When we planned our trip to Amritsar and booked tickets to New Delhi on the Amritsar-New Delhi Shatabdi at 5 AM, we were a little concerned if we would find transport to take us to Railway Station so early in the morning. Our homestay owner assured us that there would be an auto rickshaw ready for us by 4.30 AM and when we woke up at 3.30 AM and were getting ready, we got a call by 4.15 AM itself that our auto was ready ! One more reason to be impressed by Amritsar !
We boarded the Shatabdi Express and dozed off until sunrise, when we looked out of the window, all we could see was white ! The famed dense fog of the North Indian plains !
We had fun looking out at the sights, read a book, slept for some more time and woke up when Delhi was arriving. The train was about 45 minutes late. We boarded the Delhi Metro and directly went to Jai Shree Balaji Guest House, where we had booked rooms. Since we were attending a wedding for the 3 days, we booked this place, as we got a good deal. The hotel is decent and very close to the Metro Station at Dwarka but the approach road to the hotel is in a sad state and if you are travelling with family, you may not find it very convenient.
A few hours of freshening up and lunch later, we stepped out for a quick tour of the Red Fort and Chandni Chowk.
Delhi’s capital !
It took us a little over an hour riding on Delhi Metro from Dwarka to Chandni Chowk. It was already 4 PM and Red Fort would close by 5 PM, so we decided to do a quick tour. During our last visit in January 2017, Red Fort was closed for Bharat Diwas celebrations around Republic Day time. This time, we approached Red Fort with lot of excitement, after all, it was “the” Red Fort ! If Delhi was India’s capital, then Red Fort was Delhi’s capital, the seat of power at the peak of Mughal reign.
At the entrance, there is a corridor with shops selling touristy stuff like handicrafts, souvenirs, trinkets and the like.
Around this time, our camera started giving us some trouble, every time, we clicked an image, it would shut off. That made this photographer a little panicky but more than the mood getting disturbed, somehow, Red Fort didn’t seem to hold our interest. Somehow, we could not find the architectural grandeur we had read about. Of course, there were elegant structures like this arched assembly hall, the Diwan-i-Aam.
This hall houses the throne where Shah Jahan used to be seated while addressing the assembly.
Then, there is the Diwan-i-khaas.
The engravings, carvings on this marble structure are so delicate and perfect, you wonder if someone actually pasted a printed wall paper !
We walked around wondering if that was what Red Fort was all about, we then, spotted a few buildings belonging to the British era, these buildings and lawns in front, gave it a very British feel, it almost felt like a piece of Europe had been brought inside the Red Fort !
By this time, evening was setting in and we simply hurried around, we honestly, did not stop by to read or explore the structures in detail. We stopped to click pictures only if we found something interesting like this one:
A security officer’s royal swag !
Since, we did not find anything else that interested us, we decided to leave. We found a board with the map of the Red Fort and realised that a marble domed structure that we just passed was the famous Moti Masjid or the Pearl Mosque. We went back to check the monument but it was closed and we could only get this shot of it.
We were then done with our Red Fort visit, while leaving, we saw the place from where the Prime Minister addresses the nation on Independence Day, next time we see it on TV, we know exactly how the place looks !
Before leaving, we took one more shot of the ramparts of the Red Fort !
This reminded us of the Standard company’s “Lal Kila” Diwali crackers with a similar picture of the Red Fort on the cover !
Our next stop was the Jama Masjid, this time to show it to our friend, the rest of us had been there during our January 2017 visit. It had fallen dark by then and there was a crescent moon above the Jama Masjid, it was a beautiful sight, we sat down watching it in the cool breeze and evening chill. Since our camera gave up and mobile phones could not capture that scene, we have it recorded in our mind camera !
The king of roadside food
After a visit to the Red Fort, the next logical thing would be to take a walk through Chandni Chowk and binge at Paranthewali Gali ! Walking in the bye-lanes of Chandni Chowk is insane, you will learn to master the art of navigating your way through narrowest of spaces ! Despite the chaos and mess, Chandni Chowk is vibrant with bright colours – textiles, jewellery, bangles, handicrafts and of course food, our point of interest.
Paranthewali Gali or the Lane of Paranthas has rows of eateries selling Parathas deep fried in oil, we have never seen Parathas deep fried ! We went to this eatery that seems to have been in business for more than 120 years !
You won’t believe the variety of Parathas they have here, some sound funny ! We tried a Tomato, Mirchi, Badam, Nimbu and Rabri Paratha. The Parathas come dripping with oil but that’s the fun part of it, as for the taste, these Parathas are delicious but more than the taste, again it is the experience. Try Rabri Paratha if you want to try something crazy !
After the Parathas, we tried khullar Lassi – thick, creamy, Lassi, as good as the one we had in Amritsar.
We were not done yet, walking further, we spotted someone selling the famous Daulat-ki-Chaat, we had a taste of it during our January trip and there was no way we were missing it, even if we were already full to the brim !
By now, our tummies were bursting but that it did not stop us from having Rabri-Jalebi at one of the stalls that claimed to be have been awarded by Times of India for their special Rabri-Jalebi. One plate of it has a giant Jalebi with a ladle full of Rabri to go with it and costs Rs.100 ! It is a sugary heaven. The rest of the gang had only a bite and it was left to this writer to do justice to it.
Barely able to walk after our food marathon, we dragged ourselves to Chandni Chowk Metro station and took the train back to our hotel.
Simply, CP !
After 2 days of wedding festivities, the whole purpose of this week long trip, we had reached the last day of our vacation. Not wanting to waste the remaining time, we took the Metro and went to Connaught Place or CP, Delhi’s most important commercial centre.
The first thing that caught our attention was the huge Indian Flag fluttering high in the Central Park, what a wonderful sight, that is !
When you are in CP, one must take a look at the underground Palika Bazaar. There are 100s of shops selling electronics, clothes and what not, you name it, you will find it ! We found it highly amusing that some shops had names that had nothing to do with what was being sold there, like this one:
Aao Ji Foods selling clothes, we did not understand how that worked !
The roads and buildings of CP are classy, you feel like you are in some European city, just stand in a corner and get a feel of the place.
It was lunch time and we decided to check out the famous Kake-Da-Hotel, which has been in business at CP since 1932. The small place was bustling with people but service happened at super speed. We had the usual Paneer and Parathas and we understood why the place is so famous, everything was perfect !
We spotted numerous Paan shops and decided to try Fire Paan. Paan served with fire before it is dumped into your mouth, the guys who tried it said it was awesome ! If the guys tried fire, this writer decided to go with Ice Paan. How does it feel? No idea, because your mouth goes numb with all the ice dunked into your mouth but once you manage to chew it, it is fun. It is like having an ice gola all at once !
We still had about 5 hours for our flight back to Hyderabad, there was one more place that we missed visiting during our last trip, so we headed to Sulabh International Toilet Museum !
Sulabh International, most of us know, is an NGO promoting sanitation. There are several toilet complexes across the major cities providing public convenience. That our people do not use them or do not know how sanitation culture even if they use a toilet, is a different issue altogether !
A visit to the Toilet Museum is amusing. When you enter the museum, there are models of toilets that have human waste recycling systems and can be built at homes. This writer remembered a time at our village, many years ago, where the cattle dung was used to generate Gobar Gas !
The museum is as big as a living room of a house but has several photos, articles, history and models of different toilets/commodes.
It is interesting to read the history of toilets, toilet culture in various countries and some funny anecdotes. We wonder how the guide managed to tell us about each toilet model or “potty” story with a straight face, we of course, were giggling and laughing throughout ! It is the most amusing museum ever !
There is a model of a throne with a commode attached for King Louis XIV of France, the king had a bowel movement problem and the throne was designed to make it convenient for him ! There are several such hilarious models, some like the ones soldiers use in remote places will make your heart go out for their hardship. We were also quite surprised to spot this “potty” invented and donated to the museum by someone all the way from Machilipatnam !
When you are in a far away place, anything that is connected to your home state makes you feel good and is click worthy, even if it is a potty !
We didn’t realise that we had spent more than a hour at the toilet museum. Funny, though the museum is, in India, sanitation needs to be considered a very serious business and Sulabh International deserves a salute for their efforts in spreading awareness about proper sanitation.
That was the last place we visited before going back to collect our luggage and take our flight back Hyderabad. We ended the trip on a very happy note.
The sight of the crescent moon from the plane window as we flew back home was the perfect ending to what they call “a trip of a lifetime” ! We of course say that about every trip because travel is all about such moments of high !
- Red Fort is open from sunrise to sunset and closed on Mondays. You will need an hour to visit Red Fort.
- If you are the slightly sensitive kind when it comes to outside food, you may want to be cautious about eating in Paranthewali Gali or anywhere in Chandni Chowk. Hygiene standards are not too great.
- CP is a good place if you want to go shopping or for better quality street food.
- Information on Sulabh Toilet Museum can be found here http://www.sulabhtoiletmuseum.org
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