When planning this trip, I decided that while in India I’d treat myself to a nice hotel once a month instead of the backpacker/budget accomodations that I usually go for. And since the budget places in Delhi seem to be on the sketchy side, I decided this was the place.
In the US, $80/night gets you a wide range of hotels, from the dingy dump to a nice, comfortable, yet generic place. Here, it got a very nice hotel. Ritzy, schnazzy, hoighty-toighty, whatever you want to call it, this was it.
Upon arrival they took my luggage through an X-ray machine and then brought it to my room. The lobby had dance/”uncha-uncha” music playing and was quite sleek and modern. My room was spacious and plush, and the bathroom had a tub large enough to throw a party in (well, a few people anyway). I took advantage of the bath despite the hot and humid weather. I guess you could say I’m a sucker for being in hot water. The room also came with an incredible breakfast buffet including continental and Indian dishes.
I must admit it felt odd to be in such luxury in the midst of poverty around me, and I’m still keeping it in my mind to think about. I will say that this body appreciated it. The first day that I planned to go out, my body said “Yeah, no. Not going to do that”. Since I had been dealing with stomach issues the last few days, I listened, and rested the whole day. It made a world of difference, and the next day I had energy to walk all over town.
The hotel is on the very outskirts of town, but near the Delhi metro. Delhi’s metro is awesome. It’s like the London Underground, only cheaper. They even say “Please mind the gap”. For less than $5, I got a three day pass that took me anywhere in town. The cars are clean, air conditioned, and they even have separate cars for women, which is nice when things get crowded.
So the first day I walked through Chandni Chowk, a major shopping street, to the Red Fort. Built by Shah Jahan in 1638 to 1648, the Red Fort is a magnificent example of Mughal architecture. It’s’ built of red sandstone and marble, with pietra dura stone inlays and intricate carvings. An easy place to spend a few hours. Afterwards I walked by the main Mosque, the Jama Masjid, and through Chowri bazaar, a street with stationery shops covered in grime, electrical wiring, and lots of people. Not something I’d do at night time.
I went further by metro to the Janpath area of town to visit the National museum and the Gandhi Smirti. Sadly, the Gandhi smirti was closed for some reason, but the national museum was an interesting trip.
Today I went to the Qutub Minar complex. The first buildings in the complex were created by ancient Mehrauli sultans, and then later rulers built the rest. The large tower, the Qutb Minar, was started in 1193 by Qutb-ud-din. Unfortunately he never got to see its completion, as he was impaled during a polo match. Later rulers finished the construction with the tower topping 73 meters in height.
After wandering around such beautiful structures, I decided to make that my last tourist stop. Fatigue was lifting its head again, and I didn’t see how visiting more buildings would have been more enjoyable. So I called it good, stopped on an errand, and went back to the hotel.
The errand is a long story in the search for getting a local SIM card for my iPhone. Let’s just say it hasn’t been successful, and I am without a working phone. But I have had wifi at the hotels, and in some ways, it’s not so bad to not have connectivity 24/7. So I remain disconnected – sort of.
As one last note, I’m putting in a charity plug. One of the things I’ve noticed is that my observations about the trash here may not have been correct. It seems that plastic water bottles don’t get recycled as much as I thought. I see them everywhere. Of course the problem is multi factorial, but between seeing the bottles and suffering ill effects from questionable sources, I really see how important clean water is for so many in the world. I found an organization trying to change this, so I’m putting in a plug for them. I get nothing out of it, other than knowing more people may have access to clean water. So here’s my fundraising campaign, contribute if you’d like.
See you next time from Jaipur!