Chaos in Old Delhi
05.02.2013 - 05.02.2013 16 °C
Met the other members of our group along with our Tour Director Claire last night. After a full briefing we enjoyed a western style meal in the 1911 Bar at our hotel - The Imperial - along with 4 others we had originally met at Singapore Airport. This morning we were to visit the Jama Masjid the largest Mosque in India bulit by Shah Jahan (the builder of the Taj Mahal) and then we were to take a cycle rickshaw ride through the chaotic lanes of the Chandni Chowk in old Delhi. We had been woken through the night by thunder and the sounds of workmen removing the signs of a large Bengali wedding which was being held outside our 3rd floor room at the Imperial. Slept poorly despite the comfortable bed and woke this morning earlier to have breakfast and meet the others for the tour. There are 23 of us in various stages of health and vigour. It was pouring with rain which made our visit to the Jama Masjid extremely slippery in our bare feet on wet marble. Our cycle rickshaws were waiting for us outside the mosque and we convoyed through the wet chaos and squalor of the old city lanes and shops. Our destination was the Spice Market but few stalls were open because of the deluge. Everywhere in Delhi people live under makeshift tents made out of plastic with large numbers living under bridges - living their entire lives. 22 Million people now live in Delhi and we were told the population of India has grown by 1 Billion in the 60 years since Independence. Opulence dating to the Mughals and the British Raj which lasted over 300 years sit side by side with the squalor. Our portion of the day ended abruptly with Celina fell backwards hard onto her rear when trying to get back in the cycle rickshaw. We were taken back to hotel through chaotic Delhi traffic by our skillful coach driver while everybody else went a brief Metro ride, lunch and a vist to another Mughal tomb. Celina hurt more than her pride but appears to be heading towards an uncomfortable few days of not being able to sit. She will rest tomorrow and we look forward to our visit to Varanasi in 2 days time.