We had a great sleep-in then headed straight to the apparently world-famous breakfast buffet. Derek had read about it before, but I had no idea what to expect. It was nothing like anything I’d ever seen before. There was every sort of breakfast food you would ever want. I wished I had a bigger stomach. There was traditional Indian breakfast items like curried chickpeas and curried lentils with different kinds of Indian breakfast breads. I tried all of them. There was oatmeal with a dozen different toppings ranging from chia seed to dried fruits. There was probably two dozen types of pastries and donuts. The Boston cream donut was the best I’d ever had and probably can’t eat another donut again because nothing will be good enough. There was smoked salmon, cheeses, breads, bagels. There was bacon, two kinds of sausage, hash browns, grilled tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, and a man cooking eggs any way you want. I’m sure there was more, but that’s all I remember.
On our first day in Delhi, we had met a tuk tuk driver named Raghu. He gave us his card and we had arranged for him to drive us when we came back. Unfortunately we lost his card, so we had to go with a random tuk tuk. We showed him the four places we wanted to go, and he indicated that would take all day and would cost 2500 rupees ($50). We didn’t even haggle the price, even through we should have. First he took us to two ATMs, neither had money. We quickly realized we should have just exchanged some of our US dollars at the hotel. Then he drove us to where his uncle in his fancy new tuk tuk was, and said we should go with him instead. No idea why. But it was a good call because the first ATM he took us to worked.
We were consumed by watching this young boy washing his feet in the street. He was also using a rock to scrub them.
First, we went to Qutub Minar. It is the world’s tallest rubble masonry minaret and built to celebrate Muslim dominance in Delhi in 1193. The grounds also contain the first Muslim mosque in India. The mosque is said to be built with parts of destroyed Hindu and Jain temples. Personally, I couldn’t relax or enjoy the architecture and history as much as I have been this entire trip. Right off the bat, I had a couple of older guys staring at me while they walked. They were ahead of us and they kept turning around and staring at me. We ended up walking another direction, but the stares just came from other people then. One thing I would do over is to get a guide. We did buy a book, but I missed having a guide point out the interesting bits and tell the history.
Next stop was Humayun’s Tomb.
The architecture is said to have inspired the Taj Mahal. Humanyuns tomb houses at least 150 buried family members. Again, having a guide would have been much better.
Third stop was Akshardam. It is the world’s largest Hindu temple. Our tuk tuk driver told us we had to fill out a form and check our bags. It was fairly chaotic, but the guy handing out the forms seemed to take a liking to me (shocker) and we got our form right away. Then we waited in line to check our bags for what felt like ages. We couldn’t take anything in with us, but we were allowed to keep our money (for donations, gift shop, and paid exhibits) and passports. It was a little unsettling to leave our camera, iPads, and cell phones in their care. The grounds were breathtaking, but the temple itself was beyond words. The temple is 141 ft high, 316 ft wide, 356 ft long. There are 234 carved pillars, 9 domes, 20 pinnacles, and an amazing 20,000 carved figures. Going inside, it was impossible to miss the 11 foot high gold plated statue of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. We marvelled at how well-maintained the temple was, then read hours later that the temple was only completed 12 years ago. That gave us a good laugh, but in hindsight, it makes me sad how such a structure could be built for so much money (2 billion Indian rupees… consider a meal at a restaurant costs around 150 rupees) in a country with so much poverty. Different priorities, I guess.
Here are some pictures we found online since we weren’t allowed to take our own:
We did some shopping in the gift store and were blown away by prices. You would think a gift shop would have outrageous prices, but we bought a couple books for just a couple dollars.
We collected our bags and found our tuk tuk driver sleeping in the back seat rather uncomfortably, it seemed. We told him we wanted to go eat at Karim’s at Jama Mosque. Our CEO highly recommended it, and even the guy at the Imperial’s front desk said it was his favourite. Sadly, the tuk tuk driver said it would be closed (it was 5:30 pm). I wanted to believe him, knowing Indians don’t eat dinner till late and that we had been told during our tour some restaurants weren’t open till at least 7. The other part of me thought he just didn’t feel like driving us anymore or he thought we wanted to go to the Mosque. He tried taking us to shopping bazaars and we had to be pretty pushy back that we didn’t want to go.
He took us back to our hotel and we had a great time in their 1911 bar. We had checked out the bar before we came to India and it was somewhere we wanted to check out anyway. We had some drinks and some snacks (cheese tray and some chicken cooked in dry spices).
Then we hit the road to the airport. Again, probably just refer to Derek’s post about airport security (still to follow).
And there’s our trip. We were melancholy on the prospect of coming home, the trip felt unfinished as there was so much to do and see and learn. We would both go back in a heartbeat, but there’s so much of the world we want to see.