Continued on from THIS post!
| Sikh man with gigantic turban |
| Tourist shot; spot the dorky money pouch? |
So we woke up the next morning after this and decided to go to Wenger's (a super popular Western bakery) at Connaught place to buy some pastries, macaroons and other fun stuff to snack on during the day. We planned to go to Humayun's tomb (a popular tourist destination) before we were to go on a walking tour of Old Delhi. After we got to Humayun's tomb (pictures above and below) we took a quick "break" and scoffed down all our baked goods in 10 mins because they were that good.
There were a lot of local school students visiting that day too and they must have thought we looked very interesting because they crowded around R and I, trying to touch our clothes and grasp our hands and shouting out hello and "hello, didi!" (which I think means "big sister" in Hindi) so that was kind of sweet.
The tomb and its surrounding gardens were beautiful, and massive. It was funny because when we entered, we thought the entrance arch (which was gigantic and a masterpiece in itself) so we oohed and ahhed only to walk through it and realise there is a giant sprawling garden tomb (the main building in the photo above, which was so wide and large my poor lens couldnt even fit it in one frame). Anyhow, short history lesson aside, the tomb built in the late 1500s was where the Mughal emperor Humayun was buried . It is now a UNESCO site, and I believe it was the 1st garden tomb built in India- it is kind of a precursor to the great Taj Mahal that was going to be built years later. I just thought that it was really cool to see the Persian and Asian influence in the Mughal architecture; getting to see and understand the beautiful architecture of all the historical places we went to in India was probably one of my favourite parts of the whole trip.
| Richard busy scoffing down an apple danish |
After spending several hours walking around in awe (I couldnt even come close to capturing the sheer size of the tomb), we haggled a rickshaw back to our hotel where we would meet Nil who would take us on a walking tour.
| Crazy electrical wiring |
After introducing ourselves with Nil, we found out that it was just going to be Richard, Nil and I on the rest of the India portion of our trip (we had thought our tour would have 8 other people but they all cancelled last minute) which turned out to be pretty cool as it was like having a private guide and friend all in one.
The photos above are of Jama Masjid, the main mosque in Old Delhi and the largest one in India (click HERE to see a crazy picture of the whole mosque...crazy right?). At the entrance I got jipped an exorbitant fee to buy disposable slippers (you are not allowed to wear shoes inside). Inside however, it was so peaceful (well as peaceful as it can get in the middle of Old Delhi). The mosque was built by Shah Jahan, the emperor who also built the Taj Mahal and Red Fort at Agra. It is on one of the busiest streets in old Delhi (it is impossible to get anywhere not on foot). Even at peak hour, walking through some of the narrow streets which fit two people shoulder to shoulder involved brushing against people left right and centre.
On a side note, I think it was in one of those streets or on the subway -which are also extremely packed- that Richard got his phone (a Samsung Note) pickpocketed (!).
| Extremely busy street in Old Delhi right outside the mosque |
| Walking along one of the winding narrow alleyways |
| Lady making Chai |
There was a good side however. After being led by Nil through all the winding alleyways of shops, houses and tiny beauty parlors we were told by Nil that "the best Chai can be found in the dirtiest, dodgiest places". And it turned out to be so true!
A sweet old lady in one of the shops made us some Indian Chai, the first taste we would ever get. She basically stirred some milk, spices, tea and sugar (lots of it) in a saucepan, poured it into biodegradable cups (biodegradable because she wanted to increase tourist revenue, smart right?) and gave it to us steaming hot. After that we were hooked and pretty much drank masala chai every single day, multiple times a day from then on!
| Wedding shops |
We then visited a Sikh temple (above), where we learnt about the Sikh religion. After being told that we had to wear head coverings (see first photo of the post of a turbanned Sikh man) and wash our feet at the entrance, we went inside and observed a daily ritual and then visited the volunteers who work there all day cooking and preparing food for worshippers. They were extremely lovely and even let Richard have a go at making some roti...which was a lot harder than it looked...
| From clockwise: R with one of the cooks, another cook who asked me to take his photo after putting a cake tin on his head, volunteers making roti, and R learning how to roll roti dough |
After that, it was the late afternoon so we took a cycle rickshaw from Chandni Chowk (famous busy street in Old Delhi) back to our hotel, stopping along the way to buy some spices, tea and other knick knacks to take back home.
Right before we left for our hotel, we climbed to the top of one of the buildings and watched the sun set over Old Delhi. And whilst yes it is dirty, noisy, crowded, chaotic and run down in most places, there is a undeniable beauty about it that I can't really describe. It has a certain spirit, vivacity, colour and craziness that you can't get anywhere else. You have to be there to understand it, and even when you are there amongst all the sights, smells, tastes and sounds...you hate it and love it at the same time. I think it's the India feeling...and it is probably the single reason why I want to go back!
Thanks for staying with me, and leaving such lovely comments still even though I haven't posted for a while!