The Kings cared very much about water and monuments. Both were learnt in my second day in Delhi. I will get to that soon, but let’s start at the beginning.
We woke up to plans of a packed out day. Indian mornings are stunning. The light is a soft blue-orange. Yes if you’ve been here before you know what I’m on about. I love running out to the balcony to see the sky and breathing fresh air. It was good. Especially from 4 floors up.
Our first stop was Red Fort in the heart of Old Delhi. We decided to take the low road today, as yesterday’s driver ended up a bit exxy (rupees wise) with all his hidden parking costs. We were a 10min walk from the local metro (also built by the British, complete with the audio of a woman telling you to MIND THE GAP 😂). Yes the train was squashy. No it wasn’t smelly. Yes more stares. It was fun! Never expect to sit though. Once we got back to ground zero we jumped in a little Auto aka Tuk Tuk.
Now I could finally experience the streets of Delhi front row style. Dust in your face, horns beeping everywhere. It’s easy to practice mindfulness but it sure doesn’t keep you calm!
War. We got to red fort and it was just breathtaking. Kings of the 17th C occupied the magnificent buildings behind it. There was much history of the Indian army behind these walls, and its last occupants were soldiers, with the Brits building 18C barracks in the area.
Water canals. They ran through and connected every building there was inside. They were used as early day air conditioning units to cool the rooms down. There were fountains and pools to sit beside everywhere too. We walked through columns and buildings known as the late king’s court and balconies from which people would watch lions in a duel. It felt like magic.
Then there were the street selling carts loaded with litres of Water with minerals.
I kid you not, I probably smashed about 5 litres of water in one day of walking. And I certainly did not feel like sweated the same amount out! The dry heat is bearable, but you will feel faint if you don’t keep replenishing. Even a sneaky sweet Lychee juice keeps you going.
Next stop was the mosque at Jama Masjid. We had to barter down the price of the auto to get there. My blonde hair and relative tall frame does not help me in this way. Hilarious though, how the land of peace, zen and Ghandi is occupied by bartering, loud talking, arguing and horn beeping. At the mosque I saw a few more foreigners, and we all were given a colourful dress to wear inside. I need to stop and point out here that in India, foreigners are charged 500 rupees for entry to sites (approx $10AUD) and Indian nationals are charged 30 rupees (70c!).
There’s no justice here, only acceptance.
I found myself sitting at one of those pools washing my feet with a couple of cute little girls smiling at me. It was fun introducing each other. I felt God occupied this place. Beauty and peace surrounded me.
I took a few snaps with locals at their request and instantly felt better inside for it. After all it costs nothing to smile- and I felt I had all the time in the world for them.
Next stop was my first local restaurant experience at Kuchin Mahajan- except we had to drive through an arcade with a roof of exposed wires and market stalls. So much fun! The food was so tasty. Paneer (tofu curry) was going to be ordered again 😍.
Peace. Raj Ghat was the next stop, a series of gardens dedicated to the king in my eyes- Mahatma Ghandi. Marble stone had some of his quotes engraved in them, and as you walked closer to the centre you must take off your shoes and be softly spoken. A marble tomb with flower wreaths and an eternal flame was centric to the whole place. I definitely felt so inspired by his teaching, feeling like a bit of his blood runs through my veins. Determined to buy some books about him when I get home. I definitely resonated with his quote;
‘True happiness does not come from without; it comes only from within’
Pause; Stop; Think. Big words for this big trip of mine.
Qutub Minar. After 40min in heavy traffic trying to get to the other side of town, we made it to this tall sky scraping monument surrounding it huge arches and pillars with broken pieces of relics. It was such a beautiful place to photograph, as the afternoon sun was soft & shadows took lovely shapes. Here we found moments of silence amidst thousands of people crawling the place. As we walked out, we had a man pestering us to get into his auto. He followed up across the road while we bought fresh water. I judged. I saw the scars on his face, his teeth and scrawny figure and just wanted to keep moving. He turned out to be the most personable, funny, entertaining driver so far. He even let us learn to drive his auto! He charged 2 rupee but I just gave him 50, I didn’t care, he made us smile and have a giggle forgetting how tired we were.
Sunsets. At last i was determined to see the sun set over India gate. It was stunning, and filled with quite an atmospheric crowd. Not to mention crazy toys, henna tattoo ladies & fake professional photographers offering their services.
I felt safe, I felt homely. I didn’t mind walking home in the dark as we did to be honest with you. Trips to Hong Kong and Malaysia unknowingly geared me up for this place.
I felt fearless again. A feeling I felt I lost after the personal hardships of the past year that lead me upto this point.
Healing. That’s what it was.
Photo: taking a break in the remains with the sight of Qutub Minar in the background