We really are half way around the world as we are 10 ½ hours ahead of home on the clock. Sure enough some time after midnight we both wake up hungry! Dick makes some hot tea for us and we eat the rest of our sandwiches...our body thinks it is lunch time! Fortunately with the hunger pains fed we go back to sleep, waking a few minutes ahead of our 7:30AM alarm. We are meeting Rishi at 9AM for our second day exploring New Delhi.
After another excellent breakfast, we are out the door a few minutes after 9AM and off for the World Heritage Site, Lal Kot, the first of the seven cities of Delhi and the oldest part of Delhi established by the Tomar Rajput ruler, Anang Pai in 1060. It is Saturday but the traffic is still very heavy and we find that India has a six day work week except for government employees. It takes about 40 minutes to get to the site. Rishi drops us at the parking area and we buy our 250 rupee each ticket. This is the price for foreigners as the Indians only pay 10 rupees. They even have a line for foreigners so, at least we don’t have to wait in the long line of the locals.
Inside we find a beautiful well kept uncrowded park area. The Qutb complex consisting of the Quwwatu’l-Islam mosque built 1192-98 from demolished remains of Hindu temples is the main feature of the park and we spend a good bit of time exploring the ruins. The main point of interest is the Qutub Minar started in 1202. It is 72.5 m tall and ranges from a diameter of 14.32m at the base to 2.75m at the top and is made of red and buff sandstone. Another interesting site is the Iron Pilar, though not part of the original site it was moved from elsewhere in India and set in the courtyard of the mosque. Bearing a 4th century inscription of the exploits of a ruler named Chandra, it is built of hundreds of small wrought-iron blooms welded together by hammering. We enjoy wandering through this interesting park and spend some time just sitting and people watching as there are large numbers of Indian families gathering at the park. Many of the women are in beautiful saris and the young girls are in fancy party like dresses....a very colorful scene.
Next we head for Haus Kaus, an upscale shopping and eating area built around the ruins of the second city of Dehli and an old lake that was built as a water supply in the 1400s. This proves to be less than wonderful as a shopping area but the old madras school and tomb located there are worth a picture or two.
Finally, we head for a craft area know as Dilli Haat. It cost 20 rupees ($0.42) each to get in but it has the best shopping of this type we have found so far. Carolyn buys her obligatory ornaments, 1,150 rupees ($23.80), for some fancy little cloth elephants and some paper-mache hearts that will go on our Christmas tree and then begins looking for other items. Meanwhile Dick has struck up a conversation with a man from Kashmir who is part of group selling scarves and other cloth craft items. When Carolyn does not find the shirts and tops she seeks, we go back to his stall. We are seated under the fan and given cold bottled water to drink while we are shown all qualities of silk and pashima scarves...both large and small. Carolyn ask specifically to see the ones with bright reds and purples. After about 45 minutes she has culled the offerings to four large scarves...more like a stole, including one we think Celia will like. Probably the high light of the whole shopping experience is paying for the scarves.
We owe 10,000 rupees or $207 and Dick does not have this much in his pocket. They will take a credit card but the machine is in another stall some distance across the market. Dick walks there with the man he first visited with and, once there, the fun begins! The card reader is in a suitcase under a table. Once retrieved, it must be plugged into an electrical outlet. The only one visible is attached to a hanging light bulb fixture. One of the minions in the stall climbs up on a table, plugs in the cord to the card reader and then sticks the bare wire ends of two wires into some socket that Dick cannot quite see. Anyway, the bare ends of the wires make contact and the light comes on and the card reader chirps. The readers is attached to an old style telephone modem where you lay the phone handset in the cradle and dial your number. Surprisingly, all this works and in short order, after triple verifying the amount with Dick, the little machine spits out a receipt for Dick to sign and one for him to keep. As a matter of interest, the charge hits our credit card the next day as a payment to Khushboo Embroideries at $183.28US.
Returning to the stall where Carolyn is waiting, we spend another 15 minutes declining to look at or buy additional goods. Everyone understands this is a game and we finally part amidst smiles and good cheer. They made a decent sized sale and we had a good time bargaining and shopping.
We go back to the hotel for a rest in the heat of the day. Rishi picks us up at 5PM for further adventures. He drives us over to the Indian Parliament building area and we drive the long beautiful boulevard from there to the India Gate. From the hill on which Parliament and the President’s house sits, the view down toward India Gate is quite impressive, a testament to the days of the British Empire building.
Next we stop at the Imperial Hotel to have a drink in its bar. This bar is very old English from the days of the Raj and very clubby. Carolyn has a Mojito and Dick has a Manhattan on the rocks. They are good but certainly not worth the 2,000 rupees ($41.40) they cost. India’s equivalent to a sales tax is roughly 25% and the drinks were high to start. Oh well, we had the experience and that was the point of the exercise.
We now head for India Gate to take some sunset pictures. India Gate is a memorial to all the Indian soldiers who died fighting with the British in the First World War. When we get there, it is closed and cordoned off. Police are at all the entrances to the large circular park area and they have evacuated the area. All we can do is drive around the outside road and take photos from a distance. We never do find out what has caused this shut down.
We return to the hotel and order pizza from room service, pack for our trip to Agra tomorrow and head for bed.