Interspersed with smoke in the thickly polluted air of Delhi, was a distinct aroma of Mughlai food. Mingled with the congested roads of Karolbagh and Vikas Marg, was a walk through Indian history. Like it or not, such is the beauty of this capital city.
In the sweltering heat of May, my family decided it’s the best time to visit Delhi. (It’s most definitely NOT! But let’s pretend, it is.) Off we went on a Vistara plane from Mumbai to Delhi. Our six and a half membered family fit comfortably in a spacious Toyota Innova hired through Savaari . Being loyal IHG members, we chose to stay at the luxurious Crowne Plaza in Noida for our entire trip. So started 4 days long exploration of Delhi..
First stop on our must-see list was this charming historic minaret. Every brick in this tower narrates a chapter of the Mughal history. There’s beauty even in the rustic ruins around the tower. Dusk was the perfect time to bask in the glory of this monument. The peach sunset glorified it further illuminating the edifice.
Too many twisted words? In short, its a great place to see on any evening!
From history to recent past, we quickly hopped time (and some space) to witness this iconic memorial. Our hearts brimming with feelings of patriotism, we weren’t satisfied until we touched the pillars with our bare hands. It suddenly made everything in our history books feel so real!
Taj Mahal, Agra:
The next day we started super early and headed to Agra to experience one of the wonders of the world. Needless to say, we were, in no sense, the only ones who had the idea of visiting Taj Mahal on a weekday to evade crowds. Nevertheless, we ignored the horde and gawked at the epic establishment liked kids in wonderland. Beauty and elegance exuded from every inch of the monument. The intricate details spoke of its brilliant design and architecture that is now immortal in history. How do you even absorb something so significant in mere one visit? I’m want more for this.
Tip: If you must have a guide, haggle for the price. Also, they charge hidden costs at the end.
Mathura and Vrindavan :
Devotee or not, visiting Mathura and Vrindavan is an experience by itself. What you get is a day spent in company of faith, devotion and divine presence. I wouldn’t suggest stopping at every shrine on your way or you’ll be there for a week. Take a quick tour of Prem Mandir to get the feels.
Red Fort :
As respectable as this place is, I wasn’t too impressed with it because I had just seen the Taj Mahal. However, for those who aren’t planning to go out of Delhi, they can definitely visit Red Fort. Best time to visit is before sunrise or after sunsets. We had a hard time chasing shadows trying to avoid the sun in summer.
Old Delhi – Chandni Chowk
Let me paint you a little picture here of what we experienced.
A radio being played on full volume at a nearby cigarette stall, the sun scorching the back of our necks. Little beads of perspiration rolling down our foreheads (and backs). Rusty antique artifacts piled and crammed in every possible place. An acoustic morning prayer call from Jama Masjid made our heads turn in that direction. Every single person was filled with a sense of purpose; trying to get to places, selling their goods, buying their needs or satisfying their palettes with spicy street-side delicacies.
Everyone busy doing their thing! We inhaled puffs of air spiked with condiments and smoke that dragged us to Karim’s (16, Gali Kababian, Jama Masjid, New Delhi), a historic restaurant in the narrowest alley opposite Jama Masjid. We squeezed through the crowd, enduring toe stubs, stamps and tantalizing aroma, reaching a tiny entrance that opened up to a different world all together. A world of delectable Mughlai food that guaranteed authenticity. We devoured 7 different items to our heart’s content and set out to find another historic popsicle shop further in the heart of the market, that proved just as good.
A city walk that includes this charming part of Delhi is highly recommended!
Shopping time! This is a circular commercial arcade housing shops, eateries, high-end restaurants, metro station, banks and a park. Initially we though Palika bazaar, an underground market at Connaught Place, might stock Delhi specialties but we were disappointed. There were a fair number of shops that stocked regular, run of the mill items that didn’t interest us. We hopped around the arcade binge eating street food, savoring the Delhi classic chaats and observing charming, albeit slightly scary, people.
I wish I had the time to see Agrasen ki Baoli thats right next to Connaught Place. Alas! May be next time.
Day trip to Akshardham:
Akshardham can be best described as a representation of modern day architectural prowess. There are a lot of masterpieces from the era gone by, but perhaps it was time to display some serious sculpting skills from this millennium. A design wonder, Akshardham is a brilliantly built temple that will leave you in awe of its interiors. Lots of security before entering the temple, restriction of photography and no footwear/bags policy are the things you must know before you go.
Places that I couldn’t visit but you can:
Fatehpur Sikri, Lodhi Gardens, Humayun’s tomb, Safdarjung tomb,Vijay Ghat, Raj Ghat, Food tours at Khan Market (Khan Chacha), Chandni Chowk and Karol Bagh.