We were met at the airport by our driver for a lot of our trip here. He is a man who is working in Delhi but his wife and children still live in his village. He told me he is not lucky because his lively hood depends on the tips of the people he drives. His salary basically is just enough to buy his meals for the month with nothing left over. He says some people tip well but others not so much. The driving in Delhi is an experience in and of itself and I will write more about that in a bit but I di want to mention that on our way to the hotel as we were just driving along one of the city streets we passed a park that had a bunch of monkeys just sitting on the wall surrounding the park. There was even a momma and baby monkey. Definitely not a common sight while driving for me. He dropped us off at our hotel so that we could shower and change clothes and then he would drive us and a guide around the city to see the sights. Our hotel room is very nice and the beds are comfy. Yes, beds as there are two twin beds in the room. Better than sleeping in a plane!
It is hard to describe our adventures of the day! There were so many places we saw and so many experiences and my brain and body were so tired. We had decided to sight-see our first day since the next day old Delhi would be closed. So we set off. Our guide did a good job of giving us lots of information about the things we saw and the places we visited. Many times it was truly TMI as my little tired brain couldn't keep track of the names of dynasties and rulers and even the names of the places themselves! I found my eyes crossing and my brain fogging up at time. I understand how hard it is for children to learn something to which they have no frame of reference. Having never heard of the names he was using they really meant nothing to me and it made it hard to even keep anything straight. I needed him to hand me little flash cards with the names on them and maybe a time line since I am a visual learner. When he talked numbers or just told the stories it was much easier to relate to what he was saying and to remember. The things we saw were beautiful and interesting. Lots of the places were built hundreds of years ago and were still in incredible shape. I will give a run down of some of the sights we saw. (Luckily Momo tours gave us an excellent itinerary which has the places listed so I can remember and know how to spell the names)
One of the first places we visited was India Gate which is a large arched memorial to the memory of the Indian soldiers who died in WWI. We couldn't go up close to it because it was barricaded off and they had chairs set up for a band contest of some sort later. I would have liked to walk closer and seen the detail but not an option.
We also saw Qutab Minar which is the largest stone tower built. It was beautifully carved quite a building feat. According to our itinerary it is 72.5 meters tall. When Glenn had been here last (a long long long time ago he was beginning to feel) you could actually go up inside it but it was all closed up now. Also on the same site were many other ruins that had been built by a king from ruins that he had torn down so it rather looked like a building put together nicely but from parts that didn't quite fit. Or if someone was trying to build something with specific parts but no idea how they were supposed to go together. There was also an iron pillar there that is well over 1000 years old. Once again Glenn showed his age by commenting that your used to be able to try to put your arms around it backwards and now it is all fenced off.
We went also to Rajghat, the beautiful memorial site for Gandhi. He ashes are intered there and it was surrounded by a very peaceful and simple park/garden area. We also drove past several other sites dedicated to the ashes of other important India figures such as Nehru and Indira Gandhi.
We went to a mosque, Jama Masjid, where we had to remove our shoes and I had to wear a robe to enter. It is the largest mosque in India and we were given lots of history about it and its architecture. It can hold 2,500 people and had separate entrances for the different peoples from royalty to the average person.
We stopped and had lunch at a very nice restaurant. We ate very good curry but the meal was definitely more than we budget for most meals. We did enjoy the time to catch our breath and the food.
As we were driving a little later we saw an elephant in the road. Once again reminding us that we were far from home. We drove to a bazaar area called Chandini Chowk which was true chaos at its finest! The streets were more than clogged often have 4 or more rows of combination rickshaws, cars, buses, motorcycles, bicycles and tuktuks (or as Glenn called them long ago autoscooters) in what was marked 2 lanes. Traffic laws were definitely more of guidelines or just plane irrelevant. The different modes of transportation moved in and out of each other in a very well orchestrated ballet of movement that was truly chaotic. Horns tooting constantly. I told Glenn it reminded me of bumper cars at the fair only no one seemed to ever bump which was truly amazing! We got to experience the physical cacophony first hand by riding around the bazaar in a rickshaw driven by a skinny man on his bicycle. I was amazed at how he maneuvered us around all the big buses cars, autoscooters and such. It was quite fun and I didn't find myself getting drowsy once!
Our last stop was Humayun's tomb which was a neat place. Over 100 people are actually buried there and from up top you could see for quite a ways. We walked around the area for awhile and walked up the very steep steps rather slowly as we were wearing down after all our travels and the time change and all. When we finished there we headed back to our hotel for the evening.
At the hotel we were still not very hungry for lunch so we too a couple hour much needed nap and then ordered a surprisingly good pepperoni pizza from room service. We ate and chatted about our day. After dinner we read, rested and Glenn surfed the TV channels with not much result. Needless to say we were in bed early but were surprised we made it until 9:00 (I guess the 2 hour napped helped with that).