New Delhi : colourful, energetic and spiritual place
We were desperate looking for a getaway during Eid holidays: it should be affordable, not far from Dubai and totally different to our life here – we were keen to see a new culture, beautiful nature and “true” life….That’s why we booked a flight to New Delhi…
We stayed in Vikram Hotel
, it has 4 stars and is located just two minutes walking from the metro station in the south part of the city. We can describe the hotel as small, cozy, clean and charming, it has a very good Indian restaurant with delicious culinary delights.
Our first shock was driving style in India: in the city plagued by honking habit there are plenty of small cars, rikshaws and bicycles – all are moving in a totally chaos without any rules. We always took rikshaw (or tuk-tuk how we called it) and were less scared, more excited and thrilled.
We visited some amazing temples: world famous The Bahá'í House of Worship (more known as Lotus Temple) with a huge park and a museum, where you will learn more about the religion and its history.
In the same day we visited Bangla Sahib Gurudwara – the most important Sikh house of worship. It was a big contrast to Bahai temple: more people, who came for praying, less tourists, mixed and colourful crowd. In the Gurudwara all people, regardless of race or religion may eat in the Gurdwara kitchen, but we didn’t as we didn’t want to use our medicines in the first day.
Next cultural destination was Jama Masjid, best-known mosque in India, located in the old part of Delhi. The way to the mosque was not easy, after tuk-tuk driver dropped us, we had to go through the quite narrow street full of people who were trying to sell us everything possible and impossible; handicapped and kids, who wanted money from us; mentally disabled, who were just shouting and others, who were also on the way to the mosque.
After we finally reached Jama Masjid we were happy to rest a bit inside a peaceful courtyard of the mosque, but our happiness suddenly gone – almost everybody wanted to make photos with us, of us or asked us to make photo of them. Actually taking pictures with foreigners is the major hobby of all locals in India.
We can highly recommend a walking city tour with volunteers of Salam Balak Trust
. It is a charity organisation, that runs five 24-hour full care shelters for children, provides them place to stay, food and water, medicine, lessons, and basically you can say, provides them a chance to have a future – get education and find a job. Old boys who want to improve their English and meet new people from all over the world can be city walk guides.
Together with our guide, 19 years old Ajay, and some other tourists from Australia and UK, we made a journey through the enchanting streets of the inner city of Paharganj and the area around New Delhi railway station, where we could see, how hard life in the capital of India is. We also visited the shelter and attended English lesson for boys – they all were so cheerful, loud and friendly, that for a while we even forgot that some of them have to fight for surviving each single day.
Delhi has not only slums, also nice areas with restaurants and cafes, where you can escape from the city’s madness. We recommend Greater Kalash One: it has markets, cafes, swanky clubs and is home to the most affluent people in India. Our favourite place there was Mocha Café with its individual décor, menu and ambience.
Two hours express train or six hours bus are worth it to see the world famous mausoleum Taj Mahal in Agra. We were lucky – it was raining there, and after two years in Dubai the rain was also a part of our cultural program in India.
- Don’t pay 250 Rupees for the entry in Jama Masjid, the mosque is free for everybody, and the people who require the entrance fee are scams
- If you are going to temples, take socks with you – especially in summer the floor outside can be hot
- Always ask tuk-tuk drivers to use meter, they must do it by law
- If you want to take a train, buy the tickets only in the Tourist Bureau on the first floor in the Railway Station and never listen to those who tell you that it’s closed (also scams).
- The metro is cheap, save and in the evening quite empty
- If you are lost or need any help, try to ask other tourists, from our experience they know more than locals
The four days we spent in New Delhi were fantastic! We saw a lot, learned a lot and got unforgettable experience!
Annika Gateau and Olga Lobanova for ExpatWoman.com