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The Globe-Trekking Gecko Tales from the Adventurous Side

Northern India: Welcome to Delhi!

INDIA | Friday, 11 February 2011 | Views [613]

Who would of thought that I would be packing winter clothes for a trip to India? India has a winter?? Does it really get that cold???

The answer is yes, it does. In fact it can get down to 5°C in some places (according to January weather reports). So I continued to pack my jerseys and long-sleeved tops (though did slip in a few summer clothes for those 'just-in-case' situations).

Only when I arrived at New Delhi airport at 3:30am was I convinced that it was indeed cold. An icy fog greeted us along with a chilling 7°C. Just the thing to wake you up! I had been reading earlier in the month that the fog in December/January can get quite thick, and had caused many flights and trains to be delayed or diverted during December last year. I was worried that our flight would be delayed from Doha to Delhi, but fortunately it was not too thick on that particular morning.

On the other hand, after witnessing first hand how people drive around India, I would of preferred to have a thick fog descending around me so that I could not see the mad driving skills of Indians.

 

 

I have to mention first off the bat that India is one exciting place. With a population of around 1.2 billion people, it can start to feel a bit over-crowded in most places, though fear not! I did find some beautiful and serene hideaways that were so peaceful I could of stayed there for a month.

That said, Delhi is definitely the best starting point to get you acclimatised to the madness that is India. This was my first stop in my 2 week adventure around Northern India (with the same tour company that I went to Bali with). Starting in Delhi, through to Jaipur, Agra, Orcha and finishing in Varanasi, home of the holy Ganges River.

 

 

On day 1 of the trip, we were thrown into the deep end by doing a walking tour of the oldest part of Delhi. It is incredibly over-whelming at first, because there are people everywhere! Animals such as goats, dogs and cows walk right in front of you, and there is a substantial amount of traffic to dodge as well. It is quite the obstacle course and a sense of accomplishment comes over you for having survived, then you can catch your breath once you reach the 'quieter' parts of the neighbourhood.

Note: make sure you wear very comfortable and closed (preferably not new) walking shoes - you don't want to know what you are stepping in, around and over...

 

 

On the subject of 'quiet'. I tell you, I do not think that there can be such a thing as 'quite' in Old Delhi. I am sure the noise pollution actually exceeds the normal limit one human ear can take - it is probably on par with a jet engine. It is ridiculously noisy! Hooting is the major source of the noise - people in cars, motorbikes, auto-rickshaws and on bicycles hoot constantly. I am certain that when Indians come to do their drivers test the first thing the officer asks them is: 'Where is the hooter?'. Even when the traffic comes to a standstill, people sit with their hands on the hooter. It is quite the culture shock at first, but by the end of 2 weeks it becomes a background noise and you hardly notice it.

So Day 1 of my tour and already all of my senses were being pushed to their limits. Next came the smells. Now I was told before I left on this trip that India has a certain 'smell' to it, so I was prepared for anything. Though to my surprise Old Delhi was not actually that bad (now Varanasi, that's another story).

At first all I could smell was the incense, almost every shop had a few burning - deep, woody smells on one corner, and then sweet, flowery smells on the next. Sandlewood, nutmeg, cinnamon, masala and saffron to name but a few. Spices and herbs wafted through the air as merchants sat on the pavement brewing hot chai tea (with lots of delicious ginger!). Another man was deep frying balls of dough made up of various spices and vegetables. The next thing I could smell was popcorn! Suddenly we walked past a man with a cart that had an enormous pyramid-shaped pile of popcorn, along with roasted nuts on the side. Gorgeous!

 

 

With all of these smells, sights and sounds, Delhi was turning out to be quite the experience. Needless to say I was exhausted by the end of the day, but was very keen to try my first real curry in India - a wonderful butter chicken with hot garlic and butter naan bread. Definitely the best way to end the first day of what would turn out to be an amazing trip!

 

Tags: delhi, india, tour, walking tour

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