On the last day of my 2-month stint in India, instead of just wasting it sipping tea, browsing in Anokhi (buying things that would absolutely look out of place anywhere else in the world!), I decided it was finally time to visit the old town of Delhi. It is a bit surprising that I hadn’t done this before considering I was in Delhi for 2 weeks in the beginning of the trip and kept going back to it since I made the Kolkata, Haryana and South connections from here. I think it boiled down to taking it for granted. That I could visit it at anytime I wanted and secondly it’s so mainstream, mann! And that attitude precisely almost left me shortchanged.
1. Chandini Chowk Bazaar
Chandini Chowk is everything that India is perceived in the western markets. Loud, crowded and with massive traffic jams. This is where you ACTUALLY do see a cow on the street along side cars and a kid taking a shit smack bang in the middle of the road traffic signal! Chandini Chowk is old school. Even though it has a metro station, it is so discretely out of sight that you almost miss it. The shops here have been in families for generations. The quality and price you pay for something is directly dependent on how gullible you are …and don’t feel bad if you get duped – they’ve had this passed on from hundreds of years, you’ve just learnt to gather your wits some 5 years ago! 😛 The sweet shops, the paratha wali gali and the small hidden alleys all can take a good whole day to explore.
2. Lal Kila (Red Fort)
My current favorite soap serial on Zee TV is Jodha Akbar and visiting Lal Kila was a complement to the show and my daydreams. Depending on your interests in architecture and history, the entire fort could take a good 4 hours to walk around even more.
Security at Lal Kila!
Security guys at the archeological museum in #RedFort napping while the place was jam-packed! #OnlyInIndiapic.twitter.com/JejbTgFEiH
— Prachar with Sharon (@MaharishiSharon) September 24, 2013
3. Jama Masjid
I have visited far more beautifully constructed mosques in the past couple of months both in Turkey and in India however none was as soulful as this old institution in Delhi. It is free to enter. However non-muslim visitors are not allowed during prayer times. The most disappointing thing was that they don’t allow alone females to go up the minarets (from where you can see an aerial 360 degree view of Delhi.) The fellow was down right rude about it and I had tears prickling at the back of my eyes. Bastard. A kind gentleman who was visiting from Barailley offered to accompany me but he refused that also saying it had to be family. So that was that. The gali leading up to the masjid is eye-ogglying ride. Slaughtered goat carcasses hanging in front of shops, their cut heads with eyes still open and glassy, dripping with blood displayed on tables. Chicken guts on the streets, freshly deep fried chicken pieces as snacks which look disgustingly tempting! Shoes, shawls everything eastern is exotically flashed in between the mobs of people as you tuk-tuk your way out. Mogul influence is still vibrant in old Delhi.
4. Khan-I-Khanan Tomb
Actually he was meant to take me to Hamayun’s tomb but the rickshaw driver took me to the Khan-I-Khanan site which are about 10 minutes apart. Because it was getting late and I (guilty) really wanted to go to Anokhi to spend the last of my rupees. I decided to visit Khan-I-Khanan site instead. Probably not as grand as Hamayun’s tomb or popular nevertheless the architecture is just as priceless though a lot of insides were stripped down and taken to construct another tomb site.
There is still so much I haven’t seen of old Delhi but it’ll have to wait for another time. This thori si purani Dilli (‘lil bit of old Delhi) on my last day made me fall in love with India all over again!