Thursday, June 21, 2012

A day in Delhi, Old and New

I've spent the last few days strolling through Paharganj just taking in the sights. I like seeing what every day life is all about so winding through the alleys in the residential area is fun for me. But I decided that I better go see what else there is in Delhi so I did some google searches and finally ended up emailing Delhi Magic, one of many tour companies in Delhi. The offer a wide variety of tours but the one that caught my eye was the Metro Tour. It's a tour that includes a ride on the metro, an auto rickshaw and a cycle rickshaw, takes four hours and best of all it uses students from and NGO called Manzil as tour guides. Before I go any further, I have to say that Delhi Magic was very responsive to all my questions via email and was able to organize this tour at less than 24 hours notice. Delhi Magic also has a variety of tours that are just a bit unique than the run of the mill tours. And because I was so very satisfied you can bet that I'll be contacting them again on my future trips through Delhi. They have a tour of the bazaar and even a food tour, both of which I have to do. And really, I think I might even do the Metro Tour again too, I was so into the tour I forgot to snap photos so the next time maybe I can go with a small group and hang a little bit behind and take lots of photos. Actually, if Delhi Magic has a photo tour of Delhi..... 

Okay, so with all my blogs that I have you know I normally don't put any plugs in for any particular business, but Delhi Magic will be my one exception. Now, on to my day...

One of three large buildings that are part of the Presidential Palace. This is the the South Office Building

So today Uma came to my hotel and picked me up and we went first through New Delhi and went by the India Gate, the Presidential Palace, then on to Old Delhi to the famous Chandi Chowk and Connaught Place, two of the oldest neighborhoods in Delhi. The bazaar in Chandi Chowk is the oldest in Delhi dating back to 1638.  My tour by the way was a one on one tour, no others with us. We went through old bazaars, tried some Indian snacks and visited a Hindu Temple, Jain Temple and a Sikh Temple as well as going by one of the oldest Muslim mosques. Seeing all the temples in one day and having a tour guide as good as Uma explain the history and principles of each religion was amazing. I admire the Sikh religion for it's equality among the sexes and giving to the community. Anyone, rich or poor or homeless can go to a Sikh temple for free food and tea. 

I honestly can't go into detail about the history of every place we visited. Some highlights though was walking through the famous chapati alley in the market, seeing the Red Fort of which I remember from childhood visits, learning that the Jain religion does not have a creator God, but anyone that reaches enlightenment can be a god. I learned that man lived here in this area where Delhi is in 2000 B.C. I learned that in both Hinduism and Jainism it is believed that suffering is a result of past life greed, hatred and ignorance which is returned as suffering (Karma). Thus the answer for why there is undeserved suffering. 

The best part of my four hour tour was my guide, Uma. She is a Very knowledgeable individual  and the way she was able to put the information out was so easy to understand. I learned a lot about Uma's life, culture and dreams. She once had a successful career and gave it up to volunteer for Manzil. While I have 23 weeks left to go in India and about 50 weeks of things I really want to see and do I am determined to see if I can set aside two weeks to return to Delhi and do some volunteer work. If one volunteers with manzil I was told that they will provide basic housing and three meals a day. A fair trade. 

So I canceled my tour of another part of Delhi tomorrow. Instead I'm headed over to Manzil's office to learn more about volunteering. And if I can find two weeks to commit then I hope I can give a little bit back to this country that has so far been so good to me.

Anyway, I highly recommend using Delhi Magic for their tours, especially the Metro Tour. I've now put on my list a bunch of their other tours to do but the problem is I have so many places and thing to do that I have no idea when I can get all these tours done. Does that mean I need to stay long? Maybe. Or maybe it's just the reason I need to come back to India in the future.

So, all that said. I did not take very many photos during this tour. Here's a few plus a few from dinner tonight at a food stall that I've decided to call a regular place.

Just a small section of the enormous Red Fort

Frying parathas in the Chandi Chowk market which dates back to 1632. This is the famous pratha section of the bazaar.
Paratha is a flat bread stuffed with a potato or other vegetable filling

A special Hindu ceremony and parade through the narrow alleys of Chandi Chowk Bazaar

Mutton Kabob, Already ate most of it by the time I remembered to take a photo

Chicken Tangri Kabob, outstanding

Second dinner stop

Chicken Fry, very good

Potato sandwhiches

Macking Chapatis

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