Whirlwind City Tour

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Our second day in Delhi was a whirlwind of temples! I honestly have no idea where we went, but the places were amazing!
I walked down the little alley by our hotel in an attempt to get money again when a young boy stopped me.
“Hello, madam, hello! Do you remember me? I took you to dinner last night”
Oh yes, it was guy #2 with a friend in Delta.
“Yes, I remember you”
“You have a tour! Your guide is here! He has been waiting for you for three hours!”
What?! A huge misunderstanding. No one knew who was supposed to tell us about our city tour, and in the end, no one did. I ran back to the hotel to grab Kelsi.
“City tour! Lets go!”
We left in a mad rush and were shoved into our driver’s car.
“Okay, let’s go!”
We had no idea what was happening as we careened our way through the Delhi streets. Our guide kept pointing and saying short sentences about the things around us. Most of what he said was lost in his accent and the honking, screeching and yelling that was going on outside. We just nodded and smiled.
“Old Delhi!” We heard him exclaim, then he stopped the car and let us out.
“You see temple, then you find car in parking lot” and he drove off.
What’s going on? One minute we were quietly waking up in our hotel, and the next we were standing in the bustle of old Delhi with no clue what was happening.
So we wandered towards the temple.
“Shoes off here!” Someone yelled.
“200 rupees for camera!” Said another man.
“You need robe. 100 rupees!” Shouted a third.
What? What? What?
We doled out money as needed and stumbled into the temple in horrifically tacky flowered moo moos and 400 rupees short. Okay, welcome to the temple!
The robes they gave us didn’t cover anything more than was already covered, but every single white tourist had to wear one. Just another money making scam. Cameras also cost money. Anywhere between 10 to 400 rupees it seems. But they won’t let you go in without a ticket so unless you hide it in your bra (which we ended up doing for the more expensive places later on) you’re stuck with the fee.
The first temple we went to was beautiful. A wide open courtyard, gorgeous structures and walls and huge domed ceilings. Okay, so actually I think this was a mosque. Mosques are Muslim and temples are Hindi. I’m trying to overcome my ignorance of Indian culture and learn what I can about the different religions and customs. It’s a slow process.
Either way, it was gorgeous. We spent some time milling around in our moo moos and taking photos, then we left to find the car. On the way out, the man standing by our shoes demanded money.
“I watch shoes. You pay me” he shoved Kelsi when we stared blankly, unable to understand his thick accent. You want money because we left our shoes on the ground?’ You don’t even know that these are our shoes! We could be stealing anyone’s! We were upset, but handed him a small note and angrily walked away. Next time, the shoes went into my purse before we walked up to the temple. Later on we just shook our heads at all the poor tourists getting ripped off by guys watching their shoes as we strolled on by. By the end of the day we were pros. We walked through, camera in our bra, shoes in the purse and following closely at the heels of another tour group. If you walk in, with a dazed and confused look, being herded behind other white tourists, the guards just think you’re on the tour and wave you through. First day in Delhi we probably saved ourselves over $20 dollars in shoe/camera/entrance fees!
After the first mosque we carried on to Gandhi’s grave sight. A lovely little monument in a beautiful garden, we took some quick photos and carried on.
Thirdly, we came to a place called Humayun’s Tomb. It was a pricey entrance fee, and we weren’t sure even what it was! When we entered the first gates though we were amazed by what we saw. Humayun’s Tomb is the second most elaborate mausoleum in India, next to the Taj Mahal! I’m glad we decided to go in!
The place was stunning, with a rich, red color and intricately detailed stonework the tomb is quite a sight. It is roughly 4000 square meters, 50m high and has 160 royal members buried in it. (We counted 24… Such a fail)
This mausoleum is where we really discovered how much Kelsi and I stood out in India. Two blonde haired blue eyed girls traveling alone is apparently pretty uncommon here. Out of the two places we had visited that day, we had two groups of guys come up and ask to have their photos taken with us. (Apparently the joke was lost in translation when I told one guy I was going to charge him for the photo. Seemed only fair considering everyone sitting in the temples did the same thing to us!).
While we were at Humayun’s Tomb, we stopped and asked a lady to take our photo while we stood in front of the building. As she was preparing to take the photo, about 10 other groups all took out their cameras. We posed for our shot, and 15 or so clicks went off as EVERYONE took a photo of Kelsi and I. So strange.
Since then, even women have come up to us excitedly wanting to get their photos taken with us. Every time I assume they want US to take a photo of THEM, but every time I’m sorely mistaken.
After the tomb came lunch. We had no choice in the matter. We were dropped off at a restaurant full of tourists, with costs 5 times as
expensive. If we weren’t so starving we would have protested more. Instead we ate a couple of lovely curries and cured our hangriness.
When lunch was over we visited the beautiful Lodhi gardens. They were a peaceful escape in the middle of such a crazy city, and a fabulous place to clear our heads. Then came the Lotus temple, which we were totally lost in. We kept getting pushed from one line to another, herded around like sheep, only to enter into a temple that was unadorned, in total silence, and allowed no photography. Not worth the visit, apart from the beautiful lotus shape of the building itself.
Afterwards we drove 10km outside the city to another temple. I was lost with names at this point, and exhausted. The place was lovely, just like all the others had been, and had a huge tower in the middle of some ancient looking ruins. It’s too bad we were so sleepy, because it was hard to fully appreciate how gorgeous the place was when all I could think of was bed. We’d been on the tour for nearly 8 hours. That’s insane.
Apparently, however, this was our last temple. Oh good!
What our driver failed to mention, was that we would now be brought to a three story, textiles and carving market, where we would be harassed by merchants to buy their wares. Kill. Me. Now.
We wandered the floors of the building, trying to make small talk with each and every merchant that approached us. It was overwhelming. The stuff was beautiful, but we weren’t about to carry trinkets in our bags for 2 more months when we could but all the same stuff in
Mumbai at the end of our trip. So we dragged our sore feet back the the car empty handed. Home time.
But it wasn’t! “One last temple!” Our guide said. Oh god. He pulled over at some lit up temple all sparkly and white in the darkness of Delhi and dropped us off. We were over it. We both walked around the corner, took a photograph of 80 percent wall and 20 percent temple and stormed back to the car. We took a photo, happy?
Then there was a mandatory stop at the office for final details of our trip,
and finally we were dropped off at the main bazaar. We couldn’t quite get to our hotel by car, because there were a bunch of cows blocking the road (only in India) so we got out and walked the last few hundred meters to make it home.
What an exhausting day. We had no idea what was going on or what we had just seen. We searched each place out in our lonely planet guide in an attempt to piece together the day. Eventually we just ate dinner and went to bed. Our new driver was scheduled to pick us up at 7am the next morning.
Road Trip #2: Rajasthan!

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2 thoughts on “Whirlwind City Tour

    • It’s kind of strange, isn’t it? At first it’s not such a big deal, but it can get exhausting after a while! I’m hoping it calms down a little in the South where it’s supposedly more touristy 🙂 fingers crossed!

      Like

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