Delhi India was our first big trip since our honeymoon four years ago. It was so fun discovering and exploring together!
We stayed at the most gorgeous hotel with some really great food. (Thank goodness for the international menu—we needed a break from all that Indian spice!)
As many of you know, I clobber michael 99.9% of the time. The hardest part in India was not holding his hand, hugging or kissing in public. PDA is not kosher there. I hugged him in the hotel lobby once. Never have I seen so many disgusted faces!
We had a warm welcome into the hotel, dressed in fresh flower necklaces and a bindi.
We saw many Indians afraid to use the escalator inside the hotel, and didn’t know how to get on. Most of the time, whoever was working the escalator would just push them on while they’d yell and scream. Then they’d laugh once they got their footing. Too funny to watch!
I wish this picture did it justice, this was The Qube — literally a glass cube. We ate all our meals in this gorgeous glass box looking at the gardens.
Pretend to care about our breakfast. It was our favorite meal of the day. Pitaya, salmon bagel, and papaya jam were michael’s highlights.
It was a surprise to see the Indian people eat with their hands. Honestly, it looked like a difficult task! Indian food is basically sauce and rice, which is so difficult to eat sans utensils. They eat probably 2-5 cups of rice per meal because the only way they can eat the sauce is to soak it up with rice. They will mix a bite at a time of rice and sauce, mash it in a ball and eat it. It was…messy to say the least.
In India, it’s the idea that you ‘wipe with the left hand’, so you basically do all other tasks with the right. You definitely don’t eat with the left hand…at all. The hardest part was tearing off a piece of naan with one hand (it’s more difficult than it sounds!)
I just can’t have curry masala and ginger on rice for breakfast so words cannot describe my joy when I saw they served porridge (oatmeal). I was SO EXCITED! I ate every american/european bread they had, smothered in pineapple jam. It’s amazing as it sounds.
Like I said, this was our first big trip since our honeymoon. We’d never really traveled together so…that was a learning experience. It wasn’t until after the 5 hours of sightseeing that I made/planned for us that I found out all michael wanted to do was sit at the pool and read a book. So easy to please. Look how happy he is!
I scored these awesome geo pattern, one-size-fits-all pants at the Sarojini Nagar market. They are 100% see-through so I can basically wear them no where, but what do you expect for $2?
haha and …we definitely look naked in this photo, but we definitely are not.
This 15 ft. vertical wall garden next to the pool was beautiful and so amazing!
On our way to see Humayun’s Tomb.
This is a working mosque on the grounds near Humayun’s Tomb. It’s a good thing michael is cultured and stopped me long before I almost stepped up into a male-only mosque, with my shoes on no less. That could’ve been embarrassing. So…we admired from afar. It was a lovely site seeing muslim men in all-white, in these old, dirty ruins.
Another entering gate, with a water pool gathering four water courses that run throughout the grounds.
The widowed wife of the late emperor built this to house his grave. It greatly influenced the Taj Mahal which was built 60 years later.
Loving all of michael’s panorama’s! (double click to enlarge.)
Such a pretty site— red sandstone and white marble.
The building was so big and spacious and oh so symmetrical. You know I love good order!
Michael, roaming with the dead and being cool about it.
The coffins were 2 feet wide and less than 5 feet tall, seemed to be proof that people get smaller over time with a diet lacking in protein. By this time we were 2 weeks into a vegetarian diet and I could already feel myself shrinking.
Next up, Lodi Gardens. A garden (meaning pure greenery, no flowers) dotted with ruins where locals walk and picnic. Loved walking with history in such a casual atmosphere.
This really is quite green for such a hot country! The gardeners would sit in a deep squat, and waddle on their feet to pick up leaves and pull weeds. If it wasn’t done by hand, they used a small hand held broom made of long blades of grass. Whether it was construction on the street, building roads, or landscaping, everything was done by hand or with limited hand tools. There were no large trucks digging, or hauling debris. It was all manual labor, which was pretty impressive. However, it was difficult watching such frail, skinny men and women exhausting their energy out in 100° degree heat, especially the elderly who looked to old to even be able to perform that kind of labor.
They watered these huge gardens with running hoses laying on the ground where birds would sometimes gather to drink to pooling water.
The detail was always amazing!Loving the juxtaposition of that new “scooty” (yes, that’s what they call them there) with rusting ruins.Still loving how pretty the old, destroyed, and burned ruins look.Brick walls lined the premises.Such fine craftsmanship holding up so well!
If you look hard enough you’ll see how the grass is growing over the steps to this ruin. I couldn’t wait to roam the Sarojini Nagar market, known for selling name brand clothes for cheap. I also didn’t know “name brand” meant Old Navy and H&M.
There was so much so see at this market, booths crammed in every nook and cranny and clothes stacked so high and deep it was overwhelming. Michael was so patient while we shopped around. I wanted to buy pointless things because it was “so India”—colorful, bold patterned diaper underwear covers for our unborn child, rugs made of braided rope with gaping holes (how is that functional?), and salwaar suits I would never wear—but he kept me grounded. Thanks babe.
The fabrics and patterns were unreal — such loud, intense colors and patterns. My sister and I were trying to decide if the skirts we picked out would actually fit us, or if we needed a different size. Eager to sell anything, the owner overheard our conversation and grabbed the skirt from our hands. “Stretch…Elastic..see?” he said, grabbing the waistband with both hands and straightening his arms. The skirt was now 5ft wide, and could easily fit a 400 lb man. I’ll take it.
Spotted this barber on the walk back to the hotel. Literally located on the sidewalk of a road, he set up shop—just a chair and a mirror on the cement wall, and wa-la, he found his first customer. Business 101.
We loved Sarojini Nagar market so much, we decided to head to Chandi Chowk, the largest and oldest market in India.
Our taxi driver (like most others) warned us to keep our belongings close to us and to be careful. We’d been in india for almost 2 weeks now, we were used to it—that was old news to us. He told us that this market was located in Old Delhi, and that it’s very different from New Delhi. We weren’t really sure what that meant until we stepped out of the taxi…
…and into pure chaos.
Surrounding the market were rick shaws, double parked, men gripping the steering wheel and aggressively yelling at you to take a ride. We were constantly bombarded with 2-3 men at a time yelling at us, saying, “You’re going the wrong way!”, “Don’t go that way, come this way!”, and other men that would walk up to you and start talking about the market —wanting to host a tour and expect money in exchange. Even though we wandered through the market, men in front of us would turn around and start giving a tour. We had to speed up and walk past them, so they wouldn’t scam us into paying them.
I barely took photos because it was just too crazy. I walked as fast as I could through the market, not even stopping to look at the items. If I stopped walking, for even a second, I’d be approached by multiple men either selling me something, or trying to scam me into a phoney tour. It was exhausting and I was terrified. I hadn’t seen a single woman, and, being white, I felt like more of a target walking through these tiny alleyways.
We booked it through the market and called our taxi guy to come back and get us. “So, how did you like Old Delhi?” He laughed.
The Red Fort was the residence of the Mughal emperor and their households for 200 years, until 1857. It was the ceremonial and political centre.
The top floor is a museum of weaponry and armor worn at that time. Here’s a glimpse at the geometric pointed archways, and deteriorating interiors.
Once we passed through the museum, there was a long stretch until the next gateway.
Inside this gated hallway, the emperor would sit to hear public complaints. And a long walk it was! Loving the scalloped archways!
This was the emperors throne where he would sit as the public would approach him.
There were many buildings like this all over the grounds.
This was the emperors palace. The detail, again, was incredible. The carvings, marble work, and grandness of it all was amazing.
Interior scalloped archway details.
So I snuck in a pic of this adorable little girl. She was the cutest! I know, our children will never amount the cutest of these little Indian children. And let me tell you, they are all so well behaved!
I rarely heard children crying, and if they did it was promptly hushed by their mother and that was it. No more tears. They weren’t obnoxious, unruly or wild. They seemed to be well aware of their behavior, to stay next to their parents, and be quiet. It was honestly fascinating.
Notice this little girls shaved head—it’s part of a ceremonial practice among many Hindus where they shave the child’s head at 1, 3 or 5 years of age. It’s a ritual to, amongst other things, purify the child. Some grown women will also shave their heads to donate their hair to god as well.
One other thing about the children’s hair. Girls’ hair (toddler age) was always kept short —like a bullcut, until it was dense and thick enough to grow longer. The idea is when you keep the hair short, it grows healthier and longer.
Many times, we’d see a boy toddler dressed as a girl, and vice versa. We were told, if parents have all boy children, it’s desirable to have at least 1 of each gender, so they’d dress up a boy as a girl when they were toddler age.
Minarets are a visual focal point which are used as a call to pray for Muslims. This tapering tower is just 5 feet shorter than the Taj Mahal. In other words, ginormo. Loving the unique altering round, and pointed architecture that make up this circular tower— and all the inscriptions too!Michael is the most curious guy I have ever met. And I realized it the most on this trip. He will stop to read every plaque there is (and I mean EVERY plaque). I just loved watching his handsome face discover!
So cool seeing the peeling layers of arabic down to the stone and mortar. Also, how pretty is that family right in front? Always so colorful.
Michael and I laughed at how ripped he looks in this picture. He is ripped, don’t get me wrong, but man he REALLY knows how to work his lighting and angles (teach me…).
You know it’s an old building when the doors are teeny tiny! Again, it looks like these columns are crumbling! Such beautiful carving work on these columns. Most decor on buildings in India is made of marble, so these carvings are pretty unique. A glance at what once was.
Inside the Qutab Minar grounds are other buildings housing tombs, with inscriptions covering the walls.
Still on the grounds of the Qutab Minar, is this lovely ruin. It was built with the intention of being larger and taller than the Qutab Minar, but, sadly, was left unfinished. And is now only 1/8 the size…maybe.Please note my sister’s gypsy/MC Hammer pants blowing in the wind. Best part of my day right there.
Our taxi driver drove us near the India Gate. It’s a long stretch of grass where locals picnic and have their kids play. With perfect symmetry, the view from inside the India Gate leads directly up the street to the Prime Minster’s gorgeous mansion. If I wasn’t so enthralled with the beauty of it all, I would’ve taken a picture. But you’ll just have to imagine for yourselves!
Here is a close up of the details on the building. It looks like painted florals and calligraphy but they are actually carved stone inlays. Since the building is so tall, the calligraphy border is actually slightly smaller on the bottom near the ground, and grows larger toward to top to preserve readability. So much thought and planning was put into this building! Grass surrounds the perimeter, with a center body of water and fountains.
Such a grand view of this white marbled masterpiece! They say it appears as if it is floating, as there are no trees, buildings, or any distracting backgrounds behind the building.
The palace was built after the Emperor’s wife died giving birth to their 14th child. She was his third marriage, his only love marriage (the first two were arranged). He was blinded by her love. Legend has it that she had three wishes before she died:
1. Never to marry.
2. Take care of the children.
3. Build something no one else could replicate, over her tomb. It took 22 years to build and a lot of money. The people weren’t happy with how much time and money was spent on this building, but he was blinded by her love.Despite my angular photography, the four pillars surrounding the Taj lean slightly away from the building, so, incase of disaster, they fall outward and don’t cave onto the building.
It’s a 34-storey building, with many hollow rooms inside to lighten the weight of the building on the foundation.Once we got inside the building, we walked down a narrow hallway of stairs to the actual tombs. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but their tombs were decorated just as the Taj, white marble with floral stone inlays. It was a small room, probably 10 x 10, and so humid that the marbled walls were dripping wet. Directly above the tombs, on ground level, are replications of their tombs for the public (they will be closing the actual tombs, so they will no longer be able to be open to the public).
The building has perfect symmetry. This is a photo taken from inside the Taj Mahal, through a gate made up of hundreds of hexagons. If you look out the center hexagon, you see this working mosque next door on the grounds in perfect symmetry.
When the emperor died, his children decided to add his tomb next to hers. His tomb is the only thing that ruins the perfect symmetry.How pretty are these women and their sarees?This is one of the many optical illusions of the Taj Mahal. This chevron patterned pillar is actually one 3 sided although it appears to be 6 sided.These are the marble inlays. Each flower pedal and stem is hand crafted out of stone and placed flush into the marble.
There are a few myths that the emperor wished to build himself a black “Taj Mahal” behind this white Taj Mahal, or that he wanted to build a pond where he would be buried only so that the reflection of the Taj would shine on him. So sweet!
Later, our tour guide took us to one of the shops that still practices the ancient artistry work that was done on the Taj Mahal. The families who practice this art today are directly related to the families who did it for the emperor. It’s a family line of work. It’s thought that only the families of these artistic descendants have the gifts to practice the same artistry, that they are born with this talent and destined to continue on this great art—something that’s in your blood rather than learned. It is said that now, this new generation of people don’t want to continue in this path of artistry, they want other line of work. It’s a long, tedious job — a 4 foot decorated marble plate can take up to 9 years. Since this new generation doesn’t want to continue this ancient art, no one knows how long it will continue. The government has subsidized a lot of the cost of creating this work, just so that the work can continue.
The circular stone, made of diamond dust, is rotated by moving that stick up and down. It, in turn, rotates that circular stone that sands down the precious colorful stones.
These are like the pieces of the marble inlay in the Taj Mahal. They are very thin, like the thickness of cardstock paper and each shape is carved by hand by the rotating stone above. Next, marble plates are carved to fit the exact shape of the precious stone so that it lays flat on the surface.Next stop…Ooty!