Thursday, 14 September 2017

India: The Travel Archives - Delhi and the temple that should be one of the 7 wonders of the world


Into the archives we go! I've not properly written about my time in India yet and timehop has just reminded me it's been exactly one year since I was travelling here - a pretty good prompt to write it all now before I forget. Luckily I tend to keep plane and entrance tickets as momentos so they have been a great reminder of exactly what I got up to.

I went to Delhi, Agra and Jaipur a.k.a the golden triangle. If you only do a little travelling in India then absolutely complete the golden triangle route because it takes you to the ultimate bucket list item; the Taj Mahal. You could probably do the golden triangle in a week as a minimum and that would take you round all the main sights but you'd definitely want more time to explore.


D E L H I
Delhi was great. We stayed in Jasola Vihar, which was a pretty good suburb to explore from because it was really close to the metro. It only took about 10 minutes and 30 rupees on a cycle-rickshaw to get to the station and catching the rickshaws was an experience in itself because Indian traffic is crazzzyyy; It falls between that middle ground between terrifying and fun because there where no lanes, or right side of the road, rickshaws were driving straight into oncoming traffic but somehow it ended up fine! Definitely a memorable ride haha.

From the metro we explored temples, went to a cookery class, visited a market and Humayads Tomb.


One of the first temples we went to was genuinely the best building I have ever seen in my whole life and I don't think anything will ever beat it. I can't understand why it's not a wonder of the world. The temple is the Akshardham Mandir and it's in a complex called Swaminarayan Akshardham which is the birthplace of Hinduism in India. Unfortunately you're not allowed to take photos inside and you have to hand in your phones when you get there, it's a shame for me as a blogger but in terms of the experience of exploring the temple it was so much more peaceful not having to actively avoid being hit with selfie sticks haha. I've just linked the website here so you can see for yourself what it looks like. When we entered the complex we walked through 10 pillars, which were all carved to look like gates to invite goodness from every direction, before walking through the gate of devotion and peacock gates. The gates were monuments in their own right but paled in comparison to the Ashardham Mandir. This building was the highlight for me, made of marble and pink sandstone from Rajastan with every inch carved and decorated symbolically. Inside every surface was decorated ornately in marble with giant depictions of the gods in gold sitting on top of steps carved with hundreds of elephants. Outside 148 carved elephants surrounded the plinth of the temple all depicting different scenes with nature and gods. The whole complex was created around the theme that reaching enlightenment doesn't depend on wealth or grand sacrifices so long as your gestures to the gods are from the heart. I thought the whole concept was amazing and loved that message, especially from a developing country. We spent hours in the complex, most of the time around the Mandir but we also went to the Abhishek Mandap and poured holy water (blessed water mixed with water from the river ganges) which I would recommend just to experience it and get to see more of the place. The complex took 30 million hours to create so spend as much time there as you can; you won't run out of things to see. This was my favourite place, not just in India but of every country I've ever been to and I honestly can't recommend it enough. Go go go!

Another highlight for us was a cookery class at the Saffron palate. We got to pick from a menu the dishes we would like to make, before meeting at a market and going to buy all the ingredients. We learned to make chicken kadhai, spiced paneer and potatoes, biriyana, roti, chapatis and stuffed breads. It was so delicious and we eat curry all the time now just from what we learned in class.


We also went to the Lotus temple which was amazing. Unfortunately I got a little heat-stroke here so I couldn't stay that long but I'd definitely recommend a visit. The temple is built out of marble and shaped like a Lotus flower; I can't even understand how someone could make something like that because I can't even make origami boats out of napkins haha. An absolute must see in Delhi. We had a slight detour here on the way back when, feeling sick with heat stroke we decided to catch a rickshaw instead of walk the short distance to the metro. The rickshaw driver 'accidentally' took us to the 'Lotus Bazaar' instead of the metro and was properly protesting at us to go in; I point-blank refused and the driver got so moody about it and started loudly huffing at us the whole way to the station. Full on teenager mode! It was awkward at the time but thinking back to it makes me laugh so much now.


We also went to Humayuns Tomb which was a really beautiful red stone building with a water feature running through the centre. The tomb was built for the Mughal Emperor Humanyun by his first wife and it's an incredible place to visit. If, like me you think it looks a little like the Taj Mahal, it's because it's the building that inspired it. Amazing, isn't it?!  It's octagonal in the middle and made out of white marble which was such a relief in the heat. We spent hours here because there's not just the tomb to explore but also a lot of side buildings and ruins all the way round and they are all intricately designed. Definitely add it to your list.


The final stop in Delhi was at Dilli Haat craft market. It's a government run market so it's less stressful than the other markets in India. You have to pay to get in (not much) and because of that there's no one walking around trying to hassle you which is a welcome relief in India! We found such nice things here; leather bags, textiles, jewellery and food. It was more expensive than other markets would be but still cheap and, for me, it was worth it to have a more enjoyable experience.

One final note would be on the elephant in the room, 'Delhi Belly'. I thought I would get sick in Delhi since everyone seems to but I was completely fine. I was really careful with what I drank and only had bottled water or soft drinks. If we stopped for food when I was out I typically just had breads and only really ate meat at the hotels and I was complete fine. I don't get sick very often though so if you are really sensitive you'd be best taking one of those filter bottles that purify your water for you; you can get them here.

I'll be writing about Japiur and Agra soon so see you then,

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