We explored around Delhi a little more today. It is definitely easy to get around by walking, but you have to fend off the tuk-tuk drivers every 60 seconds. They cost almost nothing, but unless you are inside one…they won’t let you get away. Even if you are talking to a local resident, there is extreme yelling between the drivers and the local residents who disagree with the aggressive drivers who are looking to make a few rupees.
Tomorrow is the Republic day (aka Independence Day) so we walked down to the India Gate and Presidential Palace area which are about 1 mile from our hotel…could not help noticing the Ferrari dealership along the way…and some local monkeys waiting outside to take a test drive…
Unfortunately, most of the area is completely closed off due to Republic Day. There are barriers and soldiers everywhere. There were more soldiers in almost every area of New Delhi than I have seen in a week (combined) in other Middle Eastern counties. There is a lot of fear and tension over terrorism on Republic Day.
We did find a way to sneak down to the Presidential Palace and Defense Ministry as they worked on setting up lights and decorations for tomorrow. Some gorgeous architecture and structures in this area.
Next, we visited and entered a local Sikh temple. Everyone (even outsiders) are welcomed to enter and visit. You must remove shoes (and socks) and wash your hands before entering the room where many are praying and chanting along with the entrancing music.
It was adorned with an amazing gold alter and atmosphere inside the temple. Not a place many people in a group tour would visit, by my guess. Was a very magical experience.
We then ventured off a little into Old Delhi.
This is primarily a Muslim community with very narrow streets and local shops where many live and work. This was a night and day difference between Old and New Delhi.
Chicken for dinner anyone? The number of soldiers in full combat gear were omnipresent in Old Delhi.
We never felt endangered or at risk here…it just very different and you must have an open mind. It did feel like we were in a James Bond movie or something as we raced through the twists and turns of the shops and people.