Playing Guide to a Backpacker in Delhi
Updated: Jul 2, 2019
I asked my soul: What is Delhi? It replied: The world is the body and Delhi its Life! Mirza Ghalibphilosopher
After the immense struggle of cycle rickshaw under the coruscating sun, I managed to reach the Red fort from Chandini Chowk.
I saw a young and perturbed tourist struggling with the vendors all around.
“Red fort is it?”
He just expected a yes or no from the people around. Hemmed in by numerous vendors he looked perplexed and expected someone to clear his queries.
Seeing him distressed I stepped up, cleared his doubts and helped him in getting his tickets.
He tells me, that it was his very first morning in the capital, and it was emerging to be a real surprise to him. Against seemingly insurmountable odds he was able to book his tickets for Agra at Old Delhi Railway station.
Entering the Mughal architectural marvel of red sandstone carcass, he was inquisitive about the fort, the rulers and the folklores associated with the place.
Being an architecture student I was acquainted with the historical background of the place. This time I was able to get a good company to share my insights about the place, my country and culture.
Our next spot was Connaught Place where again I was accompanied by my French companion. The vistas and avenues which dates back to the British Colonial era reflect a completely different culture. Moreover the place welcomes people from shopaholics to foodies. With scrumptious ‘Aaloo ki tikki’ at Haldiram’s, we finished our lunch with a deliciously gritty ‘Lassi’. He found Connaught Place to be more welcoming and amiable.
Bargaining is not an easy task for the foreigners visiting this country. One thing which I managed to teach my friend was how to deal with the rickshaw drivers, vendors and negotiating with the shopkeepers. Walking around the Central Park and delving into deep conversations about life, the places we belonged to and our respective cultures led us to the exchange of thoughts.
No wonder; India always leaves everyone dumbstruck with its diversity of cultures and traditions.
Food and football, music and adventures; made the conversation more interesting amongst us youngsters.
We then proceeded towards the 11th century Mehrauli, which marked the onset of Islamic Rule in India; he was highly mesmerized to experience the fallacies and fate of that era.
Qutub Minar, a soaring 73m tall tower of victory glorifies the whole complex with five different monuments.
It emerged to be one of his favourites by that time in Delhi. The peaceful atmosphere created a perfect amalgamation of nature and heritage which was one of its kind.
And there with the crimson sky we witnessed a spellbinding sunset.
In a single day, Thomas was able to experience Delhi’s local transits- cycle rickshaws, autos, DTC buses and the Delhi metro
All through the walkway the fragrance of roses and incense sticks made the place more welcoming and spiritual.
Yes! We were at Nizamuddin.
The ‘qawwals’ singing the songs in the name of Lord with extreme devotion and hope showed us the commitment of the people towards lord. To augment his interest more towards the place, we tried the famous ‘Seekh ke Kebab’ at one of the restaurants.
The place not only congregated Muslims but people from all other religions, communities, etc. He was overwhelmed by the involvement of people with their different individualities to this place.
Delhi being the country’s capital is definitely an epitome of the amalgamation of this countries’ diverse ethos and ethnicities.
We planned to meet at the Humayun’s tomb, another rich heritage monument of red sandstone and marble, the next morning. He realised that the Mughals wanted their significant structures to slowly and gradually reveal the view cascading a magnificent grandeur.
Mughals also used ‘jaalis’ (latticed screen) as one of the main architectural element in their buildings. I explained to him the concept of ‘jaalis’ used in India.
After seeing the whole complex I was a bit surprised to see him more fascinated with the trees in the campus. He said there is some mystery as well as connection of the trees to this place.
Moving on next we visited Delhi’s busiest district centres i.e. Nehru Place, and there we went to ‘Epicuria’ – the most ‘calling’ hub for food joints. Huge in its span and rich in variety, all one could sense was the aroma of different dishes which made it a food paradise. —‘Chole Bhature’; looked tempting to him however he was a little reluctant to try the spicy food again. Also, he could not miss the chance to have India’s much-loved cuisine, so he went for it. I was delighted too to see someone trying Indian cuisines for the very first time. To add more to his taste buds I made him try ‘Banta’- a lemon soda. And he found it very strange.
Walking towards the Lotus temple, takes you to another tranquil and spiritual environment. A modern structure made on Bahaiullah’s philosophy- “Let your vision be world embracing.” It serves as a platform to unite people of all religions and ethnic groups. Meditating in the soothing interiors of the temple gave us a divine feeling.
Delhi’s immense image of the past, present and tomorrow interests’ art and architecture lovers, intellectuals, adrenaline junkies and enthusiasts. With over a million locals, most parts of Delhi are certainly crowded. The bustle and mayhem could be exciting, particularly during festive season, yet Delhi offers relaxing escapes too.
The galaxy of different cultures and traditions in Delhi reflects the very image of India. A modern metropolis with reminiscence of the dynasties that ruled over Delhi for hundreds of years. The harmony and fraternity seen among the citizens leaves everyone spell-bound. Thomas was captivated by the history, architecture, food and bazaars of the place. He was gratified with the journey so far and then he continued discovering this incredible India.
It is rightly said travelling solo makes you discover yourself – your potentials, capabilities and so on. You get to discover people of your interest and explore place, culture, food and the markets. The journey becomes more interesting when you get a new companion on your way.
We were complete strangers, but the time which we spent together, was unparalleled. Exchange of thoughts, deep conversations and my vision of Delhi made us friends.
I felt happy to show him my city; the way I saw it.
Mueed Ahmed Author