My Tour of India Part 3 (Day 2)12 April 2013
An early start to try and avoid the traffic we set off to visit Jamaica 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. Now I did manage to take some photos of these magnificent animals which I hope to upload later.
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 strains of birdsong. And it's surprising on the variety of birds you can see - from small common garden birds to parakeets, crows and 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 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........ lots more to tell here, so more tomorrow!
With love from India