We arrived in the capital at 7am on The Golden Temple Mail from Amritsar. The metro was very efficient and safety-concious with security checks before boarding the train. First visit in the city was to Qutro Minar the old 11th century site situated to the south of the city and full of old doorways and buildings.
The Gate of India built by the British to honour those who lost their lives in World War Two has impressive flower arrangements in front of it.
Parades occur regularly along here and for some reason many Indians try and sell you a toy that whizzes into the air seemingly with the belief that you will never have seen such a thing before and that it would be a most prized addition to the tourists home. Nearby are the Parliament buildings.
If it’s hussle and bussle that you want there is nowhere in the world quite like Chandi Chowk Bazzar.
As you ascend the staircase from the metro all sorts of smells, noise and voices meet you. Then you’re in it. Just walk out. If you wait you won’t get anywhere but you just have to watch and wonder, as everything moves in all directions, how does anyone get to their destination?
If there wasn’t enough already going on in this over crowded pot, drums and flags fill one of the roads as a BGP political march walks through, postering everything and handing out flyers. We found a spot to wait and watch and just behind us one man was taking a rest with his feet visible from the darkened room. Next to us is a small shop with a smiling gentleman and sitting below the counter is an old chap selling fruit discussing the flyer. In the wake of the march, life gradually returns to a normality of chaos – a cart stacked high, with a 5 year old boy sat on the top, passes by into the middle of a muddle of other cart’s, trucks, rickshaws, autos, pedestrians and sellers.
This is one of the oldest bazars in the world. It was established in the 16th century and has grown from strength to strength and busier and busier ever since. We then went onto Chandi Chowk itself for a meal.
The rickshaw man said it was too far to walk to our desired eating place, even though it was just round the corner. He also said it would be closed until later; when we still insisted on going it was…open!
The Red Fort was walking distance away with more sellers of postcards of India’s scenes at: ‘very good price sir’. Most will barter themselves down if you’re not interested – the starting price was 600 rupees; we left him when he got to 80 ruppes.
Agra is only 2½ hours by train from Delhi. So long as you book the trains in advance they are by far the best way to travel being very cheap, comfortable and the stations central. There were many tourists on this train to go and see one of the wonders of the world and India’s most famous building – the Taj Mahal.