We decided to do some sightseeing during our visit to India. It was a nice escape from the hospital appointment filled days. We hired our usual driver to take us around the city for the day. I was definitely not interested in living like a local by taking a bus or one of those death on 3 wheels tuk-tuk to get around. No thank you. Perfectly happy to ride in a very new, air-conditioned SUV driven by a competent driver :-). We had no idea what we wanted to see, or what we wanted to eat either. It just had to be Indian cuisine. As we had already visited Humayun’s tomb, that was off the table. I let the driver decide. Here are the three places he chose to take us to on our day in New Delhi..
Day in New Delhi with a native guide: (best things to see in Delhi)
Janta Mantar Observatory:
This is located right in the heart of New Delhi. A lot of trading and shopping places, making for a very busy spot. I was fascinated by the vibrant red color of the structure. It took getting up close to find out what it was. A gigantic sun dial!. It was really great to see how smart people were, even way back then. This is one of the five masterpieces of the Maharaja Jai Singh. The biggest one is located in Jaipur. I can’t even imagine how much bigger it could be as this was pretty impressive ;-).
This observatory was constructed in 1724. There are 13 architectural astronomy instruments. There are 4 of those in this observatory namely:
- Samrat Yantra
- Ram Yantra
- The Jayaprakash
- Misra Yantra
The Samrat Yantra known as the “king of instruments” is the largest and most imposing one of the Yantras. and stands at 20.73 meters high. It measures the apparent solar time or local time of a place using the sun. There was a whole lot more mumbo jumbo. I remember hearing the Yantra had an incline wall that was parallel to the earth’s axis and is flanked by the two semicircular quadrants with scales. I have put a little diagram in here to hopefully explain it ;-). I usually just check my wrist for the time :-), so he lost me totally. All l know is that it was very pretty to see, and l am glad it had a function as well :-).
It used to be super accurate, l believe just with an error of 2 seconds. Sadly, that is no longer true. There are so many tall buildings surounding the area that accuracy can no longer be guaranteed. This makes me sad… :-(.
The entry fee was 100 rupees for tourists (roughly $1.50) and 5 rupees for Indians. It is located in Connaught Place on Parliament Road.
India Gate: (One of the best things to see in Delhi)
Tours and travel in Delhi: We recommend the folks at GetYourGuide which we use in our travels:
This is a memorial that reminds you of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. As well it should as this is also a war memorial. It is located smack dab in the middle of a crossroad and it is just immense. It was built to commemorate the lives of the 70,000 Indian soldiers that lost their lives during World War 1 fighting the British. The foundation stone was laid by HRH, the Duke of Connaught in 1921. The monument was dedicated to the nation ten years later.
A second memorial called Amar Jawan Jyoti was added later, after India got its independence. The eternal flame is kept burning all day and night to honor the fallen solders during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. It is 42 meters high. The whole area was so clean, and filled with thousands of people in the parks. Lots of families were having picnics. There were huge fountains and kids were having fun getting wet and playing. It was all very nice, and quite a contrast to the other parts of Delhi that we saw. The one thing that struck me was that there were hundreds and hundreds of school kids in school uniforms everywhere in the city and it was a Sunday! It was surreal. I totally forgot to ask him why that was.
One thing to watch out for is that even though entry is free, there are usually a group of women sitting behind a make shift “gate” and demand an entry fee from the tourists. Ingenious! I just laughed and side stepped them. Do the same if you go, as they are quite insistent. It made me laugh..them trying to bullshit a bullshitter (me!).
Havemore Restaurant: (Recommended place to eat in New Delhi)
He drove us to a mini mall which had a few restaurants and he said they were all pretty good. I looked around and chose this one as l wanted an authentic Indian meal. The place looked inviting from the outside. It was an excellent choice. We invited the driver to join us, and also to pick the dishes. The food was the best we had the whole three weeks we were in New Delhi. It was so fresh and delicious. It was also the first time l ate Dal Makhani. Oh, it was incredible. It was absolutely the most delicious lentil based dish l have ever had. This is saying a lot coming from me. Federico makes the best lentils ever. Ever! I have had Dal in restaurants before, but this Makhani one, which is quite popular in both North and South India, was a first. It was absolutely lip smacking good.
Everything was awesome. He showed us a couple of things. For instance, when they bring you the veggie plate (instead of the bread ), you sprinkle it with pepper, salt and squeeze the lime on it, then eat it. Gave it an interesting kick.
At the end of the meal, you get sugar and some minced green thing. I can’t remember if it’s mint or not. You put one, then the other in the palm of your hand, mix it..and then chew it. Presto, after dinner mint :-).
All in all, our day in New Delhi was a very enjoyable one. Our local driver who played guide for a day was fantastic. It was very nice not to even think about what to do, and just relegate it to him. He came through with flying colors. The warmth of the locals is indeed something that we kept experiencing during our stay. My brother stayed at a guest house that was full of people from all over, mostly patients in the hospital. We would all sit in the living room with the host and his workers chatting ( a lot of miming and translations since the workers knew just a few English words). They were always friendly, and accommodating. You can read about our roundup opinion of New Delhi here.
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Would you ever leave your vacation day in the hands of someone else like we did for our day in Day in New Delhi? Or are you a control freak that has to plan everything yourself and tick it off? What about Indian food? Are you a fan or not?