Remember how I told you what great parents we were to leave our children at home while we went to NYC for the Easter weekend? Well, we were equally fab parents and also left them for the Christmas holiday to go to India.
Now, this was not just another trip for me. I asked a zillion questions of my husband, knowing this would be unlike any trip I had ever taken. I had several talks with myself. Remember how I love to wander around? Go for jogs to get my bearings in a new city? Remember how I am Type A? And an introvert? Before I even got on the plane, I had come to grips with the fact that I would likely not be wandering around, not going for jogs, not be planning our days or what we would be eating, and would be around people all the time. And I let it go… And you know what? I had the best time! It was such a great trip!!!
After spending a few days in Mumbai for my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s wedding reception (More on that later! Talk about beautiful people inside-and-out and a gorgeous setting!), we (my parents-in-law, husband, sister-in-law and brother-in-law) headed to Delhi to visit my father-in-law’s family. Again, we had such a nice time! Below are the top 5 attractions I would recommend when visiting Delhi.
Dilli Haat- What a fun experience! Especially since we were with the negotiator of all negotiators. Dilli Haat is an open air market with several booths and also a food court of sorts. The Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation run Dilli Haat and we could purchase tickets to enter. There were about 62 stalls, which are rotated every 15 days. We purchased scarves and more scarves for ourselves and for gifts as well as several wooden toys for our children. This was a really fun experience for me since I am the worst negotiator- mostly because I dislike confrontation. Basically, if someone were to say “no, this is the cost,” I would say “okay.” So, as you can imagine, the whole experience was mind-blowing for me.
Red Fort- Enclosed in red sandstone walls, the Red Fort housed emperors and their households beginning in the mid-1600s. Upon entering, there was a hallway of different shops. Once we emerged from the market, we were able to walk the grounds and view several different buildings. I have to admit that I was skeptical about wearing the tourist headphones at first. That said, my #1 recommendation for touring the Red Fort is to rent the headphones. I learned an incredible amount of Indian history and just really enjoyed the experience of standing in front of something so amazing and, well, receiving an on-the-spot history lesson. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Humayan’s Tomb- the tomb of the Mughal Emperor commissioned in 1569-70. Again there is a heavy use of red sandstone; it was designed by Mirak Mirza Ghiyas, and is significant because it was the first garden tomb on the Indian subcontinent. More than 100 Mughal family members are buried in the complex, many on the first level terrace, which is often called the “dormitory of Mughals.” The property itself contains several additional tombs and structures, and it is clear that efforts have been made to preserve and respect this area.
Rashtrapati Bhavan- Or, as I pronounce it, The President’s House, is located in New Delhi. Built from 1921-1929 and made of cream and red sandstone, it was designed to be home to the Viceroys of India. We were able to follow along as a tour guide led us through just a few of 300+ rooms and the beautiful Mughal gardens outside. When we went, we needed to submit our request online along with photocopies of our passports; my husband’s uncle took care of all of this for us so a big Thank You to him. We were also required to bring our actual passports on the day that we visited. Sir Edwin Lutyens was the main designer.
India Gate- A magnificent structure also in New Delhi and reminiscent of such architectural icons as the Arch of Constantine in Rome, Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and the Gateway of India in Mumbai. India Gate is a memorial to the 82,000 servicemen who served in the Indian Army who died in the timeframe of 1914-1921. 13,000 names are inscribed on the gate. Sir. Edwin Lutyens was again the designer.
Taj Mahal- I know, this is not in Delhi but it is a MUST to travel to Agra if you are in Delhi for any length of time. It is a long day but you will not regret the drive out to this amazing ivory-white marble mausoleum. Upon parking our car, someone offered to give us a tour of the grounds. We ended up with a knowledgeable tour guide who not only was able to give us several history lessons but was able to guide us through the masses of people. The grounds are lovely and tourists are able to spread out. However, once you put on your shoe coverings you will be semi-pushed past the fake sarcophagi of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal, who are really buried on a lower level. There wasn’t a whole lot of dawdling, so get ready to move once you enter. I think my favorite part was being able to look at the grounds and closely view the spectacular materials of the building from the porch of the Taj Mahal.
You could really see all of these sites in about 3 days. We spent just under a week in Delhi, doing both touristy things and visiting with family. While you may want to add a couple more days just so you don’t feel rushed, I would break up the activities like this…
Day #1 India Gate and The President’s House
Day #2 Taj Mahal
Day #3 Red Fort and Humayan’s Tomb