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India

Not a Single Dull Moment in New Delhi

By on May 21, 2017

New Delhi. This colossal capital city of India has a higher population than the entire population of Australia and is absolutely bustling with experiences, sights and sensory overloading scenes at every turn.

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 11.00.17 amAlthough New Delhi is one of the most polluted cities on planet earth there is beauty to be found within every corner of the city. From breathtaking temples, gardens and structures to colourful local moments witnessed in the back streets of local life, there is a certain charm to the rubbish-crusted capital.

New Delhi was the starting point for my mother and my Indian adventure and after a good nights sleep we dived in head first to the overwhelming metropolis.

We spent our first day being shown the most significant sights with the brain-power of a local guide.

First we started at Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque. After putting on the moo moo modesty dresses available to wear at the entry we entered through the giant mosque gates to be immediately left in awe of the picture-perfect architecture that took 13 years to build, being completed in 1650. Constructed by Mughal ruler Shah Jahan, Jama Masijd is made of red sandstone strips and marble and stands at a grand 40 ft with 4 angles, 2 minarets and can contain 25,000 devotees. We strolled around the beautiful holy sight before heading towards the well known Red Fort of New Delhi.

18198551_603538846509031_7303999159378861057_nThe Red Fort was home to Mughal Emperors for nearly 200 years,before being converted to barracks for the British colonial army. The iconic landmark is now easily recognised by the iconic red sandstone architecture and is home to many stories dating back to India’s pre-independence era. These days this massive time-tested fortress today is the backdrop for large scale national events such as the Republic Day and Independence Day.

We then visited Raj Ghat, the final resting ground and memorial of many of India’s greatest heroes including Mahatma Gandhi, affectionately referred to as the Father of the Nation, who was assassinated on January 30, 1948.  The black marble platform at the sight marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated after his assassination and still shakes up feelings of patriotism and gratitude in may Indian’s hearts. The sight is surrounded by a beautiful park with labeled trees planted by like Queen Elizabeth II, USA President Eisenhower, Ho Chi Minh and various others adds serenity to the memorial.

Our next stop was Qutab Minar, a 73 m high tower, and the tallest brick minaret in the world, built in 1193 for unknown reasons which some believe was made to signify victory and the beginning of Muslim rule in India, while others say it was used to call the faithful to prayer. Whatever the constructive motives were, the site showcases Indo-Islamic architecture reminiscent of the distinct styles from the Tughlak and Aibak dynasties that ruled Delhi at the time.

18193890_603329249863324_7981642728383391776_nThe morning had flown by between all the beautiful sights and soon our guide was taking us to a ‘nice local restaurant’. It turns out the “local restaurant” served curries at prices higher than Australia and with a room full of bowtie wearing waiters it wasn’t hard to smell fishy commishy dodginess in the 5 star restaurant air.

Refusing to give in to our guide (who had actually slammed the door on me when we entererd) we walked out and spent an awkward drive with a very angry guide who told us to “just eat at McDonalds” we were finally taken to a genuine local eatery where we spent a 20th of the price on a tasty Indian meal to fuel us for the afternoon.

We spent an uncomfortable afternoon visiting the political side of town where we admired the magnificent Parliament House known as Rashtrapati Bhawan and India Gate (the towering Arc-de-Triumph-like archway WW1 war memorial) with our moody guide until heading to our hotel home for some curry and sleep.

The next day we were guideless and free to explore some sights at our own pace with less chance of disrespectful encounters.

18199433_603329763196606_3736928359649776772_nWe started our day at Laxminarayan Temple (Birla Mandir), a 1939 Hindu temple build in reverence to Lord Narayana and Goddess Laxmi but open to every faith and a symbol of India’s unity in diversity philosophy. The temple was gorgeous and admiring the bright red and yellow stone architecture was a great start to the day.

Next up was a Sikh temple of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, as our driver was a Sikh and keen to show us a place of his own faith. The temple was was once a bunglow of Mirza Raja Jai Singh – hence giving its name Bangla Sahib. The temple has a deep-rooted history that dates all the way back to the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and rumour has it the temple once saved the residents of Delhi from a severe epidemic. Up until this day the temple attracts devotees from all over the world to take a dip in the healing holy water.

We then went for a stroll around the Lodi gardens, the most tranquil place we had encountered so far in New Delhi. Lodi Gardens is a 90 acre garden of stark contrast to the rest of New Delhi, and was once the home of Delhi’s oldest dynasty, the Lodhi. The garden is home to several monuments like the Bada Gumbad, Bada Gumbad Mosque, Sheesh Gumbad, Sikandar Tomb and Mohammed Shah Tomb that are all brilliant reminiscents of an era gone by. It was a hot morning stroll but we managed to cool down by taking a run through the gardens sprinklers – much to the amusement of some local teenage boys.

18423690_608094716053444_5671538466457908919_nOur next stop was one of the most magnificent sights that my mother and I had ever admired. Swaminarayan Akshardham is a baby in terms of Indian spiritual sights, only having been completed in 2005, but leaves visitors in absolute awe. Heralded by the Guinness World Record as the World’s Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple, Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi is an epitome of Indian culture. The temple is dedicated to showcasing Indian culture. As well as the astonishing architecture of the pink stone and white marble shrine, the complex includes sprawling garden, sculptures, and boat ride. Unfortunately camera’s are not permitted so I wasn’t able to personally capture the beauty of the temple with photography but the memory of the sights beauty will be staying with me long after we leave India…

We finished our sightseeing day with a visit to Humayun’s Tomb, a temple known as the mini Taj Mahal. The connection to the Taj is not surprising given that Humayun’s Tomb was the inspiration for India’s world wonder. Build in 1570 the tomb is the resting place of the second Mughal emperor, Humayun. It was the original version of this type of Mughal architecture to be built in India, to be repeated with similar-mini-Taj-looking Tombs across the country. The tomb is is housed in a  greater complex that’s set among beautiful gardens and we spent the end of our afternoon wandering around taking photos of and with locals before being harassed by a particularly aggressive local tourist for refusing a photo with him after an aggressive arm grab.

18194088_603328366530079_7728025084978902525_nWe ended our last evening in New Delhi with a local restaurant thaali, a couple of gin and tonics and a good nights rest before we headed on to Agra and the great Taj Mahal the following day.

Entrance fees and details of sights seen in New Delhi

Jama Masijd

Timings: 7am – 12noon, 1.30pm to 6.30pm (Open all days except during prayer hours)

Entry Fee: Free

Photography: Allowed at INR 200

 

Red Fort

Timings: 9am – 6pm (Tuesday to Sunday)

Entry Fee:

INR 10 (Indians)

INR 150 (foreigners)

Audio tour in Hindi/ English INR 60/100

Photography: Allowed (Video INR 25)

 

18198498_603535803176002_3831785292452233406_nRaj Ghat

Timings: 6 am – 7 pm (All days)

Entry Fee: Free

Photography: Free

 

Qutab Minar

Timings: 6am – 6pm, closed on weekends

Entry Fee: INR 10 (Indians), INR 250 (foreigners)

Photography: Free

Parliament House

Timings: Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm, closed on Sunday & Monday

Entry Fee: Free but restricted to authorised persons only

Photography: Free

 

18157839_602970089899240_2622513500606592787_nIndia Gate

Timings: Open everyday

Entry Fee: Free

Laxminarayan Temple (Birla Mandir)

Timings: 4:30am – 1:30pm, 2:30pm – 9pm (best time to visit during morning and evening aarti)

Entry Fee: Free

Photography: Not allowed. Mobile phones not allowed

 

Gurudwara Bangla Sahib

Timings: All days of the week, 12am – 12am

Entry Fee: Free

Photography: Not allowed

 

18119529_602967756566140_3485279349432338524_nLodi Gardens 

Timings: Open all days, 6am – 7pm

Entry Fee: Free

Photography: Allowed

 

Swaminarayan Akshardham

Timings: Tuesday – Sunday, 9:30am – 6:30pm, closed on Monday

Entry Fee:

Complex Entry: Free | No Ticket

Exhibition: Ticket (available 10am – 5pm)

Adults: INR 170

Senior Citizen: INR 125

Child (4-11 yrs): INR 100

Child (below 4yrs): Free

Musical Fountain: Ticket

18119427_603168163212766_4063876562505069695_nAdults: INR 30

Senior Citizen: INR 30

Child (4-11 yrs): INR 20

Child (Below 4 yrs): Free

Photography: Not allowed. Mobile phones not allowed

 

Humayun’s Tomb

Timings: All days, 6am – 6pm

Entry Fee: Foreigners, 250 rupees. Indians, 10 rupees. Free for children under 15 years.

Photography: Still photographs free, INR 25 for video filming.

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About Me

Kat Knapp

Hello! I am a 22-year old Australian currently training to be a pilot and studying journalism and sociology I have visited 69 countries across all 7 continents and love to explore. Here is where I share my adventures.

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