The Indian Metro Experience
We used the metro system in Delhi to get around throughout the city. The metro is rated as one of the best in the world. It made getting around very easy and safe. The metro had a women’s only cart to ensure safety and comfort for all women riding the metro. They also had designated seating for women on all of the carts. A lesson I had to learn the hard way.
Eve and Sophie on the metro
Our first full day in New Delhi was jam packed, and it ended with our trip to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. When we arrived we were required to take off our shoes before entering. Tom and I were told we couldn’t enter with shorts and were given a blanket to wrap around our legs, resulting in a kind of mosque-kilt. Walking inside we were greeted by the towering spires and walls of the mosque with a water feature in the center of the courtyard. After making Nathan pay the fee, we got to climb to the very top of one of the spires and see spectacular views of New Delhi and the mosque. We stayed up there to watch the sunset and the call to prayer, but only caught the sunset before we were told to descend. Overall, Jama Masjid was stunningly beautiful and well worth the metro ride to the old city.
Photo of the Jama Masjid
A view of Delhi from the top of the Jama Masjid
The Taj Mahal
This is my attempt at captivating 1 of 7 modern world wonders with words only the naked eye can truly comprehend.
It’s a building of silence but it screams so loud. The anticipation after reading and hearing about this magnificent building our whole lives was towering high.
Our 5am wake up to capture this once in a lifetime moment was all too real, it still hasn’t processed in my mind what we truly just saw.
A shadow we only could see in the distance from our hotel rooftop was now an all too real frozen in time giant hovering over us but all though frozen, it still controlled our every move and thought.
Like a hypnotist we were Mesmerized, like a photographer we were capturing, like a group of young travelers we were in shock by what we’re witnessing.
As the group did their poses and photos to capture this spectacular moment, the only thing rushing through my head was the thought of what I had just achieved, the mental rush of completing something I had only ever fantasized about, the feeling is addictive, and within that moment I made myself a life long promise I will continue to visit the other 6 monuments on this list.
As we explore the site every turn and corner shows us a new beauty of either architecture or landscape, the sheer size of the Taj Mahal to accommodate something so small but so meaningful showed me the content of the inside always portrays the out, in any term of the sense.
As a lover of architecture this is very simplistic but so appealing at the same time, the craftsmanship really comes to play with the compounds symmetry. Each side a mirror of the other to the exact centimeter.
To finalize this experience, India is a culture shock, hostile but friendly, boiling but cool, it’s all about how you develop through the bad and really experience through the good. Beautiful memories and growth is to those who dare to seek discomfort.
When all signs point to no and you say yes, that’s when you break the cycle and really start to live.
The Taj Mahal at sunrise
Youth International family photo at the Taj Mahal
Alex being Alex at the Taj Mahal
The Gandhi Experience
On Thursday the 4th, our second full day in Delhi, we set off to the Raj ghat area of Delhi, in the eastern part of the city, to visit the Gandhi museum. Gandhi, the leader of the India independence movement as well a a major advocate of non-violent protest, is perhaps one of the most famous figures in Indian history, and we found it fitting to learn more about this great man while we were in the capital city. The museum was a modest-looking building on the outside, yet the inside contained a video hall, hundreds of pictures of Gandhi throughout his life, and artifacts that Gandhi used throughout his life, including his walking stick and sandals. The museum proved to be an in-depth look at the life of this amazing man, especially during his years leading the independence movement, and I couldn’t help marveling at the many photos and descriptions of Gandhi which exhibited his tremendous leadership and moral character. After a quick stop at the library book store, where a couple of us bought books on the quotes of Gandhi, we headed over to the Gandhi memorial Raj ghat, a park and memorial dedicated to Gandhi, located on the spot he was cremated. The park proved to be a very peaceful and respectful area to hold the memorial and eternal fire for Gandhi, yet it was also very simple, evoking the modest yet powerfully effective nature of Gandhi. After visiting the memorial, the team spent a good deal of time walking around and lounging in the surrounding park, as it’s peacefulness proved to be a welcome retreat from the sometimes overwhelming hustle and bustle of Delhi. Overall, our experience in the museum and memorial proved to be a very enlightening experience, and gave us valuable insight into the massively important life and legacy of one of the most important people in Indian history.
Arriving in Delhi
Our arrival into New Delhi was smooth right up until we walked out of the gates of the airport and were greeted with the chaos that is India. It’s a complete overload on your senses. People everywhere, a million auto rickshaws speeding past you, cows roaming the street, and all the unique smells that come with a new city. It’s disorienting at first and all you can do is hope for the best and push through it. This mixed with the heat makes for a wild time. But by the second day you start to get a hang of things. Dodging the motorbikes better, avoiding the salesmen, and running onto the metro at the right time. New Delhi does really give you the full India experience at once. I definitely gained an appreciation for the chaos and how it works in its own way. Although I am not upset about leaving for a calmer environment.
The Agra fort
The Swaminarayan Akshardham
The Swaminarayan Akshardham was Youth international’s first tourist location visited when they arrived in New Delhi. The Swaminarayan Akshardham is a complex that captures India’s beautiful culture, this site is 100 acres in size. It was built in only 5 years and is a beacon of peace, joy, divinity and beauty. It was built as a tribute to Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1718-1830 ce) and was inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who was 5th guru after Bhagwan. This site was extremely interesting with it being rather amusement part like, yet was entirely culture based, absolutely brilliant and beautiful in all ways. From the grass lawns being perfect and the arch ways of all the corridors beings completely symmetrical. As the the center piece of the site being the Akshardham Mandir was jaw dropping to say the least with the insane detail that was put into the marble interior and the pint stone exterior. The Mandir stood the tallest of the entire park at 141ft high, and this building is awesome in every sense of the word. The Swaminarayan Akshardham is an amazing location to visit in New Delhi and the Youth International team enjoyed experiencing one of the many impressive sites India has to offer.
Trevor posing in front of the Swaminarayan Akshardham
The Dilli Haat Market
We spent our last evening in Delhi at the Dilli Haat market, an outdoor center with small shops carrying all sorts of things from traditional dress and carpets, to art and jewelry. The market is closed off from the city, which provided a nice break from the bustling streets of Delhi. We all gathered after our free day of exploring around 6 pm and went on into Dilli Haat together. We spent a few hours walking around and shopping—most of us ended up purchasing new clothes, shoes, or souvenirs for back home. A few of us ate dinner in the market, where we met Vikram, a young Indian guy who grew up and lives in New Zealand and happened to be in Delhi for work and to visit family. He talked to us about life in both India and New Zealand as we ate dinner together, giving us some advice for our stay here. All in all, it was a relaxing end to our busy day and a nice send-off from Delhi.
The Red Fort at night in Delhi