Nostalgic Old Delhi

Trip Start Dec 18, 2013
Trip End Jan 03, 2014

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Where I stayed
Cottage Yes Please New Delhi
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of India  ,
Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Metro to Qutar Minar
To spruce up my mode of transport, I rode the local metro light rail to Qutar Minar, some 30 mins away from the city. Without realising the extremely low ticket fare for single trips, I purchased this 300 Rs unlimited metro ticket for 3 days. This is an overkill considering the fare from Paharganj is only 40 Rs. 

After the body and bag security scan (just like the airport customs), I was on my way to visit this islamic monument Qutub Minar, a UNESCO world heritage site. The route from the station to destination is however a 2 km dusty trek along a polluted highway. I refused all rickshaw offers at the station without realising that. Bummer. Should have just rickshawed all the way from Paharganj.
Islamic Rule
Qutub Minar itself is a very historically rich site, documenting Delhi's islamic rule with ruins of tombs, passageways and a very well conserved towering minaret. An incomplete base of another minaret lies within the complex, indicating the fall of an empire. The better known twin, that soaring and magnificent minaret (world's tallest brick minaret) was installed over hundreds of years from 1193 by a series of islamic rulers. 

Most notably, the mosque was partly constructed with materials plundered from many hindu temples, hence the appearance of hindu ornaments on its facade. Another historical object of interest is the Iron Pillar (dated 4th century BC) with inscriptions of the Hindu god Vishnu. This mysterious Iron Pillar has stood against the test of time for 1600 years with no rusting on its surfaces.

Mission to Old Delhi
Getting back to the city, I walked to Saket metro station instead to avoid the dusty highway. My plan was to get off at a station near Old Delhi and walk to Karim's for dinner. Not so easy. The metro carriages were already full to the brim with passengers when I boarded. Just before Connaught Place station, suddenly scores of passengers cramped into the carriages, pushing and shoving with little regards for safety. Who am I kidding? This is India...
The squashing situation got to a point that I felt something was just not right. I was mortified. Somebody's palm was trapped over my groin and his forehead was pressing on my cheek! We literally could not even move an inch. At every station, the impossible happened repeatedly - more people fought to get into the carriage and no one could get out! A young couple carrying a baby were visibly distressed and alarmingly worried. We were definitely trapped and a disaster waiting to happen.
Human Stampede
The local men trapped around me whose hair products I could almost taste, laughed it off like this was a national sport - this mass human burial inside a train carriage. I consider myself a seasoned heavy metal concert attendee. But this brutal moshpit here completely shocked the devil out of me! The next scene I saw forever scarred my experience of Delhi's public transport. 

To make a successful exit out of the carriage, the immediate group at the door made a concerted effort by counting down to the door opening. The moment the door opened, using the combined force of a larger group, we stampeded our way out against the equally fierce incoming mob, knocking over people and made our way to freedom! 
This was truly a shock to my system. Miraculously I escaped incredibly shaken and feeling really stupid to be caught in a dangerous situation like this. Unbelievably my camera was still on me but had all the buttons re-entered randomly. Was I molested? That was not even the appropriate question. Has everyone's dignity as human being diminished as a result of the train stampede? A very tragic yes. 
Nostalgic Old Delhi
Staggered out of the station and hailed a rickshaw to Old Delhi now 3 stations further away. Via the bustling market streets, we pedalled through scenes of shopping and eating at the market stalls, and many times slowed to a complete halt as the laneways jammed with cars and rickshaws alike. I quickly realised that it was New Year's day, a public holiday, hence the mega-crowds everywhere. 

Visually this rickshaw trip set in stone my definitive moving picture of Old Delhi's amazing night market scenes. As I sat back in the rickshaw, the nostalgic unfolding of Old Delhi's street life slowly blossomed with bright colours, lights and fragrances.

Karim's at Old Delhi 
Finally sat down at Karim's, a very well known food institution in Old Delhi and sampled the Mughal mutton stew and butter paratha for a whopping 400 Rs. Although the half serves were tiny for its price, the flavours were incredibly big and rich. Simply fabulous. I reckon the best street meals I had gotten out of this trip were from Delhi with the exception of Ganesh rooftop restaurant in Jaipur. Everywhere else, the cooking were just a pale shade of Delhi's amazing cuisine.
Green Chilli
Met Aussie Alice (just arrived and heading to northern India for medical volunteering stint) and introduced her to my now personal favourite eatery - Green Chilli, in Paharganj. The bbq chicken skewers charred with yoghurt and masala, washed down perfectly with Kingfisher strong lager. We even had the excellent company of Ahmed (boss of Green Chilli and Le Benz hotel) as we made merry into the wee hours of the foggy morning.
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