Still in the midst of a Delhi-based work project, I find myself once again in half-way across the planet, this being my third trip since August. Throughout the project, colleagues here have continually encouraged me to arrive with sufficient time to wander the city. While it would be easy to feel overwhelmed they warned, I was assured that any uncertainties would quickly cease I as made my way throughout this 5000 year old wonderland.
I’ve been anxious to spend dedicated time exploring India’s capital city, so when planning this trip I made sure to schedule a full weekend, allowing an opportunity to view more than my office, the hotel, and airport.
Having arrived late Friday night, Saturday I hired a driver and set out to explore three areas on my list – a combination of touristy and local attractions.
My first stop was Raj Ghat, a memorial to India’s famed Mahatma Gandhi. Set amongst the center of a giant grassy park, Raj Ghat marks the site of Gandhi’s cremation the day following his assassination in January 1948. Upon entering, visitors remove their shoes before navigating a series of footpaths leading to a giant marble platform, adjacent eternal flame.
Surrounded by acres of finely manicured lawns and giant sandstone enclosures, the area feels calm and serene. It is easy forget about the incessant hustle and bustle outside these cozy confines.
From Raj Ghat, the driver brought me to Old Delhi, the symbolic heart of this metro area. Mixed amongst elegant mosques and gardens, Old Delhi was once home to luxurious mansions of the Mughal dynasty elite. These days, the area is extremely crowded and dilapidated, but very much still a center for commerce and fine street cuisine.
Because traffic in Old Delhi is a nightmare, I hired a rickshaw driver to take me to Red Fort. An iconic symbol of India, the site holds deep historical significance and national pride. Tradition dictates that every year on Independence Day (Aug-15), the Prime Minister hoist the national flag prior to addressing the nation from high atop the walled ramparts.
The grounds are massive and ornately detailed. Impressive, really impressive.
From Red Fort, I took another rickshaw to the far end of Old Delhi, where much of the street commerce is located. If you are ever in Delhi, be sure to visit the old city. I’ve never seen anything in America like it.