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Delhi Day 3 – Our Guided Tour.

At our introductory briefing the previous evening we had met the Indian gentleman who was to be our permanent guide during the ‘Golden Triangle’ section of our Indian adventure.

Much to our amusement he introduced himself as Ravi Shankar and he assured us he was no relation to the Indian musician guy who befriended the Beatles while confirming that his name was, of course, a popular name in India anyway. Here is Ravi in action at one of our stops…

I mentioned earlier that we had been organised into two groups of very manageable number – just 15 in ours – and each group had their own coach. Both groups were accommodated at the same hotels throughout our Golden Triangle tour which also made administration considerably easier.

We also had a very civilised start to the day, departing our hotel, having had a leisurely breakfast, at 9.00 am. We also discovered that we also had a permanent ‘coach team’, a driver and a kind of ‘boy friday’, here they are…

That’s Mr Singh our Sikh driver up on the coach and ‘The Boy’ standing at the coach door.

In fact we discovered during the course of the first week that ‘The Boy’ performed multi tasks. Apart from loading and off-loading our luggage, assisting the ladies entry onto and off the coach and constantly providing chilled fresh bottled water, his prime task appeared to be leaning out of the nearside front window yelling abuse at other drivers in traffic jams when our coach needed to move to the lefthand lane for whatever reason. Needless to say he did an excellent job and the pair of them had a great sense of humour…

The coach initially gave us a kind of ‘Delhi orientation drive’ through the government and diplomatic quarters of the city. Our first real stop was at Humayun’s Tomb…

Humayun’s Tomb is the central attraction in a massive garden complex that encompasses the main tomb of the Emperor Humayun...

but also houses other tombs and graves of relatives.

Humayun’s tomb was commissioned by Humayun’s first wife and chief consort, the Empress Bega Begum in 1569-70 and designed by Persian architects chosen by her for their flamboyant styles…

Last Edited by Solent_Richard at 11 Jan 09:39

Solent_Richard wrote:

Mission accomplished we both agreed that we had had a most successful day. We now headed back to the Hyatt Regency Hotel for a swim and then to prepare ourselves for the next event, a ‘__meet your fellow travellers’__ included dinner at the hotel.

The Hyatt Regency proved an excellent modern 5 Star Hotel for our Delhi stay…

…and we were so pleased that we had taken the APT loyalty offer of a complimentary additional night’s stay.

On our arrival in Delhi we had been met by an APT/Travelmarvel representative and driver for our ‘private’ transfer to the hotel.

The ‘Rep’ had ensured our mid morning check-in was faultless, that our room was ready on arrival before he handed us a number of envelopes containing various admin arrangements for our Delhi stay: one of which was to inform us of the APT/Travelmarvel ‘Meet and Greet’ hotel venue and arrangements for a complimentary dinner the second evening…

For the Pre-River Cruise package, including the ‘Golden Triangle’ tour, we had been split into two groups, one of 15 and one of 16: each with their own dedicated guide and coach team. We had expected that APT/Travelmarvel, being an Australian based company, would have a majority of Australian members. As it turned out we Brits were in a 20% minority overall, there being just 3 couples.

Introductions, Admin and following days arrangements concluded, we enjoyed an excellent Indian meal in the Hotel’s Cafe All-Day restaurant…

Choices were amazing, mainly buffet style…

…though there were sections where certain dishes were cooked to order…

…in addition to the Indian breads, Naan, Chapatti, Parotta etc were cooked fresh to order as well…

We had already experienced the food the previous evening when we also chose to dine in the ‘Cafe’ as it was the only restaurant in the hotel serving Indian food.

Travelmarvel, being the budget end of the APT group, had not included drinks with hotel meals (though they did include an ‘All Inclusive’ drinks package on the Rriver cruise yet to come)

This was not a problem as we had sampled a bottle of Indian Wine on our first night and found it quite acceptable so repeated the order for ourselves at the Dinner.

The ‘Cafe’ also served as the Breakfast Dining Room: serving a mix of Western and Indian dishes with separate stations cooking eggs to order, Chapatti and various Dahls, and some unusual speciality breads…

…plus an excellent ‘juice bar’…

That evening after dinner we enjoyed a stroll around the hotel grounds…

…before stopping for a nightcap in the ‘Polo Lounge’, a delightful colonial style hotel bar…

Next up: Our first guided day tour of Delhi and we have an evening in a Delhi bistro bar.

Last Edited by Solent_Richard at 10 Jan 13:40

Delhi Day 2 – Our DIY Day Part 2

Our day was going well and we were slightly ahead of our planned schedule. It really does pay to plan a visit and acquire a reasonable guide book…

Our next destination required another tuk-tuk ride and as luck would have it there was a number available between the entrance to the Secretariat complex and the Vijay Chowk fountains…

Knowing exactly what we wanted it was easy to negotiate a price with the tuk-tuk driver for a round trip that would end back at our hotel.

Considering the distance involved we thought we had had a good deal and we enjoyed what turned out to be yet another exhilarating tuk-tuk ride to the Akshardham Temple

Akshardan is a Hindu temple and a spiritual-cultural campus in Delhi. It attracts approximately 90 percent of all tourists who visit Delhi and having visited it one can understand why…

One minor disappointment however was that on entry one has to surrender all photographic equipment including iPhones. Oh well, it was still an amazing experience and we were going to encounter these situations at a number of temples over the next seventeen days.

No such restriction prevailed at our next stop, the Lotus Temple…

The temple is a Bahá’í house of worship and the faith teaches that a Bahá’í House of Worship should be a space for people of all religions to gather, reflect, and worship….

The Bahá’í House of Worship in Delhi was opened to public worship in December 1986. By late 2001, it had attracted more than 70 million visitors, making it one of the most visited buildings in the world and, according to the government of India, it had received over 100 million visitors by April 2014…

A quick peep inside…

Being such a popular tourist and visitor spot it was also interesting to see the colours and infrastructure that operated around the entrance, particularly the food stalls…

…while of course it was good to see the visibility and level of security…

Mission accomplished we both agreed that we had had a most successful day. We now headed back to the Hyatt Regency Hotel for a swim and then to prepare ourselves for the next event, a ‘__meet your fellow travellers’__ included dinner at the hotel.

The Secretariat Building or Central Secretariat is situated at one end of the Rajpath and is where the general administration of the Government of India takes place.

Built in the 1910s, it is home to some of the most important ministries of the Cabinet of India….

The Secretariat buildings consist of two symmetrical blocks of buildings: North Block and South Block…

…on opposite sides of the great axis of the Rajpath and they flank the Rashtrapati Bhaven (President’s House)…

The Secretariat Buildings were designed by the prominent British architect Herbert Baker and when India became independent the Secretariat became the seat of power of a sovereign India.

Rashtrapati Bhaven (President’s House) was designed by the British Architect Edwin Lutyens to be the focal point of New Delhi during British Rule and was originally the house built for the Viceroy.

Between the Secretariat buildings and the Rashtrapati Bhaven Lutyens placed a set of ornate gates…

…which to this day bear his name, while between the gates in the extended courtyard can be seen the Jaipur Column.

Again it was Edwin Lutyens who designed the column and in 1920 he submitted his design for the column to the Royal Academy of Arts in London as his diploma work for his election as a fellow of the academy.

Continuing our second day in Delhi.

A very minor disappointment was that the ‘Canopy’, which stands behind India Gate, was under some kind of maintenance: as was the garden area it stands in. That is it seen through India Gate…

Not to be outdone however, and as we were in our own time, I managed to find a portal in the surrounding fencing to get a reasonablele snap…

The Canopy is another red sandstone structure by British architect Edwin Lutyens (more about him later) and his inspiration for this gem came from a 6th century Mahabalipuram Pavilion in Southern India. Until Independence in 1947 the pavilion contained the statue of King George V but has since been re-sited elsewhere in Delhi.

Before we started our walk along the Rajpath we couldn’t resist trying one of the numerous ‘snacks’ that a number of vendors were offering near India Gate…

It’s called Poori and is basically a deep fried unleavened bread and a common snack in Delhi.

Suitably fortified we headed along the Rajpath leaving India Gate in our wake…

…walking some 25 minutes fending off the odd Tuk Tuk driver who couldn’t quite grasp our particular love of walking

…until eventually we came to the area in front of the ‘Secretariat’ known as Vijay Chowk...

Either side of Vijay Chowk are large fountains, one of which I chose as a basis for a photograph of the Sansad Bhavan or Indian Parliament...

Over our whole tour of India we were to learn that wherever government buildings are concerned there was an inordinate amount of security and this was the closest we could get to ‘snap’ the Parliament Building…

While there was a level of security at the entrance to The Secretariat

…we were pleased that there were no restrictions either on us or our cameras.

More to follow.

Last Edited by Solent_Richard at 02 Jan 08:19

Delhi Day 2 – Our DIY Day Part 1

Our number one target today was to walk the Rajpath.

Translated it means “King’s Way” and is a ceremonial boulevard that runs from Rashtrapati Bhavan, through Vijay Chowk and onto India Gate. Here is my adapted map that I had prepared prior to our departure…

Considered to be one of the most important roads in India, it is where the annual Republic Day Parade takes place and is lined on both sides by huge lawns, canals and rows of trees.

Calling on our previous day’s experience we departed our hotel, The Hyatt Regency, once again by Tuk Tuk. I have mentioned earlier that I had also ascertained what tourist sites we were scheduled to see with the APT/Travelmarvel included tours over the next two days one of which was India Gate.

It was, however, easier for us to take the tub tub to India gate first and start our walk from there: and that is exactly what we did.

As luck would have it this was to prove a most fortuitous decision because as we alighted the tuk tuk at 10.45 am at India Gate it became very obvious to us that something important was about to happen.

Police and military were everywhere and a clearway had been established around the immediate entrance to India Gate.

We were totally flexible and being curious by nature decided to investigate. It soon became apparent that some sort of ceremony was about to take place and, more important to me, there were some amazingly clear spaces around India Gate…

There was no problem with access so we found ourselves a position where we were guaranteed an uninterrupted view of proceedings…

A fw minutes before 11 o’clock an escorted motorcade approached…

…and we were in pole position to witness the whole wreath laying ceremony…

…at the Amar Jawan Jyoti (Flame of the Immortal Soldier)…

Once the dignitaries had departed there was an ideal moment for me to quickly cross the the boundary cordon and using a wide angled lens capture India gate uninterrupted…

Last Edited by Solent_Richard at 28 Dec 08:43

Before I move onto Day 2 I’d just like to illustrate what became our standard Delhi transport while travelling around on our own.

It was the ubiquitous Tuk Tuk and after our first journey we came to realise this was the way for us…

For the first two days we had a personal itinerary and on our journey from Airport o Hotel by ‘private’ transfer we soon clocked the ‘mobility’ and ‘versatility’ of the Tuk Tuk in Delhi’s horrendous traffic conditions.

Cost for us wasn’t that an important factor,: we had limited time and knew what we wanted to achieve.

We had two ‘Golden Rules’, the first being to make a calculation from our conversation with the driver that he ‘really’ knew where we wanted to go and the second was to always agree a price before boarding.

We did on the first occasion ask the hotel Concierge what should be a ‘ball park’ figure for a certain journey and once we knew the differences the rest fell into place.

Of course there was a degree of bargaining with the driver: it’s their nature and way of life but in general we had great service for what was a fraction of the price we would expect to pay a taxi elsewhere in the world.

The drivers were always friendly and often took the time to point out other places of interest we passed.

Safety was of course one of our priorities and we certainly took sensible precautions against possible ‘snatch’ thefts,: particularly with me and my ‘in use’ camera equipment.

As a ball park figure we never paid more than IR200 for a single journey and IR350 for a multiple one.

And the bottom line?

We had FUN.

GBG wrote:

@Solent_Richard. Great photos. Really making me want to visit India. Thank you for posting them.

…and thank you for your kind comments @GBG

@Solent_Richard. Great photos. Really making me want to visit India. Thank you for posting them.

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