!). The tombs and the park around them were stunning.


When I met back up with Fred, we decided to head out for an early dinner and to have Western food. Our driver seemed disappointed in our choice, but we had eaten a lot of Indian food over the past two weeks and wanted something different for our last meal in town. The food was good and we each had a large cookie for dessert.

When we returned to the hotel, I packed up my things and then relaxed with some Netflix for the remainder of the evening. Later on, I met up with Fred again in the lobby while we waited for my airport taxi to arrive. Anu had arranged the taxi for me, which I was grateful for because Ubers were not allowed to come directly to our hotel. The taxi was on time and, after saying goodbye to Fred and thanking him for spending the past two days hanging out with me, I set off for the airport.

Once I got checked in, I sent a photo of my boarding pass to Thinh, who still had no idea that I was coming home to Hanoi early. When he saw the photo he replied with: “Wait. Why does it say Hanoi?” Then a moment later he said: “OMG!” I sent a video to him and told him how excited I was to come back to Hanoi and see him. I gave him my flight information and insisted that he not meet me at the airport – I knew that he would want to come and meet me, but my flight landed at 05:00 and he had to work the next day. I told him we would meet later in the day when he finished work. He was so excited by the surprise!

The flight back to Hanoi was alright, though the airplane was insanely warm inside – they didn’t seem to have the air on much during the flight. The dinner that was served was just so-so, which surprised me; I expected better from Vietnam Airlines. I managed to get some sleep during the flight as well. Finally, at 05:00, we landed in Hanoi – I was home!

This featured blog entry was written by Glichez from the blog World Tour: 2023.
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By Glichez

Posted Mon, Apr 15, 2024 | India | Comments