Amusing Landmarks of New Delhi

For two days, our tour jump off in New Delhi was always started at 9:30am and ended at 5:30pm. It was considerably the best time to escape peak hours of jammed and impenetrable streets. There were so many tourist sites in Delhi but sad to say that times didn’t permit us to visit all of them.

Location: New Delhi, India

Where I stayed: Hotel Clarks Inn

Buddies: Group (3+)

Day One – First Taste of New Delhi

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Jama Masjid. Reaching this site shows the real situation in India. The narrow street was filled with all kinds of vendors and poverty exists normally. There is no entrance fee but INR300 was collected from us for each camera and mobile which are to be used for taking photos. It’s a mosque so removal of foot wears and wearing rented long dresses for women are required.

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Red Fort Delhi. The first site in Delhi which we were almost knocking on its front door but was refrained by an Indian local whose offering to us a different tour. “They (gate guards) will ask you to pay INR500 but there is nothing inside…only a park!”. His word of discouragement opted us to choose none of the given options.

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Akshardham Temple. The entrance security was so strict as there were metal detectors and scanner at the entrance. No big bags, cameras, and mobiles are allowed. It is a Hindu temple complex consecrated in 2005 with a magnificent landscaped gardens. In the middle is the impressive temple built from marbles and decorated with gold, precious gems and stones. Entering the temples on barefoot enlightened us the cooling effect of a marble-made floor against the surging noontime temperature.

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Lotus Temple. The queue to this site was blockbuster. The crowd was unstoppable and patiently waiting for chances to enter the flower shaped temple. Like any other temples, everyone needs to remove foot wears and mobiles to switch off.  The temple is open for all religions as it looks more like an empty cathedral. Once inside, a few minutes of solemn prayer conveyed on different languages and beliefs.

DAY TWO – New Delhi’s Landmarks

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Qutub Minar. Another site which has an entrance fee but was said not worth for sightseeing. Looking at the inaccessible tower from the main gate was the only memory I captured after we decided to skip this UNESCO site.

 

Rashtrapati Bhavan. The current residence of the Indian government. Most buildings inside the complex has classical architectures. There was no parking space available for public or tourist car so our time upon dropping elapsed so quickly.

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India Gate. It is an open space landmark and supposedly free but was asked for INR100 by the old woman who pinned a tiny Indian flag on my shirt. India Gate is the monument built in memory of all Indian armies died from the previous battles since the First World War.

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Birla Mandir. A Hindu temple with splendid architectural design. Cameras and bags are strictly not allowed and must be kept in the provided locker. There was no entrance fee but a small offering was collected.

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Tourist sites hopping in New Delhi was indeed time consuming. Aside from moderate to heavy traffic, each site requires a minimum of one hour to enjoy its charming beauty and absorb its visible information. Hiring a local guide will surely guarantee an extended hours. However, it will be assured to give satisfaction and receive a bouquet of knowledge about the visited historical spot upon leaving. Taking lunch break was also another time draining as we required to stop in a restaurant to order meals and dining. Fast foods location from sites are not so convenient.

( Day 5 and 6 of my customized tour to the Golden Triangle of India last August 25 to 30, 2017. )

The Pink City and the Gayest Structures of Jaipur

While waiting for the pre-ordered complimentary breakfast at the hotel’s garden, an Indian guy wearing a turban showed up. My observant eye focused on him because he didn’t look like one of the staffs. He was heading to the portable music bass amplifier positioned in the middle of the garden. He slowly switched it on and sat beside the bushes. He took out his musical instrument, a flute and started playing. I was expecting of a frightening snake show. His music seems taming a wild beast from the forest but my perception was wrong! He was serenading all guests which was normally an ordinary morning show in the hotel.

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The Pink City

Location: Jaipur City, Rajasthan, India

Where I Stayed: Anuraag Villa

Buddies: Group (3+)

Our tour in Jaipur started at 9:30am exploring first the city center. A joyride to the old walled town of Jaipur which was called the Pink City. “It’s an Indian pink”, as explained by our new local guide. The vibrant color has different shade when comparing it with the bright pigment of commercially bought pink crayon. The stores, offices, flats, temples, and all the buildings inside the city were painted with the same color.

We passed by at Hawa Mahal, a distinctive landmark inside the Pink City. It’s a five-storied high wall with windows designed for conservative women of the royal family. It looks weird especially if obsessed to things which has so many holes. Parking was not allowed so we didn’t have time to drop by.

We entered the City Palace which was the residence of the emperors in the 17th century. For a fee of INR500 each, we explored the domain of the complex. The complex is home for old palaces with halls and alleys. Some was converted into museums and I personally saw galleries of old and antique personal belongings owned by previous leaders of Jaipur. Some old collections of textiles, armories and jars were also on displays. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed so the great collections were up to memory keeping only.

Beside the City Palace, we visited the Jantar Mantar. It is like a village with invisible houses and the stairs are remnants for the naked eye. It is actually an observatory and an open physics laboratory which has huge instrument for studying stars and constellations. There is also an instrument which provide accurate timing using the sun shadow. An entrance fee of INR200 per head gave us access to the old but proven technology of the 18th century.

After the city, our guide brought us to the Shopping Paradise to see locally made handicrafts. One guy met us at the entrance and voluntarily demonstrated on how they put dyes and design their own made textiles. We didn’t stay long time in the store for our stomachs were shouting because of hunger.

At 2pm, we moved out from Jaipur City and visited the Amber Palace and Fort with a fee of INR500 per person. The palace is magnificent as it was situated on the hilltop with a lake that nourishes its beauty. A rain poured heavily when we reached the rear entrance gate. The rain paused all the movements of tourists and stacked us at the gate. But when the nimbus cloud cleared out the sky, everyone advanced to explore the grandeur palace. The site has with magnificent view of the Amer town and spectacular surrounding walls on the mountain which securing the entire palace. It is haven for a dreamed like royalty living. The most impressive building for me was the Mirror Palace where walls and ceiling is ornamented with mirrors.

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We wanted to see and ride an elephant so we headed to EleJungle for the elephant activity.  We availed a 30 minutes elephant ride within the village which costs INR1,100 for two persons. The elephants were scary big and domesticated animals but its slow swaying movement massaged my son to sleep while I felt boredom. The simple living of the villagers was seen as the route of the elephant ride covered it.

Before going back to our hotel at 4:30pm, we stopped by at the lake side park sighting Jal Mahal. A small palace in the middle of Man Sagar Lake. The shining palace was under renovation and by looking at it from the distance left my thought uncovered. I didn’t have personal evidence if the palace is really floating or just surrounded by water. Our local guide said that there is no natural bodies of water in Jaipur and lakes were man-made.

At 7:30pm, we were invited by our buddy for a dinner at Raddisson Hotel. A sumptuous Indian cuisines were attempted to love and enjoy. We felt special as the head chef visited our table to check the served menu. The foods offered on our table were prepared distinctively as they adjusted spices to suit our sensitive tongues. Though majority of the menus were served spicy, our rendezvous on the restaurant with unusual food on my plate was remarkably astounding!

We’re back to the hotel at 10pm and prepared for moving to Delhi in the morning.

We checked out from Anuraag Villa at 9:30am. Our two buddies were already left the hotel earlier and on their way to Agra for a day tour.

I took a last glance at the Pink City and visited Madhavendra Bhawan Central Museum or famously known as Albert Hall.  Unfortunately, it was closed for maintenance which was scheduled on every Monday. The architectural beauty of the building was furnished with noticeable numbers of pigeons which dominating the picturesque hall. Such assemblage of feathered friends was visually romantic to the camera but undeniably unhygienic to the actual scene.

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Pigeons Hall or Albert Hall

Before leaving the city, we dropped by at Blue Pottery and discovered the displays of handmade porcelains on sale. The travel to Delhi took us five hours because the road was consistently lane for slower big trucks. Industrial site is along Jaipur-Delhi route. We arrived in Delhi at 4:30pm and we checked-in at Hotel Clarks Inn.

( Day 3 and 4 of my customized tour to the Golden Triangle of India last August 25 to 30, 2017. )