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A tale of two cities (Old Delhi and New Delhi)

…plus a wedding and the Taj

sunny 65 °F
View India, Jan 2011 on jkirsch's travel map.

Our final days in India were spent in Delhi, which was aptly described to us as India’s Washington D.C. (as compared to Mumbai, which is its New York). I had fairly low expectations of Delhi – primarily because I’d heard that there was a lot of poverty and begging – but I really enjoyed our time there. It was particularly interesting the see the vast contrast between the Old Delhi part of the city and the New Delhi part of the city. Old Delhi is a congested maze of bumpy dirt roads and colorful shops, CRAMMED with cycle rickshaws, motorcycles, pedestrians, and shopkeepers. In comparison, New Delhi seemed almost like a European capital! The streets are wide and well-paved, with fairly minimal traffic; there are lots of green spaces; and there is a general sense of order and planning to the layout of the area. I think the best way to express the contrast between Old Delhi and New Delhi is to share the highlights of our time in both areas.

Old Delhi

One of the highlights of our day in Old Delhi was going for a cycle rickshaw ride through the markets; it was exhilarating and little terrifying (I can’t believe we didn’t collide with anything!). We got stuck in traffic at an intersection with a broken water main, but our industrious driver managed to negotiate a path through oncoming traffic (physically picking up and moving empty rickshaws and getting motorcycles to pull to the side of the path) to get us on our way. Talk about service!

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Old Delhi Street Scene
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Public Works in Chandni Chowk Market
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Taking our Rickshaw for a Testdrive

One of our top meals of the trip was also in Old Delhi, at Karim’s, a restaurant that has been around since 1913. We feasted on a lamb leg, a whole fish, mutton (goat) curry, and tandoori chicken, all of which were cooked in a clay oven. It was a meat lover’s dream!!! The fact that the bill was only about $8 per person was also greatly appreciated.

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Quite possibly the world's best lamb

New Delhi

We didn’t have much time to explore New Delhi, but Jake and I managed to fit in a quick trip to the Modern Art Museum, which was having an exhibition of work by Anish Kapoor. It was a great exhibit, and a nice break from visiting temples and forts. On our last day, we also drove over to the Lodi Colony area for a delicious lunch at Ploof (thanks for the tip, Jevon!) and some shopping. All in all, very civilized and not-at-all like our time in the rest of India.

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New Delhi's Green Streets (courtesy of http://indianghar.com/)

Wedding!

As we’ve mentioned before, the impetus for our trip to India was our friend Nupur’s wedding. The wedding festivities were fantastic, and we felt very lucky to have been invited. The absolute highlight of the wedding was the groom’s (Rizi’s) processional. It was out-of-this-world! I kid you not: there were about twenty live musicians (mostly drummers and trumpeters), people carrying lamps on their shoulders, 80 or so people decked out and dancing down the streets of Delhi….and oh yeah, the groom riding behind it all on a HORSE! Although the processional only covered a distance of about one-quarter of a mile, it took about an hour, so I was happy to arrive at the wedding venue, where we enjoyed a delicious Indian buffet and tried to figure out what was going on. Unfortunately, we had an early train to Agra the next morning, so we had to leave before the actual ceremony began (at about 1AM apparently!).

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Taj

Finally, I have to mention the Taj Mahal, and just how amazing it really is. We visited in the late morning and returned later that day to watch the sunset. The second visit was in some ways even better than the first: I think we all felt a little like, “Wow! It really IS as amazing as I first thought it was!” It’s not my favorite site ever (the temples at Angkor Wat in Cambodia still take the cake), but it really was awesomely huge and beautiful. And it’s amazing that it took only 22 years to build, given the detail of the marble inlay work and the fact that it's solid white marble.

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To sum up, our time in India was really special and so much fun! We’ve already started talking about where we’d like to go when we come back, which I think says a lot about how much we enjoyed our time here.

Thanks for joining us and please do come again!

Posted by jkirsch 05:17 Archived in India Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises food markets india monuments delhi agra

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Comments

How fantastic! I love India and hope to return one day, but I have the US and Canada first. I went to a Hindu wedding in the UK last year, which was equally colourful - lots of dancing and musical instruments! Hope you are both well. xx

by Christine

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