How to define Delhi? Definitely Full
If someone asked me to define Delhi with an adjective I would say “full”, without thinking too much about it: it’s a big chaos. Full of people, true, but this is not what I mean: Delhi is above all full of ideas, because that great chaos, even if it may seem paradoxical, makes you think. I stopped for five days and here are my ten ideas, as I collected them on the street, that the time to think is not missed and that maybe they could be useful if you decide to go for a trip in this Indian metropolis.
Chandni Chowk Market
In every city there is a local market that makes noise and I believe that India is unbeatable in this. We are in Chandni Chowk Road, the main street of Old Delhi: walk in the market that develops along this street and let yourself be transported by the crowd (not that there are many alternatives). My first meeting with Delhi was right here, and it is one thing, maybe a little traumatic, that I can recommend to everyone: I do not think there is a better way to take measures to a city. The survivor, then, could also enjoy all the rest.
Gurudwara Sis Ganj
We are always in Chandni Chowk Road, in old Delhi. I entered this Sikh temple after leaving the shoes at the store, but I put the socks in my pocket instead of to keep them on my feet. Here, in Sikh temples is perhaps not the case, since before entering it you have to immerse your feet in deep pools of water just enough to sizzle. In the specific of this temple, the annoyance is given more than anything else by the carpet that covers the steps at the entrance and then goes to cover the whole main room: constantly wet, it generates that fragrance of wet dog that may not like. I guarantee, however, that once the initial impact has been overcome, if you sit down and look around and listen the songs, it will be a lovely show.
This time we are in New Delhi, and this tomb seems to be one of the flagships of the city: it is a series of buildings built for the burial of Emperor Humayun, as well as a beautiful example of Mughal architecture. Why go there? The guys from Delhi tell me that it is the work that inspired the construction of the Taj Mahal, which, according to them, has also come in a bad way. In retrospect I can confirm that in fact there are similarities, but to say that the Taj Mahal has come badly seems almost weird. In any case, Humayun’s tomb deserves to be in your bucket list.
This is a place that in Delhi can be therapeutic: it is an oasis of silence; we are still in New Delhi, and the advice is to discover this park taking your time. Bring a book, something to eat or even nothing, and walk through the paths: you will find that the only sounds allowed are those of nature, and that the noise of the city remains totally outside. A miracle.
The largest mosque in India. The subway stop is Chawri Bazaar and admission for people is free, while the cameras pay 200 rupees. I recommend this place because here, when the muezzin began to sing, recalling the faithful, the emotions you felt are incredible: it is an experience that to define suggestive is not enough. Then they threw me out, because in prayer time visits are not allowed: luckily I arrived in time, because it is a place that really deserves to be discovered calmly to deeply enjoy all the sensations that it can give you.
Bahá’í House of Worship
Better known as “Lotus Temple”, it is one of the most quirky buildings I have ever saw in my life. We are in the south of the city, outside the Ring Road, the street that symbolically embodies the center of Delhi; the place is really popular and the queue is really long, even it is fast enough. The futuristic architecture is not too nice for me but the concept of it, definitely yes: the Lotus Temple was born as the home of all confessions, without any distinction; everyone is free to go there to pray to the god who believes, and does not happen right everywhere, right? Just a warning: keep in mind that like most of the temples and monuments of the city it is closed on Monday, and there is no god to keep it there.
There are places where you do not need words because it is the story that falls on you while you are in the middle. At the Gandhi Smitri, not all things are wonderful for me. It is a monument to the memory of the Mahatma, and stands in the place where Gandhi was killed in 1948. I didn’t like the part of museum totally full of interactive installations with psychedelic lights that is a bit difficult to associate with a personality like that of Gandhi; the positive aspect, however, is that the museum, like the rest of the site, is completely free, in this way anyone has the opportunity to experience in first person those spaces where history has stopped for an important stage.
The Delhi Metro is one of those things that I wish everyone, at least once in their life. It may be difficult to see the signs to figure out where to go, but no fear: as for the market, it is difficult to choose a direction independently, that thinks the crowd, then at the end what are the signs. I suggest to the girls to take advantage of the “women only” carriage, present on every train: not so much to avoid any annoyances, but because this cancel a good part of the competition in the use of oxygen.
The Indian version of the most famous tuk tuk is another of those unmissable experiences in Delhi. It is immediately recognizable because it whizzes through the streets brushing them with the green-yellow of its livery, and flooding the streets with no particular motive, just play. Well, in Cambodia I thought I saw them all in terms of creative guidance, let’s call it that, but in India I had to change my mind: that of Indians is pure talent, I would say almost unreachable.
I could not finish without a mention for the shakar qandi, a tuber that seems a potato, which is cooked on the grill and then seasoned with non-spicy masala and lime juice. It is sold in banquets on the street and it is already a show to see its preparation, which seems to be dealing with real jugglers. Then when you taste, you can also hear all the poetry. Speaking of Delhi, some words about Mughalai cuisine cannot be missing: widespread in Uttar Pradesh, it is the result of the contamination of Indian cuisine with that of Persian and Afghan, in a mix of flavors that is hardly forgotten.