Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Delhi, India (A day tour)

I had been to Delhi at least 50 times I think, but I had never been a tourist in this historic city! I mean, as a kid, sure, my parents had visited Qutub Minar and Red Fort with me, but I had no memories, whatsoever. So, this time around I was determined to go see all the touristy places on my list. I only had a day(and a few hours next day) to spare, but well, something is better than nothing. So, there I was. I was accompanied by my parents-in-law, sister-in-law and my 10 month old niece on first day and oh, how much fun it is to roam around with family! I will treasure these pictures with them forever! :)
PS: I think I did a good job with the pics from  my cell phone! \m/

Getting around

Car: We chose to hire a cab for a day. Having a car was super convenient since I was accompanied by my family. We did end up spending quite sometime in traffic, but we tried to avoid rush hour by starting at 10 am and getting home by 6 pm. Parking was an issue, but didn't hurt us much since our driver would drop us at the main entrance and then spend time looking for parking.

Metro: Delhi is very well connected by Metro. Especially the touristy spots have a conveniently located metro station close by. So, if you are keen on doing-it-yourself, this may be a good option.

Touristy places to visit

Rashtrapti Bhavan

Rsashtrapati Bhavan
Our first stop was Rashtrapati Bhavan. You can drive right up to the main entrance of the building but can't of course park here. Entry is strictly prohibited unless you have a visitor pass. We didn't. However, it makes for a good picture spot. Built by the British, it has such a modern yet classic architecture. Very impressive. Mughal gardens are well-manicured lawns located on the backside of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Our driver dropped us somewhere close to the entrance of these gardens and after thorough security check, we were let in. The gardens were very crowded and demanded a long walk. It took us a little less than an hour to walk the entire visitor path and head back out. Be ready for all the walking. 
Exporing Mughal gardens with family
 On a side note: One can visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan after taking permission on their website and submitting the required documents. On my list for next time!

Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid's Courtyard
Next we drove to Jama Masjid. We were now getting in to narrow crooked old-Delhi roads. What fun! Driver dropped us off at the footsteps of the entrance. It is a courtyard with huge doors and beautiful corridors all around. We were here during the prayer time so we had to wait for the prayer to get over before we could go towards the corridors where prayers were begin offered. We just sat and relaxed. Lot of pigeons in the courtyard, so lot of photo-ops with them. And you could also get a very clear view of the red fort from the corridors. Beautiful, sunny and a good reminder of old Mughal architecture.

Red Fort

The iconic Red Fort
Very close to the Jama Masjid and hence, of course our next stop was Red Fort. Get your tickets from the ticket counter and head towards the main entrance. A beautiful Indian flag atop this fort welcomes you. Once you get past the narrow alley lined with many small shops, you are in the Red Fort courtyard. I would suggest grabbing a map and following a route as per your plan. May be getting a guide would have been a better idea. I was highly disappointed by the state-of-affairs here at Red Fort. A monument of such great historic importance and significance shoudl have been well maintained. Scores of people visit this place everyday and it doesn't make for a good impressions. However, after going around the area and taking a few picture of Diwan-e-Aam, Diwan-e-Khaas, etc. we head out.

Get a map before you explore!
I wanted to go see Agrasen ki Baoli as it makes for a terrific photo -op, but somehow skipped it. So yes, get a guide and don't be too hopeful.

Humayun's Tomb

Isa Khan's tomb
Next up was Humayun's Tomb. This was my favorite spot for the day. It has been well preserved and well taken care of. We walked up to the entrance, went upstairs, roamed around in corridors. The layout reminds you of Taj Mahal (both being tombs). Beautiful manicured lawns all around the tomb and lovely views of the densely populated city surrounding the area. On your way out, towards your left is another old tomb, which is Octagonal and was currently under restoration. This will be my pick for the day. 

India Gate

India Gate at night
I have roamed around India Gate with friends at night a few times while in Delhi during college days. This time too, it brought back old memories. Met up with cousins and friends for a long stroll here under the street lights. Plus, the snack-shops all around are the best bet for Delhi street food. If you go before 10 pm(I think), you can walk up to the Amar Jawan Jyoti in memory of all the soldiers lost in war.

Qutb Minar

While we were able to visit all the above spots during the first day, we left Qutb Minar for day #2. It is easily do-able the same day as well. For starters, weather was lovely. Cool and pleasant. The restoration has been very well done and this monument too, like Humayun's Tomb is very well maintained. Plenty of remains/ruins of other buildings in this area along with Qutub Minar. This was the best place for photo ops in my opinion and I had a good time. However, going up the tower isn't permitted, so that's a bummer, but the views, the remains of a courtyard with a corridor in front of the tower are surely worth a visit.

Being Touristy!
Qutb Minar

What more to see/do:

  • Roam around Connaught Place
  • Shop @ Dilli Haat
  • AkshardhamTemple
  • Lotus Temple
  • And many many more: Find a comprehensive guide here.