Four Countries in 2 Weeks: Turkey, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and India
India Day 12 – Exploring Delhi in a day starting with the Red Fort then taking a walking tour through Old Delhi and seeing Jama Masjid and Masjid Fatehpuri. Ending the day with a tour of The Imperial. Then a departure home the next day!
After checking in and freshening up, I went back to the old city to start my day of exploring.
Built in 1648, this red sandstone fort is where Mughal emperors ruled and in present day is controlled by the Indian Army. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is the largest monument in Delhi and the most visited.
The driver dropped me off in a parking lot on the opposite end of the entrance. I walked around the wall passing by groups of students on field trips.
I purchased my ticket and entered the fort. Note, there is a separate line for foreigners, so don’t wait in the long local line.
The security was extremely tight with armed military personnel and machine gun nests at key points. This may be partially due to the terrorist attack in 2000 leaving three dead (two soldiers and a civilian).
The day was very smoggy and the park was packed, so the views were hindered. I walked through the main Lahore Gate, passed the souvenir stalls at Chatta Chowk and went through the grounds. The first structure was Naubat Khana, the drum house followed by Diwan-i-Am, the Hall of Public Audiences, behind it. There was also a small museum which could make one claustrophobic due to the crowds.
In the main courtyard stood Moti Masjid, the Pearl Mosque, Diwan-i-Khas, Hall of Private Audiences, and the palaces Mumtaz Mahal, Rang Mahal, and Khas Mahal.
The palaces and mosques were interesting for their architecture and art. Further in are the Royal Baths, which were designed like the Turkish baths or hammams.
I walked to the lesser visited wall at Salimgarh Fort which was deep in the military zone. Guards watched me suspiciously as I wandered alone through the area. Besides the barracks and administrative offices, I saw some abandoned buildings that must have been from the British rule. One was a school with abc’s posters still on the wall. Creepy.
I couldn’t go passed the wall to the other fort. So I turned around and exited.
Old Delhi Walking Tour
Next up was a walking tour of the old town. I walked down Chandni Chowk and peered into the Digambara Jain Temple.
As I worked up an appetite, I stopped in a random alley way for some local food which looked popular. Unfortunately no one spoke English so I just pointed at a few things on the menu and hoped for the best. The food that came out was some fried nan with stuffing. It was very tasty and the three Indians sitting next to me shared my enjoyment.
Walking further into the center, I passed by many stores selling saris and other ceremonial dress. Eventually I found the largest mosque in Delhi, Jama Masjid and explored.
Continuing through the crowds and some shady areas where my hands were constantly in my pockets, I eventually lost my way in the maze of small streets. At that point I hired a bicycle rickshaw to take me to the next site, Masjid Fatehpuri.
After the brief stop in the mosque, I hopped into an auto rickshaw back to the hotel. There happened to be protest so the road back was closed. I got off a few blocks away and walked the rest of the way to the hotel.
After freshening up a bit, I took a tour of The Imperial with a friendly PR staff member. She took me through the hotel but more importantly through the history of the landmark establishment. Read about the tour and my review of The Imperial.
After the tour, I headed to bed as I had an early flight the next morning.
4 a.m. the next day, I wake up to a soft knocking at my door. It was the room service with my breakfast. I had no idea how long he was waiting for.
I then ate, showered, packed and checked out in record time. The taxi was waiting for me at the door.
At Delhi airport, I had to show proof that I had a flight to get inside. Fortunately I had “David” my login name at the top of the page, which I kept pointing to and the guard let me pass.
The journey home was painless with a stopover in Istanbul and then direct to Newark.
What an incredible and exhausting tour!