Chandni Chowk, Delhi

Chandni Chowk of Delhi, India

Going through chandni chowk and it’s various little gulley’s is a favourite pastime for me and my husband.  We would hop on a Delhi metro and shoot off, the moment we find we have a day to ourselves  and are not needed to do some errand for the family or go the kids school or run to some other event.

We prefer taking the Delhi metro to this place because one we cannot dream of getting our car into the unmanageable little roads and get stuck in traffic for endless hours.  It also gives a breather to my husband who is the only one in our family who can drive right now.

So, on a nice  sunny winter day, we set off to be part of the busy streets, hawkers,  vendors, chai wallahs, the street food guys.   It is an interesting mix of people and buildings, old and new, all intermingled with each other that they still maintain an individuality yet look so distinct.

A person probably visiting for the first time might not find this place interesting at all.  I used to be like that.  I hated going there amongst the dirt and the chaos, amidst people jostling with each other to get ahead, people screaming at the top of their voices, a mayhem of cycle rikshaws, auto-rickshaws, car, scooter and hoards of people all getting into each others way and nerves.

I only had to make 2 or 3 visits with my husband to really understand the depth of these places.  Once you get into a gulley or a lane, the varieties of a single aspect displayed was simply mind boggling.  Now, I sometimes simply go there to open up my horizon, of my understanding of what all things are available there.

 

There is a lane dedicated to only gems and stones.  Another lane would be selling only buttons and embellishments.  On one lane, you will simply find laces, rows of shops selling different coloured, different styles of laces.  There is a lane for bicycle parts, one lane for clothes, one for sarees, one for dry fruits and nuts, spices…..  The list just goes on..  Everytime we go, we choose a different lane to explore.

 

This old Delhi used to be the only Delhi people knew some 30 to 40 years back.  By now though the boundaries of Delhi has expanded to beyond Gurgaon on the south and Noida on the west, Rohini on the north, etc.  But when you visit old Delhi, you would not imagine that Delhi has expanded so much.  Life goes on as it used to couple of decades before.  It is as if time stood still somewhere in those periods for Chandni Chowk while the others moved on!

Jama Masjid, New Delhi

The Royal Jama Masjid of Delhi

Jama Masjid is the biggest mosque in Delhi.  It is important as a heritage property as it was built by Shah Jahan and the coronation ceremony of later Mughal emperors were performed by the imams of this mosque.  It is walking distance from Red Fort and consequently catered to the needs of the royalty of those times.

The mosque is situated in the middle of the most crowded and congested streets of old Delhi and therefore, getting to the place itself is a bit of adventure.

We took the Delhi metro and got down at the Chawri Bazaar Metro Station and walked the entire length of Chawri Bazaar to reach the West side of Jama Masjid. Crossing Gate No. 5 from where we could see the three domes from behind the structure. we walked around the border to reach Gate No. 3.   The entrance gate to the mosque was on top of a flight of stairs.  The wide structure looked majestic on top from where we were standing.

  

There is a wide worship area inside – it is supposed to be able to accommodate 25000 people to worship at the same time.   There are 3 entrance gates to the inner porch and entire courtyard is lined with arched verandahs leading to the towers at the four corners.


 From the verandah on the opposite side of the mosque, one could see parts of Red Fort.   If you come out of the gate on the east side, you will step into the old and famous colourful Meena Bazaar of Delhi.

 

Humayun's Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb

The long Lodi road from Safdarjung Tomb ends rather tamely at the Sabz Burj right inside the roundabout, or what is now popularly known as the Neeli Chhatri for its spectacular blue dome. Take the second exit and you are already inside the Humayun Tomb premises. A short walk and an entrance ticket later, we entered the chirpy grounds. I was accompanying my cousin from Kerala on a tour of Delhi and were now at the famed Humayun’s Tomb.

The Humayun’s tomb is preceded by tombs of lesser known personalities, but the fun fact is that they are far better preserved. We were told that the Aga Khan Foundation along with the TATA trust had been engaged to restore the monument to its pristine past. And it was pretty evident.

The squeaky clean pathway that leads to the Humayun’s Tomb

Past the domed gate lay the Humayun Tomb.

The tomb stands on a terraced platform. You can climb up to the platform to enter the tomb. We went in October and the pleasant climate was perfect for viewing.

The tomb has two stories. But the entrance to the upper floors are closed. I am sure there was a time when these were open to the general public, but that day it was closed. 🙁

Humayun’s Tomb, apart from Humayun’s grave, also contains graves of other royal members of the Mughal family of the time.

There are gates on all four sides of the tomb, which gives it a unique quadrilateral look, something of a uniqueness with subsequent Mughal architecture, especially that contains tombs.

 

We enjoyed our visit and after packing our memories in an electronic plastic card, we made our way to the next destination. More on that later.

 

 

 

Taj Mahal Agra

The famous Taj Mahal of India

 

It was time to make a visit to this famous structure of India.  I spent almost 25 years in Delhi before I made the effort to finally visit this beautiful place.  Once decided we set off from Delhi one early morning (we started around 6.30am) to reach this destination by about 11.30 am.  The roads were really bad and congested to get there at that time but now I’ve heard there is a highway that’s built to make it possible to reach Agra in just about 2 hours from Delhi.
It was about 10-15 mins walk from the place where the bus dropped us.  There were options of carts being driven by camels or to stretch our legs after the long hours spent in the car.  We definitely chose the second.
Well, getting inside the place was a struggle with long queues and endless wait at the south gate.  There were however, multiple things on that little gully which kept us quite intrigued and fascinated.  craftsmen working on the roadside and small shops selling those craft items that we spent most of the time window shopping.
Once inside, the place was huge and marvellous.   The expanse of green gardens was well maintained.
  

This was just the outer court.  We were still not able to see the Taj Mahal from this entrance.  There was another gate we had to cross before we could behold the structure we had come to see from so far.

 

 

The walls were quite impressive.  They had chambers built in the walls with domes at each corner.  we spent sometime reading the inscriptions and information given by the tourism department.  The history behind the Taj Mahal and the construction was elaborate.

 

 By this time, we were dying to get into the inner courts to actually behold the structure with our very own eyes.   There is an excitement in seeing something and feeling something in real rather than pictures and images.  It was the same feeling and exhilaration that was sweeping us.  I guess whoever planned this structure had simply that in mind.. to create an intrigue in the minds of the people coming to visit and there was just that gradual and most beautiful reveal awaiting us.
Once inside, the complete picture was before us to view for as long as we could afford.  It was truly magnificent, the white marbles glistening in the bright sunshine and standing tall and majestic before the world. It was truly worth the wait.
Walking around the structure, we went back couple of decades back.   There was exquisite work done on each of these marbles and the views from each side of the structure was breathtaking.

 

 

We could also see the yamuna from parapet.   I have never seen such a serene flow of the river from anywhere else.