India! Spicy, loud,colourful, playful.
Our first stop for AsiaQuest, as we have said on posts some 5 years ago when we first visited this country, can be at the same time one of the best or the worst experiences. As its tourism logo suggests it is “Incredible India” !
India will teach you how to be patient and how to manage situations you never thought you would be. India might bring you a hell lot of discomfort.Dirty roads, typical stomach problems and sometimes communication is not ideal. However,and inspite of all the discomfort, India will give you endless freedom to enjoy this diverse land and mingle with the friendly people and their ancient traditions.
For these reasons, India could not be out of the list of our AsiaQuest :)
We landed in Delhi airport on the 15th of December. The flight was comfortable even though excitement kept us awake. Luckily we were going to be hosted by Kazuma ,friend of our friend from Uni, Christina. We headed to the metro which was to our surprise upgraded ! New wagons and even plugs for electrical devices ! People around us were dressed most of them in western clothing playing with their smartphones. But still this is the capital and one of the most expensive cities in India (other than Bolywood’s Mumbai).
Our stop was a middleclass Indian neighbourhood. A complex of houses under a central gate. Even though middleclass though still the streets were sandy , dirty and the houses were tight and packed, looking unfinished. Our hosts were 3 cool guys living on their own and had their own company organising events. Our stay was comfortable from the accommodation part so we got out there ready to explore Delhi !
Delhi is the ideal place for someone to start touring around India.Having in total 7 cities that have existed in the past centuries in the area , Delhi offers incredible contrast and variety in its buildings and architecture.
The same evening we decided to visit Qutib Minar as it was only 2 km from were we were staying. After getting out on the dusty road and got on an autoricksaw the same excitement hit us again!
I don’t know really but we find them so exciting to travel in mainly because it is a hybrid between a scooter and mini car ! Anyway after 10minutes of some crazy indian driving we were there. And indeed Qutib Minar looked impressive. It was built in 1199 and till today it is considered the highest brick-made minar in India.
We took our time strolling around the area and as it was getting dark the smells of familiar mix of dust essence sticks burning and the smell of food led us to a small area with a deserted mosque on top ! For us this was the biggest and real discovery. In the dim city lights , locals were sitting at the steps, others walking around it. We stayed a little bit and felt really calm observing the people pass by.
After that in a local place not very clean looking but very busy, we decided to have our first meal , butter chicken with Naan bread which was really good !
We spent 2 days in Delhi exploring the main sights of this city, something that we hadn’t time to do the previous time in India. We got to visit the Old Delhi with its main LandMark, the Red Fort (Lal Qila) .
Lal Qila in hindustani means the “Blessed Fort” and this was the residence of the Mughal emperor of India for nearly 200 years. It was built around 1648 by Shah Jahan at the peak of the Mughal Era so as to be his palace of the then capital Shahjahanabad. Around the huge area of the fort you can be sure to get lost in this part of the old capital, today called Old Delhi, with its chaotic Bazaar, Chandni Chowk, and its busy streets. They are actually so crowded that we had to take a bicycle ricksaw to be able to get there!
Chandni Chowk is one of the oldest and biggest wholesale markets in India so there you can find everything from fruits and vegetalbles, spices and masala mixes to sari decorative elements, sparkly beads and bangles , and even ceremonial arifacts and powders of all sorts!
Another side of the Mughal legacy in Delhi are the wonderful tombs and mausoleums of the tomb complex of Isa Khan Niyazi, an Afghan noble in Sher Shah Suri’s court of the Suri dynasty, who fought against the Mughals, constructed in 1547 CE, as per Wikipedia.
The complex includes several other tombs other than the tomb of the Emperor Humayun. It represented a leap in Mughal architecture, and together with its accomplished Charbagh garden, typical of Persian gardens, but never seen before in India, it set a precedent for subsequent Mughal architecture a tecnique that reached its zenith with the Taj Mahal, at Agra.
First impression of India being easy and uneventful we were ready to board the train for our next destination, Amritsar and the Golden Temple!