Wednesday, 15 February 2017

What to Expect and Avoid- Travelling to India for the First Time (Delhi, India) Part 1

  India is comparable to having a love and hate relationship. I had so many wonderful moments that truly made me love India at the same time moments when I also felt like wanting to pack my bags and leave. It was a massive culture shock for me visiting India for the first time. No place is quite like India and no amount of research and reading can prepare you. India is beautiful in some ways but also filthy and it is something you just cannot comprehend until you have seen and experience it yourself. It's definitely not for the fussy (fancy) ones.  
If you ask me if I have regrets, I don't think I do. Will I go back, I think I will.

 Visiting a place for the first time gives me a sense of complete unfamiliarity and that always excites me. I was ready to embrace India, to let her open my mind and change me. India is filled with rich colours, myriad of smells, fascinating sounds (including zillions of cars honking), awe-inspiring sites and delectable food.  
No doubt, you will experience sensory overload, everything coming at you at once 
and you just need to be like a sponge and absorb them.

Safdarjang's Tomb is the last phase of Mughal style architecture in Delhi. It is built of sandstone and marble 
and in line with the style of Humayun's Tomb.

Beautiful patterned ceiling of the mausoleum. 

 Majestic looking.

 Muhammad Shah Sayyid's Tomb at Lodi Garden in New Delhi.

 Lodi Gardens is a quiet park dotted with 15th century tombs of past Mughal rulers.

Delhi was covered in thick fog (likely fog + smog) the day we visited The Lotus Temple. What a shame. The Lotus Temple is built in the shape of a lotus flower and is one of the most magnificent architectural styles of the Bahia faith. You need to take off your shoes and put them in the bags provided before entering the temple. Silence is also strictly observed everywhere inside the hall. 

Interestingly, it looks a bit similar to Sydney Opera House up close.


India Gate

These delicious Pani-puri, the most popular type of Indian street-food are almost everywhere but beware and think twice before you eat.

A sure way to get "Delhi belly" hehe

Selling Papadum. It's similar to crackers.
Chai is sold on the street. A mixture of water and milk is boiled,
 tea leaves are added then straining the tea into a tea kettle.

 An Indian "chaiwala" is a person who prepares, sells or serves tea on streets or roadside shops.

Sandwiches and wraps.

Boiled Sweet Potato

India is a country full of persistent souvenir hawkers and compared to the other countries I've been to, they seem to be the most persistent and aggressive of all. I've tried a polite smile and said "no" but that didn't seem to work and only made it worse. When I totally ignored them or said "nahin", it simply means "no" in Hindi, that seemed to make them leave me alone the quickest. 

Laxminarayan Temple in Delhi is a beautiful Hindu temple dedicated to Lakshmi, 
the goddess of prosperity and good fortune.

Garlands of flowers and popped lotus seeds as offerings for the goddess Lakshmi. The puja (high priest) gave us Phool Makhana ( popped lotus seed) to eat for prosperity. It looked and tasted like popcorn.

Riding auto rickshaws in Delhi can be a terrifying experience for some but I enjoyed it and thought it was fun. Wheee!
Travelling in these "autos" as locals call it, feels like riding in older-style carnival rides. Sure it can be a lot of fun but can also become crazy and intense.
I've ridden tuktuks in Vietnam and Thailand but India's autos are far more exciting! Like this particular one we had on our first day was moving at an elephant's pace and falling apart, the driver had to make frequent stops (or rather the engine turning itself off) to fix it. We couldn't help laughing at the situation we were in while we stared at other auto rickshaws whizz past us. So Amazing Race contestants beware!  By the way, their meters are a joke so make sure you negotiate and agree on a fare before you get in. This happened to us a couple of times, all sorts of drivers be it taxis, rickshaws, autos even mahouts tried to take advantage of us just because we are tourists. If they try to over charge you after the ride, don't give in. Just pay the driver the agreed fare and walk away.

Our first Indian lunch at the hotel.

Our breakfast, lunch and dinner always included Naan and Gulab Jamun.

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