I quite honestly don’t have too much to say about Delhi. Much of our 6 days there, Shane was working, which limited our sight-seeing (although, we are really sight-seers anyways….we are more people watchers). When we were out and about, it didn’t capture my heart like Varanasi, but it certainly was an incredibly dynamic place and I was happy to have caught a glimpse of it.
Delhi is an enormous monstrosity of a city. It’s the 2nd most populous city in the world; and it feels like it. In trying to pick a header image for this post, I couldn’t find one (that I took) that I felt was representative of Delhi because it is so multi-faceted ……but one common thread is that it’s crowded everywhere. The picture above is just a casual shopping area on a Tuesday night. People smoothed in beyond belief. I was sweating and pushing my way through, just like everyone else.
I’ll just sum up our brief visit there with what we considered the good stuff and the bad stuff :
The good stuff:
THE FOOD– oh my goodness, the food. We loved the home-cooked meals at Shiva’s Guesthouse in Varanasi….but Delhi is where we really fell in love with Inidian food (specifically, northern india cuisine). Hard core, passionate love. And, we did not hold back on the eating. FYI- Even the nicest Indian restuarants in the US (at least the ones I have been to) do not hold a candle to the hole in the wall places in New Delhi. I can undoubtably say that Indian cuisine is now my absolute favorite. Sorry, Mexico and Thailand- you’ve been beat!
The metro– Delhi’s metro is relatively new (2002 the first line opened) and is in my opinion, the best way to get around. It’s clean, runs pretty much on time, it’s pretty cool in there on a hot day, it’s VERY cheap, and spans the city. Also, there is a “Ladies Only” so women can actually have a seat and some room to breathe. It’s fun to watch the men in the jam packed unisex car stand on the edge and stare into the Ladies Only car! I particularly liked how when they announced the next stop coming up, they also said one of the metro rules like “Do not push and shove the other passengers”. Getting on and off at busy stops is insane and there is often a guard at the doors to hold people back. There is a lot of pushing and shoving going on, but- Good job, Delhi, for planting seeds!
Religious Diversity and amazing temples representing the faiths- One of my favorite things was learning more about the different religions and talking to people were of that faith. Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Baha’i. We visited:
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib (Sikh house of worship): we had an hour long private lesson with a Sikh about the religion and family values which was very interesting! We also learned about all of the different turban styles and how Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims and targeted mistakenly in violent acts.
Swaminarayan Akshardham (Hindu mandir): This Hindu temple is very new and opened in 2005. Akshardham means ‘the divine abode of God’. It is hailed as an eternal place of devotion, purity and peace. You are not allowed to bring your camera or phone in, so no pictures! Too bad, because it is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!! However, not having people taking selfies everywhere definitely adds to the feeling of peace. You can get an idea of what it looks like here.
Bahai Lotus Temple (Baha’i temple): This was my favorite. I had never heard of the Baha’i faith and after learning/reading about it- it really resonated with me. It is a progressive religion and many aspects remind me of the Unitarian Universalist religion- all are welcome! The lotus temple and grounds were beautiful.
Lodhi Gardens– my favorite area in Delhi! This park was large, clean, well-manicured, and so green! I cannot tell you how good it felt to walk around this park and not breathe in fumes. I didn’t want to leave.
Our 2nd hotel– After a really bad 1st night in Central Delhi, we stayed in the neighborhood of East of Kailash at a place called “The Legend Inn”. We didn’t know much about this place other than it was a good place for Shane to work out of and it wasn’t in Central Delhi. We walked in and in the lobby was a rock climbing wall! After our recent rock climbing experience, we were stoked. Many of the staff were rock climbers and were so wonderful to talk to. We had a blast staying there and it felt like a breath of fresh air.
And finally, an impromptu early Holi celebration– when walking around Central Delhi, we were on our way out when a parade caught our eye. We walked over and there were some small floats but mostly people smiling, singing and dancing. Some of them had splashes of Holi colors on them and many writing necklaces of flowers and red scarves. We were watching this one particular group who was having so much fun and they ended pulling me in. First the men were having me dance and then their wives got there. They immediately put a scarf and flowers on me and were teaching me the dance they were doing. I had been feeling such a lack of femal connection so this felt like such a gift. I left that experience feeling so rejuvenated.
Air Pollution– speaking of a breath of fresh air….it’s almost impossible to get in Delhi. We knew that it was bad before going, but being in it is another thing. It’s INTENSE. It’s bad. Really, really bad. Shane had a worse reaction from it than I did in Delhi and mine got worse as we went along. We wore masks any time we walked along the street too long or traveled by tuk tuk and we were still coughing up nasty stuff and feeling ill from it. I suppose that’s what happens when you have that many people/vehicles congested in one small area.
Litter/Garbage: it’s everywhere. It’s actually been everywhere we have been so far in India, but it was maybe the worst in Delhi?? Again, put that many people in a city with virtually no trash services or garbage cans and it’s bound to happen. We both could talk about this issue for days…but I’ll spare you 🙂
Our 1st hotel: We had another horrible hotel experience when we first got to Delhi. Luckily, with a little patience and remembering that everything turned out fine in Varanasi when this happened….the next day we landed the perfect spot. We won’t hold this against you, Delhi!