We have been exploring Delhi in 2 parts : we went to Old Delhi right before leaving to Rajasthan, and we ended our journey in India by a day in New Delhi.
Let’s dive into this huge city.
First ride in tuk tuk to go to Old Delhi
The contrast between Old Delhi and other parts of Delhi is shocking: dense crowd, narrow and tumultuous roads, constant noise, a wide variety of different smells (not always pleasant…): This is the real India.
Given that we went to Old Delhi on one of the first day of our trip, this has been quite amazing to discover this part of the city for us used to have sidewalks and pavements.
A very important goat
The life is literally in the streets in Old Delhi
We first visited Jama Masjid: we were quite excited at the idea of discovering the biggest mosque of India, but our visit was a little bit ruined by the number of scams that the staff tried to pull on us: trying to make us believe that we had to pay for the entrance when it’s actually just for cameras, trying to make us pay a ridiculous price for the drape we had to borrow to cover our legs, trying to make us pay again when we exited… To be added to a begging child who followed us around repeating “10 rupees please” all visit long.
We then went to the Red Fort of Delhi, built in 1640 by the Mongol Emperor Shah Jahan (the grandson of Akbar!). As much as the fort is an impressive citadel, the monument suffers from the same problem as Jaipur’s: no real effort in protecting the palaces or renovating them… We haven’t been able to see much of it, as entry was forbidden in most of the buildings.
A small palace that used to be in the middle of a pond. Why not try to put some water back in it?
Nevertheless, a pretty impressive structure!
We did end our day on a very interesting note, discovering Gurudwara Sis Ganj. A free guide took us through this Sikh temple, telling us about the Sikh religion and what they do. The Sikh let anyone from any religion come pray in their temple or participate to the ceremonies. They have a huge kitchen were volunteers cook free meal for anyone (again, from any religion whatsoever) coming to the temple at the lunch or dinner hours. A real lesson of humility for every religion…
The atmosphere in New Delhi is entirely different from the Old Delhi’s one. The streets are wider, it’s less crowed, more livable… That was an easy way to end our Indian journey. We visited there two very interesting and beautiful Unesco monuments (perfectly preserved for a change), once again reminders of the power of the ancient Mongol civilization.
The first and most impressive one was Qutb Minar. This huge victory tower (72 meters high for 14m of diameter) erected in 1199 is truly magnificent.
On the same site, a sultan tried to build another minaret that was supposed to be at least twice as tall… a project abandoned at the end of its first story.
A 5th century 99,5 pure Iron column, a feat that Occidentals were only capable of reproducing in the 19th century
The second one was Humayun’s Tomb, a mausoleum built by the widow of Mongol Emperor Humayun. This impressive tombstone is the one which inspired the very well-known Taj Mahal.
See the resemblance?
Delhi has been a crazy city to spend a few days in, swarming with people, and the contrast between Old Delhi and New Delhi is startling. It’s definitely a city you cannot forget.