The final day of our tour started with a 6 hour drive back to Delhi. The countryside scenery as we left Mandawa was really pretty but the inevitably slow drive and the heat in the car made it very hard for us to keep our eyes open and we kept snoozing. Every time we woke up we hadn’t seemed to have gone very far.
We had arranged with the tour company to take advantage of having paid for the driver for the day and see a couple of the outlying sights in Delhi that we had wanted to see. On finally reaching Delhi we went to Qutb Minar, a complex of ancient Islamic building ruins, including the first mosque to be built in India, summer palaces and the tombs of kings. The Qutb Minar itself is a tower of victory that measures 73m high and tapers from a 15m diameter at the bottom to 2.5m at the top. Apparently it is very similar to victory towers in Afghanistan.
Next we visited Humayun’s tomb. The Obamas were taken to visit here when they came to Delhi so we figured it must be worth a look. A perfect example of early Mughal architecture it was built in the mid 16th century and brought Persian style to Delhi. Elements used in the design of the tomb were refined in the years that followed to eventually create the Taj Mahal. It was surprisingly quiet in late afternoon following the rain.
We finished with a drive past the iconic India Gate – a 42m high stone memorial arch. It was quite busy with people milling around and paddle boats paddling around in some stagnant water.
Our driver dropped us at the end of the Main Bazaar (the street is just too busy to drive down unless you have to, even for autorickshaws). It had rained heavily but briefly when we were at the Tomb so it was a nice temperature and it felt good to be walking around with our rucksacks on. Surprisingly we got no hassle. Our plan was to head to the alley we’d stayed at before – we knew we’d find it from the stench of piss – and then look around to find a room as there is easily a dozen hotels down there and this is a place where it is better to be able to look at the room you will actually be sleeping in rather than make a reservation in advance and hope that you get a) what you think you’ve reserved and b) something you actually want to sleep in.
It didn’t take long once we got down there for hotel touts to pounce. Emma was forceful and in your face back at them. Half an hour later having looked at several hotels and a number of rooms, including one where they hadn’t even bothered to make the bed. We eventually found a good, clean room, got the price down a bit, dumped the stuff and headed out for food, we knew just where to go and enjoyed the nighttime madness, chatting to another guy with a piece of pounamu around his neck given to him by his family, some of whom live in NZ – he had spotted Marie’s whale bone and started up the conversation.
Our last day in India followed the usual pattern of getting the blog up to date, doing some planning ahead, replenishing a few supplies and preparing for the next country. We were surprised to get a lot less hassle when out on the Main Bazaar. We have got better at telling people to clear off but we weren’t being approached much at all. There are noticeably more tourists around but no-one seemed to be getting heaps of hassle. It was quite weird but we liked it.
- ‘No laundry’ signs in the hotels don’t really mean anything because it’s not like housekeeping goes in to tidy your room for you – but don’t assume the washing will dry even when it has 2 nights and a whole day.
- Cheap t-shirts bought here last 2 weeks – even Marie is going to bin one she bought the first time we were here as it’s sagged that much.
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