India: New Delhi & Noida Part 2

Since we didn’t get to see much of New Delhi on our previous day trip (See India: New Delhi & Noida Part 1) we arranged with our hotel to have a car for the day to take us from sight from sight. It was a rip off at $80 but we felt like we didn’t have much choice since our hotel was far from the city center and there is a lack of public transportation. Note if you do stay in the city center I have learned you can be taken around to all the tourist sites for as little as $20 a day.
We started early and the fog was still thick. Our first stop was to Humayun’s tomb.

Humayun’s tomb

We visited the tomb of the Mughal ruler Humayun. It was impressive but I was interested more in the smaller, older tomb nearby: The tomb of Isa Khan Niyazi (see picture above). The tomb had an erie feeling to it and kept luring me in.
Mosque next to the small tomb

Beautiful pathway around the smaller tomb.

Interesting looking structure we could see from walking the walls of the smaller tomb complex.

Stairs that just appear out of nowhere. Be careful!

And then we move on to the tomb.

It was here that we first encountered the “friendliness” of locals. An older man offered up many stories and took us around the tomb. We hadn’t asked for his help and really couldn’t understand much of what he said but he had his hand out for a tip. It is something you need to get used to in India. Either politely say no to people when they offer their help or expect to tip. You will be tipping all the time in India. I think there was only a couple times I was able to go to the bathroom without tipping.

After the tomb we had a quick stop at the Lotus temple. The Baha’i House of Worship of the Baha’is of India is more commonly known as the Lotus temple.

Lotus Temple

It is a place of peace and you can tell when you enter. Like many other temples, no shoes are allowed.

Next stop on the tour was Qutab Minar.

Qutab Minar

This tall stone tower was built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak and sits next to the first mosque to be built in India.

Carvings and verses from the Qur’an.

Wall scriptures in different lanuages.

Alai Minar

Another tower was built but never finished.

Part of the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque

Our driver dropped us off for lunch at Pindi. One other thing about India is that typically your driver will just drop you off at a lunch place of his choosing. Mostly because you don’t really know where you are and if you did have place in mind, you wouldn’t know how to get there. Plus the “yelp” of India isn’t really that helpful to tourists. Fortunately this place was good. I ordered butter chicken and wow was it filling.

After lunch we got caught up in the first of the shopping emporium time suck. Partially my fault because I told hill I wanted to go back to the Dilli Haat to shop a bit since it was closed on my last visit. He takes us to the Dilli Hut (even though he knows what I meant), I get upset but he insists it is good quality stuff. We go in and product after product is put in front of us. I am anxious and annoyed and cannot shop when people are talking to me non-stop. It was here that I first discovered I am unable to shop in India. I am a slow shopper who needs time to digest my choices. I don’t even think I got anything at this place; I can’t remember for sure. This scenario repeats itself over and over again our entire India trip.

After losing 2 hours with shopping nonsense we arrive at the Jama Masjid mosque to find it has just closed for afternoon prayer and would no longer be open to non-Muslims for the day. Ok, kind of annoyed we lost that time shopping.

This is what we could see of the mosque.

Outside the mosque.

Last stop in New Delhi is the Red Fort. But guess what – it is closed as well. Because of the shopping time suck, we missed out on two attractions. The lesson here kids is to just say no to shopping.

We finished the day with a stop at the the Askshardhm Temple Complex near our hotel. Majestic at a distance, this new temple is like a Hindu Disney World. There is boat ride (which I think was closed while we were there) and a bunch of vedic exhibits. They spent a lot of money on this complex. I think there is a musical fountain (which was also closed while we there there). You know what wasn’t closed? The gift shop. Lots of interesting stuff in the shop. Lots of Ayurvedic vitamins and body products can be purchased there.
This is the best picture I could get of it. It was foggy the whole time and they don’t let any cameras or phones in the complex.

That concludes our last day in Delhi. The next day we were off to start our religious experience on the Ganges.

India: New Delhi & Noida Part 1

Earlier this year I was sent to Noida, India for a work trip. Noida (New Okhla Industrial Development Authority) is a small city just outside of New Delhi. This city is a home to numerous outsourcing IT firms.
I was there because my company is using resources of a local company there to help us with some of our IT support. I invited my husband to come along with me. He worked remotely in the hotel while I went to the office. After my work assignment was complete, we planned a tour of parts of northern India.
We only scheduled a day or so for seeing New Delhi. One day was not enough to see the main attractions; partly much of our time got sucked up in shopping emporiums (I will talk more about that later). I recommend spending 2-3 days max in the city. New Delhi is crowded and highly polluted. The city just topped the list in the poorest air quality. Your lungs will thank you if you only spend a couple days here.

One of the first local trips we took was with a bus load of co-workers of mine to the Dilli Haat. The Dilli Haat is a market that features rotating craftsman. You can go here to get some deals on Indian made goods. But you have to haggle – they will always start really high so you need to start low. I am terrible at haggling so probably got ripped off most of the trip. Unfortunately the market was closed for a holiday when we first chose to visit. But that didn’t stop us from viewing the few vendors set up outside the market. Some in our group chose to get Henna done while we were there.

I did make it back to Dilli Haat later to buy a couple of pashmina shawls.

Many things were closed for Republic Day while we were out on our first tour. Republic day celebrates the day India adopted their constitution after British rule was ended there. Everyone takes to the streets. There are parades and celebrations.

Celebration at the India gate

Traffic was quite congested that day. While it didn’t make a great day for sightseeing, it was great for people watching. People in India are quite skilled at the art of carpooling.

Some more pictures of things observed around town.

During the week we walked over to this mall. It was a large mall with many stores you would find in the US and some others specific to India. My co-worker called the walk there “running the gauntlet” because once locals noticed westerners coming, they would send their kids over to harass you for money until you made it to the mall.
More Noida – you will notice things don’t look quite finished around here.

More to come in India: New Delhi & Noida Part 2