Because security was high priority due to Republic Day when we were last in Delhi, some public sites were closed while security checks and arrangements were set up. On our return to Delhi, we visited the Red Fort and Qutab Minar. The permanent haze which hangs around Delhi means photography is not perfect, at least at this time of travelling. Inside the fort is a small market and relative peace away from the chaotic streets of Delhi.
Qutab Minar is a 72 metre high brick victory tower which was built initially with two storeys, then added to by the son of Qutub and then the grandsons so that there are now 5 storeys.
After seeing those places, yesterday we decided to take the Metro.We think we might get t-shirts made saying “we survived the Delhi Metro”. Because it took us 2 hours on the first day to drive from the south end to the north end of Delhi, the Metro seemed a good option as it is fast and no traffic… and it is. There are trains which leave about every 4 minutes and our hotel was closest to the last station on the Metro, called Jahangir Puri station. We got our tourist card and went through security which exists at every station … the usual walk through, body metal detector and bag screening. With the frequency of trains, we were still lucky to get a seat on our way in. On our way back it was a different story and we were packed in like sardines … sometimes with nothing to hang on to but all the bodies around kept you in a vertical position.
First we went to the market, Chandni Chowk, which has a metro station and so was easy for us to access. We wanted to find the spice market but after some time we relented and agreed to a persistent rickshaw driver who took us to his favourite store where he no doubt gets a commission. What we bought was expensive on Indian standards, but we needed the tea marsala to make Marsala tea at home and didn’t know how easy it would be to get when we got home. We were told we needed to buy packaged ingredients which stated the content for Australian customs. The rickshaw driver continued to find us somehow but we finally thanked him with a Namaste greeting so he moved on.
Spices where we bought our tea marsala.
Local butcher in the market.
Most dogs on the street are strays and there are so many dogs. This one looked more cared for with its special dog bone coat. The dog belonged to the man making little pancakes on the street and probably enjoyed a pancake breakfast.
We continued on the Metro into Connaught Place, the central business hub of Delhi. The circle roads are incredibly busy and vehicles take no notice of red lights or pedestrian crossings. We slunk across the road by following an Indian man, keeping the man between us and the oncoming traffic. He had a bit of a laugh at us after we had crossed. We were constantly followed by people as we wandered around. Probably in search of commissions for bringing potential money-spending tourists to their stores selling products from all over India. Once we got rid of one follower, another would step in. I am not sure if they have boundaries and pass on their prey to next person once reaching the bounday. Anyway, we were taken by foot to many outlets which we were assured would be better and cheaper than the last. Finally we agreed with a tuktuk driver on a price to get us back to the Metro station. He also wanted to take us to factories, “very cheap”, in back lanes. We did actually buy some tablecloths with elephants on them …. but when we got back in the tuktuk, he informed us that he had an emergency at home, the traffic was bad, it would take him too long to take us to the station and that he was going to let us off to walk the last bit!!!!! We were confronted with a traffic roundabout with scores of vehicles … much worse than before in which people were crossing between vehicles, all which were moving around them with only tiny spaces to spare. We only needed to get to the opposite side of the roundabout!!!! I decided this was the worst and hardest road we had ever encountered and so we got a tuttuk to take us across the road!!! We don’t know which was more dangerous. The tuk tuk we got was a rusted out old vehicle with an equally old driver who drove us crossways in front of buses, trucks, everything! as I got out of the rickshaw, I touched the vertical iron which supported the roof which detached due to rust and the roof lifted up!!!! It’s a wonder we weren’t deposited in the middle of the roundabout with the bottom falling out!
We got to the station and took the Metro like sardines to our stop. It was dark because we had left late. We had to get back to our hotel and the tuk tuk deivers refused to take us. We are not sure why but maybe they didn’t know where we needed to go. After some time and ringing for a taxi and ringing the hotel, somehow, with the help of a local, we found the taxi. It was on the opposite side of the road and we had to negotiate the main road at night with a step up median strip. We were so glad to get back, we had a bottle of Kingfisher beer!!!!