An early start to try and avoid the traffic, we set off to visit Jama Masjid – one of Asia’s largest mosques. As mentioned yesterday, the ring road is a complete free-for-all. Today, however, the challenge was stretched even further when I noticed that in the inside lane (if there is such a thing here in Delhi) was a bull elephant as large as you like going about his business in a most nonchalant fashion. He actually turned out to be the first of three elephants I would see before reaching my destination.
After visiting the famous mosque, I took a ride along Chadni Chowk in a native cycle-rickshaw. This mode of transport is very popular in India and it’s surprising how effective they are for getting from A to B. The ride was a real experience with the guy pedalling as fast as he could down the narrow streets that were populated by bullocks and carts on one side and tuck tucks on the other. It was amazing to see the locals setting up for the day there with their colourful offerings of flowers, food, fabric, fresh fruit, pots and ceramics – and every other form of saleable item. It was a sight to behold, and almost as if I had stepped back in time to India of old. Truly memorable!
Our next stop was Raj Ghat where Ghandhiji was cremated. I’m pleased to report that it was accessible for most part, and truly amazing to still be in the centre of Delhi whilst surrounded by a peacefulness that was only broken by the constant sweet notes of birdsong. And the variety of birds you can see is staggering – from small common garden birds to parakeets, crows, circling kites and other birds of prey. Upon leaving Raj Ghat, the therapeutic feathered chorus was replaced by honking horns and the sounds of hectic life in a modern city. My next stop was a visit to Humayan’s tomb, which is another very worthwhile historical site to experience – and again mainly accessible, apart from the last staircase of this precursor of the Taj Mahal.
Today is the Hindu festival of Goddess Durga. This is celebrated in many ways, including fasting for a single day or up to seven days, the shaving of hair, and the sacrifice of animals in the street. In fact, I witnessed the sacrifice of a lamb, a goat and a chicken, before seeing a little girl of around two years of age having her head shaved. It all made pretty sad viewing to be honest, and the little girl seemed very distraught to see her locks falling to the ground. I do however accept it is a local ritual and did appreciate the colour and excitement that was mounting when I left the celebrations.
My afternoon was spent at the Anna Ruche logical site and inspecting four hotels, where once again I was able to witness smiling faces, excellent service and superb facilities.
An early start this morning and time to say goodbye to Delhi and move onto Agra. The journey took us along the new Express Way, which was 5 years in the making but has now reduced the journey from Delhi to Agra substantially and there are several adapted comfort breaks on the way. The land north of Delhi is very flat and mainly comprises miles and miles of farmland; but the nearer we got to Agra the temperature increased dramatically and the fields were populated by local farmers – men, women and children – all working on the land with their rustic carts being pulled by loyal oxen and donkeys.
As we approached Agra we crossed the Yamuna River where a herd of water buffalo were basking in the muddy water alongside children enjoying their daily dip. The traffic in the centre of Agra was just as hectic as that witnessed in Delhi with carts, tuk tuks, cycles, coaches and cars all competing for the same two lanes. It was noted however that cows clearly had priority above everything else – but as they are sacred animals it was hardly surprising. So we had no option other than to manoeuvre around them.
In the distance I caught my first glimpse of the amazing Taj Mahal which we will be visiting tomorrow morning – and as we took the main road into Agra we could see monkeys watching the traffic and chattering among themselves on the windowsills of derelict buildings. Now I do realise that these chummy characters are very nifty souls and will happily steal anything edible from anything or anyone, but they did look really innocent and endearing.
Read an interview with Lynne Kirby.
For holidays for those in wheelchairs, with limited mobility or slow walkers, Silver Travel Advisor recommends Enable Holidays.
- Read My Golden Tour of India – Part 1
- Read My Golden Tour of India – Part 3
- Read My Golden Tour of India – Part 4