While New Delhi, a planned city of wide tree lined boulevards and palatial buildings designed as the capital of British India to showcase Britain's might and wealth (and which was created by imperial decree following the great Delhi Durbar of 1911 at which Britain’s King George V was crowned Emperor of India) the other Delhi, now known as Old Delhi has existed in one form or another since at least the 14th
century and was the city of Moghul emperors, dominated by the massive Red Fort.
No wide boulevards and palatial homes here. Old Delhi is India in the raw – a hodgepodge of narrow streets and alleyways, tiny shops and stalls, crisscrossed by tangles of power lines and teeming with people selling, buying, begging, sleeping, cooking while doing their best to dodge the tak-tak’s (a kind of 3-wheeler motor scooter taxi designed to carry a driver and two passengers), cycle rickshaws and motor bikes.
In the middle of all of this is India’s largest mosque, Jama Masjid and at the moment at least, Moslems and Hindus seem to be peacefully coexisting in the midst of all of this chaos, although once again, our devout Hindu tour guide couldn’t resist just getting a few anti-Moslem (and anti-Pakistan) jibes in.
And then a few more at the site of Ghandi’s cremation; Mahatma Ghandi, considered the father of the nation, was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic in 1948 (angered by Ghandi’s conciliatory attitude towards Moslems) sparking the civil war which led to the country’s split into India and Pakistan.
Our guide’s spirit lifted considerably though at the temple known as Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, devoted to Guru Tegh Bahadur, considered the last of the Sikh prophets. Around 5% of India’s population are adherents of Sikhism, a 17th
century off-shoot of Hinduism and a religion that centres around the teaching of the ten prophets.