Incase you missed it, I traveled to India in February to shoot a wedding! My boyfriend/assistant, Pero came with me and we spent 3 weeks traveling around northern India. I’m finally getting around to sorting through the photos I took and thought I’d blog about it! I know when I was researching where to go and what to expect, I loved reading personal travel blogs about it, and especially seeing photos. I’ll be breaking it all up by city, otherwise it will be one gigantic post :D
So let’s start from the beginning – Delhi.
We tried to prepare ourselves as much as possible to what would be waiting for us when we leave the airport and head into the city. We read about the noise, the constant honking of car horns, the smells, the poverty, the crowds, etc. Basically we were expecting a complete shock to our senses. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was all a lot more bearable than expected. Some things were easier to ignore than others, and somethings you just got used to.
The ride to the hotel was already quite an eye opener. I’m surprised we didn’t see more car accidents (we didn’t see any). I asked our taxi driver if there are actually rules to follow when driving, and he said yes..I’m not sure I believed him. The concept of ‘lanes’ seems non-existant in that you pretty much just drive where you want, swerving to avoid other cars, motorcycles, rickshas, tuk-tuks, people, cows, dogs, monkeys and whatever else you might find on the road with you. As our tour guide in Delhi put it, it’s like walking through a crowded mall or street..you wlk around things, swerve to avoid bumping into people, etc… driving is the same, just with cars. Avoiding each other is a win-win, so everyone tries their best to do so. What really surprised me though was seeing entire families, 4-5 people, on a normal sized motorcycle/moped. 2 adults and 2-3 kids, some just toddlers. And of course the only one wearing a helmet was the driver.
So after 2 long flights, a super long layover, a 2 hour wait at Delhi airport when they tried to figure out where our luggage was, only to find out it was actually in Delhi (this is pretty much when we knew we were in India lol), and about an hours drive to our hotel, we had finally made it! We stayed at the Metropolis Tourist Home Hotel in the Paharganj part of Delhi. I was so nervous about the hotels we booked, because you really never know how they will be, no matter how many reviews you read. We were both really pleasantly surprised at how great the Metropolis Tourist Home Hotel was. The man at the front desk, who I assume is the owner, was SO sweet and very welcoming. Our room was a pretty good size, very clean and the bathroom was nicer than some hotels I’ve stayed at in Europe and the US. They have a restaurant on the rooftop terrace which was great for hanging out at night, having a nice cold beer. The food there was also really good… I’m pretty picky so I stuck with what I knew… Tandoori Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala…both were amazing, and the garlic Naan bread was great as well! Breakfast was also really good, I had the pancakes and Pero had an omelette (which, who knew omelettes were so big in India?!). Needless to say, we were REALLY happy that we booked another night at this hotel at the end of the trip before flying home.
Now, onto the sight seeing :) By the time we got to our hotel, we had about an hour to freshen up before meeting up with our tour guide, from Delhi Walks. We figured since we only had 1.5 days in Delhi, we might as well go on a tour to see the most and waste as little time looking at a map and haggling with ricksha drivers as possible. The reason why we chose Delhi Walks is we were able to customize the tour to exactly what we want to do. Our tour guide met us at our hotel, then we hopped in a tuk-tuk and headed over to the Red Fort. We were pretty much exhausted, but enjoyed a relaxing stroll around the grounds. The Fort itself is actually pretty huge, but only a small portion is open for tourists. This was our first introduction to the beautiful architecture that was popular during the Moghul dynasty. The intricate design and ornamentation boasts a mix of muslim, persian, indian and european influence and was something we saw over and over again on our trip through India.
After the Red Fort we hopped in a Tuk-Tuk again and rode over to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. We didn’t get a chance to go inside and only had a few minutes on the courtyard before the 5pm prayer started which is when we had to leave (they basically kicked us out lol). It was quite beautiful though, and the courtyard was huge…I can only imagine how powerful and impressive it must be when it’s full of praying patrons.
So at this point we were REALLY exhausted and were pretty much overloaded with information…so many names and dates, that they kind of just all started blending together. What we did manage to pick up though is the Shah Jahan, the emperor who built the Taj Mahal, is the same guy who built both the Red Fort and Jama Masjid. sorry if this is common knowledge, I had no idea..I probably should have freshened up my Indian history before the trip..oh well :)
Next up was the part I was most excited about… Old Delhi and Chandni Chowk. This to me what it was all about… this was India! Forts, Castles, Mosques, Churches… while they are of course different and nice to visit and part of history and culture… Old Delhi to me is one of a kind…like nowhere I had ever been before. It was getting late, and I guess our tour guide noticed we were pretty much moving in slow motion (especially Pero..I kept having to look behind me to make sure he was still with us), so she suggested we just hop on a Ricksha and ride through the bazaars of Old Delhi. I was totally into this because I’d never been on a Ricksha before, and that was pretty fun for me. Our Ricksha driver was awesome (he’s in one of the photos…he’s the guy laughing in the beige shirt) and worked super hard, took us wherever we wanted to go, stopped whenever we wanted to, etc..and he was sick with a fever on top of that! We rode through the narrow alleys of the bazaar, and I’m pretty sure that’s the picture you’d see in a dictionary next to the word ‘Chaotic.’ It was seriously pure chaos. There was so much to look at, so many noises, so many smells…this was really an overload of the senses…and I loved every minute of it! We stopped a few times along the way to try some street food, our favorite being the Parathas (fried bread stuffed with anything from potatos and galic to almond and sugar) we got from one of the vendors in the famous Paratha Wali Gali. Another one of my favorite spots was this beautiful little lane we stopped in. I don’t think we would have found it on our own, but it felt like we entered a completely new world. It was quiet, hardly anyone around, and the doors leading to the houses and few were so pretty! It was a nice, short break from the madness.
After riding through Chandni Chowk and buying some spices from a spice market, we went back to the hotel for a quick dinner and early night. The next day was going to be a long one!
Our tour guide met us back at our hotel bright and early. On the agenda that day was New Delhi. We took the metro and tuk-tuks for most of the day and hit most of the ‘famous’ sights in Delhi. Obviously we couldn’t fit in everything we wanted to see, but that’s ok..it’s good to leave something for next time :) We spent about 11 hours with our tour guide that day and covered: Akshardham Temple, Connaught Place, Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, Agrasen ki Baoli, India Gate, Rajpath, Rashtrapati Bhawan, Humayun’s Tomb and Lodhi Garden. We also got a chance to do some shopping in New Delhi at some of the government emporiums :) It was a long, long day, but we covered so much ground. Our tour guide was amazing..she was like a walking wikipedia :) I think my favorite sights we saw that day were the Akshardham Temple, Humayun’s Tomb and the Lodhi Garden. The temple was beautiful and is the largest Hindu temple in the world..unfortunately we had to check everything, including cameras and cell phones at the entrance, so no photos. It was clean and quiet. I loved the carvings around the temple that portray the Pancharatra, (fables that use animals to show the ‘wise’ way to live’). The grounds of Humayun’s Tomb were also beautiful… I kept thinking ‘wow, I wish I had a couple with me for a photo session’ lol. Then we actually stumbled upon a photo session and I couldn’t resist taking a few photos myself :D This place and the Lodhi Garden really made me feel like we stepped out of Delhi and were someplace much more peaceful. There was so much green surrounding these beautiful buildings. I would have liked to spend more time enjoying and wandering around the Lodhi Garden, but by the time we got there, it was already dark. We still hung out for a bit, I took some cool photos and we even drank a Chai from one of the ChaiWalas walking around. It was a really great way to end our 2nd day in India.
Here are some of my favorite shots from our short stay in Delhi! Next stop: Jaipur!