What do you do while you have 5 free days in New Delhi?
You go see the sights is what you do!
After a (somewhat good) goodnight’s sleep and just enough breakfast to fill our bellies, we were off.
First stop, the India Gate of course…
After being dropped off by our Uber driver, we had the daunting task to try to cross the street… no small feat to anyone who knows what Delhi traffic is really like.
Yes there are stop lights and yes there are cross walks… but finding just the right moment to brave it, well that’s another story.
The way we got used to weaving in and out of traffic by foot was to catch some locals and blend in. When they go, you go. When they stop, you stop. No hesitating or you might just be in trouble…
But, to be honest, it’s kind of fun being in the midst of all that chaos! After each successful crossing, we would look at each other with little smirks… “we did it!”
And then there it was…
The India Gate is a war memorial to 70,000 soldiers of the Indian Army who died in the period of 19-14-1921 in the first world war. There are 13,300 names inscribed on the gate.
You can also see in the above photo a Canopy, which stands at 73 feet high. The canopy was constructed in 1936 to pay tribute to the recently deceased Emperor of India, King George V which originally covered the 70 foot tall statue of him. The statue was removed and relocated in 1968, nearly two decades after India claimed independence from the British.
While we were walking around, taking pictures and just taking it all in, we were stopped several times by locals wanting to take selfies with us. We smiled and indulged them as it was just as much fun for us as it was for them!
Yes, there are light skined people around, but to be frank, we only saw them while we were around a famous landmark or tourist attraction. And even then, they were few and far between. (We were in fact at one of the most famous tourist attractions in Delhi and we were 2 of maybe 10 or so others with light complections. Most white people were from Europe that we noticed, and a majority of them being French. Once locals asked and found out we were from the states, well that just made us more interesting!)
We like to get in amongst the crowds of locals, walk down alleyways instead of taking the normal main roads. And with this, comes almost a celebrity effect when visiting India.
We were even stopped by the local India Tourism TV channel to be interviewed on camera about our time, experience and thoughts of India… (Which was pretty awesome!)
Seeing as it was only our second day on the subcontinent, we didn’t have much to talk about as far as our experience, but we told them of how we planned and what our itinerary looked like.
And when filming wrapped, we were off to see more!
About 3 kilometers and a straight shot up the street is the Parliament House, called the Sansad Bhawan. We could see it off in the distance so we decided to walk.
Upon successfully crossing the street, we were quickly bombarded by Tuk tuk drivers wanting to give us a ride. After hearing that it was in fact 3 kilometers away, we gave in and took a seat.
Tip number 1. When you hire a tuk tuk driver in the city, be aware that you have now made a friend.
We were told “30 rupee” as a fare for getting up the road.
“Perfect” I said as we climbed in for our short trek.
On our way, I can’t tell you the countless attempts he made on securing us for the rest of the day. After each time I told him we were only interested in going up the street there was an “okay my friend” followed by a brief silence.
“But I can take you to Connaught Place for just 50 rupee more” he would try to squeeze in.
“NO” I said… and then this cycle would continue until we reached our destination.
Once we made it past security, we walked up the hill to explore more…
It was not crowded and the air seemed clearer up there, as you are perched above the rest of the city. In the photo above, if it was a clear day, you could see the India Gate. In the other direction, you get to see this grand site…
The Presidential Palace, or Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The entire complex is 320 acres in size with the main palace covering 200,000 sq. ft. making it one of the largest residences of a head of state in the world.
The front gates are as far as a person can go.
To get past the small make shift gate at the front of Parliament we had to provide picture ID’s, so if you are out and about in Delhi and plan on stopping here, make sure you are prepared with proper identification.
After taking it all in and enjoying the views, we were off to our next destination, the Lodi Gardens.
But first, I had to put my zoom lens on and get one more picture from afar of this beauty…
Once we made our way down the stairs to the main street, who was there to say hello? Non other than our tuk tuk driver!
He made about 20 or so more attempts to get us to hire him for the day until we found a tiny walk way we decided to turn down so he couldn’t follow us any more. Our new-found friend finally turned around and went the other way.
So, here we are… The Lodi Gardens.
But before we begin I have to explain…
Since arriving back home more than a moth ago, people have been asking me about our trip.
The first and only real words a can get out are…
“It was magical.”
India is magiccal.
Being there does something to you… opens up your spirit… opens up your eyes differently than other places. India has something special that cannot be found anywhere else. It literally reaches out and touches your soul.
Our first real experience with these feeling came when we entered the gardens…
The magic had started.
The Lodi gardens are spread out over 90 acres and contains tombs, rose gardens, mosques which were built in the 15th centuries and much, much more.
Locals come here in the morning to walk, gather in small groups and chat quietly, meditate or just simply sit under a tree and read a book. The air was foggy because of the humidity in the air from everything being watered to the small manmade lakes that were scattered all around.
We took the first corner and headed in…
The smell was intoxicating… the fresh-cut grass, the humidity that hung in the air…
The smell of the city was faint in the distance which was overcome by the smell of fresh blooming flowers, or the perfume of the woman who just walked past.
And then it came into sight… and just like that, I had been taken.
This is Shish Gumbad.
It is a tomb from the last lineage of the Lodhi Dynasty and is thought to have been constructed between 1489 and 1517. It houses tombs of an unknown family.
(It’s actually a very interesting place to read about!)
We just had to go explore!
You see it don’t you… that Magic.
It was if someone had opened up a book and painted these images that you had in your mind… a place that you thought only you could see but then there it was, in plain daylight just waiting to be discovered.
And it just kept getting better…
The style is a blend of Islamic and Hindu architectures and it a true wonder.
Once inside, I was able to capture these images…
And a pair of love birds…
And here is also where my love of capturing archways began…
And then of course, a few of the gardens…
Roses the size of softballs with smells to match… we were in heaven…
This place was so peaceful. So powerful…
The light seeping in through the canopy of palm leaves…
We spent the next hour or so walking around, taking pictures and just leisurely taking in all that was there…
I will share more photos of our time here soon!
Before we wrap up for the day, about a 10 minute walk down the street was another site I wanted to fit in before we headed back to the hotel to get in a midday nap… (Remember, this is only our second day here and we are fighting a 12 hour turn around time! I think we are doing pretty good so far!)
Tip number 2. When visiting anywhere in India, as a tourist there will be a different charge for you to get into things compared to locals. The locals will pay anywhere between 15-40 rupee depending on the attraction, and tourists will pay between 200-1000. The average around Delhi was about 400-600 rupee per person. (600 rupee is around 9 USD)
The Tomb of Safdar Jang.
The Tomb is made of red sandstone and marble and was built-in 1754 for the statesman Safdarjung. It is the last monumental tomb garden of the Mughals.
I do believe we were mostly by ourselves that afternoon, which made being there extra special.
Being in the heart of a city of 28 million, with a place like this all to ourselves… priceless.
Being our first real mausoleum, we were in awe of the size, construction and detail put into making such a place.
(We will later figure out down the road that this is actually quite small on the grand scale of things…)
When we were walking around I looked up to find yet another gem of a sight… two wild parakeets singing and playfully chasing each other.
Again, my heart.
Everywhere you look, there is a treasure for your eyes…
And then we turned to head back out…
And with that comes another end to a truly successful day.
We were off to our hotel to try to catch up on some much-needed rest. We had three more days in Delhi to ourselves before our official tour started.
And we have plans to make the most of it!
As always, stay tuned!