As a stopover, Delhi is an opportunity to experience a small taste of what India has to offer. It’s completely exotic and will give you as much culture, adventure, spiritualism and diversity as you want or can take.
Our first day’s touring took us to Qutub Minar, a red sandstone minaret dating from the 13th century that words will never do justice to. The detailed and intricate carvings on this impossibly tall structure were like jewellery to my eyes. How, why and when are all questions I asked.
Next stop was Jama Masjid, built by Shah Jahan between 1644 and 1656, and one of the largest mosques in India. You do have to climb some pretty steep steps at times but it is totally worth it.
We followed this with a rickshaw adventure through the crazy streets of Chandni Chowk market. Small narrow alleys are lined with equally small shops and market stalls. Overhead are bird’s nests of electrical wiring connecting them to the mains. We had a great driver who told us all the local history and stories and even stopped so we could very quickly buy some fruit.
The Delhi Metro system isn’t to be feared at all, but the sheer size of the population using it can be a bit mind-blowing. We took the Metro from our hotel to Connaught Place to do some shopping. Like any other major international city, Delhi has its Metro for workers and visitors to use without having to take to the already bursting roads. It runs like all other metro systems: find where you are, find where you’re going and get on the right platform going in the right direction and get off at the right station.
When we got off at Connaught Place we got our bearings and headed off around the horseshoe-shaped area looking in the shops and stalls. Books, trinkets, jewellery, crafts, clothing – both Western and Indian – and even a mix of both at the famous Fabindia store. We spent hours doing the full circle and luckily there were plenty of restaurants, cafés and eateries to give us the sustenance to keep going. We stopped for lunch in a small eatery and I had the most delicious aloo ghobi I have ever eaten (the recipe I was given from the chef is shown here for you to try your hand), followed with an equally delicious masala chai. Indians always smile when you ask for one.
Once we’d had our fill of shopping we grabbed a rickshaw ride to Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the most prominent Sikh Temple in Delhi. Not only is this a temple with a holy pool but they also serve food here to thousands of people every hour of every day, all for free, to whoever walks through the door. Beggar, businessman, holy man or tourist, no matter what colour, religion or caste, everyone gets fed. We walked through the temple, watched the ceremony going on at that time and then made our way to the kitchen and watched the team of volunteers peeling, cutting, cooking, stirring, serving and chatting. It was a sight that warmed our souls. We were told that there was no need for beggars in Delhi to be on the streets as they could all be fed there.
Other things you can see on a stopover are: Humayun’s Tomb (a Mughal Emperor), The Red Fort, a Bollywood show at the Kingdom of Dreams complex, Delhi Gate, Ghandi’s memorial, and of course a day or overnight trip to Agra to see the mesmerising Taj Mahal.
Have you ever explored Delhi? What amazed you about this destination? Let us know in the comments below.