Day 2 (October 18, 2014)   Old Delhi


   Our arrival to Indian Capital city is scheduled at 4:50 AM, so we have this entire day to explore the city.

   This day we’ll focus in Old Delhi, where we’re allocated and the place we must take next day the train to Jaipur from.

Old Delhi map

   The spots marked at map are:

 0- Hotel Arina Inn
 1- Red Fort
 2- Jama Masjid Mosque
 3- Raj Ghat
 4- Spice bazaar
 5- Old Delhi train station


   Our flight lands in Delhi even some minute before the already early scheduled time, around 4:30 AM. Besides, the immigration procedures are quick as the long lines are for locals here, for a change.

   As I cannot see ATMs, I exchange 100€ while waiting for our baggage and I get 7300 rupees (Rs). It is not a good rate, as use to happen on airport offices. At the exit I find an ATM, but our Mastercard is not valid for it. While Eva is taking a coffee I go to get a SIM phone card to the Airtel stand nearby. I pay 980 Rs for it, which is already charged with more than 500 Rs.

   When we’re ready we go to the car rental stands at the left end of the hall because the Italian guy we were talking yesterday gave us the advice of taking a private taxi here. We pay 1600 Rs for a long ride to Old Delhi which allows us to see the Indian gate and the Presidential Palace in our way. The streets around the palace are surprisingly full of monkeys.

View of Indian Gate

  We’re not surprised by the look of the streets in Old Delhi as we were well prepared for it, but we’re indeed surprised by the hotel, which delivers our room at this early time in the morning as it is not even 7 AM yet. The room is fabulous and it allows us to rest for an hour, taking care of not getting slept as it could ruin our visits. We plan to keep ourselves awaken until 7 PM at least.

   With our full stomachs after the breakfast we’ve ordered to our room, we leave the hotel some minutes after 9 AM ready to join the chaos of these streets. Before, I get 10000 Rs cash from the ATM at the hotel entrance.

Our room in Arina Inn HotelStreet in Old Delhi

   We walk to our first visit: the mosque Jama Masjid and manage to cross some difficult roads following the local people as the rickshaws and bikes are passing very close for every side.

   We pay 300 Rs per person at the entrance of the mosque and they offer cloths to cover us and keeping our shoes, but my shorts are long enough and Eva brings her own scarf. We keep our shoes in our bags and tell them we’re going to leave by the other gate.

Entrance to Jami MasjidView of Old Delhi from Jama Masjid

   This is an amazing place. We could see the red walls from far between the streets, full of rickshaws and cycle rickshaws, but inside we can feel the calm and the building is a magnet for the cameras.

Jami Masjid MosqueJami Masjid Mosque

   We leave the mosque by its Northern Gate as we’re going to walk through the bazaars to the fort. They’re selling a lot of crackers because of Diwali. It makes even more people is coming to this usually busy area.

   As we walk around cycle rickshaws are constantly offering to us. We’re refusing all of them as we go to visit Red Fort now.

   We reach Lahore Gate saving the constant traffic of the avenue by an underground pedestrian walkway which we find out is used for some people to live. We must go through by closing our noses.

Red Fort in Delhi

   Military men at fort entrance point us to the ticket boxes downstairs. There are lines for locals and nobody for foreigners’ tickets. The price is different too: we pay 250 Rs each.

   There is a bazaar at the Red Fort entrance and, after it, we find opened spaces, similar to a park than to anything else. The most of the visitants are locals, including some schools.

Red Fort in DelhiEntrance to Red Fort in Delhi

Red Fort in Delhi

Red Fort in Delhi

  We notice some looks to Eva from locals around and it goes crazy when we’re receiving request for having pictures with her, like if she was a celebrity here. We agree quite funny. There is a moment with a line of beautiful teenagers wearing elegant saaris waiting for their turn for the picture with my wife. Later, all the children of a school pose with Eva for the photo is being taken by the teacher. Young men don’t dare to ask directly for a picture with here and ask for a picture with me getting both of us on it. This seems to come for the combination of blonde air, clear eyes and pale skin.

Children looking a picture with EvaRed Fort in Delhi

   Apart from this, visit to Red Fort is peaceful and quiet and, when we finish it, we’re ready to come back to the chaotic streets out there.

   We walk by the Hindu temple in front of Red Fort gate which marks the beginning of the street giving name to this area: Chandni Chowk. We are not leaving the left of the street because we’re looking for the popular patisserie Gunthewala, while working out our way through the hordes of local people on this crowded area. When we reach the Sikh temple Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib we give up this task and take a cycle rickshaw to the spice bazaar.

Chandni ChowkTemple Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Chandni Chowk

   The ride on this sort of vehicle is exciting between this much of vehicles, animals and people. The “music” from the horns of every rickshaw makes us laugh in a moment as it is like the symphony of madness.

   When we’re stopped, the shops show big bags of nuts everywhere, he must take us further for the spices. They don’t understand words as “spice” or “curry”, it’s word “masala” what makes the magic and everybody understands here. We get our way through the busiest street now, we’ve got the deal he will wait for us there and then will take us to the hotel by 400 Rs.

   We purchase two bags of 200 gr, one of a spicy masala and another of mango powder, by 187 Rs. A guy dressed as Hanuman, the monkey God, asks me for charity and is so persistent that the guy wearing turban in the shop gives him to make him leave.

Nut bazaar in Chandni ChowkGoing through Chandni Chowk by cyclerickshaw

   From here we have a long ride to our hotel through the narrow streets of the different bazaars of Chandni Chowk, like the popular Kinari Bazaar. The streets are decorated for Diwali in a similar way that we do for Christmas. At both sides shops, one after the other, in an endless carrousel, until we see again the magnificent walls of the Mosque.

   It’s 2 PM when we leave the hotel after a short rest in our room and take a rickshaw to Connaught Place for lunching by 60 Rs. Between the lot of restaurants there, with all sort of food, we chose an Indian one looking nice even for our standards.

   Our idea is taking Thali and they offer to bring us, even when it is not in the menu, by 500 Rs each. It is spectacular and at the moment we put eyes on it we know we are not going to finish it. The table gets full with a dish of lentils, another of chicken with a very spicy sauce, another with white rice, another with a spicy mix of vegetables with feta cheese and another with a yogurt sauce. All this to be eaten with these sort of pancakes they use as bread. We find out soon the yogurt is basic here as it counteracts the effect of spicy. We pay 1120 Rs in total, around 14€.

Thali for two

   Later we take a walk by the square and get into the green area in the center of Rajiv Chowk and called “Central Park”. It is full of young people enjoying the grass.

   We then take a street to the South as we’re going to visit the next spot in our list: the Sikh Temple Bangla Sahib.

   At the entrance there is a room downstairs to leave our shoes in exchange of a token with a number. Eva is requested also to take off her socks and she decides waiting for me here to avoid walking barefoot around. I go upstairs and I’m requested to cover my head with one of the bunch of colorful handkerchiefs in a box. I take one but don’t manage to make something good with it and go around this beautiful place with it kept to my head I-don’t-know-how.

Temple Bangla SahibTemple Bangla Sahib

   When leaving I ask for rates to rickshaw drivers and ask me 600 Rs to take me to Lotus Temple, waiting for our visit there, and taking us to Raj Ghat (Gandhi’s memorial), which is at walking distance of our hotel. I know Lotus Temple is quite far and bargain it just to 500 Rs.

   The distance and the traffic jam it takes around one hour to reach the temple, and just to find out it closed 10 minutes ago, at 5:30 PM. We take a look from outside and go back to meet our driver.

Elephants are a vehicle in IndiaBaha'i House of Worship aka Lotus Temple

  I ask to him if Raj Ghat could be closed now too and he answers me it is opened 24 hours, so we go to there. The traffic jam is even worst this time. A noise makes me open my eyes and realize I’ve fell slept in the middle of the traffic chaos. My wife is sleeping too and it is already dark outside, so I ask to the driver to take us directly to our hotel.

   We’ve met our target and kept awaken until night, but can barely resist now. We go to bed at 7 PM and, obviously, we’re knocked out in no time.