Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Delhi - my city

I love cities. And I love them more when they are big and when they do not sleep at night. Maybe it is my love of nights that make me love cities which never sleep. But the fact is, I love cities. Cities are full of life - schools, offices, markets, hospitals, shops, malls, movies, parks, high speed Internet, opportunities, energy, technology, people, government, facilities, sound, lights, and did I miss nightlife? I love it when all the action is around you. And Delhi is the capital of all action. That is why I love Delhi.

This was my second time in Delhi. The last time too when I was in Delhi I loved it, albeit a lot less. This time I was talking to my friend who lives in Delhi as if he came to my city and not the other way round. But I am digressing a lot. I need to write about my trip. And it is about time that I finished the entire series. From this point onwards I might not maintain the chronological order of events in my posts, more because I have begun forgetting details and sequences than because the rest of the journey involves me visiting the same places multiple times with different people.

We stopped at NOIDA and stayed at my friend's house where we had nice mutton specialities.

Next day morning we took to the metro. Got a ₹150 tourist ticket to travel throughout the day.

First stop at Akshardham temple (which did exist the last time I came to Delhi, but I didn't know). This is a huge temple built after AD 2000 with "donations" of a large number of devotees. There was marble and gold all over and the story of Swaminarayan. But, because of a previous bomb blast here, to get inside is a huge task. First, you put your mobile phones, ear phones, non-transparent water bottles, etc in your bag. Then you fill a form with your details. Then one person from the whole group should carry all these inside to the baggage counter where they keep the bags "safe". There, this person is supposed to take out all the mobiles and lay them down to count (which is very stupid because in our group we had a lot of phones and I didn't even know where in the bag the phones were when I went to the counter). After showing your face, etc into the camera you get a metal token number. Now, you can all walk to the body checking counter where you have to remove your belt, wallet, etc which will go through a metal detector kind of thing and then get frisked.

All this for walking through some marble. I don't know why, but religion immediately colours my view of magnificent structures in a bad shade of greenish-pink.

There are many "dwars" (holes) you have to pass through before reaching the central shrine which has very elaborate designs all around. There is water surrounding these areas. Next to the shrine is a statue of Swaminarayan which hosts the lights and sound show in the night.

Near the way out I found the most fascinating thing in the whole place. A very large solar panel that moves with the sun such that it gets the maximum sunlight all day! That thing probably powers the entire place. We also had some snacks in the restaurant at the exit. The toilets here are great too!

I did come back to Akshardham a second time a few days later. This time we saw the water show. It was splendid, with laser lights being used (unlike just lights in Amber). The laser allowed showing much more delicate things and even animated videos.

From Akshardham two of us had gone to Qutb Minar while the rest went to Sarojini Nagar market for shopping. Aeroplanes were constantly trying to hit the Minar and missing it. There was a plaque at the bottom that specified Qutb Minar was shorter than Taj Mahal by 5 feet. We saw the iron pillar that never rusts nearby too. I wanted to send a picture postcard to a friend back in Kerala but couldn't find a post office nearby.

Misses it every time.

We then went to Sarojini Nagar Market where you could buy all things original or all things duplicate as you prefer at costs you decide. We learned bargaining skills, and fell for tricks too. Had nice coffee there. Did a lot of window shopping. Almost got bitten by a dog. Heard a person say "these are stolen items and you get these at unbelievable discounts. No guarantee these will be here tomorrow". Saw so many clothes that you would never buy clothes from anywhere else.

That night as I was chatting on my phone my friends came up with a cake singing happy birthday with "Happy Birthday ASD" written on it. I had turned 23. Quite a wonderful birthday this one.

Next day I split from this group I was travelling with till now and went to join another set of friends in Delhi, near Jasola Apollo. We had food and by evening went to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Saw the red soil at Raisina Hill, the canons, etc. up close. Looked at the long Raj Path till India gate choosing not to walk it with our heavy bags.

That night we would leave for Uttarakhand, reaching back 5 days later.

After returning we had brief visits to Chandini Chowk market, Akshardham (lights & sound show), etc. At Chandini Chowk market we had Dahi Bhalles. But by then, as you will soon learn, our stomachs wouldn't accept most food items.

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