Day Four - Delhi
Waking up in a place I refer to now as heaven, the Crowne Plaza New Delhi Okla did not disappoint! The group had an amazing breakfast whether it be fresh or fried, and boarded our business class people mover for our first day around Delhi.
We started in New Delhi with some local teen boys oogling a girl on the bus in a singlet top/dress, which to me further instilled the importance of dressing appropriately. Our guide had mentioned westerners were fine in a singlet top (but must cover up for certain places) however, it's obviously not something they see regularly, so girls- cover it!
The dusty streets are extremely busy with people, cars, tuk tuks, dogs and cows- of which the cows have right of way. The beeping is endless and the road rules non existent...not a place for back seat driving, just have faith in your driver!
We started the local sightseeing with a visit to 'Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the largest Sikh temple in Dehli. This is still an active place of worship so we were first taken to a small room to take off shoes and pop on a scarf. For those without one they were able to lends used one, so ladies/gents - pack one!
We were then walked through an eating hall that feeds around 50,000 people of all status' a day - in 20 minute sittings. It runs entirely on donations, with volunteers doing everything from directing traffic to the cooking in the huge kitchen which we were then walked through. It was commercial cookery on the largest scale, and by no means operated any sort of the hygiene we enjoy at home. Again, thankful I live were I do.
Then onto the White marble Mosque and inside for a walk around the worshippers, which also housed some ancient relics- almost impossible to see through stained glass windows, but there apparently. Pay attention to your guide for tips on how to appropriately hold your hands, tap the marble entrance on your way in, and out. At the exit was a giant pool of holy water from a 17th century spring. Locals were able to bathe to alleviate any sicknesses. I'm fit as a fiddle but couldn't resist popping a toe in! We finished the tour with a few of us eating a buttery bread crumb mixture handed directly to you from a massive pot, I just couldn't do it.
Onto some sightseeing of parliamentary buildings, showcasing the British architecture also including an Arc de Triumph which we disappointingly weren't taken closer to.
We then found ourselves at Qutab Minar which includes Indias largest brick minaret. I didn't really have a great understanding of how it all went down, and felt a bit confronted really after a quick educational from our guide. So this site in 1199 was filled with Hindu temples, and after many attempts was finally taken over by Afghani Muslims. They built the minaret in celebration of the defeat. The Hindu statues and symbols within the temples were defaced and the temples themselves broken down with every attempt to overtake the site over the years and examples of this remain now. Parts of the temples had been rebuilt by the Hindu's and you can see this in the differing materials. The Muslims when they eventually took control of the site tried to reshape the temples to look more Muslim like, including erecting an arc with Quran symbols all over it as appears all over the minaret. I'm sure the guide said there were 379 steps inside the minaret to reach the top, however an accident resulting in the death of some sightseeing school boys in 1981 means you cannot now climb. Interestingly when it was built, it was also built on a lean - away from the temples, in the event it ever falls down.
The afternoon drive back to the hotel again bore witness to the poverty that exists here. Children walking through traffic selling all things from car shade covers, coconut pieces, selfie sticks and massive balloons - sad really. We were also followed earlier by a lady carrying a wailing baby and an empty bottle. The government are taking big steps to stop begging however it still exists. Tourists are encouraged not to offer money but if they must, food or formula from a shop that can't be retraced for a refund. Even stopping to take an interesting photo of a local at work or working hard to entertain you in traffic might end in a request for money, this is not the destination for an immature traveller.