Monday, April 7, 2014

India Day Two: New Delhi Attractions

New Delhi,  the first stop during our 8 day tour, is the capital and largest city of India. It's also the second most populous city  in the world.

The city of New Delhi is divided into two parts: Old Delhi and New Delhi. To experience the old world charm of  Delhi, it's best to visit Chandni Chowk, one of the busiest and oldest markets in Delhi.  

Part of our tour was to take a rickshaw ride in and around the market. 

Our rickshaw driver

It proved to be a dangerous and exhilarating adventure as our fearless driver maneuvered his way in and out of traffic. He didn't mind us, his dear passengers, who screamed every time he came too close to other vehicles. 
Busy Street on the Way to Chandni Chowk

The rickshaw ride showed the gritty side Old Dehi but it's not really something we haven't seen here in the Philippines... 
Stalls at the Outskirts of the Market


Mosque in the Middle of Chaos

Street Vendors

Inside Chandni Chowk

Little Alleys

Beautiful Colors

Typical Market Scene

The city of Delhi was designed by British architects, Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker. The Presidential Palace of India, also known as the Rashtrapati Bhavan, is one of their accomplishments. It took 20 years to complete as it sits on 130 hectares and spans not only the Presidential Residence with a 340-room main building, but also includes the Presidential Mughal Gardens and other large open spaces, offices, residences of bodyguards and staff, stables, etc.

Rashtrapati Bhavan is located at the newer side of town and is closely guarded by police with tourists only managing to get a glimpse of the residence from afar. 

India Gate, also designed by architect Luyens, is another popular attraction at the heart of Delhi. It stands tall at 42 meters high and commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British army during World War I. 

A nice touch are the flowers that adorn the foot of the gate.

We also stopped by  Raj Ghat, the site where Gandhi was cremated.  We no longer entered the memorial and only took pictures from the gate. 
Open-Air Memorial

A must visit in Delhi is Humayun's Tomb. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the first garden-tomb on Indian subcontinent.
Entrance Leading to Humayun's Tomb

In 1569,  Bega Bugum commissioned a Persian architect to construct the tomb for her husband, Mughal Emperor Humayun. The result is nothing short of amazing: impressive structure made of red sandstone with a white marbled central dome.
Humayun's Tomb

The monument that can be found at the 2nd floor is actually an empty tomb as the actual grave lies in the basement. 

View from the second floor of Humayun's Tomb is the beautiful garden below:

Near  Humayun Tomb's complex is Isa Khan's tomb and mosque. Isa Khan's was an Afghan noble who fought the Mughal empire. Built in 1547, it was constructed earlier than Humayun's Tomb.    
Isa Khan's Mosque

Isa Khan's Tomb

Before leaving the tombs for a very late lunch, we saw a group of school boys on a trip. Lucky for them to live in a country with so much history!
Curious Boys

Lunch was at Indian Accent, India's 2nd best restaurant for 2014, based on the list released by  It personally was the best meal I had during our trip and I will share our experience on my next post.

After our leisurely lunch, we had time to fully explore just one other attraction, Qutab Minar, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar is the 2nd tallest minar in India at 73 meters. The minar is a distinctive feature of mosques but the reason why Qutub Minar was constructed still remains a mystery.

The stairs of the tower has 379 steps and the minar is made of red sandstone covered with intricate carvings and verses from the Quran. 

Aside from the minar itself, there are other structures that we explored inside the complex:



Our last stop for our Delhi tour is the Lotus Temple. It is the place of worship for the Bahai faithful and is visited by many because of the temple's lotus like shape. It has won many architectural awards but there was nothing to see inside so we just took pictures from a distance.

To end the night, we had dinner at Bukhara located at ITC Mauruya, a 5 star hotel in Delhi. Bukhara is the best restaurant in India according to Will also share my meal at Bukhara in a future entry!

It's important to note that our guide for Delhi was no good. I remember sending an email to our tour agency about how atrocious Suda, our guide, was:

Just would like to give feedback regarding our guide Suda yesterday for Delhi. 

We talked to other tourists at our hotel and they shared their rickshaw experience. They only paid 200rupees per rickshaw of 2 people and were toured around the market for an hour. Suda charged us 250rupees per person and we were only toured for 30mins. We in fact weren't able to visit Jama Masjid, the largest and best known mosque in India. It's disappointing that we not only had to overpay but we also were not able to get the full experience. 

Aside from that she disappointed us in many ways: 
1. She was 30mins. late and didn't even apologize for it.
2. She didn't let us visit Red Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
3. She brought us to a place to shop for shawls when it was not part of our IT and we clearly didn't have time.
4. She said that Bukhara and Indian Accent , the top restaurants based on many reviews, are not good and was suggesting to take us elsewhere when we already had reservations. 
5. She was not familiar with our IT. 
6. She said that Indian Accent was an hour and a half away from Humayun's Tomb when it was not. In the end, we barely made it as we arrived at 2:45pm, 15 minutes before they closed. 
7. She left us without a legitimate explanation after dropping us at Indian Accent.

I'm sharing the email so that others will be aware of some of the challenges that one can face when traveling to India. Don't hate on our travel agency India Leisure Tours though, as they did try to make it up to us the rest of the trip. 

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