In New Delhi: My last time in India was in 2005 when I visited the Miracle Garden Children’s Orphanage in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, which is in southern India. I decided to return to India to meet up with my friend, Sarah, who is working in Jharkhand on a Fulbright scholarship. We made plans to travel together for a week, starting in New Delhi and then to Amritsar and Rishikesh. We intentionally planned a single day in New Delhi since we were more interested in seeing the smaller cities to get closer to Indian culture.
After a wonderful breakfast at the comfortable Lemon Tree Hotel in East Delhi Mall, Sarah and I braved the overcrowded, chaotic streets. The first few hours were an unwelcome assault on the senses. (Not the best reentry into India.) It’s difficult to navigate your way around when you can’t blend; you’re constantly being heckled. However, New Delhi has many beautiful places to see, and we used the metro as much as we could. (I so appreciated how the first car of every train is a women’s only car!) We made time for two landmarks, both of which provided respite from the frenetic energy of the city. First, we saw The Red Fort, a 17th century fort complex constructed by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, in the walled city of Old Delhi. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I loved our hour-long stroll here; we had fun taking photos of architecture while learning a bit of history.
Next, we took a rickshaw to Jama Masjid Mosque, the principal mosque of Old Delhi. They ask you to cover your head and remove your shoes before entering. I wished I had kept the airplane socks in my purse to keep my feet warm! That would have been the perfect use for them.
Our day improved in our visit to the restaurant Khan Chacha at Khan Market. Sarah had been before, and we both knew it was a good sign when the place was filled with locals. We chose the chicken tikka roti, which is a thin tortilla-like oven baked bread wrapped the around the chicken (or your choice of ingredients). This cheap eat was so good that we ordered a second!
That night, we went to the train station to head to Amritsar. Our train was three hours delayed, which seems to be common. Many trains are delayed because of fog in the winter. I found the 2AC class sleeper car of the train to be quite comfortable. Sarah and I had our own berth, outfitted with a bunk bed, sheets and wool blankets. Since there was only a curtain door, we put all of our valuables under our heads and kept our luggage close by. Having a suitcase stolen would not be a fun way to begin our weeklong adventure!