Old Delhi-walking tour
Well...where do I even start with today?!
I'm not going to lie to you; New Delhi scared us slightly-very busy, people staring and nowhere to hide. So Old Delhi? The walking tour I'd booked in a similar way to yesterday's tour-someone I'd just found on the internet...anything could have happened.
On our arrival in Old Delhi our fears seemed to be founded. It was crazy busy, people stared and there were a few highly unusual scenes in front of our eyes. So we hid in the metro station as we were early.
At 9am we met our guides who immediately told us they were our friends and not our guides. Slowly but steadily they introduced us to the Old Delhi they knew and loved. Before we knew it our senses were overwhelmed in a new way, instead of the new sights and sounds assaulting us they welcomed us.
We were fed many different things during the day, most things which we'd have never dreamed of trying if we had been left to our own devices. But it was Anju's mission to get us to 'walk like an Indian' and so we had to dive in. Now 'walk like an indian' basically means walk like the Irish and straight out into the middle of oncoming traffic...so I'm pretty good at this already (thanks dad).
First they took us up some dimly lit marble steps (a hint of how beautiful the city used to be) and up onto a balcony. Did we stop there? No we climber a metal ladder and then even higher up on a bamboo ladder. It was worth it. The view from the top was amazing. We could see how the buildings were wedged right up next to each other to provide support in earthquakes. We could see families who had set up home on the rooftops through building a tent like home. We could see forever.
After our adventure we climbed down and made part of our breakfast. Seeing as we had already eaten breakfast we were a little worried about where this new breakfast was meant to go. However we found room!! It was not what I'd normally eat for breakfast, but it was very tasty-bread (which we fried ourselves), chickpea curry and spicy potato curry. They obviously had fancier names than that but I've forgotten them!! This was not enough. We then had to try two different deserts! Little did we know this was only the beginning of the food master class!
Next we wandered around the streets taking in the old buildings and how instead of being restored they are left to crumble. Anju's sadness became ours as we wistfully imagined what they used to look like.
Following this we popped into a Hindu Temple for a blessing, we even rang the bell!! After that we stopped for some more food. Something stuffed with peas and spices? It was yummy. We also had a yoghurt drink which we were not so sure about. Yoghurt should not be that frothy! It was a yoghurt pretending to be a milkshake and it confused me too much to enjoy it.
We were then taken for a rickshaw ride. Little did we know that we were expected to drive the things!! Obviously Laura drove hers into the wall. I was not dressed for the occasion and had to turn my maxi skirt into long shorts for the ride! However I was able to cycle in a straight-ish line...
Next we were taken on a rickshaw to 'where the ladies are' (anyone visiting Delhi will notice how they see a lot of men and very few women-well we found them!). The ladies are to be found shopping!!! We went through the narrow lanes of the bazaars (taking me back to the souks in Morocco) and chatted to the vendors. We were taken to a wedding card shop, as apparently this is where all the money is spent in India-on weddings. (It was made very clear to us that whilst the people of Old Delhi look poor, they are not. They are actually very wealthy but hide their wealth to spend on their children). After this we got a tuktuk to a mendi guy who created some artwork on our hands. Then we were told to choose some bangles as a generous gift to us. The bangle shop was amazing!!
Finally we stumbled into another 'oasis' a quiet in the storm of Delhi and were asked to knock on the door to see if we could look around their haveli (mansion). Of course we were a bit British about it, but it turned out to be the founder info the company and the guy i'd been emailing. He showed us around his stunning family house-an old historic build that he'd lovingly repaired despite other people saying it wasn't worth it. (Family homes are passed down through generations). Those other people are now eating their words!! It was this house combined with their love for the city and the old buildings that created this tour. Money from the tour goes back into restoring the house and keeping it beautiful. Basically we left the tour wanting to save the buildings too!! At Dhruv's we had even more food-family recipe-amazing, before our final tuktuk was arranged for us.
Our tour was amazing and made us see Delhi in a completely different light. Anju also made us see that people stared because they were curious-what is there to see here? They ask themselves. Well I can tell you now: a lot!
For more info you can read our trip advisor comments as we have just reviewed them. Google: old Delhi bazaar walk and haveli visit
After our awesome morning we decided to go and visit another hidden gem-The Askhardham. A Hindu Temple with a beauty equal to the Taj Mahal. No photos were allowed and so we had to rely on a professional photographer so that you could see the true beauty.
We learnt about the history of Hinduism as well as the history of India. The main message was that of peace and how that is what we should be striving for. We watched a film in cinema conditions (during which Laura and I took it in turns to fall asleep). Then we had a cultural boat ride which reminded me of an episode of Goodness Gracious Me where the older guy would point at a person or anything and say 'Indian' as in made in India or he/she is an indian at heart. Basically every important scientific discovery or major phenomena was discovered by India first, but they just didn't shout about it. It felt like the guy from GGM was sitting in the boat with us saying 'gravity? Indian. Astronomy? Indian.' Etc. Apparently India discovered a lot!!
Anyway, a fab day had by all but one needs to rest now as it is 1am and I'm tired-walking like an Indian is hard work!