Today was quite the day. We paid for a driver to take us to several sites that we were interested in seeing. We were with our driver - Harish - from 9am to 5pm. He drove us all around Delhi and it only cost us about $30 US. It was a great private little tour of the city with a very knowledgeable guide. He said he didn't speak English very well, but we could understand him perfectly! We talked to him all about Indian culture - arranged marriages, cows, religion, technology, poverty, you name it. We told him about our life back in California. He was pretty surprised that we had a dog as a pet that we let sleep on the bed. They do not do that here. We had yet another great Indian lunch, and then made it back to our hotel in just enough time to freshen up and meet up with our tour group. I will walk you through our day....We started by going to a Hindu Temple - we did not go inside as right now there is this huge religious festival going on and most of the the Temples were quite hard to get into. This Temple was quite impressive with its architecture, but I will be honest and tell you I do not remember this one's name. After this quick photo op, we drove past the parliament buidlings, got a few photos here, and then we were off to India Gate. This is a huge arch that was built to commemorate British and Indian Soldier who have died in different wars - most notably WWI. Then we were able to spend quite some time at Qutb Minar. This actually a large compound with many ruins, etc. The main thing to see here is the Qutb Minar tower. It is India's highest single tower that marked the site of the first Muslim kingdom in North India. We then went to what was my favorite part of the day - going to the Lotus Temple. This temple - shaped like a lotus is also known as the Baha'i House of Worship. The Baha'i sect originated in Persia and is based n a view of humanity as one single race. However it says that followers of all faiths are invited here to come meditate. There were very few foreign tourists here, and we found out from the few people we spoke to that most of them were from different parts of India and had traveled here, they were not just locals from Delhi.
At the Lotus Temple, we had to take our shoes off and walk on the very hot ground, but it was worth it
After the Lotus Temple, we had a much needed lunch at a very nice restaurant, and then headed off to our last site - Humzyun's Tomb. This looks similar to the Taj Mahal in structure, and was actually built before the Taj. There were also some other tombs and ruins in this compound as well. It was very impressive. We were able to walk up some VERY steep stairs and enjoy the view from the top. A few more people asked to take their photo with me, and crazily enough, this gentleman who did not speak English whatsoever, just walked up to me, handed me his toddler (maybe about 1 1/2 years old) and started taking my photo with him. I was happy to do this, but I did find it quite odd because this guy didn't know me, nor could he speak to me. He just handed me his baby. I could have ran off with him or something. But of course I would not do that. I definitely have to thank my favorite tour guide who just happens to be my amazing fiance Jaime - for buying the travel book on India and knowing that these were the sites to see
We finally met up with our tour group and we all went to dinner together. We have some very interesting people in our group - mostly Australian, two Brits, and one person from Spain. We are the only two from the United States. Including Jaime and myself we have 16 people in our group. We are very excited to continue to get to know everybody. Tomorrow is an early day as we are doing just a morning tour of the Mosque we actually already went to. However we will be prepared with more modest clothing and will be with a guide this time. We will have a few hours to get ready for our overnight train which leaves for Varanasi at 7pm tomorrow night. 12 hours on the train, and then we will be there bright and early Thursday morning. I can almost guarantee we will not have internet access there, so if you do not hear from us in a few days - not to worry. Now time to get some sleep. Still not quite adjusted to the 12 1/2 time difference. I am assuming we will be used to it right about when it is time to head back home to the US.
Delhi - Day 2
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
New Delhi, India