Indian Journey Part XIV: Delhi in a Day

July 10, 2010 in India, Travel by pacejmiller

Roadside markets in Delhi

It’s impossible to see any city in a day, but we gave it our best shot when we only had a solitary day to see as many sights in Delhi we could.  Luckily for us, we had our own driver (Kumar) who could take us wherever we wanted (within reason).  Besides, after almost suffering heat stroke on our long day trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal the day before, all we wanted to do was go to a landmark, take some happy snaps, and then get back in the air conditioned car to have some more water.  We were confident we could do it.

(to read on, click on ‘more…’)

Accordingly, we started a little late, around 10am.  Due to the planning debacle I referred to in a previous post, we actually hadn’t paid a cent to the tour agency at that point yet.  So Kumar’s first task was to drive us to the offices of his company where we would hand over some cash to his boss.

The office was in a local shopping district with narrow streets lined with stores and hustlers trying to get you to spend a buck or two.  It was also being overhauled in preparation for the Commonwealth Games in October, meaning it was filled with dust and the roads were bumpier than a pimply butt.

Driving in Delh had its obstacles...

The transaction took place in a tiny little office nearby, and by the end of it everyone was all smiles.  We were glad to finally get this out of the way and I think the owner of the agency needed the money.

We didn’t really start off our tour of Delhi until 11am, but it ended up being plenty of time.  Kumar didn’t have to drive like a maniac like he did yesterday because Sundays were quiet days on the road in Delhi.  People go to the mountains, he told us.

We drove pass some local roadside markets buzzing with people before arrive at the first attraction, the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India.  Built during the 17th century, we could tell the Muslim site of prayer was absolutely enormous, like a football stadium, even though we only took a look from the outside.  I had originally intended to go inside to take a look, but one step outside of the car changed my mind.

Jama Masjid

Next, across the road to see the Red Fort, also built in the 17th century by Shajahan (the guy that decided to build the Taj Mahal).  The Red Fort is extraordinarily wide, so wide that I couldn’t tell where it began and ended.  We jumped out of the car while Kumar did a u-turn, and in those couple of minutes I literally thought my entire body had caught on fire.  It felt even hotter than yesterday, and yesterday was 46 degrees Celsius.  I was surprised people weren’t just dropping dead in front of us.

Red Fort

We scurried back into the car and took a drive up to Raj Ghat, a memorial for Mahatma Gandhi.  You can’t go to India without going to see something dedicated to the Mahatma.  It’s a really big park with a flame in the middle.  The only negative thing about the place is that you need to walk all the way in on foot to see it!  Did I mention it was hot?

Raj Ghat

Then, a relatively new attraction in Delhi but rated as one of the best.  A “must see”.  A place Kumar and his boss told us was THE attraction to see.  Once you’ve seen this place, you’ve seen them all.  That place is Akshardham Temple.  It’s right next to the Commonwealth Games athletes village, and I have to admit, it’s quite a sight, even though building wasn’t complete until 2005.  Akshardham Temple is a ridiculous visual treat that needs to be seen to be believed.  It’s not quite the Taj Mahal, but it’s definitely worth taking a look.  Apparently the inside is jaw dropping too, but as usual, the heat was too much of a deterrent.

Akshardham Temple

After Akshardham, we headed back towards New Delhi to see India Gate, which was okay, but not exactly the Arc de Triomphe.  It was also being restored, so the scaffolding was a little distracting.

India Gate

We then circled up to see the President’s House and Parliament.  Again, good to take a look, but we didn’t linger any longer than necessary.

President's House

By then, we were hungry, but there were still more places to see.  Next up was the Qutub Minar, a minaret built at the turn of the 13th century that stands at 238 feet (pretty impressive for that time).

Qutub Minar

One more place to go, but by now we were too hungry, so on our way to the next destination, we stopped by at a…wait for it…McDonald’s!  Hear me out.  We needed a quick and cheap meal because we were having a big one that night.  You’ll see where in a couple of posts.

My wife wondered whether they would have any beef burgers, given this was India and all.  I was like, of course man, this is McDonald’s!  But no, they didn’t!  Instead of the Big Mac, they had the Maharaja Mac!  It was like the Big Mac except instead of the beef patties and “special sauce”, you got grilled chicken patties and some other chili sauce.  I have to say I was impressed by how good it tasted!  Definitely recommended if you are as sad as us and go to a McDonald’s in India.

The Maharaja Mac!

The last attraction we saw in India?  The place my marrying mate told me that I had to go and see: the Bahai Lotus Temple.  It looked just like the Opera House in Sydney!

Bahai Lotus Temple

By this time (2pm), we were spent and needed a “rest”.  So what did my wife decide?  Shopping!

Stay tuned for more!

[PS: This also meant we missed out on a few more attractions, namely Humayan’s Tomb, Jantar Mantar, Birla Mandir, ISKCON Temple and the Purana Quila (Old Fort).]